Last week Interim Director of Schools Dr. Huff addressed the School Board about the escalating behavioral issues happening in our district. I have voiced my concerns on this topic in the past in School Board meetings and it is one of my main concerns as I look forward to joining you on the Board in October. Since running for School Board, I’ve had many parents come to me concerned for their students and the effect other students are having on their children’s educational experience. I’ve had parents share about bullying that has taken place which has resulted in the attempt them pulling their children from the district as they believe their concerns have gone unaddressed at the School level. I’ve had teachers share with me privately how students who have done things that they should have been expelled for but have been allowed back into the school – and by this teacher’s words were, “Walking around like they own the place” because they were released from the discipline that their actions should have resulted in and she spoke to me how this has demoralized the staff. I recently had an SRO tell me that he is shocked with what the students in his school get away with in regards to the dress code. He recounted that he recently witnessed a girl walk around school all day with the checks of her behind hanging out and no school official stopped her. And I have walked the halls of our schools and seen it first-hand. Students screaming loudly in the halls curse words as I walk by. Students dressed in all kinds of special ways without being addressed. All of these little things build up – empowering the students to push boundaries.
One thing I know from working with children and teenagers for the past 15 years is that they thrive in clearly defined and enforced boundaries. I work with children and teenagers primarily from Schools that statistically have the worst behavior problems in our district, however, we do not see these same problems in our programs. Why? I believe it is because we clearly defined and enforced boundaries.
The escalating behavioral issues in our schools is the symptom. The problem is that our Code of Conduct isn’t consistently being enforced across all CMCSS Schools deeming it broken. I firmly believe that if all administrators in our district were required to enforce the Code of Conduct as it is stated across all students we would no longer have the escalating issues. Dress Code, violence, bus discipline, use of profane language, fill in the blank – the Code of Conduct is thorough, however, it is only as good as it is enforced.
Now recently I read the Code of Conduct cover to cover and I would like to encourage you, the board, to go through this document together – line by line – and update it as you deem necessary. I see no greater time to do that than now as we are in the state Dr. Huff spoke about last week. We need to remove the “loopholes” that have unintendedly allowed students to get out of being in trouble or that have allowed administrators to change or bend the rules for individual students. Our administrators have all the authority – and what they need is the responsibility to follow what you – the school board approve for them to do. They shouldn’t have the authority to circumvent or not enforce the document you pass, but the responsibility to enforce it as written to see the proper outcome. And if for some reason, a student or their parent believes they shouldn’t have the enforced discipline the Code of Conduct states, the Code of Conduct has a way for them to appeal. We just don’t need anyone circumventing that process. What happens when that happens, is our student population receives mixed messages about what is wrong and right, the safe environment for education is disrupted, and escalation will be the trend.
This week through our interview process as we look to hire our next director of schools – I want to ask that you ask them how they plan to address this issue. For me, how our next director of Schools holds our school administrators accountable to follow our code of conduct will be one of my top concerns to continue to create and safe environment for both our children and teachers so we create an environment that they look forward to coming to every single day.
Thank you for the time you’ve allowed me to address the board today.