ARE SCHOOL SAFETY AND STUDENT DISCIPLINE CORRELATED? Take a look at these survey summaries from Middle School Teachers in VB.
I believe 100% of teachers should feel safe at school.
I was unable to attend the last school board meeting because I was out of town on a mission trip.
While I was gone, the School Board voted 8-2 to remove me from all major committees. I previously served on the Audit Committee and the Mayor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities.
Each July, committees may be reassigned by the Chair and Vice Chair. Based on School Board by-laws, committees should be equitably distributed and be based on interest, experience and skills. Chair Anderson and Vice Chair Melnyk make the assignments and then the full Board votes on whether or not to approve.
Here is a list of how many major committee assignments for Board members (committees that meet monthly-- with the exception of student discipline committees):
Owens (new member): 2
I had requested to be placed/kept on the Audit Committee and Mayor's Committee for Person's with Disabilities. One of my colleagues on the audit committee had even stated to me that she would be willing to step down from the audit comm if someone else wanted to serve. Instead, I was removed from the audit committee.
This retaliation is a clear violation of school board by-laws and in my opinion a retaliation for my transparency to the public on issues of concern.
I will not stop providing transparency to the public regarding issues in our schools, whether positive or negative. I know many of my colleagues take issue with me communicating with the public about anything that is negative, but I didn't run for office to be a cheerleader for the Superintendent. I ran for office to make sure our students get the best education possible and that parent voices are heard.
It is my understanding that at the public meeting prior to the vote, Ms. Melnyk said that the reason for our committee removal is because some of us have "nefarious intentions".
Over the coming weeks, I will be communicating even more information with the public that I believe you have the right to know.
I believe student discipline and school safety are correlated. I continue to share my concerns regarding student discipline problems in our schools with the Superintendent and School Board, yet only 2 other Board members acknowledge there is a problem. I believe that a lack of consequences for breaking the rules and PBIS practices that have been implemented in many of our schools are part of the problem, yet the Superintendent will be fully implementing the PBIS program in all of our schools next year.
The VDCJS surveys along with the VDOE working conditions surveys are proof that discipline problems are worsening. The issues MUST be addressed. I hope that my colleagues on the school board will recognize these problems or that the citizens will help me by speaking up to bring about change. SAFETY MUST BE OUR FIRST PRIORITY!!!
The public can access these surveys here: https://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/virginia-center-school-and-campus-safety/school-safety-survey/secondary-school-climate-survey/results
Here is my summary of some of the statements/questions on the survey:
TEACHER DISTRICT WIDE SURVEY RESULTS SUMMARY 2019, 6-8th grade:
57% of teachers stated that "A student said rude or insulting things to me"
24% of teachers stated that "A student stole or damaged my personal property"
32% of teachers stated that "Bullying in this school is a problem"
46% of teachers stated that "Students can get away with breaking the rules pretty easily"
INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS SUMMARY
The numbers below indicate the percentage of teachers in agreement with the following statement.
(some school data not available)
"Discipline Practices at this school are effective".
Kempsville MS: 2015 93% agreed
2019 50% agreed
Lynnhaven MS: 2015 58
Brandon MS: 2015 88
Plaza MS 2015 72
VBMS 2015 30
PAMS 2015 87
Larkspur 2015 61
Salem MS 2015 97
MS Statewide average agreement on this statement was 65 in 2015 and 59 in 2019
PAHS 2014 71
Kempsville HS 2014 38
Bayside HS 2014 60
Cox HS 2014 66
FCHS 2014 92
Landstown HS 2014 46
Tallwood HS 2014 55
Salem HS 2014 91
Kellam HS 2014 63
Green Run HS 2014 49
HS Statewide average agreement was 64 in 2014 and 58 in 2018
For the last couple of years I have been sharing feedback with the Superintendent and School Board that I have received from teachers and parents regarding student discipline problems. I have also witnessed some of these issues first hand. My concerns have been dismissed.
Teacher Surveys conducted by VDOE seem to reveal these discipline concerns. I have now received all of the surveys. They are found here. I have summarized the discipline question results and have also included the full surveys.
My summary review:
One statement on the survey: "THIS SCHOOL'S RULES FOR STUDENT BEHAVIOR ARE EFFECTIVE"
Survey Summary regarding this statement for Elementary Schools:
20 of the 49 schools surveyed scored 69% and below for teacher agreement with the above statement. One School scored an 8 and one scored a 12.
Survey Summary for this statement for Middle Schools:
8 of 14 schools scored 69% and below for teacher agreement with the above statement
Survey Summary for this statement for High Schools:
9 of 11 schools scored 69% and below for teacher agreement with the above statement
I believe that new discipline practices in our division called PBIS are contributing to these discipline problems, based on feedback from teachers, parents and these surveys. I know that 20 of our schools have implemented PBIS. I don't know exactly which schools but I do know that Hermitage, Brookwood, Strawbridge, Thalia and Woodstock ES are using this discipline system. They have some of the worst scores regarding discipline on these surveys.
I have also seen discipline goals in some schools to "reduce referrals and suspensions" rather than to improve student behavior.
On January 28, 2019 the VEA (Virginia Education Association--subsidiary of the NEA--national teacher's union) organized a "Lobby Day". The purpose was to advocate for the VEA's agenda in Richmond. Recently I was provided e-mails that show that the Superintendent authorized VBCPS teachers/principals to be paid to participate in political lobbying in Richmond for the VBEA (Va Beach Education Association--sub-group of the NEA). This is a violation of School Board Policy 4-32 and Regulation 4-29.1. Tax dollars were used to pay teachers/principals to lobby for the VEA agenda and to my knowledge this money was never reimbursed. I also do not know if expenses were paid. Even if I agreed with the entire VEA agenda, the taxpayers should not foot the bill for political lobbying on behalf of ANY organization.
The School Board chair Anderson indicates that this has been an "ongoing joint initiative" and "VBEA encourages teachers to travel to Richmond and advocate for the legislative agenda" . The Vice-Chair Melnyk's response was "I think that it is incredibly important that our employees reach out to legislators, and showing up in Richmond is far better than an email." (full e-mails attached below). 3 School Board members are current members of the NEA/VBEA. The Chair and Vice Chair miss the point that using taxpayer dollars for political lobbying is against School Board policies and regulations.
I was also provided with an e-mail that shows the VBEA using school resources (e-mail to all staff) to promote their meetings without the approval of the principal. The VBEA has become very political in my opinion (see attached pics from their FB page). The VBEA PAC received approximately $100,000 in contributions in the last election, from people like developer Bruce Thompson. They paid for a TV attack ad against Councilman John Moss.
Does this relationship between the School Board, Superintendent and the VBEA create a perceived favoritism for political special interests? Should taxpayer dollars fund political lobbying?
To contact the full school board: firstname.lastname@example.org .
At the March 12th School Board meeting on the topic of School Start time changes we discussed the survey that was being created, I said that I wanted all costs to be included in the survey in order for the public to make and educated decision. The Superintendent said that he would include the costs.
The survey was put out and costs for buses were not included. When I questioned the Superintendent he said that they are not yet certain of costs so they didn't want to put out the information.
This is a lack of transparency. If costs are not yet known then they should not have put out the survey.
Cost is a very important factor in this decision (at least it is for me).
According to the workshop presentation, Options A and B will have transportation costs of $3,240,000. Option C will be $1,560,000. Option D will not have any additional transportation costs.
These costs do not include field lighting costs that were published in the survey.
Over the last couple of years I have received a large number of reports regarding student discipline problems in our schools. Some of these I have seen first hand. I have consistently been telling my colleagues and the Superintendent that teachers need more support from administration for student discipline problems and consequences must be enforced.
The new method of discipline in some schools is to reward for positive behavior rather than give consequences for bad behavior (PBIS). I believe this method has been a factor in increased discipline problems.
These surveys had many questions, but I have highlighted a few results from discipline specific questions on my website. Not all school results have been provided to me but I will update my website as they are received.
I would like to give a shout out to several of the schools who received high marks from teachers on the following statement:
"This School's rules for student behavior are effective"
Elementary High Marks (95% and above agreement rating by teachers): College Park, Landstown ES, Linkhorn Park, North Landing, Providence.
Middle School High Marks (85% & above): Great Neck, Bayside 6th grade, Salem MS--100%
High School: Salem High-- 87%
At the elementary level 17 of 39 schools scored less than 70% agreement.
At the middle school level 5 of 11 schools scored less than 70% agreement
At the high school level 6 of 8 schools scored less than 70% agreement.
These discipline problems have been a concern of mine for a couple of years and in my opinion, these surveys indicate that we do not have effective discipline practices in many of our schools.
Click here for more info
A VB Citizen through FOIA recently asked for out of town travel expenses for the superintendent. The citizen had to pay hundreds of dollars to receive the information. Among the documents were credit card statements for the Superintendent and Chief of Staff. The citizen shared some of the documents with me. After reviewing the information, I have requested our School Board Auditor to conduct an audit on credit card expenditures. This request must be approved by the audit committee, so I do not yet know if it will happen.
Spending at local restaurants also appears excessive. School Board policy/regulation states that "reimbursement for meals while traveling within the city limits is discouraged..."
This isn't just about the amount of money being spent, but the fact that taxpayers are footing the restaurant and travel bills for VBCPS leadership making $175,000 and $250,000.
I'm guessing teachers don't go out to the Lynnhaven Fish house on the taxpayer dime.
It is my firm belief that we do not have a funding problem, we have a spending problem.
Superintendent Travel out of the area paid for on the taxpayer dime.