In the Spring of 2017 VBCPS conducted a survey that asked if respondents favored a later school start time for adolescents. The initial survey indicated that the community supported this idea.
After much research and planning, staff provided the Board with their final recommendations on Tuesday:
Elementary A schools: 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Elementary B schools: 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Middle schools: 8:40 a.m. – 3:10 p.m.
High schools: 9:20 a.m. – 4:10 p.m.
Additional one time costs of $2.5 million (for field lighting) plus 80 more hours of bus driver time per day (approx $325,000/year).
My colleague Laura Hughes and I have asked for the Superintendent and Board to conduct a final survey now that all costs and final times are known. I do not know if that request will be approved.
I do have a high schooler, so I understand first hand the impacts of this decision. I also understand the benefits of later start times for adolescents.
It is imperative for me to know what the community wants. So, I hope that the Board will agree to a final survey on the topic with all of the information asking the public if they are in favor of making a change or keeping the times the same.
The group e-mail for the board if you wish to provide input directly is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I, along with my colleagues Laura Hughes and Carolyn Weems, have hired Attorney Kevin Martingayle to represent us in a dispute against the School Board. Since the School Board Attorney has given a copy of our complaint to the media, I would like to respond.
On August 13th, the School Board went into a closed meeting for a "grievance hearing". The grievant was Superintendent Aaron Spence . Hughes, Manning and Weems voted against going into closed session and voted against certifying closed session. According to Code of Virginia 15.2-1507(A)(3)(a)(1), the law states "Unless otherwise provided by law, all nonprobationary local government permanent full-time and part-time employees are eligible to file grievances with the following exceptions: (1) Appointees of elected groups or individuals". Dr Spence is an appointee of the elected school board.
We believe it was a violation of the Freedom of Information Act for this hearing to take place. We also believe that other discussions that took place in the closed meeting were a violation of the law.
Our letter that was provided to the media, states that the hearing was related to the Superintendent's accusation of "abusive conduct" and a "hostile work environment". The "conduct" referenced is related to my transparency on social media and posts made by other members of the public on my page. I completely reject the notion that I have participated in any inappropriate conduct or hostile work environment.
My platform when running for office in 2016 was focused on transparency and I do my best to communicate with the public. I expose the truth even if it goes against the "division narrative". I will fight back against any retaliation against me for my transparency. I am employed by and report to the citizens of Virginia Beach.
It is our goal to ensure that the School Board is operating within the parameters of the law and that the public is kept fully informed. We hope that the School Board will comply with the law regarding the requests of our dispute letter and that we do not have to seek resolution in court.
Spence states in his letter to the Pilot “I did not allege abusive conduct on the part of any Board member." Yet in the same letter he states, "One Board member has created a public forum in which I am regularly demeaned."
At last week's school Board meeting, 3 Board members (Holtz, Edwards and Melnyk) stated that Virginia Beach Schools "does not have a discipline problem" (Melnyk's comment was off camera).
That isn't what teachers at many schools throughout the district have indicated on surveys conducted by the VDOE.
I believe that the culture of leniency and PBIS-type programs that contributed to the Parkland school shooting, is a big part of the problem in VBCPS. I will continue to try to be the voice of teachers, parents and students who continue to contact me about their concerns on this topic.
This topic in the video begins around 1 hr 33 min.
At Tuesday's School Board meeting I asked the question:
Does VBCPS have any measurable data that shows PBIS is improving student discipline? The answer was NO. However, we continue to implement this expensive program (now in all of our schools) that I believe is failing our students and teachers.
It didn't work in Parkland Florida where the school shooting occurred and it isn't working in VB. I have voted against funding for PBIS and I will continue to vote against the program.
School safety/student discipline is my #1 priority this year. I will not stay silent while sexual assaults are occurring and students are bringing guns to school. Parents need to know what is happening and teachers need to be supported!!!
Thank you to Andrew Pollack - Parkland Parent for his inspiring book "Why Meadow Died" https://www.amazon.com/Why-Meadow-Died-Policie…/…/1642932191 that I just started reading last night. I will not stand idly by and allow the same thing to happen in our district. The same type of programs that were implemented in Parkland are being implemented across school districts throughout the country. Including VBCPS.
Please read this article: https://rightwisconsin.com/2019/08/06/study-shows-federal-school-discipline-policy-not-working?fbclid=IwAR1FElZZENSehrdnsumrI-g6xa0fG7z-zCfrqpLW43FrpnnWR4Abh7LZfbs
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