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