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
Regarding the discussions about the Rose Hall District School Board Appointment:
I am not pleased that discussions continue to take place behind closed doors. Ms. Hughes, Ms. Weems and I tried to get the discussions to take place in the open, but our colleagues prevented that from happening yesterday.
There is some funny stuff going on behind the scenes.
Joel McDonald is the prior board member who had to vacate the seat because he moved out of district and didn't notify anyone. He was posting on FB Tuesday night that Mr Mullins wouldn't be accepting the position and that an emergency meeting of the school board would be called on Wedn.
Mr Mullins sent his notification to the Board at 7:28am Wedn morning.
As a Board member I knew NOTHING about this until Wednesday. I have been told that Kelly Walker was involved in discussions with Mr. Mullins. Why is the VBEA (aka teacher's union) President involved in this??? It is interesting that Mr. Mcdonald was at an event at the VBEA office on Tuesday night.
Was there a secret behind the scenes effort with the VBEA to get Mr. Mullins appointed and ask him not to run in the special election in November?
Mr. McDonald is planning to run in the special election in November. Is there an effort to insure that he is the favored candidate??
Last night at the School Board meeting I asked for the candidate applications for the Rose Hall District School Board appointment be posted on the VB Schools website. I was told that due to ADA compliance requirements for VBCPS they aren't able to post them. So, I am posting them here for the public to review. Our SB Attorney has stated they can be made public. After the events of the last few days I think it is important to be as transparent as possible and to give the public every opportunity to be informed of this process.
To be qualified to be appointed to the position, a person must be a qualified voter in the district they will be representing and also reside in the district in which they are representing.
Per the voter registrar, Ms. Owens who is one of the applicants, did not meet the qualification of being a qualified voter in the Rose Hall District when she submitted her application. After she was notified of this, she changed her voting district to be in compliance with the requirement. For this reason, I am very hesitant to consider her for the position. I would like to know how the public feels about this topic.
Please provide feedback to the board if you have any questions, comments or concerns. email@example.com. We will be voting on the appointment on May 28th.
While I believe that both candidates have served students and families in our community, it is also important to me to remember why we are in the position now of having to appoint a new member.
Joel McDonald was forced to vacate his seat after he moved out of the district and didn't notify anyone of that fact. He lived out of the district for approximately 18 months.
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.