School safety panel agrees on counselors, splits on armed officers

Dayton Daily News
Jeremy P. Kelley
Staff Writer
Monday, March 12, 2018

Panelists at a school safety forum Monday largely agreed about the need for more counseling and mental health services for at-risk students, but disagreed about the value of armed police in schools.

The Schools, Guns, and Safety Town Hall was organized by WHIO and the Dayton Daily News and hosted by Kettering’s Van Buren Middle School. The idea was to ask a broad panel — representing teachers, students, community activists, law enforcement, legislators and school administrators — what ideas should be prioritized to make schools more safe.

“Unfortunately, every six months or so we start a conversation, and it’s an active, vibrant conversation for several weeks, and then suddenly, it seems to go away,” state Sen. Peggy Lehner said. “There is nobody in this room, or this community or this state who ever wants to see another school shooting. And yet, the solutions seem to be so elusive.”

Monday’s panel had relatively little discussion of metal detectors, camera systems and other technology. The focus was more on people — either adding muscle to counseling staffs and school resource officers, or giving better training to the people who are already there.

Kettering schools Superintendent Scott Inskeep and Kettering police chief Chip Protsman said their partnership on three armed resource officers in schools is valuable on basic security, but also for relationship-building with students and staff, to identify emerging problems and nip them in the bud. Lehner said the state should be willing to help schools pay for resource officers.

But Hashim Jabar, executive director of Racial Justice Now, warned that one size doesn’t fit all on that issue. He argued that given strain between police and black residents, armed police are not the answer in Dayton schools.

“We want to be able to have social workers and restorative justice. We want to be able to take those signs that the student is giving us, and not have to get to the point where we have active shooter drills,” Jabar said. “We want to address the mental, the social/emotional needs of the children. … We want to have counselors, not cops.”

Jerry Ellender, treasurer of Mad River Schools, agreed that one size doesn’t fit all. His district is one of a small but growing number that have trained a small number of school staff to serve as an armed response team in the event of an attack.
Ellender said that might not work for another district, but added that even he was surprised how fully supportive the Mad River community was of the move. He added that Mad River hired a social worker to head off problems early, rather than a resource officer to do enforcement.
Joni Watson, a teacher at Horace Mann school in Dayton, said she believes teachers need to be focused primarily on students and teaching, rather than security.

“We need money for mental health services. That’s the bottom line,” Watson said. “Every time there’s a school shooting, we hear that the child was isolated, the child felt bullied, or he or she didn’t belong.”

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer agreed with Watson, saying we have “dropped the ball on mental health in this entire community.”
Charlie Ross, a junior at Oakwood High School, said the talk of counselors, mental health professionals and training teachers was good, but it overlooked a huge resource in schools — the students.

“Tell (students) that it’s OK to identify these things to a guidance counselor or social worker so this person can receive help before it’s too late, before they get these punitive measures that only make them more extreme and more hateful,” Ross said. “Who better understands the outside fringe kids than the student body?”

Several panelists urged the general public to get more active on the issue of school safety, whether that was Ellender encouraging parents to talk to their school board, Watson encouraging activism among students, or Plummer urging parents to talk to their children about school safety.
Near the end, Jabar talked about the need for schools and families to teach not just reading and math, but character development, to address root causes of behavior and build good citizens, good relationships and good community. Lehner agreed.
“Kids model the behavior they see in their parents,” Lehner said. “As parents, ask yourself when was the last time you talked to the person who lives next door, on your right, your left, and across the street. That’s one of the most simple ways we can reflect for our kids that it’s important that they talk to the child on their right, their left, and the child with their head down on the desk in front of them.”

Using handcuffs on 4th-grader renews focus on role of police in Dayton Public Schools

DaytonDailyNews

By Breaking News Staff

Ohio School Discipline Report Card

When it comes to preventing  the School-to-Prison pipeline,
Ohio Schools are failing!

button

In collaboration with the Dignity in Schools campaign, 7th Annual National Week of Action to stop school push out, Racial Justice Now! will be hosting a press conference at the Northwest Dayton Library to release the 2nd Ohio statewide school discipline report card.  This statewide school discipline report card assigns a grade to public school districts,  community (charters )schools, joint vocational schools, and educational service centers in the state of Ohio. The grade is determined using data from the Ohio Department of Education- 2014-2015 statistics.  While this report is being released two years after the first report, it is based on data one year after the first report: 2014-2015 data.  That data was just released Summer, 2016.

The school discipline report card is a tool that will educate the community, provide a tool as to how a school district is performing on the school to prison pipeline, and it will allow the community to compare one school against others.

The school to prison pipeline starts with the suspension and dismissal of students who are often times sent home from school for non- violent and subjective offenses. Students are suspended as early as pre-school and unfortunately suspensions are being handed out in a racially biased way.

The Ohio Department of Education produces an annual report card with numerous measurements, but school discipline is not one.  A school discipline report card is an important measurement to have because parents need to be informed about this performance factor when choosing a school to place their child in. In addition, policy makers need access to this information so that they can make changes in the operation and practices of their schools.

“Blacks who dropout have a 70% chance of going to prison.  Students who have one suspension in 9th grade are only half as likely to graduate. The school-to-prison pipeline has been clearly demonstrated.”      Professor Emerita Vernellia Randall , The University of Dayton School of Law.

The Ohio school discipline report card  evaluates  1110 different school entities.

Of the schools graded 90.3%  received a failing grade (F) with only  6.4% receiving a grade of B- or higher.  http://racialjusticenow.org/index.php/overall-grade-2016?showall=&start=2

The overall grade for the Ohio School Discipline Report Card is based on 3 components: expulsions, subjective behavior, racial disparity and disability disparity.

Exclusion Grades: Exclusion is the combined rate of out of school suspensions plus expulsions plus a penalty for suspension in pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade, as well as 9th grade.  Grades were assigned based on exclusion score. Grades were assigned to encourage less overall exclusion rate, no preschool to 3rd grade exclusion and lower 9th grade exclusion. The average exclusion grade was 48. The median grade was 50. The maximum grade was 100. The minimum grade was 0. 126%. (128) school districts earned a A or B grade and 64.2% (713) school districts earned a D or F.  A greater portion of charter schools (23.4%/389) were graded 100 than public schools (4.8%/614). That is, charter schools were 5 times more likely to have little or no exclusions. Urban schools graded lower than other public school district types. For more information, http://bit.ly/2e9EEPL

Subjective Behavior Discipline Grade: Schools received a grade if they had a large portion of exclusions for inappropriate discipline and non-violent behavior that is subject to individual comfort level and biases.   The subjective behavior  grade was based on the percentage of exclusions that was for  disruptive/disobedient behavior”, “unwelcome sexual conduct” and “harassment/intimidation”.  plus a penalty for exclusions for truancy and  use of tobacco.  There were 1110 schools. On a scale from 0 to 100, half the schools had a grade at or below 6. The average grade was 13.1. The minimum grade was 0 and the maximum grade was 100.  Only 1.6% of the school districts received an “A” and 91.8% of the school districts received an “F” with 48.2% (537) receiving a zero.  When it comes to not disciplining based on subjective behavior – Ohio Schools fail.  Since subjective behavior discipline is open to cultural misinterpretation and implicit bias, it is not surprising that Ohio has a high rate of racial disparities. For more information see, http://bit.ly/2elQcx2

Racial Disparity Grade:  Racial disparity is the difference in exclusion based on race. In this report it is measured by dividing the rate of the racial group with the highest exclusions by rate of the racial group with the lowest exclusions. There were 1114 school. Of the 1114, 151 were single race schools and was not graded. On a scale from 0 to 100, half the schools had a grade at or below 30. The average grade was 31.5 The minimum grade was 0 and the maximum grade was 100.  Only 6.6% of the school districts received an “A+” and none received and “A”.  83.5% of the school districts received an “F” with 26.9% (300) receiving a zero.  When it comes to eliminating racial disparity in Discipline – Ohio Schools failed. For more information see: http://bit.ly/2eaE9VJ

Conclusion

The grades from the first report are not comparable because of significant changes in the grading formula including the addition of disability disparity.  With this said, the overwhelmingly majority of school districts in the state of Ohio are strong contributors to the school to prison pipeline.  That is, they start student on the road to failure as early as pre-school, with ever increasing rates.

button