Saturday, January 11, 2020

Board Fails Teachers on Self-Defense

At the January 7, 2020 Special-Called Board Meeting the school board utterly failed teachers and staff, when Item 4.19 (Board Policy) JKA Corporal Punishment/ Physical Force came up on the Agenda. The Administration recommended deletion of "to defend one's self" from this Board Policy.

You can view this part of the meeting on the YouTube recording. It starts at 1:14:50.

Dr. Elkins-Johnson started off discussion but then couldn't find her place on her tablet. She deferred to James Shadd. Shadd asked the superintendent if the "yellow" meant that the Administration wanted to strike the phrase "to defend one's self" from the Policy.

Supt. Davis admitted that there had been a lot of conversation around that bullet-point.

The "reasoning" of the Administration was presented; i.e., that self-defense can be read into those examples when force can be used.

But the proposed revision is a CYA effort. You know that one; right? In other words, hang the teachers out to dry.

Trustee-elect Teresa Holmes commented during discussion (1:18:53) that she was "a little on the fence". She wanted to be sure that, if that bullet-point were taken out, she wanted it understood that (teachers could still defend themselves).  She acknowledged what the superintendent was saying about the other "bulletses". (That's not a typo; that's what she said.)

What she doesn't get is that the Policy is the Policy. If it's not in written Policy, it's not going to count when a teacher is threatened with discipline or termination for defending herself. An "understanding" will have little weight in a disciplinary hearing or the termination process. (Recall the teacher who "got into it" with a student at Ridge View High School. I'm sure he didn't feel any support from the Administration.)

Board members need to get OFF the fence and stand up and be counted. Be firm and direct. When you don't agree with something, stop playing nice and say so. The Administration is running all over you. It's the duty of the Board to direct the Administration, not the other way around.

The Board should have left "to defend one's self" in Policy JKA.

Since they didn't, they should put it back in.

Teachers, you'd better get to a board meeting and speak up about this. Or forever hold your peace. You can kiss your income and pension away, if you ever have to defend yourself.

Teachers, tell your cohorts about this blogpost. Ask them to read it. Read it and comment on it.

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