Good Morning M. Principal
Scenario: You arrive early to school one morning. You visit with several teachers, talk to some students, and walk through the entire school. In the early days of the school year, all seems to be going smoothly.
You return to your office, and you find the following on your desk:
Memo: 8:30 am - Mary Davis, a parent has called. She says her son, Jeff, was hit and kicked by another student on the way to school this morning. Jeff has returned home and she has taken him to the hospital.
I would immediately call the hospital to see how Jeff is doing as I would with any of my students if I found out they were in the hospital. I would then ask Ms. Davis for a report of what happened to Jeff. I would write down what Ms. Davis told me. I would want to know:
1. Where did the offense take place?
If the assault took place on or very near campus:
According to Senate Bill 1, section 37.006, a student must be assigned to an Alternate Education Program if they engage in an assault resulting in bodily injury on school property or within 300 feet of the school property.
If the assault took place off campus:
According to Title 5 of the Texas Penal Code, if the superintendent “has a reasonable belief” that the student has committed an offense of section 22.04 by “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence by act or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly by omission cause to a child . . . bodily injury”, then the student must be removed to an Alternative Education Program.
2. What time did the offense take place?
I would want to record the time that the event took place in case there was some need for the school to have personnel monitor that area at that time to insure the prevention of bullying (depending on where the assault took place)
3. Who witnessed the offense?
If there were witnesses, I would want to talk to them individually and get their versions of what occurred.
4. Which student was the perpetrator?
I would need to know if it were a student from my campus or another campus.
5. What is the age of the perpetrator?
If the child is ten years of age or older and under seventeen years of age, the child would be the subject of the juvenile justice system. If the child is under ten, the child cannot be held legally responsible for his actions. But the parents may be held responsible for the actions of their child.
If the child were under ten, but over six, the child would be placed in an alternative education program. (Education Code 37.007(e)(2), (h))
According to Education Code 37.006(f)(1), a child younger than six could not be expelled or placed in an AEP.
6. Was a police report filed?
If a police report were filed, I would then want to find out the police record of what occurred.
After talking to Ms. Davis, I woul report the incident to the Superintendent.
Next, I would want to talk to the student who was accused of the assault and record their version of what happened.
If the student who engaged in the assault needed to be removed to an Alternative Education Program, I would:
A. Meet with the student and explain to the student why he or she is being removed to that program and explain that the student will have the opportunity to give his version of the events at a conference to be scheduled and held within the next week.
B. Within three class days after the day of the placement, I would schedule a conference with the student and the parents. I would make efforts to ensure that all invited parties can attend. I would make sure that the conference was held within five days after the student was removed to the AEP.
C. I would provide a copy of the removal order, the child and parent’s names and address, names and address of any witnesses, and a complete statement of the circumstances surrounding the assault to the juvenile court.
If the child who perpetrated the assault were under the age of six, and a student at my campus, I would meet with the child and find out his version of what happened. I would talk to him about the seriousness of his actions. I would have him meet with the school counselor to work on anger management. I would then schedule a meeting with the parents to see if they had any insight into what was going on with this child. I would work with the parents to do everything we could to prevent this from happening again. I would keep a report of the steps that I had taken to correct this situation and prevent it from happening again.
From Social Studies Teachers regarding Delores Bowman, Clerical Aide:
Scenario-The teachers complained about the improper and unethical behavior of Mrs. Bowman:
“She is curt and disrespectful at times. She sasses us on occasion and she is not always helpful to us. She frequently goes to teachers who have her son in class and questions them about why they are doing certain things and why her son is not doing better in their classes.
Mrs. Bowman is not always on time with her work and we must correct most of the work she does for us.
We would like for you to do something about Mrs. Bowman.”
This complaint letter is not specific enough to be of much use. It doesn’t list which social studies teachers are complaining. It doesn’t list any specific incidents, and it covers too many unrelated items. It sounds like Mrs. Bowman did something to make someone mad, so they just started listing everything they didn’t like about her. I can’t tell by the letter if all of the social studies teachers really have complaints, or if one wrote the letter and others just went along with it.
I would want to meet with the social studies teachers individually. I would ask them to tell me specifically what Mrs. Bowman has done that was improper and unethical. I would ask the teachers to tell me about specific incidences when Mrs. Bowman has been disrespectful, sassy, and late with work. I would keep a record of what each teacher told me. I would ask them what they think could be done to improve the situation.
If there were any legitimate complaints, I would then meet with Mrs. Bowman and get her side of the story. I would first listen to both sides of the story, then work with Mrs. Bowman and the teachers together to come up with a solution.
I would make an effort in the future to conduct walk-throughs when these types of problems might be occurring.
Depending on how the teachers and the aid work out their problems and whether this is an aide problem or a communication issue, I might recommend that some or all of the teachers and aides join me in a book study with the book, “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. I think most of the problems like this that occur between teachers, parents, and other staff, often stem from a misunderstanding in communication. Mrs. Bowman probably doesn’t realize how she is coming across to the teachers and they probably aren’t communicating well with her. A group study of the book, “Crucial Conversations”, could help improve their communication skills.
Breaking The Sound Barrier
First, it seems like this room is not a good match for Mr. Clark. The room is prone to enhance loud noises and Mr. Clark has a natural booming voice. A possibility in the future might be to move a quieter teacher to this room. Even so, student noises such as dropping books will always be a problem.
There are several things that can be done quickly to improve sounds quality. An inexpensive area rug could be placed on the floor. Inexpensive fabric “banners” could be hung from the ceiling. Fabric or simple frames with fabric over them can be used to hang on the walls to help muffle the loud sounds also.
The first thing that I would probably do is let Mr. Clark know that his voice and these sounds can be heard so easily down the hall. He may not be aware of this and he may be willing to work on controlling the volume of his voice to prevent embarrassment of being heard down the hall and interrupting his fellow teachers.
Next, I would let him know about the options of improving the sound with additions to the room. I would ask if he likes any of these ideas and ask him to give input on how to solve the situation. He might be able to get some parents to donate a rug or fabric, or offer to build sound boxes if they know it will benefit their students. If that isn’t a possibility, we might see if there is a piece of carpet in the school storage building or ask other staff members if they know of anyone with extra carpet. We could put in a maintenance request to have a few frames made for fabric covers on the walls.
The Concerned Mother
My first inclination was to get more information from the teacher, Mrs. Cross, but that would mean having to wait to call Mrs. Dull, the mother, back and possibly pulling Mrs. Cross out of class. Since Mrs. Cross has already told me a little about the situation, I think it would be best to go ahead and call the Mrs. Dull as soon as possible. I don’t want Mrs. Dull to sit and stew about Joey’s situation. I want Mrs. Dull to know that we want to help her with Joey.
I would listen carefully to Mrs. Dull and take notes on her concerns. Then I would make an appointment to meet with Mrs. Cross and Mrs. Dull together. I would make sure that I set the appointment on a date that allowed me enough time to meet with Mrs. Cross ahead of time and gather some more information.
I would want to know if Mrs. Cross has spoken to Joey’s other teachers to find out how he is doing in his other classes. What is working with those teachers? Are they having the same problem that she is? If she hasn’t done this, she will need to talk to the other teachers, and possibly last year’s teachers before the meeting with Mrs. Dull.
I would want to know from Mrs. Cross what Joey does well with and where he is having the most trouble. Mrs. Cross has said that Joey is working hard and trying to do the assignments, but is turning in incomplete, unsatisfactory work. Because of this, I would want to know if Joey is getting easily distracted, or really just doesn’t seem to be able to understand the work.
If he is getting distracted, or day dreaming, I would want to know if she had tried any techniques to help him stay focused. She could have him move to another area of the class. She could have him face another direction or create a study carol to block his view. Some students do better if they have earphones and classical music to eliminate distractions.
If Joey is not understanding, I would want to know if he had been attending tutoring and talk to his tutoring teacher. I would want to know if Joey had been given any special testing to see if he had any special needs that could be met with adjusted teaching methods. Has Mrs. Cross tried to figure out Joey’s learning style? Has Mr. Cross tried having a volunteer or teachers’ aide come in and work with Joey? Has she let the parents know what they can be doing to help him at home?
After gathering information, I would want to discuss what had been tried and what other options are available. If everything else has been tried, there may be some testing that could be done to see if Joey is in need of special education.
The Unhappy Foreign Student
It sound like Yhi-Min’s problem is that he is suffering from culture shock and has not had enough time to adjust to the new situation yet, or he is not matched well with his host family. I would suggest that the school counselor call Yhi-Min into her office to see how he is doing.
If Yhi-Min just needs time to adjust to his new environment, the counselor might be able to offer some suggestions to the host parents and the teachers to make the transition go a little smoother.
If the host family and Yhi-Min are a bad match, the counselor and Yhi-Min might need to talk to the Agency that facilitates the exchange program and see if Yhi-Min could be transferred to another host family.