Parents had a lot of questions for the Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education at a listening tour on Saturday at Washington High School.
Some parents talked about a student fight at Washington High School that had been posted on social media on Friday. Other parents mentioned that tasers had been at school. “How does a taser get through a metal detector?” one person asked. Parents had questions about whether metal detectors were working. One staff member assured them the detectors were working.
Parents were concerned about topics such as student safety, discipline, posting of fights on social media, and policies on suspension.
The board also heard comments about staffing levels in certain areas, such as special education, as well as the need for parents to become involved. One person said there needs to be an alternative education classroom, such as a room within the school building, to send children who are disrupting classes.
One person who was active in a parent-teacher association urged parents to take care of students’ behavior problems at home.
Other speakers talked about a need for more staffing and more services, including counseling services inside the school, for certain students. Former or retired special education teachers could be asked to help the district, one suggested.
A local clergy member asked how churches could get involved. “How do we get back to the basics?” he asked, pointing to a sign that encouraged self-respect, respect for others and respect for the school. “What are we doing to address the moral issues?” he asked.
One school staff member said at the listening tour meeting that they are doing all they can, and sometimes they are not aware of the problems until after they happen. Sometimes there are more problems with the girls than with the boys, he said, including fighting and bad language.
The listening tour meeting was only one day after the Kansas City, Kansas, police spokesman sent out a two-sentence statement that search warrants were used at three school district locations on Friday, March 30. Because the cases may have involved juveniles, very little information was released by the police, and school officials also said they could not mention specific cases. There was no information that connected this police statement to the fighting that occurred recently at Washington.
The police statement on Friday: “Today Officers conducted several search warrants on the Kansas City, KS public School District in relation to a student victim. This is an ongoing investigation and is the only information available at this time.”
One parent suggested that a group should be formed for parents, teachers and staff to discuss the problem of school fighting and what to do about it.
The parent said if her children call with a concern about violence, she is going to “snatch them up” out of harm’s way. She wanted to have meetings with the school teachers and staff to discuss what can be done about it.
A Kansas City, Kansas, resident, Lou Braswell, who does not currently have children attending the schools, attended the meeting and said afterward that it reminded her of parents who formed a group about 40 years ago to address fighting at a local middle school. Those parents started a “phone tree” to notify each other of what was going on, she recalled. Braswell said she saw the video of the Washington High School fight on social media on Friday afternoon.
School board members explained at the listening tour meeting that they do not always know the details about each student’s suspension, or about each case of fighting. Those incidents are handled by administrators and teachers, and because of student privacy rules, they do not always hear about it. Sometimes the school board hears about the incidents if they are appealed, but mostly, the school board sets policy on suspensions and rules, they said. Currently, the school board is revising some of the policies on some of the issues discussed. Some of the parents with questions were asked to meet with administrators and staff after the meeting.
The next Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education listening tour meeting will be from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, April 3, at the Central Office and Training Center, 2010 N. 59th St.
For those who were not able to attend the listening tour meetings, the school district has a survey online at http://www.kckps.org/.
To see the entire two hour-listening session from today, visit YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7fZ-F33_tM.