Janesville69.3°

Delavan-Darien School board attempts to address parent concerns

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Catherine W. Idzerda
October 11, 2011
— Sometimes the best way to make progress is agenda item by agenda item.

At its Monday meeting, the Delavan-Darien School Board attempted to address parent concerns regarding curriculum, discipline and communication by placing each item on the agenda.


As a result, community members who attended the meeting received an education about issues as varied as open records laws to disciplinary changes at the middle school.


“These are items that school board members and parents requested,” said Mike Heine, district spokesman.


The lesson started during citizen comment period, when a citizen used a teaching award to address the issue of staff retention. After mentioning the names of several teachers who won the award and then later left the district, he was interrupted by Steve Carlson, board president.


Carlson said the issue was not on the agenda. Furthermore, he was concerned about speculating about the motives of both past and present staff members.


The rules regarding the comment period stated:


-- Speakers could give input on items on the agenda so the board could hear public comment before making a decision.


-- Speakers could suggest items for future board agendas.


-- The comment period cannot be used for complaints about staff or students. The Wisconsin Open Meetings Law specifically protects students and employees from complaints at open board meetings.


Obviously upset, the speaker left.


Another speaker asked for more supervision after football games because of fights. The issue of discipline was on the agenda.


Administrators from each building in the district talked about changes in their approach to discipline.


At Turtle Creek Elementary, Principal Kathy Pickel and Associate Principal Ramon Reyes surveyed teachers and found that discipline was one of the biggest issues.


Pickel and Reyes have made changes to make sure that rules, discipline and follow through are consistent, they said. As part of that, Reyes has the unenviable job of handling almost all of the office referrals.


At Phoenix Middle School, teachers and administrators work together to enforce the “Comet Code.”


“We’ve expressed a need for teachers to teach appropriate behaviors,” said Charles Tollefsen, associate principal at Phoenix.


Delavan-Darien High School Principal Mark Schmitt announced that his staff was implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a databased program that has had success throughout Wisconsin.



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