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DDHS officials to parents: Talk to us

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Catherine W. Idzerda
September 13, 2011
— Talk to us.

Talk with us.


Talk via anonymous form, send us an email, come to our offices or join a committee.


At Monday's Delavan-Darien School Board meeting, district officials outlined plans to improve communication and relationships with parents and staff.


The ideas were in response to an Aug. 3 meeting when about 350 people, mostly parents from the district, showed up at a district listening session to express dissatisfaction with everything from bullying to air-conditioned in-school suspensions.


Parents demanded answers from district officials and the board, and said they hadn't been informed about critical issues including bomb threats, disciplinary actions and curriculum concerns.


"The concern that was addressed by many of you was communication," said high school Principal Mark Schmitt.


That applied to staff, as well.


In July meetings, teachers told Schmitt they, too, wanted better information about academic, disciplinary and operational issues.


Schmitt and Mike Heine, district coordinator of school and community relations, shared what had been done since the August parents meeting.


For teachers, changes include:


-- Homeroom for students.


"The message I was getting loud and clear from teachers was that homeroom was really important to us," Schmitt said.


Teachers told Schmitt that homeroom was the best way to consistently connect with students.


-- When students were sent to the principal's office, teachers would receive a report on the visit. In addition, associate principals would communicate weekly with Schmitt, letting him know how results were communicated with teachers.


-- Department heads include "operational issues" in their meetings with staff. Such issues range from disciplinary procedures to times when the building will be locked.


-- Establishment of staff exit interviews.


For parents, changes include:


-- Anonymous alert forms. The forms, which are available on the district's website, allow parents, students and others to anonymously report problems without fear of retribution.


-- Development of "Grapevine" website. The "Grapevine" would allow parents, teachers and others to ask about rumors floating throughout the community. In turn, the district would be able to respond in a definite manner, hopefully putting an end to the spread of misinformation, Heine said.


An example of one such rumor cropped up at the meeting. Several citizens encouraged the board to approve a request for an inflatable football tunnel for players to run through before games. The tunnel would include the U.S. Army logo on it.


More than one person said they'd "heard a rumor" that the tunnel wouldn't be approved because of the logo. Board President Steve Carlson said he hadn't heard any complaints about the proposal, and when the item came up for a vote it was unanimously approved.


-- Development of an "official" complaint procedure. Such a process would hold the district responsible for responding to complaints. Heine is reviewing complaint procedures from 12 different districts and will create a policy with the help of administrative staff.


-- Regular review of parent concerns at board meetings.


-- Creating a "parent connections" group that would provide ideas from improvement and help combat the district's open enrollment losses.



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