Parent/teacher group speaks to Houston board

By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal

Concerns about the discipline process at a Houston school have prompted a parent/teacher group to approach the Houston school board seeking changes.

Kim Brown, of the Hilltopper Parent Teacher Alliance, spoke during the public comment section of Monday’s school board meeting and asked trustees to look at a discipline amendment at Houston Upper Elementary School that was added this year.

“We are very proud of our schools and it is our desire to work with the school board to build a better district and support our teachers,” said Brown. “Teachers need an environment where they can teach and students have the opportunity to learn.”

Brown specifically said a four-step “discipline ladder,” implemented at the start of the school year and only at Houston Upper Elementary School, concerns the alliance.

The process starts with a warning and is followed by a “Think It Through” sheet, parent contact with the teacher and then office referral. The four-step process begins at the start of each class period.

Brown pointed out a student could violate classroom rules up to 20 times daily before being referred to the Response to Intervention Committee that handles behavioral problems.

“We are not here to dictate school policy but we do want school board members to look at this and consider changes,” said Brown. “We would like to see it read ‘each week’ rather than at the beginning of each class period.”

Brown said Houston has good teachers and the alliance’s main goal is to support the job they do in the classroom.

“We are not looking to create controversy or be perceived as creating controversy,” said Brown after Monday’s meeting. “Our goal is to see a policy in place that effectively deals with discipline problems. Our teachers need to be teaching and not dealing with disruptions in the classroom.”

Brown did say alliance members would be contacting the school board members, administrators and teachers in a courteous and sincere manner about this issue.

The Houston School Board does not take action or vote on items not specifically listed on its agenda. School Board President Bart Munlin thanked Brown for her comments.

In other business:

* The board entered executive session and heard two discipline cases. In both the board ordered students to the Alternative School for 45-days and required them to successfully pass a drug screen – paid for by the parents – at the end of that time before they could re-enter normal classes.

In both cases the motion was made by Trustee Rayburn Parks and seconded by Trustee Marvin Beard and the vote was unanimous.

* The board authorized the destruction of documents for accounts payable, activity funds and bank statements from 1999 to 2006.

District Business Manager Ronja Lancaster said the records are still maintained electronically and this is only the disposal of the actual papers.

* The board heard a report indicating locks need to be installed and keys made before the band hall if officially turned over to the district. The board was also informed the old band hall has been renovated and is ready to be used as art classrooms.