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DisciplineproblemsatSecristtriggerspecialTUSDtaskforce

DECEMBER14,20157:18PMBYALEXISHUICOCHEA

Rampantracism,bullyingandfightinghavebeendisruptinglearningataneast
sidemiddleschool,forcingtheTucsonUnifiedSchoolDistricttostagean
intervention.
AtaskforcehasbeenassembledandemergencysupportisinplaceatSecrist
MiddleSchoolafterthedistrictnoticedahighrateofstudentdisciplineincidents
andheardconcernsfromstaff.
TUSDSuperintendentH.T.Sanchezdeployedateamofcentraladministrators
totheschooltocollectdata,observeclassroomsandconductfocusgroups
overfivedaysinNovember,duringwhichstudentswereheardhurlingracial
slursatoneanother,usingprofanitytowardteachers,threateningpeersandteachersalike,anddemonstratinghighlevels
ofaggression.
Asaresult,teachersestimatedspendingonlyabout40percentoftheirtimeteaching,withtherestdevotedtoaddressing
studentbehavior.
Incidentsreportedwhiletheadministrativeteamwasoncampuslastmonthincludedabullyingincidentinwhichachildina
wheelchairwaspushedoffofasidewalkaclassroomincidentinwhichastudentthreatenedtokillanotherstudent,then
heldacrutchasifitwereanautomaticweaponandpretendedtoshootaroundtheroomstudentsmakingobscene,racist
commentskidswalkingoutofclassandstudentsthrowingglassbeakers,thumbtacksandotherclassroomsupplies.
Disruptive,butnotnecessarilydangerous,incidentsincludedpimplepoppingoftablepartnersandtweezingtheeyebrows
ofasleepingstudent.
Often,thestudentshadovertakentheclass,controllingthepacingofinstruction,saidareportgeneratedfollowingthe
weeklongvisit.Alackofrespectwithinthestudentpopulationforeachother,theadultsandtheschoolenvironmentwas
observed.
Describingthemselvesinsurvivalmode,thevastmajorityofteachersreportedthattheywereunlikelytoreturnnextschool
yearandfeltalackofsupportfromtheadministration.

Thebehaviorswerenotonlytakingatollonteachers.Studentswhoparticipatedinfocusgroupssaidthereweretoomany
fightsandtoomanydisruptions.
Askedwhethertheyfeltsafe,themajoritysaidtheyfeltsortofsafe,butsomesaidtheydidntfeelsafeatall.
Ahandfuloffamilieshavewithdrawntheirchildrenfromtheschool.
TheadministrativeteammadeupbyrepresentativesfromtheTitle1,SchoolImprovement,SpecialEducationand
Magnetdepartmentsconcludedthatimmediateandcomprehensiveinterventioniscrucialifasafeandproductive
learningenvironmentistobeestablishedatSecristMiddleSchool.
Lotsoffighting

ThesituationatSecristhasputCherylFriauf,amotheroftwo,inadifficultposition.
Herdaughter,aseventhgrader,isanhonorstudentwithagoodgroupoffriends,butFriaufisnowforcedtoconsider
whetherherdaughterwillreturntotheschoolforeighthgrade.
Shesaffectedbywhatsgoingonaroundher,Friaufsaid.ThethingsthataregoingonthatIhearaboutfrommy
daughteristhereslotsoffighting,kidsinclassarebeingveryloudandtheredoesntappeartobewaysforteachersto
handleit.Thesamekidsaredisruptiveeveryday,buttheyrestillintheclassroom.
Despiteherdissatisfaction,Friaufwantstoseetheschoolsucceed.
Therearegoodteacherstherethataretryingreallyhard,shesaid.Werehopingthedistrictandadministrationwillbring
changeandmakeitagoodenvironmentthatwecanbeproudofratherthanmovingon.
TUSDparentandSecristPTAvicepresidentJeannetteHuertaHurtadolikelywontstickwithSecristmuchlonger.
Allofthedistractionshavemadeitparticularlyhardforherchild,diagnosedwithADHD,toconcentrate.Dailyfightshave
intensifiedhisanxiety.
Forsafetypurposes,oneofhisteachershashadtogoagainsthiseducationplanthatcallsforseatinghimatthefrontof
theclass.
Shemovedhimtothebackforhisownsafetytherewerekidsthrowingthingsathisbackanddumpingouthis
backpack,whichisusuallyplacedbehindstudentsdesks,shesaid.
EvenconsideringleavingSecristishardforHuertaHurtado,whoseolderdaughterwentthroughtheschoolandwhereshe
hasvolunteeredhertimeandeffortsforyears.

SecristPrincipalDavidMontaobelievesthatSecristwillmeettheexpectationsofFriaufandotherparents.
MyprimaryfocusforSecristandourstudentsissafetyandensuringtheyreceivethequalityacademicsthattheyneed,he
said.Wewillbeamodelschoolforthedistrictthatswhatwereworkingtoward.
Montaoknows,however,thathecannotgettherealone,whichiswhatpromptedhimtoseeksupportfromthedistrict.
Heisinhissecondyearleadingthecampusafterservinginaninterimcapacityinspring2014.Beforethathewasan
assistantprincipalatChollaandRinconhighschools.
Montaoinheritedaschoolthatwentfromserving377studentstoapopulationof637duringthe201314schoolyeardue
totheclosureofCarsonMiddleSchool.
Today,ofthemorethan500studentsenrolled,nearly87percentqualifyforfreeorreducedlunchanindicatorofpoverty.
ThenumberofspecialeducationstudentsislargerthanotherTUSDmiddleschools.
Inconsistentdiscipline

Amongtheissuesarethingssuchasestablishingproceduresforwhentosendastudenttotheofficefordiscipline.
Alargenumberofstudentswereroutinelysenttotheofficeforlowleveloffensesthatshouldhavebeenhandledinclass,
causingotherswhowerecorrectlyreferredtosometimesslipthroughthecracksandbereturnedtotheclassroomwithin
minuteswithoutintervention,saidTUSDdirectorofmiddleschoolsMichaelKonrad.
Thatwasdueinparttothefactthatthereareeightsubstitutesinplacewhohavenoformalizedtraininginclassroom
management,Konradsaid.
Thatdoesntaccount,however,formoreseasoned,certifiedteacherswhofailedtoimplementconsistentclassroom
procedures,followprotocolinreferringstudentstotheofficeorconveyexpectationstostudents.
Thoughthedeficienciesareconcerning,thefocusnowisonestablishingsharedexpectationsforwhatclassroominstruction
andbehaviorinterventionshouldlooklikewhendisciplineincidentsoccur,Konradsaid.
Ifwejustsaidweregoingtoturnaroundallofthestaffandmovealloftheteachersoutofthebuilding,whoarewegoing
tobringintoreplacethem?Konradasked.Sothepriorityforthetaskforceismakingsurethetrainingisthere,the
supportsareinplacesowedoeverythingwecantoturnaroundwhatisoccurring.
TUSDadministratorscontinuetohaveapresenceonthecampus,withKonradonsiteatleastthreetimesaweek.
AnIf/Thendocumentwasdeveloped,asrequestedbyteachers,tohelpclarifyhowdisciplinaryissuesshouldbehandled.
TUSDhasbroughtinanadditionalassistantprincipalaveteranschoolleaderwhowillserveasamentorforMontao.

Thedistricthasalsoaddedahallmonitor,andacounselorwillcomeinJanuary.
Thereisalsoanefforttogettheschoolfullystaffedwithcertifiedteachers.Inthemeantime,certifiedteachersareworking
withsubstitutesoninstructionalbestpractices,classroommanagementandinteractionswithstudents.
Montaowelcomestheintervention.
Iseeitassupportandcareforstudents,hesaid.Wewantthebestforourcommunityandourstudents,sohavingothers
comeandlookatourschool,theycantellusexactlywhatweneedtofocusonandhowmuchsupportweneed.
WhiletheactionsdisplayedoncampusbystudentsarentanythingKonradhasntseenbefore,whathedidfinddisturbing
wasthefrequencyofit.
Idontknowthatthereisgoingtobeaspecificdatewhensuddenlythingsaredifferent,Konradsaid.
WhatImlookingforisacontinuouspathtoimprovement.Ialreadyhavestafftalkingabouthowitseemsandfeelsbetter,
butthatneedstocontinuethroughoutthecourseoftheschoolyearbeforeIfeelcomfortablewiththeworkbeingdone.

SecristPTAMeeting
What:UpdateonSecristMiddleSchoolintervention
When:Wednesday,6p.m.
Where:Secrist,3400S.Houghton

Bythenumbers
30:thepercentageofclassroomswithteachertostudentrespectandrapport
6:thenumberofteacherswithconsistentlycompliantstudentsonthecampus
2:theaveragenumberofdisruptionsseenduringfiveminutefollowupvisits,meaninga15minutelessoncould
potentiallybeinterruptedsixtimes,makingitdifficultforstudentstofollow.
6:theaveragenumberofincidentsofteachersbeingdisrespectedbystudentsinafiveminuteperiod,whichteachers
respondedto64percentofthetime.

21:theaveragenumberofstudenttostudentincidentswithinthefiveminutetimeframe,whichteachersrespondedto
67percentofthetime.