On Thursday, November 3rd, the teachers at Steffan Manor took a courageous step. After a student brought a hammer to school and threatened the teacher with it, the student was suspended for three days. The student was supposed to return to the same classroom where the assault occurred. The teachers decided together that parents at this school site needed to be aware that the safety of their students could be endangered unless the district took action. They urged parents at this school to contact Superintendent Ramona Bishop.
Instead of engaging in conversation with the teachers at Steffan Manor, the district has decided to scapegoat them. First, it appears that someone contacted a well-known community activist who stated that the teachers violated this student’s civil rights. Second, Superintendent Bishop was only willing to meet with the teacher directly involved in this incident. No conversation with the other teachers at the school site regarding school site safety has occurred. Third, at the November 16th VCUSD School Board, Dr. LaTonya Derbigny presented information on the suspension and expulsion rates for the district. At this meeting, teachers were scapegoated once again. School board members made outrageous claims that teachers were writing referrals “for their convenience” or “because they were in a bad mood.” Adding insult to injury, Dr. Derbigny turned to the reporter for the Vallejo Times Herald and demanded that he put in the paper that “teachers are lying when they say the district is not suspending or expelling students.”
VEA is hosting a forum “School Site Safety: Silent No More.” We can no longer stand on the sidelines while the district and school board members vilify our colleagues in a public forum. We are urging ALL VEA members to attend this event in order to develop a plan of action on school site safety.
In order for this district to “attract and retain quality educators” (a district goal), they need to start by listening to us about our concerns regarding the safety of our campuses. Our students deserve campuses that are safe and free from threats of violence in order to ensure their civil rights to a quality education.
School Site Safety Forum “Silent No More”
Hogan Middle School Theater
4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
December 8th, 2011
An injury to one is an injury to all!