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School superintendent reports on discipline issue


Superintendent Paul Turner responded to staff concerns on discipline issues at Monday night’s Grand Coulee Dam School District board meeting.

Turner told the board, and about 25 staff members who were present, that he has had “time to reflect on the outpouring of discipline issues raised by a large number of Public Service Employees (PSE) that appeared in November.”

Turner stated that what he heard from parents at that meeting was:

- There needs to be better communication by district officials;

- there are questions of how officials apply discipline; and

- a lack of overall discipline.

Turner responded to concerns raised by some 40 PSE members who showed up in November and said this is what he heard from them:

- The district needs full-time administrators (concern was raised that administrators are burdened by the number of secondary assignments given to them);

- schools need more counselors;

- new employees need to be better prepared for the duties assigned to them;

- the district needs to create job descriptions for employees (the district has already begun this task with a number approved in November by the board);

- the administration needs to follow the school handbook;

- the staff is pulled off assignments to do other jobs;

- there is a lack of respect for employees, and there needs to be a clearer shared vision of where the district is going.

Turner shared some of the things the district is doing, or plans to do.

“We have contracted with our Education Service District to provide more services dealing with behavior, including more in-district time for ESD Specialist Candice Coble,” Turner reported.

The superintendent also said the district sent two teams, one for the elementary school and one for the junior/senior high, to Positive Behavior Intervention and Support training last summer. Both of these teams meet on a regular basis.

This PBIS training program takes from three to five years to implement, Turner told the audience.

The district has initiated PBIS training for all employees during special times set aside so that all members of the staff can attend.

The district had earlier this year conducted an “active shooter” training for all members of the staff.

A number of discipline problems have been associated with the district’s first-grade students.

The district has developed a first-grade “pull out club” where about 10 students get extra social training. Students there do specially designed exercises and have other positive experiences so they can enter their classroom day better able to deal with their education.

Two new bus drivers are completing training and are part of the district-wide emphasis on improving discipline.

The district is in the middle of 13 hours of ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) training, and this week the district is starting an effort to develop a partnership by getting together ESD specialists, the administration, Indian Health Services, the Employment and Education department of the Colville Tribes, and a Coulee Medical Center representative, all to provide better services to students.

Turner said the district will finalize the remaining job descriptions in January and will be working on developing orientation materials for new employees.

Turner also told the board and audience that he has been asked to make a presentation Jan. 9 before a state Senate committee on suspensions and expulsions in the earlier grades, particularly kindergarten through the second grade. Turner is one of two superintendents in the state taking part. The district here had been recommended to testify by the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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