Don't forget the popcorn

Students to report to MLK Jr. Early College despite scheduling snafu

PHOTO: Flickr user dcjohn

Teachers at Martin Luther King Jr. Early College are being asked to take attendance with paper and pencil and pop in a movie for upperclassmen Wednesday while school and district officials work hurriedly to finalize student schedules.

Wednesday is the first day for 10th, 11th, and 12th graders at the combined middle and high school in Far Northeast Denver. But a computer glitch is preventing the school from finalizing and printing student schedules.

A district spokesman said he was unsure of the nature of the technology glitch. But he said the delay “isn’t because the staff wasn’t doing their job.”

The technical difficulties may lead to more confusion than just which classes students are supposed to attend.

Teachers, parents, and students were notified mid-afternoon Tuesday that classes were going to be canceled for those students who did not have a final schedule. However, district officials, including Superintendent Tom Boasberg, later told the school to stay open. A second notice was sent out.

As this matter was brought to my attention, the decision was communicated to cancel instruction the rest of the week,” wrote Kimberly Grayson, the school’s principal, in a second letter to parents announcing that school would, in fact, remain open. “After careful discussion and consideration, and thanks to support from district and Superintendent Boasberg, we have decided that school will continue tomorrow for middle school and begin for high school as originally planned.”

In a schoolwide email to teachers, obtained by Chalkbeat, Grayson apologized for “jumping the gun.”

“[T]omorrow we will be sending students to their advisory class and the students will remain there all day,” she wrote. “You will take attendance via paper attendance. Please bring a few movies to watch with your students tomorrow (a clean movie).”

In that email, sent shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, she also suggested teachers research some ideas for team-building activities.

Advisory classes are akin to home rooms.

Had classes remained canceled, the school would have been Denver Public Schools’ second false start this school year. Last week, district officials told parents school would start later than expected for students at Bromwell Elementary.

Monday was the first day of school for most DPS students.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.