MINNEAPOLIS – Where the Pacific Educational Group (PEG) goes, student violence seems to follow.
We’ve seen it in the St. Paul, Minnesota school district, and now there are hints that the same type of problems are occurring in the nearby Minneapolis district.
Part of PEG’s solution is to recommend non-punitive disciplinary policies for black students, with an emphasis on limiting the number of suspensions.
In St. Paul, suspensions and other forms of punishment for black students have largely been replaced by short “time outs” other types of non-punitive reactions to bad behavior, according to various reports.
The result has been widespread chaos in many schools, according to numerous teachers and media reports. The issue came to a boil last month when a high school teacher was seriously injured by a 16-year-old student when trying to break up a fight.
The St. Paul Federation of Teachers reacted by threatening to strike if the school board does not do something to get student behavior under control.
The same type of scenario seems to be playing out in Minneapolis schools.
In the fall of 2014, former Minneapolis Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson announced that she would be reviewing all suspensions of black students, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Her goal was obviously to decrease the high rate of black student suspensions, and her edict was a clear signal to school administrators to keep black students in school, regardless of their behavior.
She also banned suspensions for K-5 students for non-violent behavior.
Johnson resigned a few months later, but the impact of her initiative may just be unfolding.
One hint came in November, when more than 100 people, including 19 teachers, attended a school board meeting to complain about increasingly violent student behavior, according to KARE11.com. Ten of those teachers – who all work at the same elementary school – said they had been assaulted by students.
“These are not pushing and shoving matches,” one of those teachers told the school board. “These are punches thrown, hair pulling and bodies slammed. All of these fights resulted in short-term removal from a classroom.”
In December, students assaulted staff members on two successive days at a Minneapolis alternative high school, according to the Star Tribune.
According to the newspaper report, “Principal Monica Fabre of Harrison Education Center, an alternative school on the North Side, was assaulted by a 17-year-old female student about 8 a.m. on Dec. 7, police said Thursday. The student was placed into custody as a juvenile on suspicion of fifth-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
“Late in the morning on the next day, paraprofessional Sakaria O. Ashirow, 29, also was assaulted, police said. Ashirow’s alleged attacker, an 18-year-old male, was arrested on suspicion of fifth-degree assault.”
Amazingly, district officials knew nothing about the alleged assaults, or at least refused to acknowledge the incidents to the public, according to the Star Tribune:
“Asked Wednesday morning by the Star Tribune whether there had been an assault involving a principal, School District communications chief Gail Plewacki replied, ‘We have no report of such an assault.’ District communication officials also would not confirm that the school’s paraprofessional was assaulted.
“An attorney for the district, Amy Moore, took over speaking for the district and said, ‘Due to data privacy laws we cannot provide information.’”