March 12, 2008
Safety interventions at Toki Middle School
This morning’s Wisconsin State Journal reports on increased security measures being implemented at Toki Middle School in response to parents’ concerns about the safety of their students:
Beginning today, Toki will get a second security guard and also will get a dean of students to assist with discipline problems. The guard is being transferred from Memorial High School, while the dean of students is an administrative intern who has served at La Follette High School.
The moves come a week after about 100 parents, school staff members and top district officials attended an emotional, three-hour Parent Teacher Organization meeting at which speakers expressed fears about safety and discipline at the West Side school.
Speakers cited an unacceptable “level of disrespect from some of the kids, lots of use of profanity, generally a reluctance to follow directions from adults and just a feeling that the building was becoming unsafe, ” [Assistant Superintendent Pamela] Nash said. Some parents reported their children were being harassed.
The steps being taken to address security and safety at Toki are likely to be welcomed by students and their parents. There’s mention in the article of the district’s Positive Behavior Intervention System, and how it’s expected to improve matters–once it’s fully implemented at Toki; it’s also noted that there’s been frequent turnover of principals at Toki, and that stable leadership will be an important element of improving the school culture. What’s not quite addressed is the question of what school administration and district should be doing on a proactive basis to address safety, security and discipline before a situation like this reaches a crisis level.