Children affected by chaotic student in Monroe elementary class
MONROE — Parents are apprehensive over a first-grade student at a Monroe elementary school who has disruptive and violent outbursts.
Parents report the child has thrown chairs and school supplies and hits others.
“My child is afraid” to go to school, a parent of a 6-year-old told the school board Oct. 23.
According to her, there had been upwards of 20 class interruptions in the first 30 days of school.
Another parent reported that the child poked their child with the sharp end of a pencil Oct. 20. Parents say he’s poked others, too.
The children are witnessing violent acts at a young age that they’ve probably never seen at home, a parent told the Tribune on the condition of anonymity. Another said the situation is traumatizing children.
The safety response often has been to stop class and evacuate the classroom. Parents said a paraeducator was assigned to work with the child in the room.
Federal privacy laws prevent the district from disclosing information about a specific student.
The Tribune is choosing to not name which school both to protect the identity of the student and because the newspaper chose not to attempt to interview the parents of the student being criticized.
However, the Tribune understands that the student has been disciplined with one in-school suspension, meaning the student is kept inside the school but not at class. That was after he threw a pair of scissors in the classroom.
Teachers have the authority to exclude disruptive students from class, but have to consider other measures before doing so.
Parents the Tribune spoke with said the district’s notification of evacuations was slow.
“I think the teacher is doing the best she can” in navigating the situation, a parent said. “Senior administration at the district level should be handling this.”
The combativeness leaves parents wondering. “I shouldn’t have to teach my six-year-old to fight back,” one said.
Monroe’s discipline rulebook follows state law.
As of Nov. 2 in its five elementary schools, the district has conducted 10 in-school suspensions and 35 out-of-school suspensions since the school year started Sept. 6, district spokeswoman Erin Zacharda said.
Among those suspensions, for special education elementary students, six were in-school suspensions and four were out-of-school suspensions.
The state Office of the Superintendent Chris Reykdal revamped the state’s rules on discipline in 2018.
The new rules came a year after the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the state’s nearly 40-year-old rulebook. The ACLU sued, saying special education students were being penalized at higher rates and that posed a disparity that marginalized their education.
Now, before even handing down any suspension (except for bringing a weapon to school), “a school district must first attempt one or more other forms of discipline,” an add-on into OSPI’s administrative code reads.
Under state code, a school district may not give a short-term out-of-school suspension or an in-school suspension for a student in kindergarten through fourth grade for more than 10 consecutive school days, and can’t give short-term suspensions to anyone in grades 5 through 12.
And the state code says students in kindergarten through fourth grade can’t be permanently suspended for longer than 10 school days. There’s only one exception: if a student between kindergarten and fourth grade brought a firearm to school premises with the malicious intent to hurt someone else. That prompts a one-year expulsion.
For older kids, before issuing a long-term suspension, state code only allows those if the student requires the district to determine that if the student returned to school before the suspension period is over, they’d “pose an imminent danger” to others or pose the threat of substantially disrupting class.
The idea behind in-school suspensions is to avoid interrupting their education.
If a kid gets in-school suspension, a staff member must be present to help the student stay current with assignments and course work, and state law says districts cannot suspend educational services in response to behavioral violations. That and preventing students from meals.
And if it’s out-of-school suspension, the school must give educational services while out of school.
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