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For the past month I’ve been interviewing and receiving testimonials from East Baton Rouge Teachers in most of the area’s non-magnet high schools. This investigation started as a conversation with a teacher (who had recently become a follower.) This teacher explained no one speaks for them, no one sees their stories.  They relayed teachers in EBR are terrified to speak out about the travesties and indignities being heaped upon them in the name of “improving outcomes.” These outcomes are determined by some easily manipulated statistics that comprise School Performance (SPS) scores. I listened and I was honestly shocked and infuriated by what I heard.

Our teachers are under siege, from all quarters, and only a few on the breaking edge (and perhaps breaking point) are able to speak out – even anonymously.

As part of my investigation I spoke to and corresponded with numerous teachers from many different schools, teaching a wide variety of subjects. The teachers I spoke to have diverse experience levels , comprise both genders, and the stories all sound sadly similar. The basic story goes like this:

In the past few years EBR’s discipline policies and promotion policies have been weakened substantially. This is a result of  two absurd policies coming from Superintendent Bernard Taylor’s office.

I phoned the EBR central office to speak to someone in charge of discipline hearings for EBR. (Taylor has never returned any of my calls or e-mails to date (even on positive stories I’ve tried to pitch to him) so I didn’t bother with trying to get a response from him.) I introduced myself as a concerned parent and education blogger and I was assured the director over discipline hearings would be calling me back. That was 10 days ago, so I’m pretty sure I will be getting no call or explanation.

I also reached out and contacted the EBR school board to discuss this matter. I do not have any statements on record, but those I talked to seemed surprised and outraged by what I was describing in the school system. Let me just say, I was surprised by what was described to me as well, but not in a good way.

The first misguided policy in play seems to be one where only murderers, kids who bring explosives, discharge guns or bring illegal drugs to school can be expelled.  All other violations, even those that result in hospitalization of the victims, must be tolerated, and tolerated repeatedly.

The second destructive policy EBR has implemented is that children have no responsibility for making their grades or passing their classes. Teachers must do everything they can push, pull or drag kids to pass their classes. In practical terms this means tests are given over and over until a student “passes” and “extra credit” must be created and awarded to whatever extent is possible to ensure students pass their classes.

As a result of the first policy it appears violent thugs run many of our high schools, free to beat, steal, and threaten the lives of any who oppose them. Student’s that assault teachers multiple times do not get expelled, they get returned to the same teacher’s classrooms. Students who threaten to kill their teachers and classmates are sometimes just given a warning and sent right back to class.

Here are some recent stories that have appeared in our newspapers about our students and their assaults on each other of our teachers in the past month. This is by no means a complete list, just a representative one that I find disappointing no reporters in any of our local mainstream media are covering:

March 2

http://theadvocate.com/home/8504480-125/mckinley-high-teen-accused-of

Police: Student said loaded pistol was for protection

Authorities with the multiagency School Drug Task Force on Friday arrested a ninth-grade McKinley High School
student accused of taking a loaded handgun to school.

February 25th

http://www.wbrz.com/news/student-accused-of-repeatedly-kicking-teacher/

BATON ROUGE – Authorities arrested a 17-year-old Baton Rouge student after school officials said she repeatedly kicked a teacher who tried to break up a fight.

Deputies arrested Raven Davis after the fight at Tara High School
Tuesday and booked her into the parish jail on charges of battery and disturbing the peace.

February 22

http://theadvocate.com/home/8440545-125/baton-rouge-police-and-fire

  • Sisters accused of disrupting school

    • Two sisters were arrested Thursday afternoon on accusations they showed up to McKinley High School
      and tried to back up a younger sister allegedly involved in a fight earlier in the day.
    • The school was put on lockdown during the ordeal.
  • Teen shot in robbery Thursday in Gardere (outside of school)

    • A planned robbery disguised as a drug deal didn’t go as scheduled Thursday night in the Gardere area.
    • One of the teenagers involved in the planned robbery, a 14-year-old boy, was shot and seriously injured, while an 18-year-old was arrested on accusations he had the gun that another person used to shoot the boy, an affidavit of probable cause says.
  • Students accused of threatening educators

    • East Baton Rouge Parish school system employees contacted authorities in at least two cases this week in which students threatened educators, leading to the arrest of two 17-year-old students.
    • Dominic Demontay Powell, 17, 9870 Scotland Ave., was booked into Parish Prison on Friday accused of shoving a Scotlandville High School administrator while being questioned about suspected marijuana use, an affidavit of probable cause says.Inside the school official’s office at the high school, the administrator told Powell to empty his pockets. Powell took out a cigarette, a lighter and some money, the affidavit says. When the administrator moved to grab the money, Powell shoved him and said, “Don’t touch my money,” the affidavit says.
    • In a second incident on Friday, Demarcus Devonte Kimble, 17, 5656 Autumn Blossom Ave., is accused of walking into a teacher’s lounge at Belaire High School and cursing at a teacher, an affidavit of probable cause says. When told by the teacher to leave the room, Kimble is accused of threatening the teacher, saying he would get someone to come to school and hurt her, the affidavit says. Powell was booked into Parish Prison on a count of assault on a school teacher.

I have received numerous tips from sources about violence in schools that is not making its way into our local media at all:

February 22 (report from source)

“Good…by the way, three Brm [Broadmoor High school] students arrested and recommended for expulsion for bring BB guns to school this week. On-campus cop caught them. No news coverage. School system wants it BURIED”

February 19th (report from source)

. . .at Belaire HS
early this year a student was beating the shit out of a teacher while students watched, some cheered. A coach at nearby La Belaire Elementary happened to be on campus and saved the teacher…all reliable sources…Brdmr [Broadmoor High School] student caught with drugs and knife on bus today. We’ll see how school system reacts.

February 18th (report from source)

Big fight after Scotlandville [HS] basketball game last night at Brdmr. [Broadmoor HS] involving about one dozen boys, two expelled from earlier in the year…Someone was seriously injured. Investigation continues. Keep you posted.

I have received numerous e-mails, conducted interviews, received letters describing what teachers are seeing and feeling in our area schools.  Here are a few for you to review. (Note: Many more have come in since I originally published this story.)

February 7th

Letter from a teacher

One additional interesting note this week. One of our new, young teachers was shocked when a junior student refused to work and told her in front of the class she would not fail him no matter how low his grade was (36%). “You can’t fail me,” he assured her. “You’ll get in trouble. Not me. I’ll pass.” He then laughed at her. She assured him he would fail, but he refused to believe it. One hour later we were reminded in a meeting with our so-called instructional specialist (another non-teaching, out-of-state joke) that we needed to allow students to make up all work or retake tests regardless of any and all circumstances. Later in the same day, one of my sophomores asked me it were true teachers got into trouble if they had too many students with grades of D or F. I lied to cover my ass and sell the bluff, the only protection I have. Which is sad. It is becoming increasingly clear students are aware of how weak and vulnerable teachers really are. This is a really bad sign. Life before Bernard Taylor, Orlando Ramos [Associate Superintendent of EBR schools] and Michael Haggen [Deputy Superintendent of Innovation and Reform for EBR] would have NEVER allowed this to happen. It would not even be allowed to give birth! So many teachers are plotting their retirement/exit it is shocking.

February 6th

Letter from a teacher

Yesterday, a teacher tossed a student into the hallway because he was a constant disruption. This student regularly causes grief to all teachers and we cannot expel him. While in the hallway, he bangs on the wooden door with his fists and screams at her to let him back in class. She refuses as a male instructor walks up, as his next door class was being disturbed, and twice asks the student to calm down. He curses the teacher and tells him to mind his own business. The male prods him away from the door and the student lands a swinging elbow on the teacher’s chest. He was taken to the office, but the school system will not allow anything to be done. The student repeated the exact same behavior today, but the male teacher did not respond to calm the situation. Why get involved? …Prior to Christmas, three teachers in one day had their body, life or property threatened. One student threatened “to fucking kill” a teacher for making him leave a class. Another teacher broke up a fight in class and broke a finger doing it. Another teacher was told his parents and brothers were going to “find you, break the windows in your house and fuck you up!” In all three incidents, students were either recommended for suspension or expulsion. The school system returned them all to school. No communication with or apologies to teachers were offered. In one of those cases, a student taunted his teacher with, “told y’all you can’t do shit to us no more”….This week a teacher tried to discipline a student disturbing class, he refused to leave class when asked and then blurted out, “I’m gonna bring a gun to school and kill all you mutha fuckers”. He went to the office and dropped out before “discipline” (joke) could reach him…NOTE: DO NOT MENTION ME OR THE SCHOOL…I’LL KEEP INFO COMING. THESE INCIDENTS ARE A RESULT OF DR. MICHAEL HAGGEN’S [Deputy Superintendent of Innovation and Reform] EDICT THAT ALL STUDENTS SHOULD BE IN SCHOOL REGARDLESS.

An interview with another teacher:

I have been with EBR for 27 years and taught in [redacted] for 6.5 yrs before coming here because a spouse was moved here by [redacted]

I LOVE what I do and most days it is rewarding and fulfilling.  Lately, not so much.

I really do not know what to tell you.  Ask me some specific questions.

What grades and subjects do you teach
I am an elective teacher in the [redacted]

Are student discipline matters handled fairly in your opinion?

Most of the time they are handled at the school level.  It’s when serious matters go to the school board that there is some strange stuff happening.  We had a boy that was starting fires in the restroom at my school.  He was caught and expelled.  Until the school board hearing process happened and he was sent right back to us.

Do you feel more safe or less safe at school around students and what has changed, if anything?

I do not feel as safe as I used to.  A kid once made a fake bomb out of cell phone and warned all the kids that at a certain time it would go off and not to be near my desk.  This was handled and the kid was expelled.  he did try to get into prom and a seven foot police officer escorted him off the property.

Is Common Core an issue?

It is an issue in that the fun and creativity of planning lessons and activities has been sucked right out of teaching.  In my elective class I am required to teach reading and writing skills THEIR way.  I am not trained to do this.  Even the PE teachers MUST do it!

Do teachers bear more of the burden in ensuring kids make the grades and pass than students because of policies and counseling directed to ensure no students fail subjects or have you seen no difference lately in how your administrators monitor the grades you assign your students

KIDS MUST PASS!!!!!  Tons of paperwork goes with this and a core teacher could explain it better than me.

Have you been a victim of violence or verbal death threats from students that you feel were not addressed seriously enough or have you seen/witnessed other teachers suffer physical or psychological abuse from students and if so, is this a more recent escalation?

See above.  I do know of other teachers that had threats made to them and nothing was done to the student.  The offenders remained in the same class with the same teacher.

How is that for starters?  I have follow ups depending on your answers

I hope some of this helps.  I am NOT a writer.

Letter to me from a retired EBR teacher who retired early to escape the abuse, Taylor and the reformers

After 25 years of service I walked away from the public school system in Baton Rouge fed up with being treated like a second class citizen. I had no interest in writing this until I saw that WBRZ news clip about Taylor’s bullying and I figured I might as well do this. I am retired. They cannot hurt me now.

This once was a noble profession of motivated teachers. Now I see us (them)as down-trodden. Their morale destroyed by students who can seemingly do as they please with little to no consequence. Last year I was slapped by a female high schooler and called a “bitch” after I told her to leave my class because she was disrupting it. This girl had done this before to me and other teachers but nothing was ever done. This time was no different either. She returned to my class the next day with a warning and a smirk on her face. The school administration said the school system wanted to modify her behavior and give her more chances. I was livid. I wanted to walk out of the door and never return. That was the day I decided to consider retirement.

Teachers once could control what they taught, how they taught it and when. Our testing was good enough. Our decisions were valued. Since Taylor and his ilk have taken charge of the school system we teachers are mere robots. We have no control of our professional lives. I just could not take it anymore.

I am only in my mid-50s and planned to teach for 30 years, but I knew I would probably have a heart attack, get beaten up by a 16 year old trying to break up a fight, or have my self-esteem chewed up by a system of overpaid jackasses who clearly have no idea what the teaching climate is like in a public school system. Sometimes I miss teaching, but I also understand to go back means dealing with this “reform” and the corruption behind it.

Since leaving, my blood pressure has dropped and I sleep better.

Hope this helps

Letter to me from another EBR teacher

I was talking with a group of students in my class last year when suddenly one of the girls started crying and ran out of the room!! When I looked to see what happened a young man had gone behind my back while my back was turned and switched the video we were watching to a fight on YouTube. I realized the girl who ran out of the room was getting beat up on the screen. She was humiliated.

I ran to the door and yelled for the girl to come back. At the same time I told the young man (who was 16 years old and 6’2″ and about 175 lbs) to “get out of my room and go to the office.” He responded by telling me we would kill me. As he moved out in to the hall he started screaming at me, “I want to kill your fucking ass!”

Two other teachers heard the commotion and came into the hall. As one of them escorted the student to the office, he repeatedly turned back and screamed.,” I will hunt you down and kill you!”

This student was given a five day suspension and sent right back to our school. He has been in and out of jail on a least one occasion this school year, and gives me an evil look every time I see him on campus. He should have faced legal repercussions. Instead he was given a slap on the wrist and sent out to terrorize others.

East Baton Rouge Parish public school teachers are being bullied by students and the school system on a scale most people would only think occurred in far-fetched fictional films. I’ve spoken with many more teachers than the one’s directly quoted here. I heard stories of many teachers ending up in emergency rooms and hospitals with very severe injuries, and the students involved are not expelled, simply sent back to the same schools and classes. I’ve had these stories multiply corroborated. EBR teachers don’t know who to complain to, dislike their thankless jobs more each day, and many are looking for an exit from a school system that does not support them in these matters.

As you can see from some of the letters I’ve reproduced here teachers are fleeing the profession to escape the violence and absurdity of Common Core, the reform movement, the lack of support, and the dramatic shift of responsibility from students to teachers for completion of student work and graduation. This is what happens when non-educator statisticians and number crunchers get put in charge.  (Note: I used to be one working at LDOE.) They worry more about raw numbers like improving graduation rates that John White, the Louisiana State Superintendent of Education has incorporated into SPS scores. These scores determine which schools and school districts get taken over by the state. To improve these scores EBR has taken the absurd stance that students can only be expelled for guns and illegal drugs.

The terrorizing of teachers is gut-wrenching to hear, but even worse is the underlying terrorizing and bullying of our students. Students are being beaten outside of school, having these fights recorded, and then played back on school grounds. Students are killing each other over things that happen at basketball games. Students are setting fires in schools, creating bombs and threatening classmates, and setting up drug deals and robberies and then shooting each other outside of school.

On February 12th the head of APEL, Keith Courville was interviewed by Baton Rouge’s WBRZ-TV, where not one invited teacher met with him for an on-air interview to discuss their abuse by EBR public school superintendent Bernard Taylor. The teachers were upset enough to complain to APEL, but as one teacher told me, “not ready to commit career suicide over the matter.” The irony in that teacher’s remark was that Taylor was exposed by WBRZ phoning teachers and threatening their jobs if they did not keep quiet regarding his so-called reform tactics. However, that does not make teachers any safer from Taylor, his deputy superintendents, or the teenage students that  terrorize teachers daily and are rarely punished.

Teachers at six Baton Rouge public high schools (Broadmoor, Belaire, Scotlandville, Tara, McKinley and Woodlawn) have stories of abuse by students and the school system that are common and disturbing. just as was in the case of the WBRZ story, not one was willing to be quoted directly out of fear of Taylor. The abuses ranged from students stealing from them, slapping their faces, pushing them down, beating them unconscious, threatening to destroy their property, cursing them in their classrooms, and multiple cases of teachers being threatened with death. None of these cases resulted in expulsions or permanent removals from the schools or teachers classrooms.

Misguided school reform might have driven Superintendent Taylor to these dangerous and deluded policies, but we concerned citizens and parents must never allow our public schools to become worse than the charter schools, voucher schools, virtual schools and Recovery School District we are trying to fight back against or we have already lost.

When we allow our students to be tormented by hoodlums because we fear our system will be taken over by the state if we kick them out, we have already lost the fight.

When we allow our standards and education to be watered down so everyone can graduate without even trying, just to improve our graduation rate we are not doing our children any favors, we are ruining them for the rest of their lives and we are validating everything the reformers say about how inferior our public schools are.

When we allow our teachers to be beaten and abused, we are guaranteeing they will flee for their health and lives, faster than Common Core and wildly inaccurate teacher evaluations and VAM scores would have accomplished on their own.

When we allow students to threaten their teachers with death on a routine basis, and slap them across the face without facing any repercussions for their assaults we are abusing all our children as well as our teachers. We are teaching our kids that this behavior is ok, which is exactly the wrong lesson.

I am not a John White style reformer. I am a reformer of the reformers. I know not everything our kids learn in school is attributable to a test score and our kids will by no means be college, career, or life ready witnessing and conducting themselves as these teachers are reporting our school system is permitting and enabling.

An investigation needs to be launched over these ridiculous and harmful policies and changes need to be made. I believe Superintendent Taylor is directly responsible for these outrageous situations and policies. I gave Taylor’s cronies a chance to explain themselves and they declined. Now it’s time for us take back our school system from someone who is intent on destroying our schools, destroying our teachers and destroying our students.

Just as many teachers ended their letters to me with “I hope this helps.” I have the same wish. I don’t see anyone else speaking up for these teachers and our students, but I hope this helps.

(edited for grammar and typos on 3/13/14)

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87 thoughts on “East Baton Rouge Parish Teachers are under siege and need our help

  1. This is so sad . The teachers i spoke to have said the same things as your interviewees have . They are riding the retirement clock so to speak . Fast forward to the future and it looks bleak . This profession will die off only to be replaced by TFA .

    1. This one side-effect of managing education strictly by the numbers and the latest “innovations” and reforms. It’s what happens when amateurs pose as educators and ignore and abuse real educators.

      1. Westjail

        Synopsis:
        Principal retires; new one takes over; every administrator in the school is on the buddy system; no one wants to do their job, they’d rather blame teachers; we have over three fights a day, not counting setting substitutes on fire; students can pull curtains down and flip over computer monitors during class, and only receive candy and a pack of paper from the “disciplinarians”; the majority of the students do not respect nor listen to teacher or administrator on this campus; on Wednesday (4/2/14) there was a gang fight in the cafeteria while the students were fighting, other students were jumping and running along tables, throwing food at reluctant duty administrators; another example in my class is when I pass out calculators, the students will purposefully break a calculator then ask to use their phones as a calculator, but instead of following along they play on their phones the whole time and copy the answers from a good kid; a colleague of mine tried to combat this problem by taking the phone from the student, and received a punch in the face (administered by the student); the administration does not want to handle a disciplinary problem, and constantly puts the task of calling the parents on us, but the parents, if you can get through to them, are no help; if we do send a problem child out of class, they’re usually back within ten minutes with no repercussions whatsoever; on another front, the teachers are constantly being written up for constantly being one to two minutes late to school, while a majority of the administrators show up to school well passed the deadline; the only way to fix the problems at Westdale is to revamp the whole administration; I feel the current principal can manage the school, but he is going to need a lot more help underneath him; the school is too worried about losing money from the federal government because they’re suspending kids for cursing out teachers, fighting with teachers, pulling fire alarms, and prank calling 911. If you’d like to hear more about the daily activities at this school, me and my fellow teachers will reply promptly.

        1. Thank you so much for the positive and inquisitive emails. Let me recap the last week or so of school:
          During iLEAP/LEAP testing, you’d think it would be somewhat peaceful- but it wasn’t. Tests were voided due to students compromising test security, still on par for three fights a day, but this week with the unbearable test stress, fights were more severe, except for Friday when the tests were to be completed. They had more fights on Friday than they had that week combined, the perplexing thing about it is they were all preplanned fights. I have never heard so many teachers complain about how out of control the school seemed to be; some went as far as saying they doubt control can be regained by the end of the year. Today I was delayed from taking my class to the cafeteria due to several fights that happened on the inside and outside of the cafeteria; when the students were ordered to sit back down, they did not oblige and began to throw food at the administration that was present, and became increasingly belligerent. Since the conclusion of the state test, the students are reluctant to doing any more class work, because in their minds the school year is already over and there is no point in caring about it. If anyone has any more comments, please send me an email.

          Thanks

          1. If you haven’t seen the segment on the local news about classrooms of terror, then you’re in for a treat. It was a perfect look into the classrooms at EBR schools. The real problem is not enough help for teachers; the administration is bloated to say the least. There aren’t enough teachers’ aides to help out children that really need it. Most EBR Schools have found loopholes to avoid having certain counselors or even taking appropriate disciplinarian actions in order to meet federal guidelines. I taught at a school a few years back that had an ISS room separate from the office with divided desks and a set of textbooks where students served in-school suspension and did work all day or for their allotted time, which would solve a lot of the discipline problems because it would be real consequences for misbehavior but also students would avoid hearing the office drama and administrators complaining about teachers. ISS rooms would break the cycle of problem students habitually disrupting class, administrators failing to discipline or suspend them to avoid those students “being away from learning,” and sending them back to class and keeping all of the students from learning.
            The way I see it, a major problem is the schools and we as educators have not changed in the same ways society has, that is, we’re applying psychology alone to deal with problems instead of intermixing principles of sociology. The majority of students at inner-city schools are exposed to gangs and thus are learning gang mentality. Fear and intimidation are used as a means of control, whereas violence is truly only exacted for self-protection or rivalry. I think the chances of real violence against teachers are actually pretty low. Another aspect of how times have changed is that with technology the way that it is we are dealing with a compounded problem in that posts on social media spill over and exacerbate what used to be just simple disagreements. Nowadays it’s no longer “he said; she said,” it’s “he read; she read.”
            With that being said, the five percent of the students that are causing the problems are disrupting the learning of the ninety-five percent that want to learn, contrary to the teachings of Dr. Taylor. The way Dr. Taylor presented himself in that interview is exactly the way the majority of EBR Administrators see the problem. They don’t want to deal with it, and they do want to blame teachers. The truth is that it is a lot of work to actually, truly counsel a student to change his/her behavior and stay on top of the student to see if the student has actually changed. If only five percent of the school is acting in a disruptive way, a school that houses a thousand students has fifty disruptive students. Wouldn’t you think that with the amount of administrators we have that we could control only fifty students and have such a tight grip on them that they would know exactly where they stand on appropriate or inappropriate behavior?
            I believe that it’s time to give up no child left behind because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

            1. BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) –
              Some teachers say they’re ready to call it quits all because of the way some of the children in their classrooms behave.

              Two East Baton Rouge public school teachers sat down with the I-team on the condition that their identities remain concealed.

              They say there are fights, physical and verbal threats to teachers and other students, and disruptive students keeping others from learning. They add the violence in the classrooms is only getting worse.

              With fights from the courtyard, gym and school bus, the teachers tell the I-team classrooms are not immune with disruptive students boldly threatening teachers.

              “Stab you in your throat,” said a student to one of the teachers interviewed.

              “It’s gotten to the point where you just show up everyday mentally preparing to be disrespected and cursed out by kids. Kids who you would never think would do it, are now. It’s just common place because so many are doing it and they’re seeing that they can get away with it, and the kids know it and they’ll tell you they do it because they know nothing’s going to happen to them.,” said a teacher.

              When asked what kind of words they’re listening to in the classrooms, “F*** you b***h, get the f**k out of my face, leave me the f**k alone, stupid b***h, you got me f**ked up,” responded the teachers.

              Louisiana has a Teacher’s Bill of Rights. It should be given to every teacher and a copy posted in a prominent place in every school. Some of those include the right to appropriately discipline students, the right to remove any persistently disruptive student especially when it impacts other children, the right to a safe, secure and orderly environment and the right to be treated with civility and respect.

              “We were told that when a student curses you out, that that’s a major infraction. You write the referral and they would be suspended. However, they’re coming back apologizing, ‘I’m sorry,’ and the paperwork will have counseled,” said a teacher.

              According to the East Baton Rouge School System’s Discipline policy, a disruptive student is to be removed from class and sent to the principal’s office. The child is not allowed back in to class until the principal has taken one of the following measures:

              a) in-school suspension
              b) detention
              c) suspension
              d) initiation of expulsion hearings
              e) assignment to an alternative school
              f) requiring the completion of all assigned school and homework
              g) any other disciplinary measure authorized by the principal

              The options teachers tell us principals seem to prefer are counseling or behavior clinic.

              When asked if that counseling helps, one teacher responded, “Oh no, because now when you send them another child, ‘Oh, they just gonna talk to me and send me back’.”

              “Yes, this is the worst I’ve seen the discipline in the classroom,” said president of the local Federation of Teachers union Carnell Washington.

              Washington said when teachers go to the administration, He said several EBR public teachers have been reaching out to him feeling hopeless like their hands are tied and in some cases, he said administrators put it back on the teachers that they don’t know how to manage their own classrooms. Washington said the overwhelming response from instructors is, “I just want to teach. That’s what they want, and in my many instances, they can’t do that because of disruptive students.”

              The union recently surveyed 318 EBR public school teachers about the problems.

              The survey revealed that 60 percent of teachers say they have experienced an increase in violence or threats from students and 41 percent saying they do not feel safe at work. A third of all instructors said they have been physically assaulted by a student while two thirds said they have verbally been abused.

              “I’m actually thinking about a career change. I just don’t know what,” said a teacher.

              Sixty-one percent agree, saying they’ve considered leaving. Washington said he’s sat down twice with EBR Deputy Superintendent Michael Haggen on the results of the survey. He added he’s also spoken with Superintendent Dr. Bernard Taylor on the matter.

              “His thing was, well Carnell, ‘I don’t get those calls.’ No you don’t get those calls. I get those calls. I’m the local union so I get those calls,” said Washington.

              The I-team asked to interview both Dr. Taylor and Michael Haggen, but we got no response, so we went to a recent forum to find the superintendent.

              “You know what, we hear that all the time and if teachers and administrators and parents work collectively when there are incidents of violence, and those don’t involve all students so let’s be clear too,” said Dr. Taylor. “How about 95 percent of students go to school everyday without incident. The question I want to ask you is why are you so preoccupied with the small percentage who don’t. We’re talking about a small percentage of students who create issues that need to be resolved.”

              “Those issues are creating more than 60 percent of teachers who want to quit according to a survey that came out because of the violence,” said WAFB’s Kiran Chawla.

              “No one has provided anything about 60 percent of anything,” said Dr. Taylor.

              We tried to show him the survey but Dr. Taylor would not pause from talking. So instead, we started talking over each. We pointed out the survey results showing that 61 percent of teachers want to quit.

              “That’s an alarming number,” said Chawla.

              “No, no, I’m not sure it’s an alarm because again, I don’t know what the basis of this is. I’ve never seen it. No one has ever given it to me,” said Dr. Taylor.

              “Your deputy superintendent has seen the results of this survey,” said Chawla.

              “Well again, that’s the deputy superintendent. What I’m saying is…” said Dr. Taylor.

              “Are you not over him?” asked Chawla.

              Without answering our question, Dr. Taylor walked off.

              The teachers tell us administrators are worried more about statistics, saying suspensions and expulsions do not help the school performance scores. but that keeping children in the classrooms, does.

              “It’s almost like it’s a competition. Which school has the fewest amount of suspensions, expulsions and they want them to have it at a certain percentage so I’m assuming that’s why a lot of stuff just gets overlooked. A lot of stuff these kids are doing, they’re not being suspended for because they’re more concerned about numbers,” said a teacher.
              “Because your discipline goes into your school performance score,” added the other teacher. “They’re telling us when you suspend them, they can’t learn when they are out of school but when they’re there, they’re not learning nor are any of the other kids learning.”

              Dr. Taylor did not want to talk about that either.

              “There are some teachers who also tell us that statistics are more important to administrators than student performance. Any response to that? Are statistics more important than student performance?” asked Chawla.

              Dr. Taylor continued walking out of the door without answering.

              The I-team asked Baton Rouge Police and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office how many times they have been called out to EBR public schools. Since January 2013, BRPD has had 18 different cases involving students and guns, aggravated assaults, terrorizing and 2nd degree battery. EBRSO is still working to get us numbers.

              1. Dr. Taylor’s first meeting with principals asked who had been with the school system 10 years, 20 then 30. I highly regarded administrator raised their hand and what about 40 years (there were several outstanding principals in that group). Taylor’s response, “They should be home watching ‘Price is Right”. 2012

                1. A teacher, Ms. Smith, instructs her class to take out their reading books and begin writing definitions of key words for the story on pages 25–33. The class begins organizing for the assignment—except Mike, who sits sulking at his desk. Ms. Smith approaches Mike and the following exchange occurs:
                  Ms. Smith: “Mike, I told the class to get ready for the assignment, but you aren’t. Is there something the matter?” (Mike ignores Ms. Smith’s question and avoids eye contact with her.)
                  Ms. Smith: “Mike, I asked you a question, Now what’s the problem here?”
                  Mike: “There ain’t no problem here, except you! I don’t want to do this dumb work. Leave me alone, get the f*** out my face.
                  Ms. Smith (not angry- immune to the situations in EBR): “If you don’t’ want to work, I cannot give you a grade. However, if you want to do a different assignment for a grade, maybe we can find something you might like better. How about draw picture about each vocabulary word so I can make sure that you understand the meaning of the words”
                  Mike (laughs sarcastically): “Get off my case! I don’t give a damn about you or this stupid class or my grades. My P.O makes me come to school . Go ahead give me an “F”
                  Ms. Smith tells Mike that if he sits in his chair and does not interrupt the class while they are working she can give him some points for just listening to the class discussion. However, Mike wants to throw paper at the other students and ask them if they saw the fight from the other night on youtube. Ms. Smith tells Mike “If you keep talking, yelling, throwing paper and using inappropriate language in class, then I will have to ask you to leave the room and report you to the vice principal.” Mike goes ballistic, calls the teacher an obscene name, throws the chair over and pounds the wall as he strides out of the room. He continues to curse loudly as he leaves the classroom. Ms. Smith writes up the incident as insubordination and submits her report to the principal’s office. Mike returns to class 10 minutes later not saying a word and sitting in his chair. Ms. Smith does not say anything to Mike because the 10 minutes he was gone she was the best teacher she could be, aside from the fact that it took her 6 minutes to fill out the paperwork necessary to report the incident to the office. A few students ask Mike ” Did you get suspended or do you have to go to behavior clinic?” To which Mike replies “She is lucky that I did not get in trouble because I would flash out on her.” Mike told the students that he had to do 20 push ups and was told he better not be back to the office today. Mrs. Smith tells the students to stop talking and to get back to the lesson. Mike does this every single class meeting. It’s even worse on the days when he tries to break down the door because the tardy bell rang 3 minutes ago, and he does not want to walk over to the administrator to write his name down because he is late to every class that day.
                  Now imagine having 3 kids in one class that act like this, sometimes all in the same day and/or taking turns day to day. How much is your child learning in this type of setting? Who is to blame, the teacher?

              2. This story has a second segment, “Classrooms of Fear: Hopeless and Helpless”. It airs on Thursday night, 5/8/14 at 10 p.m. on Wafb.

            2. Dr. Taylor wants all of you out there to hear about our school, our performance scores/statistics and say ”yes, this is a good school,” but are the kids really educated? Are they? I mean, I don’t want to say do they test well, because some people reject that as a benchmark of education. We as teachers want to give our students a quality education, but it’s not about test scores. I have met a lot of bad people who had great test scores and great grades. We all should want our schools to have good people. So the combination of the two, building their social capital, as well as their humanity, is very important you would think. So when they go out in the world, yes, they’re prepared for college. That’s absolutely the default. Making them reflective and compassionate, empathetic people is really what makes our kid ready for the real world.
              Well, let’s take a look at what we all are doing. First of all, across the board is to have students treated as if they’re on the college prep track, no exceptions. We know in education there are individualized programs, say for kids with special needs. You say expand that to any student who’s at risk.
              Every 4/12 weeks, every interim grading session my old school teachers would fill out what we call an individualized personalized education plan. And the teachers fill those out for all the students that are in their advisory that are on the red list, you know, a 2.0 and below or behavioral problem. Many of our students with special needs, their situation has been heavily documented. Any heavily documented is where it stops for these students. The head of the ESS does not or can not pull her weight in the case of paper work. We have for years at my school get paperwork telling us what accommodation a student has the last 2 months of school. All they want to a signature to prove they have provide you with the information that you should have been provided with 6 to 8 months ago. You can always tell what they are doing because they will not allow you to sign the date because they are post dating these documents. If a teacher tries to address those things that are causing problems they will run that teacher off. Fall in line or get out. But what about the parents that want their kids to learn and get good grades. Those are the symptom. And you got to look at the whole child. We need to look at parent development and then we need to adopt them so to speak , and we set goals for them. And we meet with them. It could be something as simple as you’re going to turn in your homework every day this week. But what is homework but practice from what you have learned from school that day or that week. However Dr. Taylor has come out and said that there will be no grades giving for homework. No student will get a negative grade for not doing any homework.. You’re not going to hit anybody. You’re not going to ditch school. You are not going to stop the teacher from teaching.
              I can hear teachers listening to this and thinking I’d much rather try this then suspend a child but if you have a child that is not even trying to improve at all as a student or as a person what can you do. . A student that is not even making an effort to do better. A student that only comes to school to cause problems. Then yes you do have to suspend that child! And we do, after 4 or 5 months we do. Or after it gets out how bad the teacher are being affected in class. After the news comes down and shows video of how an high educated person can be treated at their place of employment and still be expected to perform at the highest level. After 4 or 5 months of this student acting in a way , you would never think a student could act, is in the classroom with your son or daughter that is trying to learn.
              We are not allowed to suspend students unless its something that would get most people put in jail. We have students that day in and day that threaten teachers. And I don’t want to go into too many of the details, but it is heartbreaking the stories that I have been email describing how it is in an EBR classroom. It really bothered me. However there are changes in the works that will make this all go away and I am going to give all a chances I will not post any of the stories that I have received from teachers with video clips proving what we all know is true. If things change then no one will even need to know what really comes on behind the scene in a typical ebr school. However, each and every school must follow the Student discipline and your legal rights brochures that were handed to the school on Monday the 12th of May. We have restorative justice model, an almost complete refusal to suspend students. It’s part of the idea that everyone does better when nobody’s allowed to fail. And we know that President Obama and the Justice Department are saying that schools are too easily going to the suspension instead of working with kids. But what about the students in the class that are learning the wrong things. That school is place that for them to do whatever they want to do. To bring all their problems to school to solve them there. We don’t have a counselor that talks to child like in years past more for admin test and collect test.
              Teachers are amazing, that they are the decisive factor, that don’t dis-empower yourself, disenfranchise yourself as a teacher. I hear way too much I’m just a teacher. No, you’re a teacher. You have tremendous amount of power. And we must use it.
              I made a lot of mistakes. I was a very – I was a bad . I was the one being sent out during class in my youth. And when people had the will to stand between me and my bad decisions –I was sent home day in and day out and that is when change really happened. That was when I was able to, you know, in a very blunt way pull my head out of my butt and do better.
              Teachers want to be treated individually, they need to treat their students individually. I would tell them to try harder is what I would tell them. I would tell their leaders to provide cover fire so they can do their jobs. Break rules if you have to, lower class size so that teachers can do that. It’s an investment. Spending that time, pulling a kid aside and trying the restorative justice model, it’s an investment.

          2. I’m sure the teachers at “Westjail” middle are extremely happy to see this school year come to an end. Especially the teacher who was knocked out recently by a student in an isolated incident. Isolated? Right! I guess the other teachers who were assaulted by kids don’t count. There has been no structure in a very long time. The current principal has no idea how to run a school. It’s rumored that the former principal is still running the show. It’s believable. Although the school year is over, the memories of working at a place comparable to Baghdad still linger.

  2. I’m not surprised by any of this. These are the throw-away kids and teachers are not considered to be any more professionals than garbage collectors are.

    Money is the bottom line and there is much more profit to be made by charters. These leaders can go to work for charters where they don’t allow these kids or these behaviors.

    Care is not in their vocabularies. I wonder if these “leaders” would know the meaning of caring if they or one of their loved ones (if they are capable of loving) were severely injured or killed by one of these throw away human beings.

    There will be payback some day, maybe in another world if not this one.

  3. Compelling story. However, to be more so, you may wish to proof read. Multiple agreement errors, changing between passive and active voice in the same sentence, and using possessives as plurals decreases your argument. If you want to be convincing, make sure that your verb usage agrees.

    1. Thanks for the grammar lesson. My wish is that I had more time to do such things (every waking hour not spent at work or with my kids is spent here which my wife and house will testify too) I also wish I had an editor, perhaps a paying job that afforded me more time to do this, or perhaps it would be nice if the guys that get paid to produce our news did more than simply churn our press releases and propaganda for the LDOE.

    2. I guess an administrator wrote this comment. Once again instead of talking about the issue it turns into a grammar lesson. WOW!!!!!!!!!! How about you guys take care of the problem! Even with the errors the story is still understandable. IF the shoe fits be Cinderella and wear it!!!!!

  4. I am retired so I can speak. This mans first meeting with principals asked who had been with the school system 10 years, 20 then 30. I highly regarded administrator raised their hand and what about 40 years (there were several outstanding principals in that group). Taylor’s response, “They should be home watching ‘Price is Right”. First meeting with assistant principals, Taylor and his “assistant” pretty much threatened their jobs. He’s a piece of work!

    1. Thanks for speaking up, Monica!

      It’s a tragedy that the reform movement, and those who adore it, hold in such low esteem those with many years of experience. It’s like backwards day every day. Teachers with 5 weeks of training are prized and revered, and those with decades of experience are scorned and chased off.

      Of course if you try to use your retirement you Earned over those 40 years you are a drain on society and a greedy entitlement seeker,

  5. Still teaching after 33 years. . . The decline started several years ago with EBRP. It’s just gotten worse. And yes, retaliation does happen. Been there, done that, and have the administrative leave papers to prove it. It’s not only bad at the high school level, I work in a middle school, have been hit twice this year, cursed, threatened by both student and parent, and the list goes on. Mandated to give homework which rarely gets completed. One student out of 29 in one class had it last week- but it’s my fault I can’t motivate them to learn. Not only is discipline a MAJOR issue there are other MAJOR issues not being address by the school board at all.

    I posted this on my Facebook page on February 7th:

    Sitting here trying to decide if I need to get out of the teaching profession.

    When did it become okay to curse and hit teachers?

    Why is it the teachers’ fault and the teachers must be lousy teachers because their students can not master the basic skills?

    When did teachers become ineffective because the right data walls aren’t on display in their room?

    Why are the teachers held accountable for students when it was the parents’ responsibility to teach them certain things?

    Why are the teachers expected to pull money out of their own pockets to buy supplies for the classroom?

    What other profession or job has to put up with this nonsense?

    If we worked at a job as a receptionist and someone cursed you, you have the right to ask them to leave or hang up. Not teachers-we mark it on a piece of paper to document the behavior. Then we have to devise a plan to alter that behavior. We call the parent to include them in the plan only to be told that’s your job or my child would never do that- what did you do to make my child say that or behave like that? If that plan doesn’t work, we have to revisit the plan and try something different. By the time you’ve completed all of that you’ve been cursed numerous times and they might get their hand slapped.

    I’m thinking very seriously this profession isn’t for me any more!

    Just thought I’d throw in my few cents (which is all I have left after purchasing items for my classroom.)

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Becky. Sorry to hear about your plight but it is one I’ve heard all too often of late. I did not mean to imply the middle schools were free of such situations, just that I only interviewed HS folks because I figured it would be worse there. I do not have these issues with the elementary school my kids attend, but I am worried about what will happen when they go to middle school. I myself had problems in my middle school in EBR. To think things have gotten worse really worries me about what my children will face. I support public schools fiercely, but I won’t sacrifice my children too them and I don’t want my neighbor’s children or my neighborhood teachers abused by them either.

    2. After 33 years, you need to get a job that is less hazardous to your health. Just drive around BR to see how screwed up and segregated our dumb city is. I tip my hat to you; you have accomplished a great feat. God bless our teachers.

  6. I worked at a school in EBR that stood up for the teachers and did not tolerate this behavior. That school was closed.

  7. Honestly, it’s gone on for a lot longer than Taylor. I’ve seen it with my own eyes more than ten years ago. I saw my favorite English teacher bullied by a student from her class, and the next day she quit. This was at istrouma middle magnet school after they let the neighborhood kids in. It’s much worse now, but it’s not confined to ebr. Baker is the same way. The teachers can’t teach or discipline, then you hear of them snapping on these “angels”. The so called “angels” have been groomed for several generations to behave like this. Baker was once a great school system, but because they broke off too late, they are stuck with the same problem. Also, I had tried to report one of their bus drivers, but apparently, ebr doesn’t answer their phones at all. No wonder things like this go on, with the lack of proper leadership at the head office.

  8. I went to Valley Park Middle(when it was a regular middle school), Scotlandville High, McKinley High, and Central High. Central didn’t have these problems, and Scotlandville was a Magnet program and they didn’t have those problems either, but VP and MCK was an experience to say the least. Its no wonder half of EBRP wants to break away from that school system. I moved out of the state when my son was 4 so he wouldn’t have to go through the same system I went through.

    1. Which is why I want this addressed. I wish those folks would work with us to improve the district rather than breakaway from it. If this does not get addressed many parents will be clambering to breakaway, for vouchers, for charter schools that can set their own more restrictive discipline policies. The district is doomed if it does nothing, as are the many other districts who have adopted similar policies to improve their SPS scores.

  9. I taught 6,7, and 8 at a Catholic School in Annandale, VA–Queen of Apostles. She wanted to fire me because I used the most contemporary teaching style that I had used when teaching at university and what I had learned at UVA. I found that the kids were excited about being part of the process of learning and had great insights. OMG–they were actaually THINKING! The principal believed that teaching was lecturing–and if any of you folks out there have ever spent a portion of your lives enduring lectures instead of genuine teaching, you know how little students learn. School becomes a memorizing exercise for a test and is soon forgotten. We retain what is meaningful to us. Lectures (a solo performance for an agotist who does not understand the ramifications of genuine learning and the applicability of thinking for oneself once one has the facts and arrives at a considered opinion. She fired me after 2 months, but the kids and the parents protested, so I told them my Dad was dying and needed me (true). I still get cards from them, love them, and after so many years, remember their names!

  10. Being an employee at Melrose Elementary School. I was totally shocked that when Christmas came around my principal and assistant principal passed out a bottle of Beringer’s White Zinfandel 750mL to the entire staff in the cafeteria at Melrose Elementary. This was reported to EBR and nothing was done about it. This is against EBR’s policy, and it states that in their hand book. A teacher would have been dismissed immediately. Well I guess when Mr. Michael Haggen is your relative you can do whatever you want too.

      1. Principal Pamela Randall is the relative. He brought her here from a failing school from out of New Orleans. She in returned hired her buddies in top positions at the school. Dawn Greay Assistant Principal and Natalie Franklin Instructional Specialist who was relieved of her duties from L.B. Landry H.S.

    1. If the biggest problem you see at your school is that the adults in the school drank wine at Christmas, I think you’ve got bigger problems.

      1. Raven,
        I do not think the problem was with drinking wine at Christmas. The problem was the fact that it is unethical. If teachers and administration want to get together and drink socially, it needs to be done off campus! Since this is becoming a grammar lesson, it should read, “drink” and not “drank”. As you were!

  11. I do not understand what is going on in the Louisiana School System. I am a paraprofessional in Livingston Parish. I can tell you teachers are terrified and afraid of the scores of the states requirements of the common core.
    The beginning of school we had to watch a video of several classrooms.The video consisted of several classes being taught by two different teachers. At the end of the video we were told that both teachers had failed, I ask the question if they had a video of a passing class? The answer was No! I know that there is very little discipline allowed, but we are blessed with a good principal, and we are a elementary school, but I know that something needs to happen to help these teachers get back to doing what they loved doing TEACHING, because if they did’t love it they surely would’t be doing it. NO ONE WOULD GO FOUR YEARS TO COLLEGE , TO MAKE WHAT THEY ARE MAKING.

    1. The problem is the deprofessionalization of the teaching profession and overemphasis on specific metrics. Once those metrics are used to grade schools they become meaningless because schools and school districts stop trying to improve children and focus on just improving metrics.

      So are you saying Livingston Parish is having this problem with their middle and high schools now too?

  12. I’ve been a public school teacher for 17 years and when I saw everything take a bad turn is when we started receiving 25% of our school’s grade for cohort graduation rate. Expelling or failing students is shooting yourself in the foot. Who is responsible for that? John White, Bobby Jindal and BESE. The more kids we get to graduate on time with their incoming freshman class, the more points we get. If a school scores low, they can be offered vouchers and lose both students and funding. It’s a lose/lose. I don’t teach in EBR, but these issues are happening all over the state. And the kids know they get lots of “mulligans”. Completely undermines a teacher’s authority.

    1. I suspect that it is happening all over the state. I have gotten anecdotal evidence from other districts but I live in EBR and had a lot of folks contact me from here because they were so fed up.

      Charter schools and RSD don’t have to worry about these things because they just boot the kids back to the main school district and voila’ someone else’s problem and their scores are not impacted.

  13. I would like to know why these teachers have not pressed assault and battery charges for these incidents? Why haven’t gone to there teacher unions where they have legal representation to address theses matters if the aren’t being heard by their principals, school board officials or central office?

    1. I have pressed charges after being hit. I’ve pressed charges when my phone was stolen. I have gone to the union when a principal was harassing me and was told I had enough evidence to take it to court in addition to the school board. I tried to do the right thing and go through the EBRP chain of command. The union president couldn’t even get a meeting with the Assistant Superintendent.

  14. Unfortunately, our children are not being allowed to connect their actions with consequences nor allowed to learn from their experiences. Rather than overlooking misbehavior and forgiving the fact that they do not do their work, there needs to be a system where there are consequences and true reteaching of desired behavior. There is nothing wrong with forgiveness of behavior, but it can only work positively when the offender acknowledges their initial behavior was wrong. This is what our children are not receiving, and we do a disservice to them when any and every wrong is ignored.

    The problems in education will continue until someone acknowledges that there are problems, look to finding solutions to the problems and not trying to whitewash the situation. This starts at the top, when they quit looking simply at the performance of the school and understand that by making sure each individual student “truly” succeeds, the entire school succeeds. This takes not only the teacher’s effort, but also the effort of every student, parent and administrator. If all parties do not do there part, then there is no chance of success.

  15. Ok folks. I heard your complaints about my grammer and did a run-through to correct and rephrase this piece. Sorry i did such a crappy job. You don’t have to pay me for this one. 🙂

  16. I would like to respond to a bertelot. I have pressed legal charges two separate times and little has been done. The first time a student threatened to physically hurt me. I was called by a district attorney who said that if I moved forward with charges there would not be a strong case against the student because of the words the student chose to use. He also said that he would make the final decision in moving forward with the case no matter what I said. The second time I received sexual comments from a student and our school’s on duty police officer said he was going to take the student to jail that day. The officer did not follow through and the student returned to campus the next day.

    1. We shouldn’t resort to violence with our kids, (we are the adults trying to show the good examples) but unless she dragged him across the classroom floor on his back (with his shirt choking him) and into the hall I find it hard to envision a case where she should have been arrested. I can totally understand she may have been frustrated if her school office has not been supportive of her in the past as many folks are reporting here, but I don’t think the answer is to initiate physical discipline. That leaves teachers open to lawsuits, jailings, dismissal, and kids open to subjective physical restraint and punishment, and physically escalates the situation which may put this teacher and other teachers in the path for more physical harm if the student decides to fight back or retaliate later.

      Note: This is Baker, not EBR, although I’ve been getting reports the problems we have in EBR are there as well. Our EBR DA is apparently refusing to book kids for all but the most heinous crimes and our school system is not disciplining students sufficiently either.

  17. I posted this on FB after being tagged and asked my thoughts about this article, I debated on posting, but here it is:
    Honestly, the discipline policies begin with the attitude that the administration takes. Personally, and regretfully, I have a pretty good expulsion rate, I (the school) win more than we lose (and only one falls in the big three category, and the same last year on a different campus), and that’s because we are showing the attempts at rehab, redirection, attitude changes, interventions to help the kid…CWA knows and the parents…we tried, and now it’s time to cut ties… But we do have a lot of campuses where the admins are not doing the work up front, so they are able to avoid being burned on the back end. Do we have some students that need to be in a much more restrictive environment? Hell yeah! But the system has always been flawed, always will be… The Admins have to adapt to the terrain, and make it work for their campuses… And many of them are not providing the academic support to teachers or students, and because that’s the case they WILL have problems in the other aspects of the school. Crazycrawfish brings out SOME truths, but he uses many comments as being the case everywhere, and it’s not a blanket that he can put on everybody’s bed. But we have choices ,we can either help our district be better for our kids and our futures or we can get out… Ok I’m done.

    1. I’m not sure I understand what you are saying. I did not put a blanket on everyone’s bed, I put one on 6 beds and others have brought their comforters to the party.

      This has been a problem for years apparently, and has gotten worse. What were you doing to make this better before I came a long?

      A lot of people are trying to get out, I am trying to shine a light on what is wrong so people will face these problems and do something about them. You obviously recognized these issues, you seem to pointing the fingers at somebody, you think your school is fine, but what did you do for everyone else? Do those kids and teachers not matter to you?

      You talk about your “rate” and winning. Is this all just a big game to you? I don’t care who’s fault it is, or who’s winning (you seem to be saying it’s the principals faults not the districts) I think these issues are wrong and need to be addressed.

      I also talked about academics. How are you handling your academics? Are you a High school and if so, which one? I think my elementary school is top notch and so are many magnet schools. The non-magnet schools have a rougher populace in many cases and as a result have had to resort to watering down their academics and discipline policies to improve their “scores” not the educations of their kids, not the safety of their schools.

      Do you believe the teachers with problems should just suck it up and accept their fates as babysitter punching bags? That would ruin my spirit and drive me off, and then where will all our other kids be?

      1. I agree that there have been a multitude of reasons for educators in the state and EBR to have a very bad taste in their mouths…
        I have taught and been an administrator in the district on both the middle and HS level, on traditional, magnet and gifted campuses, so my experiences have been varied and extensive, and I’ve carried the same attitude to each of those campuses- support teachers and the academic environment in the classroom, while trying to work to help those students that are “throw-aways” , as some your readers have termed them. I don’t think teachers should suck it up and babysit, not at all; every campus on which I’ve worked the students understood that the last thing I will allow them to do is impede the academic progress of the rest of their class with their disruptions. Students that threaten or assault teachers should be severely punished, by the school system and judicial-that’s criminal and should be treated as such…and I do place blame on both the principal and the district for there even being a discussion about that student returning to a regular setting…
        The campuses that I’ve worked have stressed strengthening the academics rather watering it down…when has diluting the solution ever proved to make something more potent…test scores don’t increase because teachers teach less, that doesn’t provide results. And as far as discipline is concerned, for years we as a district were not properly handling the discipline of identified ESS students, particularly the students on the lower end of the ESS spectrum, in essence much of the paperwork tended to not be in order. Once that was brought to light then the discussion of discipline overall was looked at and some of the disproportionate numbers that were revealed. As a result, the hands of administrators felt tied until they were able to develop discipline plans that worked for their campuses…those that figured it out and were able to sell the plan to their teachers flourished, regretfully many have not and continue to struggle…
        In making the statement about my “rate”, I intended to off-set your statement that the only time students are expelled were as a result of the “Big Three”…that’s not the case. Is it harder? Yes. Is the process a bit harder? Yes. If you do the things that ultimately are going to benefit everyone- attempting to change kids behavior, can students be removed from your campuses? Yes.

        And no, this is not a big game to me…this is what I’ve dedicated my life to.

        I appreciate what your blog is doing, but I think that many of those that are speaking to you are only voicing their angst…not the things that they may be encouraged by…I acknowledge the flaws of our system and recognize the things that many campuses are doing that are great in spite of, because they have figured out how to make a tough situation work. I look forward to continuing to read your articles and commenting…

        1. Thanks for you reply.

          Acknowledging flaws is a lot idifferent than exposing them or addressing them. You have agreed this is a problem you have seen. You have not provided evidence that this is not a widespread problem. In fact you provide info that points to just the opposite situation that this is a widespread problem: we “have a lot of campuses where admins are not doing the hard work upfront.”

          People speaking to me are definetly voicing their “angst” as you put it. No one in the chain of command is listening to them. You are not helping them with your attitude “that it is something that will always be there and that you are fine.” Bear in mind that the fact you personally are fine or think fondly of your work and “numbers” does not mean everyone else is fine, that the children subjected to these environment arer fine. These “non-admins”, these teachers, are subjected to the hate, venom and danger is not fine.

          You complain about people talking about throw-away kids, but have you too not just thrown most of your compatriots and coworkers, having problems, away with your statements and attitude?

          I do not call them “throw aways” but when they are 17 years old and kicking teachers ont he ground until they are physically pulled off by officers, they ARE criminals and hoodlums and they do not belong in a traditional school anymore. They require serious intervnetion and rehabilitiation to ever hope to have a normal(non-criminal) life. That rehabilitation environment is NOT a traditional public school. By this point it is too late to save these children and we must save the ones that remain, and work harder and earlier to prevent these outcomes. That is a whole separate discussion and problem however. Allowing teachers and students to be punching bags for out of control teens is not the answer and will only create more problems.

          Moreover, I am getting info that even when schools have done everything right, and the child is “expelled”, quite often this just means the student is transferred to another school in the district to become someone else’s problem all over again.

          I am glad you agree that students who have physically assaulted and and threatened teachers should be severely punished and that the district should have the blame for this and returning these students to a traditional setting should far and away be the exception, not the rule:

          “Students that threaten or assault teachers should be severely punished, by the school system and judicial-that’s criminal and should be treated as such…and I do place blame on both the principal and the district for there even being a discussion about that student returning to a regular setting…”

          I fully recognize that EBR handled discipline of SPED students very poorly in many cases. I worked with the Special Master assigned to EBR when i worked at the state and heard some of the stories. However, I must question any solution that allows these students to run rampant on campuses assaulting teachers and students time after time. This would seem to be an inappropriate setting for these kids and certainly for the kids and teachers around them.

          I appreciate your work and dedication. I may have been too harsh with you before, however your terminology, jargon, and attitude was somewhat offputting and offensive to me – and a number of readers I imagine.

          Since you have freely recognized this is a widespread problem, and heard these stories of your fellows in need, what do you plan to do about what is going on? I think it is unfair to simply gloss over and publicly contradict and downplay these stories when you know they represent a truth for many others who lack the standing to do anything about them.

  18. Well here’s the latest at Melrose. All fourth grade students were tested on Tuesday for LEAP and students turned in their test booklets after testing. Do you know the talk around the school from the students who were present to take the LEAP was that they were called out of class on Wednesday once the booklets were looked through by the Guidance Counselor (Ms. Richard) and (Principal) Pamela Randall. Students were called in to make (adjustments) to their test. Students were proud to make it known in their neighbor’s that they sat with the Principal in her office and made adjustments to their answers on the test. EBR was notified of this and did not ask teachers or students if this violation took place. If someone out their knows someone in a higher position please have them investigate this unethical practice at Melrose. How fair is this to other teachers and fourth grade students throughout the EBR District?

  19. Thanks a bunch! I hope it wasn’t sent to Michael Haggen who is the principal’s relative. Bernard Taylor backs whatever decision Haggen makes. Whatever is told by the teachers should not be told who said what. Dr. Taylor and Haggen likes to bully teachers and so does the administration at our school.

  20. Please post more blogs like this.

    In regards to ESS, it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to discipline a student who has been labeled ESS. There are MANY students who deserve the term but far more who don’t.

    Here is a list of incidences I have heard about THIS YEAR in Ebr.

    – student started fires (2) in the bathroom and is still on campus

    – student hit teacher and is still on campus (ESS student)

    – students taking pictures of standardized tests and sending it to their friends to cheat. Administration finds out and nothing is done.

    – student deals drugs in the bathroom — nothing is done by administration

    – student says extremely disrespectful things to a teacher and teacher is told that unless the student curses at you you can not write them up

    – Students get away with cursing at teachers daily. (Students have no ID and curse at teachers they don’t know)

    – students take pictures of teachers in class and administration doesn’t care.

    – entire class revolts against the teacher and administration does nothing.

      1. I heard that they spoke to the principal and she said they called the student’s in to write their names. This is an out right lie. Since when does a student use a calculator to sign their names? A staff member was in the office and saw the students going into the office with their calculators and the majority of the students were present the day before. A staff member saw a male student sitting in the principal’s office on the other side of her desk testing. Ms. Randall(Principal) and Latasha Richard(Guidance Counselor) was present while he was making changes to his test. He then came back to the class and in his neighbor hood and said he was allowed to make changes to his test. No one ever spoke to the staff or the students. These people are afraid of Pamela Randall, the principal because she is related to Michael Haggen. Teachers as well as students should be interviewed to find out what they know. CHEATING did take place at MELROSE and the principal and the guidance counselor should be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. This is what they do teachers in EBR.

        1. Good evening

           

          The incident was investigated and there was no testing irregularity.  In fact, it was an observant counselor that noted one small group testing session had no student signatures on the front page of the students’ answer documents, block A.   We encourage the test coordinators to check the signatures and the demographic information on the front page in case there is a question about the answer documents after they have been shipped and scanned. 

           

          I notified Susan Kahn, the State Test Coordinator, about the story on Sunday, March 23 and sent the incident report in a memo signed by Dr. Taylor and me. The memo statedI was notified Sunday that a blogger may write about a testing incident at Melrose Elementary. The story was that several students were called in the principal’s office and the students changed their answers on the Phase 1 LEAP test.  The principal reported to me that some students had been called but the purpose was to sign their answer documents.  When the school test coordinator was packing the answer documents, she discovered six did not have the student’s signature on the front page.  She requested they be called in the principal’s office so two adults would observe that only the signature was added. Darlene Brister, their Executive Director, and I interviewed the adults and students involved.  These interviews provided evidence that the students were called in the office, signed the front cover of their answer document and returned to class.

           

          Thanks for the opportunity to clarify this issue, Liz

           

           

          Liz Frischhertz | Chief Officer for Accountability, Assessment & Evaluation
          East Baton Rouge Parish School System |12000 Goodwood Ave.| Baton Rouge, LA  70815
          Main: (225) 226-7625  | Desk: (225) 226-7917  | Cell: (225) 572-5720| Fax: (225)226 -7605
          Email: lfrischhert@ebrschools.org    website: http://www.accountability.ebrschools.org

  21. It’s because of Michael Haggen that they can cover up. Whom ever EBR sent to investigate they know that this is Haggen’s relative and he is their boss. I’m not sure of the name but it was a school in New Orleans. You know they read this blog and this is why they were ready with their lies when asked about the cheating. smh

  22. This is a not the truth. No students were called out. We know who the students are and they were never called out of class. EBR is very untruthful. No students were ever interviewed. They all got together and made up this story. If anything, they will call the students in and tell them to keep their mouths shut if they want to pass the LEAP. They are trying to retaliate right now and trying to find out who the persons are who know who the students are. Darlene Brister came to the school on Monday morning and only spoke with the principal and this is the story they came up with. Again, everyone is afraid of Michael Haggen and that is why they covered everything up.

  23. My wife teaches 3rd grade in EBR and the same corrupt things are happening in Elementary schools too! The teachers are afraid to speak out because anyone who makes waves gets their jobs threatened or receives an ineffective evaluation. Please find a way to help the teachers

  24. Here is some news to share Jessica Brister has a made up position where she will now be over Assistant Principals at five schools one being the school where her sister-in-law is employed Melrose Elementary. Is that a conflict of interest or what? They are also bringing the Dean Of Students from Park Elementary school to be the Assistant Principal. Jessica is placing her people at the schools she will be over so that they can cheat and make her look good. How do you think the scores improved at Park? She surrounded her self with people who helped her cheat. Her mother- in law- Darlene Brister is in on this also along with Sherry Brock who is in charge of placing principals. Please if anyone out there can forward this to school board members or anyone in the business community who can speak on this tomorrow at the School Board meeting please send them this. This is un fair and not right. Jessica Brister should not be over a school where her family is already employed and they should have allowed the faculty and staff to have in put as to whom the principal would be. Do you know EBR is bringing back retired principals and hiring new people like Jessica Brister to make a salary of over 100,000 a year? These schools Mrs. J. Brister will be over will not have principals so this is why she will receive this salary. They don’t need anyone making this kind of salary telling someone how to cheat. The board members really need to look into these salaries. This is uncalled for and the teachers are the ones who get paid nothing. They have moved a lot of principals around just recently making people trapped at schools and cannot get out. They really need to move everyone back where they were except the ones who have resigned or have been fired and allow the teachers at these schools to interview the persons being placed at their schools. School Board Members and Business Community get involved and help make this a reality. PLEASE SEND THIS TO SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP!!!!!!!!

    Thanks

      1. I saw on the school board that they approved Jessica Brister’s position. That’s really sad. We’ll get ready to cheat at all the schools she’s over like they did at Park Elementary. I heard she has hand picked everyone and the cheating will start as soon as school starts. It is time to get rid of all of the Brister’s so others can have opportunities to do things. They need a superintendent who will get rid of everyone in the central office at EBR. I understand Millie Williams Director of Human Resources, Catherine Brown are bullying people they don’t care for and telling them “Either you take this position or we will get rid of you.” I wish I needed a job and I was told that. I would own EBR!!!! They need to get rid of these bullies for threatening people for Michael Haggen. I will keep you posted on affairs that are happening within the system. Please send this to any school board member you know!!!!!

  25. I don’t in any form think violence is the way to solve a problem and it should not be use to express anger. Unfortunately, EBRSS is out of control, not just for teachers but for students too. Violence just don’t happen to the teachers, but there is an Algebra 2 teacher at Scotlandville High, who think it’s okay to call students out of their gender. This teacher like to embarrass students infront of other students. The school doesn’t do anything when a complaint is made a teacher. My daughter is a Miss and not a Mister, nor do she look like one.It is SAD when a teacher don’t know how to conduct herself in a classroom. This is a person who is suppose to be helping educate our children!

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