The school board’s Safety and Student Conduct committee (Steve Smith, Sara Cazares, David Varela) met for 90 minutes yesterday on three topics. Here’s a rundown:
1 – Former County Supervisor Steve Gutierrez, president and co-founder of APANTLI, discussed the interventions his group will be engaging in at Nightingale during the coming school year. APANTLI means “bridge” in the Aztec language and provides services to students and families.
APANTLI’s involvement at Nightingale is part of the federal School Improvement Grant won by the district earlier this year for that and six other schools. Part of Nightingale’s SIG funding was $136,510 for gang-prevention assistance.
Gutierrez said APANTLI will work with 50 male seventh- and eighth-graders and their families during the 2012-13 school year. “We become integral parts of that family,” Gutierrez said. “We believe that’s the only way you can solve many of the problems these families are facing.”
The boys in the program will be students identified by Nightingale staff as needing the APANTLI intervention.
“Whatever angle we can use to get these kids to stop doing what they’re doing, I think it’s time well-spent,” Gutierrez said.
Nightingale becomes the third SIG school to be getting extra community services this year for its students and their families. Community Partnership for Families will provide services to families in the coming year at Roosevelt and Taylor. This also adds another all-male program in SUSD. All-male programs are coming in 2012-13 to four K-8 sites and Chavez High.
2 — SUSD Police Chief Jim West reported on data concerning his department. Though West said the purpose of his report was not to beg for more officers, the unavoidable interpretation of the data was that he feels his department could use more help.
West, though, made clear he is well-aware that the district’s general fund is stretched thin, that what goes on inside classrooms is the district’s top priority, and that if voters do not pass a tax hike in November massive midyear cuts may be inevitable.
But Superintendent Steve Lowder said he does not believe student safety is an item that ought to be shortchanged. He said when parents are surveyed they invariably state that safety, not a good education, is at the top of their list in terms of importance when they send their children to school.
Lowder said if the district was low on funds and a school bus needed new tires, the district certainly wouldn’t skimp on buying new tires. The same, he suggested, should be the case for services that make schools safer.
“If we need more officers, we need more officers,” Lowder said.
3 – Late last year, the American Civil Liberties Union released a study which found that minority students, particularly black students, bear the brunt of the suspensions and expulsions meted out at SUSD schools.
During the course of the discussion at Thursday afternoon’s meeting, Deputy Superintendent Julie Penn, Assistant Superintendent Dan Wright and the committee members discussed the possibility of testing an “in-school suspension” class that students could be enrolled in at one of the K-8 sites. This would take the place of more draconian measures that cause students to miss time at school. The students would benefit because they would be receiving discipline without missing school. The district would benefit because it would not be losing ADA funding. It’s an idea we might hear more about in the future.