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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

With black student discipline, Pinellas should "not claim to do more than we can"



Pinellas school board members said this week that as mediation continues over the next piece in the long-running Bradley case - how to reduce discipline rates for black students - they want legal language that says the district and the community must work together to reduce those rates.

"We can't do it on our own," said board member Carol Cook. "It needs to flow over in the community for the sake of the community."

District records show black students are given referrals at higher rates than white students, but district officials say records also show black students are not given heavier penalties.

In an update to board members this week, board attorney Jim Robinson said, "We need to do everything we can, but not claim to do more than we can."

Board members Cook, Linda Lerner and Mary Brown agreed.

"When students walk through our doors, we have a responsibility ... to set standards and boundaries for behavior," Brown said. "We have to stick strong on that ... There should be respect."

Robinson told members that both sides are making progress (this Dec. 16 email from the plaintiff's attorney suggests otherwise, but it came out before the last mediation session). He said an agreement could be reached within a couple months.

Also at the workshop, board member Linda Lerner said she'd like to attend a mediation session. (The next one is Feb. 10.) But Robinson said that would not be a good idea.

The plaintiffs have a "tremendous amount of trust" in Superintendent Julie Janssen, he said. But "to introduce a new personality ... having a board member in the room, that changes the chemistry."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:48am]


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