Task force recommends suspension center for Pinellas
Instead of suspending students and sending them home, the Pinellas County School District should set up an "intensive intervention center" in the black community where students who get into trouble can get tutoring, mentoring, psychological services, etc., says a task force that was recently put together by an influential group in the black community.
"Center would provide preventive and intervention services to support students, parents and families, thus increasing academic performance, decreasing problem behavior and promoting parental involvement," says a report from the 16-member group, established in September by the Concerned Organizations for Quality Education for Black Students. "Center would be staffed with counselors, social workers, psychologists, tutors and mentors."
The group offered this and other recommendations for improving education in south St. Petersburg to Superintendent Julie Janssen, who attended yesterday's COQEBS meeting. Here are the recommendations in full:
1. COQEBS does not endorse a establishing another traditional Fundamental School in South St. Petersburg or in other areas of the county with struggling schools. Its attraction would have a ripple and negative affect on the enrollment of zoned schools in its area. Freeze plans for converting Boca Ciega into a fundamental school until a five-year education strategy is developed that gives all students an opportunity for a quality education.
2. COQEBS supports the idea that all South St. Petersburg high schools, as well as other struggling schools embrace fundamental-like principles. These principles would recognize that the educational process involve students, parents, students and the District. Consequently, students would be expected to come to school prepared to learn and parents expected to support their children. The community would engage in promoting this concept.
3. The fundamental-like high school would have the following characteristics, among others: (a) set, model and maintain high expectations for all students; (b) require 9th and 10th graders to wear uniforms, juniors and seniors to wear appropriate dress; (c) parents of 9th and 10th graders sign homework and pick up report cards each grading period. The curriculum would stress both academic achievement and behavior development as mandated agreed to in the Bradley Quality of Education MOU’s. Schools would have a structured “back to basics” environment with joint parent-teacher commitment to education and a safe environment. Provisions would be made for a longer school day and Saturday to include tutoring and mentoring services.
4. Establish an intensive intervention center in the black community as an alternative site for students who have been suspended for three or more days., to help them deal with specific social and emotional issues which may contribute to their problem behavior. Center would provide preventive and intervention services to support students, parents and families, thus increasing academic performance, decreasing problem behavior, and promoting parental involvement. Center would be staffed with counselors, social worker, psychologist, tutors and mentors. Include youth serving agenciestions such as Westcare, R Club, JWB, etc. Instead of suspension, require student attend the center for intensive counseling and support for student and parent.
5. The district should work to insure that appropriate educational strategies are in place to facilitate student success and mandate that teachers and other instructional personnel are equipped and capable.
The following methodology can be utilized to implement this strategy:
A. A community campaign should be designed to promote appropriate positive education values while addressing the issue of student behavior that disrupt the educational process.
B. The district should analyze and evaluate its curriculum to determine its overall suitability for addressing the underachieving student population.
C. The Classroom Teachers Association’s leadership must recognize the need to assist the majority of its membership in their attempts to help close the achievement gap and attend to the needs of the students. This recognition must take into account a need for innovative teaching strategies which may include longer school days and a longer school year with adequate compensation for teachers working in struggling schools must be a part of the solution.
D. The District in conjunction with the community should develop an education strategy for five years for South St. Petersburg schools.
E. Reach out to “Partners in Public Education” team (coordinating team-north/south) and convene a meeting with grassroots organizations and youth serving agencies. Identify stakeholders and develop principles and strategies for developing partnerships.
F. Deal with the disconnect between Pre-K and K-16.
G. Pinellas County Urban League to take leadership role in addressing the Black Male graduation rate.