What's going on at Pinellas Park Middle?
At least since early last fall - when there was an uptick in arrests (enough to generate this TV news story) - we have heard a lot of chatter about deteriorating conditions at Pinellas Park Middle. We're still tracking down arrest statistics and other info, but in the meantime The Gradebook stumbled on this email, through a public records request, from Pinellas Park Middle Principal Robyn Witcher to John Hopkins Middle Principal Barry Brown:
"Pinellas Park middle school has been experiencing some issues with neighborhood drama and chronically disruptive students that are similar to what John Hopkins went through last year," Witcher wrote last week. "We have implemented various strategies and interventions that have been successful in making some improvements. However, second semester can be a challenge in the best of situations and we would like to be preventative, rather than responsive."
Witcher goes on to invite Brown to come to Pinellas Park Middle and share strategies that appear to be working at Hopkins.
Another interesting email that turned up from our request was from a teacher who shared her concerns with both board member Linda Lerner and a PCTA rep. In a Feb. 1 note to the PCTA rep, she writes, "My concern is something that concerns our school one hundred fold: Parental accountability. This year alone, many of our teachers follow the regulations and call home in order to maintain the lines of communication and in order to help our struggling students and those with poor academic performance or disruptive behavior. Instead of cooperation and insight, we get parents who verbalize that they are 'tired' of teachers calling their homes, parents who hang up on you, parents who blame teachers instead of finding out how to better help their students at school, and parents who call you back to say "don't ever call my house again." No wonder the truant students who walk our halls feel empowered by their parents to do what they are doing: slamming doors, walking the hallways, campus disruption, etcetera."
So, tell us: How are things going at Pinellas Park Middle? Is it really that bad? Is the situation better now than it was early last fall? If you're willing to speak with me, by all means contact me at (727) 893-8873 or firstname.lastname@example.org.