During the February session of the Midlothian ISD Board of Trustees, several district employees gave presentations on security, emotional support efforts and statistics from the crisis link.
District officials detailed proactive actions already in place to ensure the safety of the students. Backing up those efforts, the district has conducted four of the previously planned 11 walkthroughs, as well as 11 campus safety meetings. All meetings were completed the first two months of school.
Two safety teams have been established in the district and meet twice a year — September and May.
Midlothian ISD also has five School Resource Officers (SRO) who require 80-plus hours of training per school year. They file weekly reports with Midlothian Police Department and MISD. In addition, MISD has five security guards, three at Midlothian High School and two at Midlothian Heritage High School.
The weekly SRO reports report there have been 206 incidents reported this school year related to student or campus safety. Of those, 87 were facility checks, 59 were related to staff contact, 48 were related to parent contact and 128 related to positive interactions.
When discussing emotional support, MISD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Cindy Woody displayed the organizations and programs that are offered at all tiers of education. They ranged from social clubs to counseling opportunities.
Board President Todd Hemphill challenged Woody or anyone in the district to get the number of students who aren’t part of any of these organizations because those are the ones he is worried about.
“If you look at these terrible instances, one of the common denominators is that our kids, teens, are not connected to the district besides only coming to class,” Hemphill said. “I think whatever that percentage is, the district should work towards finding out those we are not addressing.”
Student Services Administrator Dr. Al Hemmle discussed the definition of bullying and reports that have been filed. For an act to be considered bullying, the student’s actions must exploit an act of imbalance of power.
As of Feb. 19, there have been 31 reports of bullying filed. Only eight reports have been substantiated, and 23 had other disciplinary infractions.
Hemphill added that not every time act of bullying is reported.
From a security standpoint, MISD Chief Technology Officer Leslie Garakani shared a breakdown of the number of people who swipe into the schools as a visitor. So far this school year, there have been over 35,000 visitors who have entered schools across the district. Garakani pointed out that none were registered sex offenders.
Garakani also commented on the Gaggle system, which filters sexual content, violence, abuse to self, rape, abuse to others, alcohol, smoking, and drugs in student emails.
Through Gaggle, there have been 213 violations, 40 questionable conduct (nudity, sexual content, abuse), zero incidents possible student situation (suicide/harming others).
He added that the online anonymous crisis link has had a total of 26 submissions. So far, there have been six reports related to bullying, 11 reports on personal safety, three reports about a staff member or teacher and six reports related to threats against other or school or a facility.
Trustees unanimously approved a unified legislative stance and adopted a resolution in regards to public education. Their four primary items included more Texas public education funding, as Hemphill stated that MISD receives less money from the state on a yearly basis. In 2013, Texas funded about 44 percent of the MISD budget compared to 38 percent this year. Moreover, local tax dollars currently support more than 60 percent of the budget.
The board opposes any vouchers, tuition reimbursements, tax credits, or any other program that diverts public funds to private entities for education with minimal state oversight.
The board also opposes the high stakes testing and A—F accountability system. “STAR does not hold any tangible feedback or impact to how a student learns nor feed into how they are engaged in a career or collegiate aspect. Period,” Hemphill affirmed.
Lastly, they advocate for the penton plan for Teacher Retirement System (TRS) members. The board advocates for increased state funding to collide with increased healthcare costs. Hemphill said the state should be “ashamed” of what they are doing with the TRS.
The legislative stance was approved unanimously, and the audience rose for an emotional standing applause.
Brad Miller spoke during the open-floor session, mentioning his surprise that there was not a higher attendance considering the topic of safety in schools. His biggest concern was that the public library that is inside Midlothian High School. He explained this allows for open access from the library to the school portion of the building. He mentioned there wasn’t anyone monitoring that space.
“I don’t think we should have open access to our students because we are one crazy person away from what happened in Florida,” Miller stated.
Another issue he had is that there are only five SRO and 11 campuses. He wants for the students and their parents to have a police officer at each campus.
He also asked the district to survey the teachers anomalously.
“See if they are scared to go to school every day. Because I’ve got a wife that teaches at another district and she’s a little nervous about going to school every day. If you’re worried about your job and safety, how do you think they’ll be able to teach our kids,” He asked.
Tiffany Cara also spoke about getting students more involved in local government. She suggested students work with technology to stream city council meetings and such. She offered her expertise and time to work with the students.
In other business:
• The consent agenda was approved unanimously.
• Assistant Superintendent KayLynn Day provided a review update 110, they are bringing it back to the board next meeting. There is only one local policy that has changed. This report is to inform the board.
• Assistant Superintendent of Finance Jim Norris presented the board with a balanced budget. Hemphill asked about having third-party benefits of funding themselves from benefits standpoint opposed to what’s out there today. Norris agreed to look into it. Furthermore, Norris presented enrollment is up by 426 students, special populations is up from last year, and attendance is trending at 96 percent. He mentioned the certified tax roll increased by 9.77 percent over the prior year. One statistic that stood out to Norris was that career and technology education has decreased.
• An attendance summary for the first semester showed the fourth sixth-weeks is always the worst but the third six weeks was “troublesome” due to the flu. Norris said there were several days where campuses were under 90 percent attendance. He iterated this was a “crazy year.” But, campuses are currently showing an average of 96 percent attendance.
• Norris discussed the consideration to seek bids for photography/fundraising and Vitovsky HVAC Controls System replacement.
• Trustees unanimously approved the schematic design for the improvements to the middle school playing fields. This will be complete by the start of the 2018-2019 school year. There will be cement and gravel parking. A concession, restroom building, new lighting, new scoreboard, metal bleachers with 350 seats and a press box.
• The board approved the vendors who will provide structured cabling, improved physical security and campus public address system.
• The board approved the revisions to the board standard operating procedures.
Ashley Ford | 469-517-1450