San Antonio ISD, Hays CISD, Dripping Springs ISD, El Paso ISD, Round Rock ISD, Leander ISD & Pflugerville ISD
Coverage of school board meetings Oct. 18-22, 2021
San Antonio ISD Trustees discuss how to address learning gaps after Beginning of Year Assessment Report
The San Antonio ISD Board of Trustees discussed how to address learning gaps in the District, at a meeting on Oct. 18.
Though all school districts in Texas have suffered learning gaps due to the Covid-19 pandemic, SAISD has been hit disproportionately hard due to high poverty and other factors, according to SAISD Senior Executive Director of Accountability, Research, Evaluation & Testing Theresa Urrabazo.
SAISD Trustee Ed Garza said the District needs to prioritize and allocate federal ESSER funds to address this issue of student academic recovery. Garza said SAISD needs to look at its budget, spending and human resources, first and foremost.
“We know the campuses are spread thin,” Garza said. “We need to acknowledge that we can’t do this alone.”
SAISD Trustee Leticia Ozuna called the learning gaps “very concerning” and said she thinks SAISD needs to take a precision-oriented approach into which grades and which types of subjects are lacking.
“Some capabilities are more fundamental than others to be able to close the gap,” Ozuna said.
SAISD Board Vice President Alicia Sebastion brought up the issue of teacher vacancies within the District. Sebastion said she had known some classrooms where students have already had three different teachers this year. In those conditions. She said it is going to be difficult to catch students up to bridge the learning gaps, or to even know where students are academically at the current moment.
“How do we support our teachers to make them want to stay in their classrooms?” Sebastion asked.
SAISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert A. Jaklich said they will be addressing the human capital piece of the issue in the near future, that right now the administration is using the data from the Beginning of Year Assessment Report as a sort of “North Star.”
“That North Star will now allow us to work with the Board to decide where we’re going to put our resources,” Jaklich said.
Jacklich said they will come up with strategies to address the gaps, support the people that need to make it happen, provide the opportunity for them to be successful and remove barriers while showing appreciation for the work that has already been done, as well as the work that will be done.
SAISD has been in this place before, Jaklich said.
“All school districts are in the same situation that SAISD is; however we’re going to take responsibility for our students and work with our community partners and work with our staff and Board of Trustees and come up with a really specific plan with an intentional focus with these needs,” he said.
Sebastion asked for the number of teachers SAISD lost between the end of the 2020-2021 school year and the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. The administration did not have the number available during the meeting, but said they would provide it to the Board.
“The reason why I’m asking that is because I can assume that we have some Exit Surveys, where they’ll [teachers] talk about some of the issues or concerns that they have,” Sebastion said.
SAISD should build upon information from the Exit Surveys to see if they can address some of the concerns to make sure when new teachers are hired, they feel more secure and want to stay in the District, Sebastion said.
Jaklich said the word ‘value’ is very important to addressing all the issues regarding learning gaps, including when referring to teachers and staff.
“We can do this, but what we have to do is make sure that we have the right people with the right support, with the right programs and the right resources in order to do that,” Jaklich said.
SAISD Trustee Sarah Sorenson said the scores are concerning, but not surprising, given the circumstances during the pandemic. While the data is important, she said it comes at a cost.
The data, which is based on MAP tests, requires students to test three times per year.
“It’s a stressful test, a test that tests our students at their highest level, so you kind of constantly feel like you’re failing,” Sorenson said. “I know high-achieving students who cry every time MAP happens.”
Sorenson said it is important to remember the other pieces students are going through.
“It’s been an awful year,” Sorenson said. “We’ve collectively just gone through a lot of trauma, and we’re still going through that trauma … To fully support our students academically, we have to support them emotionally. Our staff as well.”
Sorenson said SAISD has done a lot of talking about trauma-informed practices and social-emotional learning, and it is important to support teachers in enacting those trauma-informed practices. She said teachers need training to implement those practices into their classrooms, administrators need training on how to implement that campus-wide, and they need the support from SAISD to fully implement it.
“We have to go beyond words, and really get into what it means to enact those practices on our campuses,” she said.
Sorenson also recommended creating a Community Stakeholder Committee for the ESSER funds.
SAISD Trustee Patti Radle said Intersessions, like SAISD’s Summer Intersession, are important to bridging the learning gaps.
“Research shows students in poverty can’t move further ahead than just the year advance, unless they have more time in the classroom,” Radle said.
SAISD Board President Christina Martinez said even though the data is not great, there were some “shiny bright spots” in the district.
“We still had schools that were B schools, regardless of everything that was happening,” Martinez said. “So we need to uplift those schools and those campuses and those principals and learn from those campuses. What did they do that they were still able to have such great results, amid everything else happening?”
Hays CISD Trustees try to justify air purifier purchase, despite delay
The Hays Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees tried to justify their $4.4 million air purifier purchase, despite a significant delay, at a meeting on Oct. 18.
Hays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright said the District had to press pause on the purchase of the air purifiers because the Texas Education Agency said “that any single item purchased with federal dollars over the amount of $250,000 had to be bid alone.” Wright explained the District bid the air purifiers through their purchasing cooperative with Region 13, who did bid them individually, but who put all items on one sheet when disseminating the information for approval by TEA.
TEA said they would notify Hays CISD in writing, when they could continue with their purchase.
Wright said it is important to look at the return on investment for the purchase of the air purifiers, if the District is to move forward. He said if the District was able to increase their average daily attendance by .5%, there would be additional revenue in the amount of $700,000, meaning over the 10-year lifespan of the air purifiers Hays CISD would accrue about $7 million in revenue.
If they increase the average daily attendance by 1%, Wright said that result in $1.4 million in revenue, and $14 million in revenue over a 10-year period.
“So really that’s a great return on investment, if in fact we can kill all viruses and bacteria and all the bad things, and we can keep more kids in the classroom,” Wright said.
Hays CISD Board Vice President Raul Vela, Jr. said he voted yes on the purchase at the prior meeting because of the long-term effects of the air purifiers.
“We can’t be so short-sighted on Covid,” Vela said. “We have allergens that will cause students to be out. We have other viruses and colds.”
Vela said he still is of the mindset that the payoff is not in funds or revenue, but rather students in seats in the classroom. He said that is “where we’re going to see the greatest gains.”
“The only way we are going to catch up is to get those students in those seats,” Vela said.
Hays CISD Trustee Courtney Runkle said she voted in favor of the full $4.4 million purchase because of the long-term benefits as well as the investment.
“I still stand by how I voted for this, and I’m supporting this purchase in all of the places that we had originally discussed,” Runkle said.
Hays CISD Trustee Esperanza Orosco, who was absent from the vote at the prior meeting, said she respected the body corporate in their vote. Orosco asked if the District was getting a discount for the bulk purchase.
A bulk discount only occurs at 10 purchases, but there are no additional discounts beyond that, Hays CISD Chief Operations Officer Max Cleaver said.
Orosco said she was wondering if the delay was an opportunity for the District to purchase the air purifiers for the high-needs areas, and buy the rest in phases. She said there might be potential for a Buyer’s Remorse situation otherwise.
“I just think it’s an opportunity for us to re-think that,” Orosco said. “Still having the money allocated and set aside for all of that purchase if need be, but phasing in might be a great opportunity for us -- not doing scientific tests ourselves.”
Hays CISD Trustee Will McManus said he, too, stands by his vote in favor of the purchase. He said he was also open to an alternate proposal about a targeted application of the devices.
“I think that might be a worthy conversation to have, but the first thing that popped in mind was ‘Oh we’d have all this extra money for these other things like hiring people,’ but we can’t find them anyway,” McManus said. “So to me, it’s going to sit unused in the bucket potentially.”
McManus said there are lots of things other than Covid-19 that students will be protected from, because of the air purifiers.
“If we can get .5% back in the classrooms, not only is it money, but it’s just good for the kids to be there,” McManus said. “That’s where they need to be -- learning. Let’s keep them well, and keep them in the classroom.”
Wright said there would still be an estimated $8.9 million left in ESSER funds after the $4.4 million purchase, which would be used to hire staff to fill District vacancies.
Hays CISD Board President Vanessa Petrea said she had a phone conversation with a third-party FDA-approved lab, about the effectiveness of the air purifiers. Trustee Vela was also on the call. Petrea said she spoke with a “lab manager type person,” while Vela described them as “very brainy scientists.”
Petrea said the lab tested a bacteria that emulates “a Covid-type virus” that “was actually harder to kill than Covid.” She said the lab confirmed the air purifiers were “very effective.”
Vela said he, too, was reassured by the lab results.
Petrea said the lab also confirmed the air purifiers will not be emitting any ozone or free radicals into the air.
“So the people that are emailing us about that can cool their jets because that’s not happening,” Petrea said.
Hays CISD Board Secretary Merideth Keller said her vote in favor of the purchase is about all sickness and all allergens.
Keller said criticism of the Board of Trustees, the District and the choices they make have led to some distrust in the community.
“I think that we kind of felt that a little bit, but I also know that for the last one dozen years that this community has trusted me to make decisions for their children and their families,” Keller said. “My hesitancy at the last meeting -- it was unfounded.”
Keller also said though the monetary return on investment makes the large expense more palatable, the return on investment has got to be education.
“I mean, that’s absolutely where it’s at,” Keller said. “Kids in class. Kids in class. Kids in class.”
Hey Hays CISD, you know what else would increase your daily attendance rate and would be a much smaller monetary investment into student safety and education -- to keep “kids in class” as Keller said?
Dripping Springs ISD Trustees discuss possible SHAC member appointments
Dripping Springs ISD Trustees discussed possible Student Health Advisory Committee member appointments at a meeting Oct. 18.
Dripping Springs ISD Superintendent Dr. Holly Morris-Kuentz said the SHAC committee member list included some replacements of members who had rolled off of last year’s committee, and six of the eight campuses in DSISD were represented.
Morris-Kuentz said to fulfill SHAC committee requirements, they added an elementary school administrator as well as a bilingual administrator to add some diverse representation to the committee.
DSISD Trustee Dr. Stefanie Reinold said there had been confusion in the community about how members of SHAC are chosen, and if there was a history or backlog of parents in the past who have been interested in serving on the committee.
“I hear from community members that they apply every year and never get chosen for things,” Reinold said. “I think people get defeated and start thinking the system is rigged.”
DSISD Board President Dr. Mary Jane Hetrick said perhaps giving those who have applied numerous times or years more consideration when choosing committees.
Reinold said it is a thought, though she was not suggesting the District should do that.
“I think one of our big goals as a Board this year is to start rebuilding trust in our community,” Reinold said. “I think this is one of those small things that maybe even just keeping a literal record of names who have applied this year.”
DSISD Trustee Barbara Stroud said she would like to see more high school representatives on the SHAC committee, while DSISD Board Vice President Joanna Day said she was concerned about diversity and geographic diversity on the SHAC committee.
Day said she wanted every campus to be represented. She said she was also concerned about the level of expertise of the potential members.
“The SHAC is required to not only look at human sexuality instruction, but also make recommendations for physical education and recess,” Day said. “I don’t know that there’s anyone currently on the list that brings expertise on those areas, like a coach or PE teacher.”
Districts are going to be statutorily-mandated to include instruction related to child abuse, family violence, dating violence and sex trafficking, as well, Day said.
“I don’t know anything about the folks on this list and whether or not they bring any expertise, experience or anything in those areas to make meaningful recommendations to us about those curriculums,” Day said.
Morris-Kuentz said she would bring back a list to the next meeting, with additional names based on the suggestions of the DSISD Board of Trustees.
Construction workers for El Paso ISD’s Bond Construction Projects detail wage theft by contractors
Several members of the El Paso Building & Construction Trades Council spoke at a meeting of the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees on Oct. 19, detailing wage theft and misclassifications by contractors hired by EPISD for Bond Construction Projects, including Volter Electrical Construction.
Javier Casas said the group was there to address a long-lasting issue that has continued to plague the constituents and hard-working people in the community.
“Time and time again, we have discovered egregious attacks on wages owed to the construction workers on EPISD’s school bond projects,” Casas said. “We came before this Board over a year ago in hopes that this issue would be resolved; However, the people of El Paso have seen no results, and continue to be robbed of their fair wages, which were set by El Paso County during the 2016 prevailing wage survey and were adopted by this body.”
Casas said they are pleading for EPISD’s attention and assistance in these matters, especially as the same bad players continue to be given the school bond projects, which in turn allows them to continue their theft against their own workers. Their bad behavior continues to be rewarded, Casas said.
Licensed and experienced journey workers are misclassified as laborers and are underpaid on certified payroll, Casas explained. He said the El Paso Building & Construction Trades Council has hired a certified labor attorney to complete numerous investigations proving wage theft and misclassifications on many levels, including electricians, plumbers, pipe workers, welders, sheet metal workers and insulators.
“Those families have been affected,” Casas said. “This is a systemic issue.”
Casas said the EPISD Facilities and Construction Department had been made aware of the matter and have “blatantly neglected to enforce any compliance.” He asked EPISD Trustees to ask contractors to provide proof to the Facilities and Construction Department that restitution was paid to the affected employees. He asked Trustees to question whether the Department matched the daily inspection diaries with contractors’ certified payroll records to reconcile the number of employees on site, actual work performed and labor hours reported.
Lastly, Casas asked if the Department interviewed all employees from all the multiple contractors identified to them in order to ensure the employees were paid and classified for the actual work performed, rather than what the contractors reported.
“These bad habits have turned into a cancer and have plagued El Paso for far too long,” Casas said. “It is time for a change.”
EPISD’s current Board of Trustees can affect the change to do right by the people who elected them, Casas said.
“We the people are not going away, and cannot allow this matter to be ignored any longer,” he said.
El Paso Building & Construction Trades Council Vice President Adan Valdez said the group at the meeting was just a small amount of the people that are being affected daily by the ongoing wage thefts due to misclassifications, and he hopes the Board will fully support the Council’s efforts in fighting for the workers of El Paso.
Another member of the El Paso Building & Construction Trades Council, Jorge Varela said he reviewed weekly payroll reports for some of the ongoing bond projects, and the misclassification examples “literally jump out” at him.
“I am at a loss for words as to why the compliance department at EPISD and other public entities turn a blind eye to this problem,” Varela said.
President of the El Paso Building & Construction Trades Council Leticia Marcum read a statement from a worker, who could not be present at the meeting.
The statement detailed how the employee had worked under Volter Electrical Construction, who was hired by EPISD. The employee, a registered and licensed electrician, said they were hired at a rate of $13 per hour.
The employee said when they approached Volter, they were referred to the payroll receptionist. On numerous occasions the employee was misclassified as a laborer receiving $16.71 scale pay, though electricians should be making more than that amount.
“I was never a laborer,” the letter read.
In fact, the employee had had their license for over four years. The employee also detailed numerous occasions where they were paid even less than the $16.71 scale pay throughout their year working under Volter.
EPISD Board President Al Velarde said there is a formalized process for filing a complaint to address the kinds of issues presented at the meeting. He asked EPISD Chief Quality Officer Alan Wiernicki where the breakdown was, as the Board had addressed the issues.
Wiernicki said anytime there had been an allegation of prevailing wage issues, they brought those issues to the Board, and they were properly investigated.
To the questions by Casas, Wiernicki said every single time they had encountered a prevailing wage issue, they have ensured the certified payrolls were reviewed, addressed and investigated.
“In the cases where someone was paid improperly, we’ve ensured that the restitution was paid from the general contractor or the subcontractor,” Wiernicki said. “In the cases where we did prove there was a wage violation, we have ensured that the penalty was paid by the general contractor to the school district.”
Wiernicki said he did not know where the breakdown was, that they applauded the workers for all of the work they have done.
“I’m very proud of this school district,” Wiernicki said. “Just in the last 18 months, we’ve injected over $100 million into the local economy, and have allowed many of these people to continue to provide for their families.”
EPISD’s legal counsel suggested Trustees and staff should not discuss the issue at the present meeting, due to the item not being on the meeting Agenda.
Round Rock ISD Trustee Danielle Weston expects to be privy to closed session meeting about litigation she and Trustee Mary Bone filed against the Board of Trustees
As Round Rock Independent School District Board President Amy Weir announces the Board of Trustees will go into closed session to discuss litigation brought forth by RRISD Trustee Danielle Weston and Trustee Dr. Mary Bone at a meeting on Oct. 21, Trustee Weston states she expects to sit in on the discussion.
When RRISD Board of Trustees Legal Counsel Doug Poneck asked Weston what her questions were in regards to want to attend the closed session, Weston said she did not have any questions.
“I expect to participate in all open and closed session meetings,” Weston said. “I don’t have any questions.”
Poneck said he had disseminated a 1989 attorney general opinion on a case which involved one Trustee filing a lawsuit against the remaining Trustees of a School Board. In that case, the attorney general opined that it was appropriate for the defendant Trustees to ask and compel, if necessary, the plaintiff Trustee to not participate in the closed session because the Board has a right to have attorney-client consultation on the litigation.
Weston said attorney general opinions are not law, and asked for the public record to state she and Trustee Bone were being excluded, despite their objection.
Poneck said attorney general opinions do carry the force of the law, and would be recognized in a court of law.
“We could say, ‘No, we’re going to go ahead and go back there,’” Weston said. “Is that available to us?”
“My advice to the Board is that there’s no way that you can have a consultation with your attorney with the party litigant opponents present for that consultation,” Poneck responded. “We would be prohibited from advising you. We’d have an ethical duty to the District not to do that.”
Weston said Poneck’s contract was with the entire Board of Trustees.
“You do not represent individual Trustees,” Weston said. “I believe the engagement letter says the Board. Is that correct? And I am a member of the Board.”
Poneck clarified and corrected Weston stating that when one, two or three Board Members file a lawsuit against the Board, they are filing it against his client, which is the Board.
“The individuals who sue the Board are not my client in that particular litigation,” Poneck said.
While RRISD Board Secretary Tiffanie Harrison called a point of order, Weston responded to Poneck, “So, what’s your point?”
Harrison said she thinks it is clear that when someone takes an adversarial position towards the Board and sues the Board, they should not be privy to a closed session conversation about the litigation.
Trustee Bone then called a point of order and said it is not clear, that it is a complex situation.
“You are the Board’s attorney, which includes all seven of us, and now you’re asking us to not have you as our attorney,” Bone said. “You’re not going to represent the whole Board, you’re actually representing five.”
Poneck reasserted that the Board is the client when a lawsuit is filed by one, two or three Trustees.
“It is the individual Trustees who have initiated the litigation who have created a conflict of interest for themselves,” Poneck said.
Harrison raised a question of privilege, and asked how the Board moves forward.
RRISD Board Vice President Amber Feller asked for clarification from Weston.
“Are you saying that you are entitled to hear what our defense is to a lawsuit that you and Trustee Bone have filed against the rest of us?” Feller said. “So that you can have privilege to that information in the suit against us? I’m really asking, do you think that you are entitled to that same information when we are not entitled to the information that you’re discussing with your attorney?”
Weston said she was not prepared to answer that question, and she was objecting to her exclusion from the meeting.
Harrison reiterated she had raised a point of privilege, which permits an emergency motion dealing with the rights and privileges of the members. Harrison made a motion that the five Board Members being sued by their two colleagues will be able to defer to their legal counsel upholding attorney-client privilege in closed session without the plaintiffs.
The motion passed in a 5-2 vote, with Weston and Bone opposing. No action was taken on the item.
Leander ISD Board of Trustees swear in Sade Fashokun to Place 5 seat; Trustee Aaron Johnson expresses concern over SHAC recommendations
At a meeting on Oct. 21, the Leander Independent School District Board of Trustees swore in Sade Fashokun to the Place 5 seat. Also at the meeting, Trustee Aaron Johnson expressed concern about moving forward with appointments to the Student Health Advisory Committee.
When Leander ISD Board President Trish Bode asked if Trustees had enough information to move forward with SHAC appointments, Johnson laughed and said, “No.”
“I need to talk about how, and how many folks are nominated in compliance with the statute,” Johnson said. “We have not seen for review or discussion the bylaws.”
Leander ISD Board Vice President Gloria Gonzalez-Dholakia said she felt she had enough information, but asked which Trustee was interested in serving on the committee.
Johnson said he is happy to continue serving.
“I feel like I haven’t completed the work that I thought we were going to take up when this all came back to us at the end of last year,” Johnson said. “So I’d kind of like to try to get that finished.”
Leander ISD Trustee Anna Smith said the Board needed to get started with the SHAC committee, especially with the new SHAC laws that came from the legislative session.
“I think the longer we wait on this, I mean talk about making community members mad about not having their voice heard,” Smith said. “This is a committee that I feel like we cannot wait on.”
Johnson said he had withheld submissions of names for the committee because he did not know how else to force the conversation about SHAC bylaws.
Gonzalez-Dholakia said the Board had talked about submitting names for the list at the last meeting, so they could be approved at this meeting.
One of his key questions, Johnson said, is how many folks to nominate, and what SHAC is going to look like.
“We haven’t had that discussion,” Johnson said. “So that was the whole point behind delaying naming folks to this committee, until we had clear direction on how we were going to proceed.”
Johnson said the SHAC committee brought the Board bylaws last year, and those were never reviewed, particularly as they pertain to things that are included in the statute that only the Board can do.
“I think we have to ensure that what’s in the bylaws, and the way that the committee is conducted complies with the statute,” Johnson said. “So we do have a Board responsibility here, and I feel like we haven’t performed that responsibility because we haven’t looked at those bylaws, and we haven’t talked about the composition of the committee.”
Smith said she did not understand why the Board cannot already have the SHAC committee established, and then have the bylaws conversation with the members on the presented list.
Bode asked Johnson if he thinks, in dissecting and reviewing the bylaws, that there will be so much significant change that it prohibits him from being able to move forward with appointments, because he feels it is that far out of alignment.
Johnson said he did not have a way to know what a proper review would produce in terms of a recommendation, but that if they move forward to approve the list at this meeting, he would need a pathway to include his appointments on the list.
Smith made a motion to approve the recommended members for the 2021-2022 SHAC committee with the addition of Johnson. The motion was seconded by Leander ISD Board Secretary Elexis Grimes.
Bode asked if anyone wanted to add an amendment to the motion, to allow for both Johnson and Fashokun to add their appointees to the list.
Gonzalez-Dholakia said she would like to have a deadline for the names to be added because SHAC needs to get started and move forward.
Johnson said he would provide names as soon as possible. Gonzalez-Dholakia asked if that meant Friday, or in a week.
“I’m not going to comply to some artificial deadline that you enforce,” Johnson responded.
Ultimately, Gonzalez-Dholakia added an amendment so that Fashokun and Johnson could add their recommendations to the list prior to the next meeting on Nov. 4. Grimes seconded the amendment.
The motion, as amended, passed in a 6-1 vote, with Johnson opposing.
Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees continue to discuss campus discipline
The Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees continued to discuss campus discipline at a meeting Oct. 21.
Pflugerville ISD Chief of Staff Dr. Troy Gallow said he wanted to highlight some of the “positive things” the District is doing to equip students and staff with their classroom management supports and interventions.
Pflugerville ISD Chief Academic and Innovation Officer Brandy Baker said the District established a new department with a multiple-tiered system of support. She also said the District has implemented Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports teams on every campus.
Baker also detailed restorative practices, which began last year in 15 schools. She said they expanded it to six additional campuses this year. They also provide six hours of professional development to all principals and assistant principals on restorative practices.
“With the encouragement of many of you, we began our trauma-skilled training last week,” Baker said.
Baker said nine campuses and several departments are involved in that training, including the PfISD Police Department. She also said there are behavior coordinators on every campus.
PfISD Executive Director of Special Programs Cara Schwartz gave a presentation about behavioral management in special education services. Schwartz said one special education behavior coordinator supports the entire District, and four special education behavior specialists.
Schwartz said over 598 staff members had been trained in SAMA (Satori Alternatives to Managing Aggression) techniques, focusing on deescalation. She also reported 27 licensed psychologists who support the District currently.
Though she said containment is a last resort, Schwartz reported 45 containments of special education students so far this year.
PfISD Police Chief Patrick Petherbridge said law enforcement officers are ingrained at a campus level.
“They’re part of the campus culture,” Petherbridge said. “The collaboration they have with the administrators on a daily basis through conflict resolution.”
Petherbridge said they are deescalating on a daily basis, and students “flock” to officers.
“These kids come to us, when they won’t go to others,” he said. “They trust us and building that trust is such an integral part of what we do on a daily basis.”
Petherbridge said PfISD police officers attend school law enforcement training, most recently in Summer 2019, that includes child and adolescent psychology, conflict resolution strategies with a heavy emphasis on deescalation, and mental health crisis intervention. He said he has six certified mental health officers on his team.
Petherbridge reported 17 students who have been arrested for assaults against staff so far this year, and three students have been charged with those assaults.
“That is the victim’s right,” Petherbridge said.
Petherbridge said all allegations of uses of force are investigated, perhaps in response to an allegation about a photo of a PfISD Police Officer on top of a student.
Even when students are arrested, Petherbridge said officers go visit students in jail, because they know students have to come back to campus and “we have to build that trust again.”
PfISD Trustee Cindy Gee said all of the presentations paint a much better picture than the perception.
“So what’s our plan to make sure that our public knows that this is looking better than what their perception is?” Gee said. “We do have to combat that negative press or negative thoughts out there.”
PfISD Trustee Jean Mayer said this is the first year she has heard any mention of restorative practices. Likewise, the community might not be aware
Baker said PfISD started last year with restorative practices on 15 campuses, which is about 50% of the District. She said it was almost like a re-start this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and she is realizing they need some additional support.
“You are right,” Baker said. “We need to scale it up at every campus, and then work more closely with the PBIS team, and the principal to communicate their efforts.”
In regards to containments in special education, Mayer said the containment forms provided to parents do not include an indicator of how interventions were applied prior to the situation escalating.
“That’s the key in knowing, because you could have applied all those [interventions], but they all could have been incorrectly applied,” Mayer said.
Incorrect applications of those interventions could result in an escalation of a situation, Mayer explained.
Mayer said PfISD’s Functional Behavioral Assessments are completed by Licensed Specialists in School Psychology (LSSP), and behavior specialists are then writing up the Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP). Mayer asked who is doing the training for that, because an LSSP is not a credentialed behavioral specialist.
“Who’s doing the training?” Mayer asked. “And how do we pare and pace what we’re doing to maintain what is legislatively compliant as well as making sure that the training is being done by proper credentialed people and not just done internally?”
Schwartz said it was something they can continue to look at and continue to work on.
“It has shifted over time, not just in Pflugerville, but in other Districts and how that is handled,” Schwartz said.
Throughout Mayer’s questions, PfISD Board President Renae Mitchell seemed to almost interrupt the questions, or ask for a quick answer from administration for now, but for them to follow-up in Board Notes with more information.
PfISD Board Vice President Tony Hanson said he cannot imagine what it’s like for special programs to operate with only five behavior specialists on staff.
PfISD Board Secretary Brian Allen and Trustee Mayer both said they would also be interested in seeing more information about peer-to-peer networks, in terms of supporting families and bridging gaps to alleviate the stress and strain on staff.