Thus, I actively participated when MMSD crafted the Behavior Education Plan (BEP). Indeed, I was the person who suggested that it should carry that name instead of simply MMSD’s Discipline policy, because moving away from zero tolerance also requires MMSD to actively engage in teaching children with challenging behaviors how to behave properly. When the BEP was adopted, I advised the school board that in order to succeed, it would need: 1) adequate training for staff; 2) adequate staff support; and 3) and an ombudsman program to assist students and their parents caught up in the disciplinary process. Unfortunately, to date MMSD has not provided these three critical elements of support, which is why the implementation of the BEP continues to be challenging. I was heartened to see the recommendation for an ombudsman program from the Black Excellence Coalition. Improving the BEPby implementing these recommendations is another issue that I bring special expertise if chosen to fill the empty seat on the board.
Systems change requires analyzing data to quantify the problems I encounter while representing my clients. My data analysis reveals that MMSD has failed to make significant improvements in eliminating the racial disparities our students of color and those with disabilities experience academically, in discipline, and from seclusion and restraint. To eliminate these disparities, MMSD must establish achievable short and long-term goals to improve graduation rates, academic performance and reduce negative disciplinary encounters. It must analyze the data district-wide and on a school-by-school basis in order to learn how to replicate school building success throughout the district and to hold those accountable who are unable or unwilling to make improvements in these critical areas.
Finally, my experience as Chair of the Goose Lake Watershed District has made me fully aware of Open Records and Open Meetings laws, Robert’s Rules of Order and the importance of public input to governmental bodies. This experience will serve me well if I am chosen to serve on the MMSD school board.