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What’s Behind The Massive Spike In Violence Inside Public Schools Nationwide

Will Flanders and Dan Lennington:

Ask any public high school student: violent in-school fights are on the rise and discipline is on the decline. Just consider one public high school: Madison East in Madison, Wisconsin.

In late September, local media reported a series of “disturbing” cell phone videos depicting vicious fights and beatings occurring in class and on school grounds over the course of several days. Then, several hundred students walked out of school twice in one week protesting the school’s sexual harassment policies.

The protest apparently spilled over to other local high schools, resulting in marauding groups of students causing “harm to others,” damaging “property in the downtown area,” and publicly “calling out” suspected sexual harassers, according to an email from one of the area school districts.

A few days later, on Oct. 20, 10 police officers responded to fights in a “massive crowd” of more than 100 students at Madison East. On Nov. 8, more than 15 police officers responded to what the media described as a “melee” in which five students were taken to the hospital. The next day, more than one-third of all students stayed home out of fear.

In all, Madison police were called to Madison East and its “surrounding area” 63 times during the first few months of the school year.

Madison East is no outlier. A simple Google search reveals similar headlines from around the country: “Woman with gun arrested as IMPD breaks up large fight at George Washington High School” in Indiana, “Big brawl At Woodhaven High School results in minor injuries” in Michigan, “Police investigating after large fight in parking lot of West Mecklenburg High School” in North Carolina, and “Reynolds Middle School is shutting down in-person learning for 3 weeks to address student fights, misbehavior” in Oregon. All these stories originated during the same week.

So what could be causing such a spike? Or perhaps more frighteningly, is this a new normal? Many factors may be contributing to this upward trend, but a few probable culprits require serious scrutiny.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

One-third of students stay home following Monday fights at Madison East High School

Logan Rude, Brad Hamilton

More than 600 students did not show up for classes on Tuesday, the district said, more than one-third of the total 1,717 students enrolled at East. As of noon, 277 were excused and 325 had not shown up and were not excused, though secretaries were still updating records at that time.

During Monday’s lunch hour, more than 15 police responded to break up a set of fights that broke out near school grounds. Eight students were pepper-sprayed as police tried to break up the fights.

District spokesperson Tim LeMonds told News 3 Now that an estimated 90% of behavioral issues at the high school have happened during the school’s open lunch period when students can leave campus. Just over two weeks ago, fights involving more than 100 students and parents broke out in a crowd around lunchtime.

MMSD modifies East High School safety plans following student fights and citations

additional Commentary:

The teachers cannot be happy with the situation. I can’t imagine teaching at East High School. I picture the teachers all afraid of the students and the students knowing it and the worst of them exploiting it.

I’m seeing at least 2 comments that say it’s not just Madison and linking to this WaPo article from a couple weeks ago, “Back to school has brought guns, fighting and acting out”:

Elizabeth Beyer and Chris Rickert:

The Madison School Board’s decision to remove school resource officers, or SROs, from the high schools came amid the racial reckoning following the murder by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, sometimes-destructive social justice protests in Downtown Madison, and a years-long campaign to get rid of SROs that included shouting down School Board meetings and demonstrating outside the School Board president’s home by the local group Freedom Inc. and its allies.

“Even with SROs we still had people bring weapons and threaten to bring weapons to school and we still had fights,” said Allen, the student body president. “It wasn’t like their presence prevented any of that. The East student body in general still does not want SROs in our school.”

In other words, everything but discipline

Ambulances respond to school yard brawls because Madison outlawed discipline

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

K-12 School crimes, Madison and the law

David Blaska:

Wisconsin law is clear. If violence breaks out in school, you call the police and you call them first thing.

Madison’s public schools violated state statue when it did not call in the police after an East high school sophomore was pummeled by two assailants as he sat at his desk. We’re not the only ones to notice. Retired UW Law School prof Ann of Althouse asked, “Why don’t schools call the police when crimes are committed in school?”

We answered her question at our blogge headlined “School discipline plan omits police, rewards analysis paralysis:” Madison WI schools have declared War on Police.

Again we post the flow chart of the school district’s critical response plan. A starving mouse would go dizzy in this bureaucratic maze. See if you can find where it says Call the Police. In fact, the first step reads: “Central Office Notified.”

Gangs and School Violence forum

Madison School discipline plan omits police, rewards analysis paralysis

David Blaska:

The influential Ann of Althouse, retired UW Law school professor and bloggueresse, asks “Why don’t schools call the police when crimes are committed in school?”

The short answer is that Madison WI schools a year ago enlisted in the War on Police.With the connivance of Madison’s woke city government, the school board evicted school resource police officers. Let Ann tell it:

There’s an interview with Tim LeMonds, MMSD Director of Communications. If I understand him correctly …  the school’s policy is not to call the police unless a weapon is involved or police are needed to stop the fight. The message I hear is that there’s a plan never to call the police if attacks are quick and done with bare hands. The video shows a defenseless child getting pummeled at his desk. As LeMonds put it:

“When the attack took place, the teacher reached out for assistance and by the time staff were able to respond the incident was over.” 

Althouse asks: “How is that a reason not to call the police?!” 

The Werkes answers: Student discipline has been sucked into a bureaucratic black hole. Woe to the educator who does call police! We reproduce the critical response incident flowchart. It is contained within the school district’s 111-page MMSD safety plan. One Hundred and Eleven pages! At the very least, one hopes that each and every one of 4,985 school district employees (including the hot lunch ladies) are given a laminated copy like the kind the football coaches carry on the sidelines. Sort of a Chinese restaurant menu.

UPDATE: A reader points out, correctly, that MMSD policies & actions are in clear violation of Wisconsin State Statute 48.981, which mandates the reporting of any assault on a child under the age of 18 to a law enforcement agency or county social services.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

Fight video of O’Keeffe students called “disturbing” by school principal

Lucas Robinson:

The principal of O’Keeffe Middle School said a video of a fight between two students on a bus is “disturbing” and urged the community to stop sharing the video online. 

The fight that broke out on a bus Wednesday afternoonleft one student with injuries, Principal Tony Dugas said in an email to families. The injured student was evaluated by a local health care provider, and the school is working to determine how to discipline the students involved, Dugas said.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

Analysis: Madison school district’s lenient discipline policy is a dismal failure

Dave Daley:

In 2013, the Madison school district had a zero-tolerance policy for misbehavior. Suspension was almost automatic for most violations. When Cheatham became superintendent that year, she was determined to bring down suspension and expulsion rates that she felt unfairly affected black students.

Black students made up 62% of expulsions for the previous four years compared to only 19% for white kids in a district where black students were just under 20% of the population. “Racial equity” became Cheatham’s mantra. 

She was convinced the district’s zero-tolerance approach was partly to blame — it did not give a troubled student the opportunity to learn from misbehavior or for the school to learn what was behind the bad conduct and find ways to help. 

So in 2014, Cheatham, who is white, implemented her Behavior Education Plan (BEP) geared to helping students learn positive behavior to keep them in the classroom. The district would use options such as an in-class suspension or mediation with a “restorative justice” circle to try to talk through the bad conduct with the student and the students’ peers and teachers. 

The BEP also would be “culturally responsive” — that is, take into consideration the fact that poor, black kids in challenging circumstances can behave differently than their white peers.

Mueller-Owens believed in and fervently promoted Cheatham’s discipline agenda.

“The dominant culture lacks an understanding of how other cultures interact with each other,” he told a Madison Commons writer in 2018, explaining why black students were suspended at higher rates than white kids. “The BEP comes from a heart of justice.”

Others disagreed. Some teachers and observers felt the BEP made it difficult to keep order in the classroom, gave the upper hand to students disinterested in learning and even put teachers in danger. 

Worse, some argued, the classroom disruptions were hurting black students the most — a group already struggling to close the achievement gap with white students.

One of the policy’s sharpest critics is Peter Anderson, a highly regarded Madison liberal who is leading a campaign to toughen classroom discipline. 

“The way that Dr. Cheatham chose to implement the Behavior Education Plan had the effect of undermining teachers, the end result of which — if nothing changes — will be a failed Madison school system, in which it is the at-risk students who will be trapped,” Anderson wrote in an email to the Badger Institute.

“White guilt and black rage are a toxic mix that helps nobody,” he continued, adding that with biracial grandchildren in the Madison schools, he’s “very concerned for what these policies mean both for the disadvantaged kids these efforts are supposedly intended to protect and for the future of public schools in racially diverse metropolitan areas.”

“Continuing Cheathamism cheats the black kids it purports to champion,” Anderson, founder of Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade (now Clean Wisconsin), concluded in a January blog post.

2005: Gangs & School Violence forum audio / video.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Madison School District behavior plan updates would push for more alternatives to suspension

Scott Girard:

After a larger overhaul a year ago, proposed updates to the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Behavior Education Plan for this fall would focus on “tweaks” to language and creating more alternatives to suspensions.

The updates, presented to the School Board Monday night at its Instruction Work Group meeting, would add new language related to drugs, physical contact and inappropriate language.

“This is a narrow proposal that we have in front of you,” said MMSD coordinator of progressive discipline Bryn Martyna. “We also want to make sure that the written policy is still up to date and current with what the board wants and what the board intended when you all passed the last version of it.”

The smaller-scale changes are a continuation of the annual updating process. The BEP outlines various behaviors and the responses, which vary from level 1 — classroom managed, not recorded in Infinite Campus — to level 5 — long-term removal from school, including potential expulsion.

The plan has been controversial since it was created in 2014 under former Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. Some blame the BEP for a lack of discipline among students, and others say they support the plan’s ideals but question whether the district has done enough to help teachers implement it.

The latest proposal, which the board is expected to vote on at its May 18 meeting, would add using an electronic smoking device to the list of behaviors for which the district offers alternatives to suspension like restorative circles. The BEP lists other specific behaviors that schools are required or encouraged to develop alternatives to suspension for, but the update would add language encouraging such alternatives to be explored for “any other behaviors” that are not specifically listed.

Much more on the Madison School District’s behavior education plan, here.

2005: Gangs and School Violence Forum: audio and video:

Madison’s K-12 Governance & Discipline Climate: Teacher Union View

Andrew Waity, Karen Vieth, Andrew Mayhall, Cari Falk, Kira Fobbs, Jessica Hotz, Michael Jones, Kerry Motoviloff, and Peter Opps:

Superintendent Cheatham,

We saw the article in the Wisconsin State Journal on Monday, March 26th and found the tone of your quotes in the article disturbing and provocative. We have heard similar concerns from MTI membership.

The primary concerns center around the impression given that MMSD staff is not engaging in proactive work around student behavior, and are engaging in actions that fail to “warn” students before more serious behaviors occur. The article on the front page appeared to place blame on educators in schools.

The reality is that MTI members, leaders and staff have been calling for more interventions, more support and more accountability for student behaviors at the lower tiers. The call for changes to the current climate in our schools is resounding across MMSD. We know that you have heard this as well in your visits to schools. The idea that staff is not intervening with students out of fear or for other reasons is a willing and political deflection of responsibility from administrators (primarily non-school based) onto teachers and other staff in our schools. Our data and other measures of climate are a product of many factors that include a sense of frustration around a lack of consistently effective supports for our staff and students around behavior education.

We fully recognize a need to change outcomes for our students and the need to engage in work that reduces disparities around achievement and discipline. The way to do this is to develop systems that increase shared accountability and maximize supports at the individual student and classroom level. Engaging in shared leadership that includes staff, students, families, community and administration is critical, and that level of collaboration doesn’t currently exist here.

If the WSJ article represented your sentiments inaccurately then you should clarify to MMSD staff and the public. Your words do matter a great deal to your staff. We look forward to hearing from you.


MTI Board of Directors

Andrew Waity, Karen Vieth, Andrew Mayhall, Cari Falk, Kira Fobbs, Jessica Hotz, Michael Jones, Kerry Motoviloff, and Peter Opps


Gangs and school violence forum.

Madison Teachers, Inc

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Madison spends nearly $20,000 per student, far more than most K-12 Districts.

And, the comics have weighed in:

by Alan Talaga and John Lyons.

Minneapolis Schools Implement Explicit Racial Bias in Suspensions

Robby Soave:

The good: Minneapolis Public Schools want to decrease total suspensions for non-violent infractions of school rules.

The bad: The district has pledged to do this by implementing a special review system for cases where a black or Latino student is disciplined. Only minority students will enjoy this special privilege.

That seems purposefully unconstitutional—and is likely illegal, according to certain legal minds.

The new policy is the result of negotiations between MPS and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Minority students are disciplined at much higher rates than white students, and for two years the federal government has investigated whether that statistic was the result of institutional racism.

Related. Madison’s problematic discipline policy.

Discipline & school violence forum

The economic impact of school suspensions

Lucia Graves:

Tiambrya Jenkins was just 14 years old when she got into a fistfight that would change the course of her educational trajectory. Following an after-school scuffle between Jenkins and a white classmate, the two girls—both freshmen at Rome High School in Georgia—were transferred to an alternative school as punishment. Her white classmate was allowed to return to their original school after 90 days. But Jenkins spent the rest of the year at the transitional academy, a place she describes as more like prison than school. “It was really, really boring. You just sat there all day until the bell rang,” she says. “They didn’t teach us anything.”

At the academy, minor missteps such as talking out of turn or violating the dress code were used as reasons to delay a student’s return to high school, Jenkins says. Simple organizational mistakes like showing up late or forgetting class materials were seen as acts of defiance and could turn the clock back to zero on a student’s 90 days at the transitional academy. After forgetting her notebook one day and suffering the consequences, Jenkins began stashing spares in an abandoned house across the street from the school, “just in case.”

Two years later, Jenkins is back at her old high school, but she still feels hopelessly behind. Once a top math student, she’ll be lucky to achieve a passing mark in advanced algebra this year. “I don’t even know what we’re learning,” Jenkins says. “The teacher, she’ll be teaching something, and I don’t even know what it is. I just see a bunch of numbers on the board.”

Much more on discipline and school violence, here.

Madison schools look to make discipline about growth, not punishment

Pat Schneider:

But statistics showing African-American students in the district were eight times more likely to get an out-of-school suspension than white students last year raises questions about whether the discipline code works against efforts to close the achievement gap.
Among big school districts reconsidering such measures is Broward County in Florida, where a zero-tolerance policy led to arrests for such infractions as possessing marijuana or spraying graffiti, the New York Times reports. That district, which had more than 1,000 arrests in the 2011 school year, entered into an agreement last month with community organizations to overhaul its policies to de-emphasize punishment. School districts in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver are undertaking similar reviews of get-tough policies.
“Everybody knows that suspensions don’t always achieve a change in behavior,” says Tim Ritchie, dean of students at Madison Memorial High School. “When we send some kids out of school (on suspension) they don’t have anywhere appropriate to go — their homes can be very chaotic environments.”

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum.

Madison Schools’ Behavior Report: 2012-2013

Madison School District PDF:

1. Both out-of-school and in-school suspensions were less common in 2012-13 than in 2011-12. In particular, the reduction in out-of-school suspensions led to nearly 600 fewer days of instruction lost to suspensions.
2. Large disproportionalities exist between suspensions and demographics in MMSD. For example, African- American students make up 19% of MMSD’s population but received 60% of out-of-school suspensions. Low- income students make up 48% of MMSD but received 85% of suspensions.
3. There are large disparities in discipline practices between schools. For example, among elementary schools, out-of-school suspensions ranged between 0 and 98, and behavior referrals ranged between 25 and 2,319.

Related: Madison School Board discipline presentation (PDF) and a Wisconsin DPI FAQ (PDF).
Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum (2005) audio & video and Police calls to and near Madison schools: 1996-2006.

Study Questions School Discipline Effectiveness

Alan Schwarz::

Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.
When also considering less serious infractions punished by in-school suspensions, the rate climbed to nearly 60 percent, according to the study by the Council of State Governments, with one in seven students facing such disciplinary measures at least 11 times.

The study linked these disciplinary actions to lower rates of graduation and higher rates of later criminal activity and found that minority students were more likely than whites to face the more severe punishments.

Morgan Smith & Ari Auber:

Almost 55 percent of recent Texas public school students — a disproportionate number of them African-American or with learning disabilities — were suspended at least once between their seventh and 12th grade years, according to a statewide report released today.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center, in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University, analyzed the individual school records of all Texas seventh grade public school students during the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. They tracked the records of nearly 1 million students for at least six years of their secondary school education.

A few local links including a gangs and school violence forum.
Download the report here

Madison police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006

Madison School District Safety Coordinator Luis Yudice (Luis is a retired Police Officer and a East High Grad) at a recent West High School neighborhood crime discussion (10/18/2007):

“Big picture perspective:
Our community really has changed a lot within the past five years. I sense a great deal of stress within the police department.
Citywide issues
Increasing violence involving girls. He has looked at a lot of data with the District Attorney’s office. Girls are extremely angry.
Angry parents are coming into the schools.
Increasing issues in the neighborhood that end up in the schools. Mentioned South Transfer Point beating and that Principal Ed Holmes mediated the situation at an early stage.
Growing gang violence issue particularly in the east side schools. We do have gang activity at Memorial and West but most of the issues are at Lafollete and East. Dealing with this via training and building relationships
What the school are experiencing is a reflection of what is going on in the community.”

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, via Bill Lueders @ Isthmus (7/30/2008):

He (Wray) began by talking about perceptions of crime, and especially the notion that it’s getting worse in Madison. He stressed that it wasn’t just the media and public who felt this way: “If I would ask the average beat cop, I think they would say it’s gotten worse.” But, he added, “Worse compared to what?”

The absence of local safety data spurred several SIS contributors to obtain and publish the police call data displayed below. Attorney and parent Chan Stroman provided pro bono public records assistance. Chan’s work on this matter extended to the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office.
A few important notes on this data:

  • 13% of the records could not be geocoded and therefore are not included in the summary information. The downloadable 1996-2006 police call data .zip file is comprehensive, however.
  • Clicking on the numbers below takes the reader to a detail page. This page includes all matching police calls and a downloadable .csv file of same. The csv file can be opened in Excel, Numbers and many data management tools.
  • This summary is rather brief, I hope others download the data and have a look.

Police Calls within .25 miles of:
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 1285 392 324 869 728
1997 1351 455 403 896 750
1998 1340 343 488 875 703
1999 1281 352 477 969 772
2000 1391 300 528 888 933
2001 1476 305 480 769 1034
2002 1470 363 491 886 1019
2003 1362 349 403 865 921
2004 1455 346 449 989 1012
2005 1311 325 465 994 917
2006 1221 330 389 1105 838
Weapons Incident / Offense
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 5 0 3 4 6
1997 5 0 3 4 0
1998 10 0 5 2 1
1999 10 0 5 4 0
2000 4 0 6 2 5
2001 3 0 3 0 0
2002 11 0 3 5 5
2003 4 1 1 4 5
2004 4 0 9 7 4
2005 9 0 6 6 2
2006 10 1 5 7 3
Drug Incident
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 10 0 10 9 7
1997 16 0 7 6 4
1998 12 1 8 10 6
1999 18 0 7 18 4
2000 16 2 13 17 12
2001 18 0 10 20 12
2002 22 0 14 16 12
2003 23 2 18 15 8
2004 26 0 20 17 7
2005 19 0 17 20 12
2006 24 2 11 15 8
Arrested Juvenile
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 59 1 35 28 38
1997 72 0 83 52 29
1998 21 0 34 17 14
1999 16 0 29 24 7
2000 42 0 76 14 15
2001 52 0 66 19 15
2002 51 0 69 13 12
2003 9 0 9 9 3
2004 8 0 8 9 4
2005 11 0 10 7 3
2006 6 0 21 11 4
Bomb Threat
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 1 0 0 0 1
1997 1 0 1 0 0
1998 4 2 0 0 1
1999 7 0 15 0 1
2000 4 0 17 2 1
2001 1 0 8 10 11
2002 2 0 9 0 4
2003 1 0 2 1 11
2004 6 0 4 0 6
2005 1 0 4 0 0
2006 3 0 0 0 4

Related links:

Madison School District School Security Discussion

Madison School Board: Monday evening, November 12, 2007: 40MB mp3 audio file. Participants include: Superintendent Art Rainwater, East High Principal Al Harris, Cherokee Middle School Principal Karen Seno, Sennett Middle School Principal Colleen Lodholz and Pam Nash, assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools.
A few notes:

  • First 30 minutes: The City of Madison has agreed to fund police overtime in the schools. Johnny Winston, Jr. asked about supporting temporary “shows of force” to respond to issues that arise. Maya Cole asked what they (Administrators) do when staff choose not to get involved. East High Principal Al Harris mentioned that his staff conducts hall sweeps hourly. Sennett Principal Colleen Lodholz mentioned that they keep only one entrance open during recess.
  • 52 minutes: Al Harris discussed the importance of consistency for staff, students and parents. He has named an assistant principal to be responsible for security. East now has data for the past year for comparison purposes. Additional assistant principals are responsible for classrooms, transitions and athletics.
  • 55 minutes: Art Rainwater discussed District-wide procedures, a checklist for major incidents and that today parents are often informed before anyone else due to cell phones and text messaging.
  • Recommendations (at 60 minutes):
    • Pam Nash mentioned a strong need for increased communication. She discussed the recent West High School community forums and their new personal safety handbook. This handbook includes an outline of how West is supervised.
    • 68 to 74 minutes: A discussion of the District’s equity policy vis a vis resource allocations for special needs students.
    • 77 minutes – Steve Hartley discusses his experiences with community resources.
    • 81+ minutes: Steve Hartley mentioned the need for improved tracking and Art Rainwater discussed perceptions vs what is actually happening. He also mentioned that the District is looking at alternative programs for some of these children. Student Board Representative Joe Carlsmith mentioned that these issues are not a big part of student life. He had not yet seen the new West High safety handbook. Carol Carstensen discussed (95 minutes) that these issues are not the common day to day experiences of our students and that contacts from the public are sometimes based more on rumor and gossip than actual reality.

I’m glad the Board and Administration had this discussion.

In interview, former Madison Whitehorse staffer speaks publicly for the first time since altercation with student

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Whether Mueller-Owens will be able to find a place in the community remains to be seen, as he has kept a low profile since media reports surfaced last month about the Feb. 13 incident and sparked a flurry of outrage in the community.

Mikiea Price, the girl’s mother, has said she believed Mueller-Owens snapped when he attempted to escort her daughter out of a classroom after she had repeatedly disrupted it.

“I have been in several situations where students have kicked me, spit on me, broke my ankle, and I still did not conduct myself in that kind of manner,” Price said when no criminal charges were filed against Mueller-Owens.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham penned an open letter to the Madison community in which she described the altercation as “especially horrific.”

“Jennifer Cheatham has known me ever since she came to Madison and has grown to respect me and trust me,” Mueller-Owens said. “She invited me to the White House with her because of the restorative work I’ve done in the district and my commitment to kids in this city.”

The irony of the incident is that Mueller-Owens served as a positive behavior coach. He traveled to Washington D.C. with Cheatham to attend a conference in 2015 at the White House to talk about reforming school discipline.

“E tu Brute? That’s how I felt. You’re going to stab me in the back, too, Ms. Cheatham?” Mueller-Owens said in response to the superintendent’s open letter.

Mueller-Owens and his attorney, Jordan Loeb, said MMSD’s handling of the incident and his employment with the district was unfair.

Related: Gangs and school
Violence forum