Late-night mailbag | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Late-night mailbag

Posted By on Sat, Apr 26, 2008 at 10:07 PM

To the jump for a continuing LR School Board e-mail discussion on discipline in the schools. Most recent at the top.


From: []
Sent: Saturday, April 26, 2008 11:38 AM
Subject: Re: Last nights speakers


I like Ms. Koehler a lot, but thought the remarks to the board about discipline were a little premature, under the circumstances.  Principals need to handle discipline and teacher concerns.  I could understand the frustration if the administration had allegedly failed to respond to the concern, but I never heard that the administration had been given a chance.  Moreover, the central office doesn't have the information required to handle individual cases or issues.  There are too many of them to address at the associate superintendent level.  If the matters are not being handled properly within the buildings, the role of the administration is to fix the process and the personnel in the buildings.  I was not clear on whether the problem was viewed as general and district-wide, or limited to certain buildings.  I think it was a little alarming, and perhaps damaging to our recruitment efforts, to criticize the administration without affording the administration some opportunity to deal with the problem first.

I don't know the details of the Fisken problem, or all of the merits.  I think it is premature for the board to delve into the facts or prejudge the matter.  I was, of course, very sympathetic to the parents and the child, and my hope would be that we can help the child in some context. I think that is our basic responsibility.  I hope we will be service-oriented, and prompt and diligent in reviewing the matter.  I trust that we will encourage all of our personnel to understand that parents and students are the reason we exist.


-----Original Message-----
From: Watson, Linda <>
To: Melanie Fox <>
Cc: Diane Curry <>; Dianne Curry (ADE) <>; Armstrong, Charles <>;; Baker Kurrus <BKURRUS@AOL.COM>; Larry Berkley <>;
Sent: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 1:38 pm
Subject: RE: Last nights speakers

Mrs. Fox:


I understand that an attorney represented the Fiskens; however, there are two sides to the story.   The Tri-district Committee, which he referenced, is an arm of the LRSD and governs Prek issues for the three school districts.  Therefore, LRSD personnel have been and are involved in the process. It is my understanding that the Tri-district administers assessments and is governed by educational guidelines that are different from those of private providers. Therefore, assessments were conducted by Tri-district and the results will be interpreted and presented to the Fiskens’ in a meeting. I understand from Mrs. Barnes, that the meeting has been scheduled and a staffing will be conducted to address the issues surrounding this child.  I further understand that the child may be developmentally delayed, but it may not be to the extent that it falls under the guidelines that would require the student to remain in Prek.  Whether this child is ABC or not, is not the issue.  We have the same rules for ABC as non-ABC students. We have also sent all of the information from Tri-district to Attorney Eddings for review.


As far as the CTA is concerned, they have not brought the individual instances regarding discipline to my attention or the associate superintendents so that we could address their concerns.  I talked to Mrs. Koehler after the meeting and she stated that the situation she discussed in the Board meeting was regarding one school.  Had she discussed the situation with LRSD personnel, we would have been able to respond.  It appears that teachers are going straight to the CTA, without using the Building Coordinating Committee or directing the concerns to the associate superintendents when principals are not following the Student Handbook.    



From: Melanie Fox [ ]
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 9:20 AM
To: Watson, Linda
Cc: 'Diane Curry'; 'Dianne Curry (ADE)'; Armstrong, Charles; ; 'Baker Kurrus'; 'Larry Berkley';
Subject: Last nights speakers


Dr. Watson,


I just wanted to touch base with you about some of the speakers last night.


I have tried to stay out of the Forest Park Pre-K issue due to my relationship with the staff, parents and students.  I know that you discussed this issue with me early stating that there was not enough evidence to warrant this child being placed in Pre-K instead of Kindergarten.  You also indicated that ABC would not accept this child under their guidelines.  However, this child does fall into the ABC category and ABC has indicated that their rules do not apply to him.  At the time, I accepted that and was happy that the process was working.  You can imagine my disappointment last night when an attorney representing this family spoke about this issue and provided the board with a plethora of information about this situation. There is compelling documented evidence such as: letters from Dr. Eugene Lu (a reputable pediatrician),  an evaluation from A Step Ahead Therapy For Kids, documentation from Arkansas Children’s Hospital (examiner Beth Nutt), letter from the Preschool Director of Westover Hills Preschool, letter from Let’s Talk Speech Pathology Services, LLC, a developmental assessment report from Pulaski County Tri-District Early Childhood as well as an occupational therapy evaluation, that indicates this child needs to be placed in Pre-K.  This would not only benefit this particular child but all the children that would be in his Kindergarten class as well as the teacher.  According to the information that was presented the review committee from the LRSD never even met this child, much less assessed this child.  In my opinion, we need a better protocol to deal with this type of situation for all the children of this district.  Please give your attention to this matter today since the Pre-K letters are going out.  I feel that if we do not address this immediately, we will open up the district to litigation now and in the future.


My other concern is the discipline issues that the CTA spoke about.  I have also had a few calls from teachers, aides, bus drivers etc that have indicated that discipline has become a concern.  The CTA is right in the fact that teachers should be teaching not constantly disciplining children.  Everyone needs to be working together to solve this issue.  Again, your immediate attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated.


Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help with these matters or call if you would like to discuss further.




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