Kristi's Kids

Feb 20, 2014 5:15 AM by Kristi Tedesco

TUSD is "Confronting Chaos" described by students, parents & teachers

TUCSON - After a series of investigations, into claims of rampant bullying and "classroom chaos" in the Tucson Unified School District, TUSD Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez tells Kristi's Kids, he's addressing concerns.

Back in November, Kristi's Kids highlighted numerous complaints from anonymous district employees... that the new " Guidelines For Student Rights and Responsibilities" were making it virtually impossible to punish unruly kids. Complaints ranged from fighting and bullying, to cursing at teachers in class.

Now, Kristi's Kids is learning, changes have been made to the so-called "chain of command."

Superintendent, H.T. Sanchez tells Kristi's Kids, "it's the Principal's decision to use the Student Rights and Responsibility... and not have someone interpret what they can and cannot do who isn't in the midst of dealing with that situation."

Prior to our investigations, teachers and adminstrators said, they had to call district headquarters to get permission to punish a student.

Sanchez adds, if a school Principal abuses his/her power, "that data will begin to be generated and that's when we go in and take a look at it... but as long as things are well within the norm, we're gonna trust and empower our principals to do their job. "

And there's more! Kristi's Kids has also learned, TUSD is trying to restore its school resource officer (S.R.O.) program.

Efforts, to secure a federal grant have previously failed, so the district will apply for a state grant next month. Much like the Amphitheatre district operates now, TUSD wants uniformed Tucson Police officers on campus.

A former S.R.O in the Tucson Unified School District, Katie White, tells Kristi's Kids, "it takes time to build a relationship with your school. Nothing is gonna happen overnight, but I think it's a bonus..." And retired TUSD Principal, Carolyn Bowman says, "I've never heard any child or parent ever complain about having an S.R.O in the building." Bowman and White say, restoring the district's S.R.O program is a great idea.

Amphi High School principal, Jon Lansa says, he's grateful his 1,200 students have an S.R.O every school day. He says, "they get to know the kids. They hang out with them at lunch and, you know, some of them have more connections with kids than the others. They've got backgrounds in the area... grew up around here."

TUSD hasn't had an S.R.O program for five years. According to the Tucson Police Department, at the program's peak in 2001, TUSD had thirty-four school resource officers. In its last year, 2008, there were twenty-two S.R.O's. TUSD will apply for a state grant and, if it comes through, hopes to hire ten S.R.O.'s at a base price of $100,000 each.

Dr. Sanchez warns, the S.R.O's wouldn't be there to fix behavioral problems. He tells Kristi's Kids, "police officers don't enforce discipline, just like campus principals don't enforce the laws of the state of Arizona and the area of the penal code." But, Sanchez says, "it would be great to have one on each of the high schools... and then have a rotation, among the middle schools, where we could have coverage at the middle school as well."

TUSD has a safety program, but it's members are not on campus every day and they aren't in uniform.

The grant period runs March-April.

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