District Six Lawmakers weigh in on school violence
A Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) spokesperson is responding after parents, elected officials and others have raised concerns over a perceived uptick in violence in county schools.
The elected delegation District 6 and 7 are among those speaking out about claims of violent harassment and bullying in schools.
Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7), state Sen. Johnny
Ray Salling (R-6) and Dels. Bob Long, Ric Metzgar and Robin Grammer (all R-6) are demanding that the school board take action to address the issue.
The group released a press release last week detailing what they believe should be the course of action moving forward, which includes engaging young minds both in and outside of school and enforcing strict consequences when violent incidents occur. The full text of this press release is located at the bottom of this article.
“The Board should conduct a public hearing as soon as possible so parents can be heard,” stated the press release. “The Board needs to hear what we as elected representatives are hearing. This discussion should continue throughout the summer so schools can plan now in order to address students and parents when doors re-open in the Fall.”
According to the delegation, a letter requesting this public hearing has been sent.
The delegation also implored the need for parental involvement both in and outside of the school walls.
“Kids need role models,” said Del. Long. “I was raised by a single mom and I know how important mentorship was for me.”
Although the delegates report an increase in parental concern, no specific examples have been brought to light. At time of press, the offices of Baltimore County Public School have not yet commented on the alleged uptake in violence.
Although the elected officials report an increase in parental concern, no specific examples of violence or weapons in local schools have been provided to the Eagle.
“I’ve heard about [the increase] from a few folks,” said BCPS spokesman Mychael Dickerson. “I believe a lot of this is being brought up by social media and people sharing videos, but many of those that I’ve seen have been old, old videos.”
Dickerson went on to claim that, of the videos he had not previously seen, many of these new videos were recorded in neighborhoods, out of the jurisdiction of the school board.
According to Dickerson, the school system has instituted an policy allowing for anonymous reporting of such incidences. Since that policy went into effect, he added, BCPS has seen an increase in reports from students.
“We’re not really commenting because we don’t really know what issues they’re referring to,” he said in response to comments from elected officials, noting that, if and when more information becomes available, it will be shared publicly.
Dickerson added that outgoing BCPS superintendent Dallas Dance’s resignation is not a result of the alleged increase in violence in schools.
The delegation’s full release can be read below:
“This week marks the end of the Baltimore County Pub- lic Schools 2016-17 school year. We are so proud of our local high school graduates, the millions of dollars in scholarships they have earned, as well as their many academic, athletic, and humanitarian achievements. We are equally proud of the students throughout the BCPS system who contribute positively to their school community.
As the elected leaders of Dundalk, Essex, Rosedale, and Edgemere, we must, however, express our deep concerns regarding school safety, student behavior, and discipline. Since we took office in 2014, there have been many incidents throughout our district – in elementary, middle, and high schools – that include criminal violence, bullying, and other forms of harassment that have no place in our schools. That trend continued to the end of this school year, with numerous reports and complaints from parents, leaving us troubled by the seeming lack of consistency, consequences, and sound disciplinary policy.
No child should be fearful of attending school or have the behavior of others affect their learning environment and experience. When a child misbehaves, there should be quick, decisive, and consistent discipline. In our many discussions with teachers and parents, we are learning that the opposite is the case. What exactly are we teaching our children when there are little to no consequences of their actions? Current policy is setting children up for major failure as they mature into adulthood believing that society will look the other way when they do wrong. We are strongly advocating to both the incoming Interim Superintendent, and the Board of Education for a change in policy and practices.
Most immediately, the Board should conduct a public hearing as soon as possible so parents can be heard. The Board needs to hear what we as elected representatives are hearing. This discussion should continue throughout the summer so schools can plan now in order to address students and parents when doors re-open in the Fall. A letter requesting such a public hearing has been sent to the Board.
Secondly, we encourage our schools’ leadership to find new ways to engage parents and guardians. The success of a school is directly proportional to parental involvement. Parents and guardians should understand the expectations of them and their children, and also know that bad behavior which disrupts or jeopardizes the safety of others, will be met with serious consequences.
For all of the greatness and promise we see in our youth, we strongly believe our school system is in need of a discipline policy overhaul and a better enforcement model. What has been described to us as “sweeping it under the rug so the numbers look better” is not sound policy, especially when the safety of both students and faculty is clearly at risk.
As always, please contact us to weigh in on this or any other issue.
Councilman Todd K. Crandell
State Senator Johnny Ray Salling State Delegate Bob Long State Delegate Ric Metzgar State Delegate Robin Grammer”
The Avenue will continue to follow this issue as more information becomes available.
Local legislators (from left) State Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-6) and Dels. Robin Grammer, Ric Metzgar and Del. Bob Long (all R-6) held a Town Hall in Middle River earlier this year