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Oklahoma City school district to shut down school for day to train teachers

North Highland Elementary School will close for a day while teachers receive classroom management training to address behavior problems. Parents say they see fights, demoralized staff and students who aren't learning.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: October 29, 2012
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A north Oklahoma City elementary school will close to students Friday while teachers receive training about classroom management, discipline and other topics.

The decision to shut down North Highland Elementary School came after employees and community members expressed concern about the state of the school, Principal John Addison said.

“We have a lot of behavior issues that we deal with, some attitudes, some acting out — things that are really distractions to the instructional process overall,” Addison said. “It's those things that we want to address.”

As of Monday, the school had logged 34 out-of-school suspensions so far this year, according to district statistics.

That's about one suspension for every 15 students during the first three months of school.

Parents found out about the training from an automated phone call Friday afternoon and a letter sent home with students Monday. The letter identified several areas of teacher training, including behavior, classroom management and school safety.

Karen Perea's youngest son is a prekindergarten student at North Highland. The school has struggled for years, she said, and she's hopeful the teacher training will help.

“They absolutely need behavioral strategies,” Perea said. “I think it's safe, but it's unorganized.”

Her son will stay with a friend while she works Friday. She said she'd rather he be in school.

“I don't think it's fair,” Perea said. “It's not fair to the kids, and it's not fair to the parents.”

Administrators will meet with teachers Tuesday to finalize plans for Friday, Addison said. The goal is for teachers to identify systemic problems and find solutions, he said.

“The bottom line is we want to increase student achievement overall, and the best way to do that is to take care of the needs that are constant and have been long-lasting,” Addison said.

About half of the teachers at North Highland are new this year, as are the principal and vice principal.

High turnover isn't a new problem at the school, Addison said. Hopefully the training will help unify employees and more will choose to stay at the school, he said.

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The bottom line is we want to increase student achievement overall, and the best way to do that is to take care of the needs that are constant and have been long-lasting.”

John Addison

North Highland Elementary School Principal

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