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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 Published: October 29, 2012
/articleid/3723656/1/pictures/1870211">Photo - John Addison is principal of North Highland Elementary School in northeast Oklahoma City. PHOTO PROVIDED
John Addison is principal of North Highland Elementary School in northeast Oklahoma City. PHOTO PROVIDED

“Any time there's any type of transition in the classroom, it does set things back,” he said.

Addressing the root of those problems is vital, said Cindy Schmidt, chief academic officer for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

“Sometimes we may Band-Aid something when really we need a full 911 effort,” Schmidt said. “I think that we are going to try to put our heads together to see what we can do so we can be proactive so we won't be having this same conversation in the future.”

North Highland has been a 911 situation for years, said Olivia Tran, whose daughters attend kindergarten and second grade classes at the school.

Tran said she attended North Highland when she was a little girl. She remembers fights, bullying and arrests.

“It was horrible when I was here,” she said Monday after picking her children up from school. “That's why I was so scared when my kids came here. Are they going to experience what I experienced?”

So far, she said, it looks like things are the same. Tran said she's seen things that are frustrating and frightening.

People have checked her children out of school without having to show ID.

She said she saw an after-school fight in front of the school a few days before fall break, and staff members didn't break up the tussle.

She said she's heard teachers swear at students.

“There have been a lot of issues with teachers screaming at the students,” Tran said.

Her older daughter has been knocked down repeatedly on the playground and in the restroom by a classmate, but Tran said administrators haven't taken her concerns about bullying seriously. Luckily, Tran said, her daughter's teacher has been proactive and helpful.

She said she's glad the teachers will get extra training, but she questions if one day is enough to change the culture of chaos.

“I don't know if there's going to be any change involved,” Tran said. “I hope there is. I would hope they would get this fixed.”

Tran moved into the neighborhood to take care of her ailing father, but she wishes her daughters went to school somewhere else.

“If I had a choice,” she said, “my children would not be here.”

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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