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Gun incident brings call to action at Glenn Hills Middle

Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 6:21 PM
Last updated Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 1:49 PM
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Glenn Hills Middle School got a wake-up call last week in the form of a .25-caliber handgun clutched in the hand of an eighth-grader.

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Glenn Hills Middle School Principal Glenn Andrews (middle) talks with Intervention Specialist Daryl Dunn (left) and Parent Facilitator Rhonda Clark Augusta. School officials are calling on parents to guide their children at home in hopes of creating a safer school.   MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Glenn Hills Middle School Principal Glenn Andrews (middle) talks with Intervention Specialist Daryl Dunn (left) and Parent Facilitator Rhonda Clark Augusta. School officials are calling on parents to guide their children at home in hopes of creating a safer school.

The boy brought the weapon Jan. 16 after he and a T.W. Josey High School student had tried to rob a student in a Glenn Hills bathroom the day before, officials said.

The day after the boy was arrested, nearly 200 students stayed home from school, Prin­ci­pal Glenn Andrews said. Instructional coach Eli­za­beth Arnette said teachers were fearful of a repeat incident with a worse outcome.

The scare was the culmination of years of rising discipline issues, slipping student achievement and a lack of parental support that put a gridlock on the school reaching
its potential, Andrews said.

On Tuesday, the principal called a meeting for parents where about 60 in attendance heard him beg them to get involved in their children’s education and for the school district to provide resources the
school desperately needed.

Board of Education Presi­dent Venus Cain and Assis­tant Superintendent for In­struc­tion Debbie Alexan­der were there to reiterate his point.

“If we don’t do something in this building, we got what we got last Wednesday,” An­drews said. “My piece is Glenn Hills Middle. Your piece is the house. And that’s where it’s got to come together. We got to come together.”

As a result of the incident, the district allocated money for a second school safety officer and a full-time parent facilitator to the school this week.

Andrews said parent facilitator Rhonda Clark will help form a 10-member school council filled with business leaders and community members. School officials will also resurrect the defunct PTA and try to bring more parents on the campus for activities and meetings.

“Lately it’s been nonexistent,” Arnette said of parent involvement. “When the parents come up here, it’s always for a problem. We rarely get parents here for positive things.”

At the conference Tues­day, Cain stressed the need for family engagement in a school that has neighborhood violence being brought in. Cain said the community must put an end to a culture of blaming the school board or the school establishment for problems that might be happening at home.

She urged parents to take ownership for their children so they can see them walk across the stage to get a high school diploma – not end up in prison or the morgue.

“We think nothing of jumping on another kid, the parent comes up to the school and you want to cuss the principal out, you want to cuss the teacher out, you want to hold me responsible for not educating your child,” Cain said. “I don’t live in your house. I have spent many a nights praying. God and I had a talk last week because I wanted to know after this incident, how did we get here? … How does a middle school kid get a gun and convince a high school kid to leave school and come over here and beat up a little kid?”

ANDREWS SAID the issues at the school are more complex than parents know or other educators will acknowledge. The state Department of Edu­ca­tion took over Glenn Hills in 2005 after it failed to meet adequate yearly progress, a former measure of school achievement, for five years in a row.

School Intervention Spe­cialist Amy Wright brought in a team to train teachers and support the leadership. She said the reform was accelerated in 2007 when Andrews was hired as principal, and he developed data tracking strategies and revised discipline procedures.

Andrews said that when he came on the job, the school had four active gangs, daily fights and a third of the sixth-graders were reading below grade level. Two students, who were later arrested, were leading a bomb threat scheme, where they called in two threats twice a day for 18 days in a row.

Through the reform and state intervention, discipline referrals fell from 2,000 in 2008 to less than 500 by 2010. The percentage of students meeting standards in math jumped 13 points to 69 percent between 2005 and 2010; the percentage in English/language arts jumped almost 17 points to 89 percent, according to state data.

“There was a collaborative spirit that was very infectious,” Wright said. “It just bled everywhere as a result of coaches being there 24/7. The right people were in the right places at the right time. We had student buy-in, teacher buy-in, administration buy-in. It was a special time in my life I’ll never forget.”

When the state intervention ended in 2010, and local budget cuts began at the same time, Andrews said he lost six teachers, one assistant principal, a guidance counselor and a front office staffer.

Teacher morale dropped and achievement suffered. At the same time, teachers had to take on the load of learning new Common Core state standards with new requirements.

Now, Andrews said student achievement is mostly below 2005 levels, though 2013 scores can’t be directly compared because of changes in curriculum standards over the years.

Without enough teachers, class sizes have swelled to almost 38 in some cases, leaving teachers overwhelmed, Andrews said.

“I was left trying to sustain the success the students built and the teachers built and I built that I couldn’t sustain,” Andrews said. “We had been able to get above water, and then the last three years have been a fight.”

Andrews said the gun incident has been a shot in the arm for the school to get it together but that small victories have already been made. Arnette and fellow instructional coach Gladys Hamilton are developing a Science, Tech­no­logy, Engineering and Math infusion program that is being tested in select classes.

Teachers have expanded their data analysis system over the years. Each student’s name is posted on the wall of the collaboration room in either a green, yellow or red designation and is monitored daily.

The educators say the goal is to get back to the success they tasted several years ago, but they can’t do it alone.

“The students here have so much potential,” Hamilton said. “Sometimes they don’t believe in themselves, sometimes it’s the parents that say ‘I don’t have the time to come up here and be involved.’ But we can do it.”

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Little Lamb
45762
Points
Little Lamb 01/25/14 - 11:53 pm
7
6
Clarity

From the story:

The [incident] was the culmination of years of rising discipline issues, slipping student achievement and a lack of parental support that put a gridlock on the school reaching its potential, principal Glenn Andrews said.

Yes, and you can also add failure to meet adequate yearly progress and persistently dangerous school to the mix.

Time to give it up, folks.

corgimom
32124
Points
corgimom 01/26/14 - 05:52 am
15
0
The 60 parents that were

The 60 parents that were there aren't the problem.

It's the other several hundred parents that weren't there, that are.

nocnoc
42307
Points
nocnoc 01/26/14 - 09:18 am
6
0
The Problem starts at home

Teachers and RCBOE should not be playing School Cop and Court. We need to halt this School Tribunal stuff
regarding any OCGA Violations and transfer all criminal conduct cases to Criminal court.

If it is a violation of OCGA then treat it as such.

BUT WHATEVER THE CASE
Maybe it is time to start charging Parents for Neglect, or absentee Parents for Failure or Lack of proper safe control under OCGA infraction. Maybe the Gold Dome needs to write a simple
"Control your Young'in Law " . A law that deals with Harmful Activities like drugs, Weapons, robbery, Sexual assault etc. and holds parents, and Absentee Parents to a lesser degree, also responsible and require Parental training classes the 1st time and Graduating Fines thereafter. But also allows (voluntarily) for the Parent at any time to surrender the uncontrollable problem to alternative or foster care.

Above All
Everyone involved needs to start remembering these problems grow up and we must think of the Whole Flocks safety.

nocnoc
42307
Points
nocnoc 01/26/14 - 09:20 am
8
0
C-Mom has a vaild point

It is likely the parents NOT there, that are were the problems lay.

avidreader
3166
Points
avidreader 01/26/14 - 09:20 am
8
0
Who's Responsible?

I admire Mr. Andrews' candor in taking responsibility. He's the boss, and the buck stops with him. However, the budget cuts that this school has sustained are overwhelming, and these cuts are a huge part of the problem.

This is a tough time for all of our schools. Common Core and TKES (Teacher Effectiveness) are wearing me out. The paperwork is out of control, and the folks in Atlanta are attempting to strip teachers of their individuality -- or so it seems to me.

I am fortunate to be working in a civilized educational environment, and I feel bad for the teachers who have to work in a place like GHMS. Elizabeth Arnette has dedicated her career to this school and has hung in there for many years. When people like Arnette are worried, then there's a reason. I hope she and Mr. Andrews and the rest of the staff can come up with a solution. But as long as ignorance continues to breed ignorance, it's going to be a tough job to operate a school in a civilized environment.

corgimom
32124
Points
corgimom 01/26/14 - 10:01 am
6
1
There needs to be more

There needs to be more children put on medication and more children removed from the school setting and put in self-contained classrooms and residential treatment centers. They just get worse and worse as they get bigger and older and stronger.

The parents don't want their children on medication- even though it's, HELLO, can you not see that your child has serious, serious problems and are totally out of control?

There is no cure for a sociopath, there is no cure for personality disorders, there is no cure for a criminal mind. There is no cure for these severely emotionally disturbed children. There is no cure for a child who has been damaged in utero by drinking or drugs. There is no cure for childhood schizophrenia.

But PLEASE, get those disturbed kids out of these schools so the rest of the kids don't have to live in fear and can learn. And until the schools are ready to toughen up, as long as lawmakers don't want to get rid of that mainstreaming crap, you will have this.

nocnoc
42307
Points
nocnoc 01/26/14 - 10:20 am
9
0
C-Mom has someone hacked your account?

Because again I agree with you, your 09:01AM post seems so Conservative.

All joking aside I totally agree.
We need to clear the way to let those that can learn
or want to learn, learn.

nocnoc
42307
Points
nocnoc 01/26/14 - 10:24 am
7
0
BTW:

The responsibility for the problems punks bring to school is not the Teachers or School Admin fault.

How a punk misbehaves in school or the criminal actions they do at school, has NOTHING to do with Schools.

It ALL rests solely with the PARENT(s) that do no more than feed them and leave a TV on to do the babysitting.

AutumnLeaves
7569
Points
AutumnLeaves 01/26/14 - 10:33 am
4
0
I don't think lack of

I don't think lack of medication is the problem. A lot of these young people are already on drugs, some on prescriptions, some on other people's prescriptions, and some just plain illegal (class one narcotics). We have a huge and dangerous problem.

scooter2762
4880
Points
scooter2762 01/26/14 - 10:34 am
6
0
It's always been my opinion

It's always been my opinion that they can send teachers off to all kinds of training and implement whatever programs they can to try to get performance to improve in the schools; but if the kids don't have the support and parenting they need at home, it's all a waste of time and money.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 01/26/14 - 11:08 am
6
0
I 2nd, 3rd, and 4th scooter's

I 2nd, 3rd, and 4th scooter's comment!! Which is basically what this article is saying as well. You can NOT throw money at the problem!! Parents must be WILLING to teach their children discipline and respect. But how do you legislate parents to be responsible, honorable human beings? You can't; not without interfering in their free will!! You can even give free education seminars to parents, and it will not "fix" them. Just like this meeting where 60 parents showed up, the ones that WANT to do better, will take the seminar, those who don't care, wont show up!!

It's just like fighting drug addiction!! You can force your loved one into a rehab, but you can't force them to WANT to get better!! Until they WANT to get better, forcing them will never work!! It must be something that comes from within themselves. If they decide within themselves to do better, they usually don't need the rehab!! They fundamentally change themselves. But it takes that action in their hearts. Just like the Bible says "Seek ye FIRST, the Kingdom of heaven". YOU must first SEEK to change, then change will come!! But it requires action and determination, which only YOU can decide to put forth!!

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 01/26/14 - 11:25 am
6
0
nocnoc

"But also allows (voluntarily) for the Parent at any time to surrender the uncontrollable problem to alternative or foster care."

Man, you are opening a HUGE problem with this!! You would overflow the system with "uncontrollable problems". In 17 years, I can't count the amount of calls I alone have answered, where a parent said "I'm done with them, just take them with you." Because their child was acting unruly!!

In MY OPINION, there is nothing more selfish than to say this!! So, they've had children, raised them without honor and dignity, and when that child's behavior is a direct reflection of how they've been raised, they want to give them to someone else to raise? Just pass the problem off to someone else to deal with? Isn't this the easy way out for irresponsible parents? Believe me, there would be THOUSANDS lined up to give their children to the State!!

The ones who would do this, are more concerned with SELF, than with doing the right thing!! They want to do WHATEVER they want, instead of having to worry about the well being of a child!! I've seen women take their children to night clubs and leave them in the car, just so they can do "Their thing". I've seen people leave their children with drug addicted "friends" just so they can go out and have a good time. We've responded to houses where children below 5 years of age, where left at the house by themselves, just so the parent could go out and have a good time. We've found 2 year old children, walking the streets in nothing but a diaper, only to find out the mother was stoned out of her mind!!

We've all heard of people selling their children for money and drugs, just so they don't have to deal with them. We've heard of them being sold into sex trafficking rings!!

Now, these people do NOT need to keep their children!! They DO need to be placed into a safe environment. But there are also many out here who would be glad to give up their children, just so they can continue their pathetic, selfish existence!! This just isn't right!! Where is the personal responsibility? If they willingly give up their child to State care, they should be forced to work to provide every dime of cost!! They brought them into this world, they are responsible for them!!

jimmymac
38954
Points
jimmymac 01/26/14 - 01:57 pm
0
0
EDUCATION
Unpublished

I wonder how many of these darling little thugs have parents without an education? I wonder how many are drug and alcohol abusers? I wonder how many have criminal records? Is there any wonder why the kids are a mess with parents like that? Most of the bad behavior is learned.

corgimom
32124
Points
corgimom 01/26/14 - 03:11 pm
0
1
If people really want this to

If people really want this to change, they will contact their Congressional representatives and tell them to CHANGE THAT MAINSTREAMING LAW!

It was well-meaning, it was intended for children that had physical disabilities and for children that could function in a normal classroom setting. The lawmakers-who were thinking of sweet little children that just needed a chance- had no idea that it would also include so many children with psychiatric and emotional problems.

These disruptive children have ruined schools and have forced many good teachers out of the teaching profession, you can only take so much of it for so long.

scoobynews
3854
Points
scoobynews 01/26/14 - 05:16 pm
3
0
Worse job I ever had!

I made it for one year didn't even ask for a contract even though I was a first year teacher. Took my chances and got a job in another county were kids actually acted like kids.

Dixieman
14900
Points
Dixieman 01/27/14 - 09:31 am
1
0
Is there anyone posting here...

...who really wants to send their kids to public school after reading this story?

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 01/27/14 - 10:34 am
0
0
its time to take the schools
Unpublished

its time to take the schools back and he's how it CAN be done
1) expel all violent, direspectful, disobedient students immediately
2) suspend all extra-curricular sports activities until academic levels reach 75%-hell, they can't read but they can da%n sure run a football or shoot a basketball...doesn't anyone see a disconnect??
3) tie all welfare (sec 8, welfare, foo stamps, tanf, free lunch, medicaid, housing, wic, energy assistance) to student performance/parental involvement/academic achievement, if the student-child lives in your welfare house you are responsible. if the child fails, gets suspended, or expelled then all welfare stops immediately, if the sorry azz welfare broodmare with 4 other kids by different "baby's daddies" refuses to get involved, miss school conferences, mandatory job training or education..WELFARE STOPS IMMEDIATELY
4) convert all public housing projects to homes for the elderly, gated off and resident must sign in/out upon leaving and entering and all visitors must do the same with no friends/family members allowed to stay more that 3 consecutive days each month
5) turn the school back into institutions of learning, instead their current functions as large "day-care" centers

these five steps will help turn the school system around and foster an environment of learning and education. it is no longer society's responsibility to feed, clothe, raise, be a psychologist/sociologist, mother or father to these bad azz children society did not make/birth these kids their sorry [filtered word] mammy/baby daddy did all of that and it should revert back to them to raise them and the schools' to educate them (and if they don't want to learn), society's responsibility to jail/inprison them..either way society will be better off

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