ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION

Plugging Into the Community

There needs to be more outreach into the community for opinions, ideas and collaboration on the issues that face our schools in Petaluma. I believe the following suggested guidelines might be useful in attaining that goal.

  • Identify and target specific audiences
  • Consider multiple modes of communication for different purposes and audiences
  • Include information community members need to make sense of the Board's plans
  • Make the language and presentation accessible to the intended audience
  • Avoid common communication pitfalls

Mending Fences - Teacher/District Administration

The other issue that the district faces involves the broken relationship between the teachers, the district administration and the school board. Over the past several years, the damage to that relationship has been significant. Repairing the damage will take a concerted effort by all stakeholders to change the dynamic that exists now. This will require a level of respect and collaboration and communication that does not exist today. As a retired teacher from this district, I feel compelled to provide the space, time, energy and desire to help bring about these changes. There seems to be this feeling from the current board and administration that teachers are adversaries, while the teachers feel undervalued as professionals. How to fix this? There needs to be a sincere effort by both parties to come together to mend the rift, to rebuild trust by making all decsion making processes inclusive and transparent, and to collaborate as partners in the education of our children.

School Safety

Keeping our students safe and our school campuses free from violence, harassment, and hateful behavior has become ever more necessary and profoundly problematic. I can appreciate the fact that the district administration felt compelled to address the problem with immediate action. The addition of two school resource officers, one at each high school serves that need, and I am an advocate for positive community policing. I was working at Casa Grande when PCS implemented the Safe Schools Grant which allocated funds for both counseling services and school resource officers. I found that it helped build positive relationships between the students, the staff and the police officers.

That said, this new grant apparently does not provide counseling services, which was funded in the prior Safe Schools grant, and which is unfortunate. As a school board member, I would advocate for additional funding to provide on-going, full time, mental health and counseling services to compliment the presence of the officers. If we are to build trusting, positive relationships between our police force and our youth, we need to make sure that the police assigned to these schools are well trained in dealing with teenagers and are not just on the school sites to monitor possible criminal activity, such as marijuana possession. If, after a regular, transparent review of this program, it is found to be ineffective, then I would advocate to end it.

Title IX Rights and the #MeToo Movement

I see the protection of our student's Title IX rights as another aspect of student safety in our schools. We must ensure that students' Title IX rights are honored and protected by all. The District does have a very comprehensive Policy and Complaint Procedure for handling sexual harassment and bullying in the schools, but implementation and awareness of the policy needs to be reviewed, especially with the rise of awareness from the #MeToo movement and the recent national news coverage of the Petaluma High School Commencement Speech debacle. Cutting off the valedictorian's microphone only shines a giant spotlight on this issue. The district must acknowledge the changing culture and reevaluate the effectiveness of their Title IX policies in order to ensure a safe environment for our students, free from harassment and discrimination. Students must feel they are being heard.