Thursday, January 12, 2012

Superintendent Outlines Farm Hill Support Plan

An addition to the agenda at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting allowed Superintendent Michael Frechette to update the board on the resources being put into play at Farm Hill Elementary School to address "behavioral issues" in the school.

Frechette had originally planned to meet with the Farm Hill PTA and faculty and staff first before updating the board, but the media frenzy and BOE member interest caused the front office to "drop everything and prepare this report for tonight's meeting." Click here to be linked to the report posted on the Superintendent's website (it's called Farm Hill Support Plan).

The plan outlines the additional staff Farm Hill will be receiving as well as the creation of a Climate Committee "to facilitate and establish [an] action plan to address building needs." The plan also outlines specific action steps, identifies who is responsible for those steps, and what student groups those action steps apply to. For example, the immediate response to inappropriate language and physical aggression will be an In School Suspension and it will be implemented by the Building Sub/Student Manager Coordinator.

Dr. Donn Sottolano, Director of the ACES Behavior Services Center (ACES stands for Area Cooperative Educational Services and exists "to improve public education through high quality, cost-effective programs and services"), was also scheduled today to meet with the Farm Hill grade levels for "collaborative conversations with regard to children at risk." One could speculate that this meeting might be one way the school tries to identify why there are "issues" and how they can be properly addressed.

The Farm Hill PTA meeting this evening is a regularly scheduled PTA meeting that just happened to be planned for this week. It was not called specially for the purpose of discussing a new support plan, and PTA officers plan to have a normal meeting with normal business on the agenda. "This meeting has been planned since the beginning of the year, and we usually have about ten people at each meeting, so that's what we would regularly expect, " commented one PTA officer.

Superintendent Frechette told the BOE that he plans to meet with Farm Hill's faculty and staff tomorrow. When asked by BOE member Ed McKeon for a "history of this issue without confidential specifics," Frechette answered that he had been working with the Farm Hill principal for almost two years now, through the re-districting process, and more specifically at the beginning of this year as new staff was added. Dr. Frechette went on to add that plan had been finalized even before Christmas, and that the coordination of additional state and other agency involvement had taken time to come together.

Several board members asked if re-districting was a root cause of Farm Hill's immediate issues, and Assistant Superintendent Barbara Senges replied that if the implication was that moving a special needs program to Farm Hill was the problem, then no, it wasn't re-districting that's at fault. "Frankly, the majority of the behavioral problems at Farm Hill aren't kids in the special needs program," Senges explained.


Anonymous said...

Complained not coplanned- hate iPhone!

Anonymous said...

So, an in-school suspension for an elementary aged child. What does that look like? To me, it doesn't sound much different than the "scream room" idea, with the exception of an adult being in there with the child. How does this differ, exactly?

I am also wondering why no one is looking to the leadership of this school as a possible cause of the problem. I spent time at this school when Loretta Rubin was the principal and I never saw or heard of any of these issues.

Anonymous said...

Frechette stikes again. One more and additional snafu that he has created, and as usual pisses off everyone, makes national news, and then tries to come to the rescue. Proactive management would have listened to the teachers and PTO up front, and taken care of the problem before Middletown was the brunt of the national news. Time for Frechette to go!!!!!!!