January 6, 2012
To: Honorable Mayor, Dan Drew
CC: Michael J. Frechette, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools; Barbara R. Senges, Associate Superintendent; Ann Perzan, Director of Pupil Services and Special Education; Gene P. Nocera, BOE Chair; Sheila C. Daniels, Vice-Chair; Ed McKeon, Secretary; William G. Grady, Ava M. Hart, Ryan Kennedy, Cheryl A. P. McClellan, Mitchell Wynn, Theodore V. Raczka, Patricia Girard Principle-Farm Hill and “The many concerned Farm Hill Parents”
My name is Apryl Dudley and I have been involved in the Farm Hill PTA since my children started Kindergarten five years ago. I was PTA vice president from 2008-2010 and currently President from 2010-2012.
I am writing you with some concerns I have and concerns I have been hearing from other parents. I am a very involved parent at Farm Hill School. As the president of the PTA, I feel I am in a very difficult position. I have had many parents calling me telling me they are ready to call the media, police and DCF in an attempt to help our children. I would like to see corrective measures taken before our community is publicly humiliated by the media. I see and hear a lot of what is going on in our school.
My fear is that a child is going to get severely hurt and hope for a response and a resolution. In October, word got out about two rooms that were created for our "behavior students" who can't control their anger. Parents and students refer to them as "Scream Rooms". We were told they are alternative learning environments by administration. They are small rooms with concrete walls. When a child can't be controlled they are brought to this room. Staff members stand outside the door until the child cools down, then they are let out. Three parents called me after they witnessed two staff members holding a door shut from one of these rooms with a child on the other side as they kicked and screamed uncontrollably. There is something unsettling, knowing that a child is hitting their head against walls and urinating everywhere, then only to be let out and put back in classrooms with our children.
During these events, depending on which room the child is in, it becomes a disruption to all classrooms surrounding it. Some classrooms/grades are made to stop their lesson and either read or color to try to ignore the blood curdling screams and even take their books and pencils into a different location in the school. Many times both of these rooms are being used at the same time which leaves no option to find a quiet spot to learn. I myself have witnessed children being restrained both inside and outside of the school and carried into these "Rooms". My children come home weekly, “sometimes multiple times in a week”, discussing the incidents that occurred in school that day.
These outbursts are disrupting the entire school. Is Farm Hill the only school in the district with the ICM department? With CMT's coming up, how are other children going to be able to perform well, when they are pretty much guaranteed to hear these outbursts? Farm Hill failed last year, what is going to happen this year?
Many students, and I assume staff, are afraid of these children. The disrespect and language to our staff and students by these children is disgusting. I myself have been told these children can't help it. I find that VERY hard to believe and unacceptable. These students have negatively affected the learning enviourment and regularly intimidate other students. This must stop and it is the BOE’s obligation to take corrective measures ASAP to make this stop.
Good students are getting an "I don't care attitude". They see these behavioral students being rewarding if they have a good hour and the all the rest of the student body are expected to behave at all times.
An issue I have, and other parents have voiced to me as well, is the lack of communication and information to parents at our school. I understand privacy laws, but there is no reason why parents shouldn't be made aware of the issues that go on in our school. Why can’t parents be told that our school was selected to house the ICM children who have serious behavior issues. These children require restraining from trained staff and sometimes must be transported out by ambulance. Forwarding general information on to parents would save a lot of gossip and help answer questions.
Right now the families at Farm Hill are basically kept in the dark. Our children are coming home asking why the police were at school again today, or why were there stretchers in the hallway. What are we parents supposed to say? We, as parents can only assume. When we ask, we are told it can't be discussed. Still leaving the questions of what happened and are our children safe?
Currently, approximately 20-25 families have pulled their children out of our school since September because of these ongoing major issues and have sent them to private school. Many more families do not plan on returning next September. Do you as a Board of Ed really want to have all of our good families leave this school? Or worse yet, I have heard people wanting to move out of Middletown for a better learning environment. What kind of statement does this make to potential new residents/taxpayers?
I feel another reason our school is so out of control is because of a lack of resources. McDonough School for example, has more resources than all the elementary schools put together. They have funded programs that come in to help staff and students. Wesleyan students also come in and volunteer to run after school programs and many more. Why hasn't Farm Hill been given the proper resources we need? Is it a budget issue? Wesleyan students tutor for free. I know this for a fact because I have utilized them to assist my child for additional educational benefits.
This ongoing situation is not only affecting our children but surely must have a negative effect on our teachers. The moral at our school is at its worst. Our children are unhappy. It is also embarrassing to be at an event not involving school and hear people talk about how bad things are at Farm Hill School. I used to be proud to say I was a Farm Hill Parent and find myself now not admitting it. Please help our children in our school.
I have included these additional facts that have been brought to my attention as parental issues for student and staff safety concerns and questionable acceptance policies by the BOE.
1) The police department had to be called at least once, each week since school started
2) Desks are being flipped, chairs are being thrown and equipment is being damaged. - DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY
3) Staff members are being injured by students. - ABUSE
4) An ICM student allegedly put a belt around her neck during class. - Attempted Suicide/Attention
5) The same student punched a fellow student in the face, giving her a black eye. - Assault
6) Children in their fit of rage, rip down fellow classmates work with no consequence.
I am available to discuss any and all issues within this letter. Many concern parents are waiting to hear from you and are already calling me as their President of the PTA for any resolution to these issues I have raised. I know of no misinformation provided above and can only hope the BOE shares enough concerns to move forward to immediate changes.
Thank you very much for your email with regard to concerns at Farm Hill. Central Office has been meeting with Pat throughout the fall to address issues as they have arisen.
Concurrently, we have been putting together a comprehensive plan to proactively address the issues at Farm Hill. Recently, we have formalized our action plan for Farm Hill which will be articulated to the faculty and staff on Friday, January 13th with Central Office in attendance.
Point of clarification -- many issues at Farm Hill are not the result of the Special Education population, rather, general education students, which is why the plan we have developed is comprehensive in order to address the entire population.
A significant part of this plan is a School-Parent Compact which will involve the PTA, State Department of Education, Central Office, and Farm Hill Staff.
Subsequent to the faculty and staff meeting on Friday, January 13th the plan will be shared with the PTA. However, to allay concerns recently expressed by parents, I have spoken with several parents and indicated that a plan will be forthcoming to address safety issues at Farm Hill.
Teachers and staff members have been meeting with Central Office to share their point-of-view of the issues at Farm Hill. Their input was used in the formulation of the final plan.
I will share this plan with the BOE in writing after the faculty, staff, and CO meet on Friday, January 13th and provide a report at the January 24th regular BOE meeting.
Michael J. Frechette, Ph.D.
So how long are we as tax payers going to let Dr. Frechette contribute to the failing of our schools in Middletown? He is the headmaster of a school system that has so many possibilities yet is drowning in its own excuses. Just a sad state of affairs.
Do you honestly think that these occurrences only happen at Farm Hill? I’ve got news for you people...they happen at every school. Schools are being put in lock down due to student behaviors that are out of control. Fire alarms being pulled by students that have fellow classmates standing out in the cold. Parents need to be more informed about these “daily” occurrences that go on. I hate the fact that I find out a day or two later from my children or a fellow parent that “so and so” did this and we were in lockdown, or the police were in school…or there was an ambulance at school. I would like to have the information provided to me by the schools so that I can be prepared to discuss the situations at home. We have the technology to send out phone notifications for ½ days, vacations, book sales, bake sales etc, why can’t we be notified if one of these situations occur? Obviously the BOE has made no efforts to communicate to any parents of what and how these situations are being handled. Please newly elected BOE members do what you all stated in your campaigns and have the administration show accountability.
Apryl- I'd love to meet and speak with you. You really ought to refrain from calling "good parents" such until you meet a good parent with autism that uses bad language. That kind of division helps none if us. I love my son deeply and do not encourage his "behaviors" that cause him to need restraints. On the other hand I don't advocate integrating our children. It doesn't help my son with autism- nor the general population. Sorry was offended and hurt by the "good parent" dogma. None of us when expecting the birth of a baby can fathom the confusion, pain, shame (of bad behaviors) or depth of love when given a child with autism. Time to educate everyone and work together productively for the good of all our children. Jane majewski, mom of a special needs child- and three others who are typical-Bielefeld district
God have mercy! They 'took you out' and removed all common sense too!
This reporting is extremely biased. The response from central office is actually respectable- they are addressing the issue with multiple levels of support from the community and state. They are not bringing it up at tonight’s BOE, but they are addressing it this week and have plans to address it at next BOE. The title has also been changed since its original posting from one that included the emotionally weighted phrase “scream room” to a much more benign title. I’m sure, as one poster stated, there is more that administration could be doing to inform parents, but attacking or disguising their actual response is counterproductive.
There was a special program at Lawrence School that was disbanded and the children were sent to their neighborhood schools. They were not integrated with their peers as they were supposed to. They were put in these smaller classrooms in their neighborhood schools without the proper support. Lawrence School had five classrooms, with a special education teacher and two paraeducators in each room. They had a social worker, school psychologist and speech pathologist for their program. These children had peer groups, socialization, friends and a controlled learning environment. There were very few problems under the guidance of the social worker and school principal. These students were an asset to the Lawrence School community and were in a learning environment tailor-made for them. The three (yes, we now have three incompetent special education directors - instead of the one we used to have - a whole 'nother post) were jealous of the progress made by the school principal and disbanded this program, to the detriment of the children. These children now attend classes, isolated by their peers and in these poor learning environments. They do not have the support they need to be successful.
Mayor, Dr. Nocera and BOE members, please do something quickly about the problems at Central Office. How many more people need to transfer, retire or just quit before action is taken. You've promised to end the lawsuits - and you have, but you have not solved the problems. I understand the Teamster who is supposed to be the business manager, still doesn't have the job, even though the State Labor Board directed you to fill that position. Don't lie to us. Fix the problems.
Frechette & Nancy Haynes need to be removed from out BOE admin ASAP- a vote of no confidence on behalf of the public and parents is an understatement. My heart goes out to the parents of special needs children who are not being given proper attention. A "scream room" doesn't help the core problems just puts a band aid over an opportunity to heal and teach.
Dan Drew promised to fix the BOE and all the schools and put education first- you gave us a unfrozen skating rink why can't you do what you promised and fix our schools instead?? You said you were different Dan, and I am sorely disappointed.
I would like to think that the author of this letter has good intensions but she seems to have directed her anger at one group of children at the school. There are many behavior issues at Farm Hill, not just in the ICM classes but in the general population of the school. The staff and administration at the school were overwhelmed by the number of students received in the redistricting and the ICM students from the disbanded Lawrence School program and have received very little additional resources to accommodate these additions. The staff and administration at the school are in survival mode, just trying to get through one day at a time.
I am glad to see that Dr Frechette has a plan to help the students and staff at the school. One of my concerns is the statement “A significant part of this plan is a School-Parent Compact which will involve the PTA, State Department of Education, Central Office, and Farm Hill Staff.” I have not seen the School-Parent Compact for Farm Hill. I have seen the one for our school. I am not sure how having the students, parents and teachers sign an agreement to behave, encourage and participate in homework and provide resources and support for learning will help the problems at this school. If a child has behavior issues and the teacher is overwhelmed a piece of paper promising to do better is not going to help.
I am also dismayed by the fact that Dr. Frechette did not direct his response to the author of the letter and did not include her in the original response. I believe that this once again shows the lack of respect that Dr Frechette has for the parents of this town.
Thank you to the Eye for getting this posted for us to see.
I also want to thank those people who are willing to see special educations kids as the ones not getting what they need. I strongly feel that the special education system in this town, this state and this country is not working and the changes they are making are not helping.
The teir classes for kids who struggle and need a little help are awesome and are helping a good deal of students. But there are a number of kids who need more than that and it may be for learning, social skills or any number of unique issues. The district isn't helping the kids that need the help.
The admin in charge of the special education for this town are so focused on reducing the number of kids in special ed and keeping the cost down that they are causing other struggles. The feelings that I get from trying to work with that department are not that they have the students' best interests, but the budgets' best interest at heart. The only person I have worked with whom I believe still wants the best for the students is Senges. And she gets criticized for that constantly. She hasn't always made the right decisions, but her priorities seem to more align with what we has paretns want for our kids.
I think Apryl should talk to the Bielefield parent with the autistic child. I think Apryl has great intentions and although I don't know her she is probably a good parent just like we all are. We are good parents because we are active and we care. Being a good parent doesn't mean your child doesn't have problems.
I agree with the person who commented on the school-parent compact. My impression of that is similar, just a piece of paper that has little meaning. I know a lot of people worked on those and they are constantly reworking them, but they don't have real action behind them. Woodrow Wilson and Bielefield were forced to form a School Governance Council this year and for the first time I am optomisitic that real recommendations will be made through these groups as long as they don't also become just a systme to fulfill the mandated requirements. If these councils can make real recommendations by the teachers, parents and the community member involved that the district can look at to deal with day to day issues in the school we may have a little change. If these are successful, then all the schools should have one.
We have many different types of parents in this town. We have some very involved parents and community members. We also have parents that aren't involved at all and don't help their children, but I believe those are fewer than most people think. Most of us are somewhere in between, we are busy, but we do what we can to improve our schools, town and our children. We are all good parents. But, we aren't always informed and that isn't always our choice.
Although, I think Apryl's letter is one sided and Dr. Frechette's response does not really address all the issues, I do think that bringing this out to the public is the best step yet. And all the comments made are intellectual and provide different views.
Unless, you are a parent of a Farm Hill student, you have no idea what parents there have been trying to do. In addition, you have no idea what our children & staff have been going through. Although, most of your comments are opinions you truly do not know the facts.
Being a parent of a child at Farm Hill that receives "special education" services, a child who needs special education services and the ones who have "special needs" are two totally different things.
I feel for these children in the "icm" department. From reading the letter written by Apryl and the comment posted regarding the program at Lawrence, the BOE isn't doing these children any justice. They are endangering these child and their peers. The safty concerns are for ALL CHILDREN AT FARM HILL.
Let me describe to you how insane special education issues can be in this town. When my son was in kindergarten I fought for him to be segregated. My husband and I pay for many of his private services out of pocket because we don't believe it's the taxpayers job to pay for our child's different abilities. We asked for a bus. A safe bus ride. The sensory I reload on a bus traumatized him. The fifth graders found it humerus to get him to use the "f" word- after more than a year of fighting safety issues - he was given a small bus after other parents complained about their kids safety.
Then they moved him to Keigwin as a fifth grader because they disbanded his contained class at Bielefeld. After disbanding a better program at Lawrence. ( read here- an autistic child where change is difficult has been changed more than typical kids).
The only thing I asked? Safe transportation. To shorten this horrific story- I was amazed to learn that it's policy and acceptable- for monitors on short buses to have infants on them- and I'm told I can do nothing to stop this. Know how I learned this?
When the monitor who is paid to keep my son safe came to my food crying cuz my son spit on her and her infant!!!! A baby on a bus with a child that has behaviors? Who is going to keep my child safe on rt 9 if the bus breaks down and the monitor has to get three or four kids off safely with her infant????
They solved my complaint by putting that monitor and baby on another short bus-
Hippa laws keep that woman from knowing how safe THOSE kids are-
So yes apryl- you or anyone PLEASE talk to me- I have quite a bit to say!
What does ICM stand for?
Jane, though you bring up excellent points, please proofread your entries. Your experiences get lost in the grammatical and typographical errors.
As a MPS elementary school parent, and one that may be having children go to Farm Hill in the future, I am appalled that this activity has been permitted. This method of intervention does nothing positive for children.
Farm Hill is not the proper school for this program. It is a small school with an open layout. Noise of this nature will travel and distract numerous classes. There are several other schools designed with a layout more conducive to this program.
An Dr Frechette. Please step down. You have done nothing positive for our schools. Your time has come to leave this position. We all know that as parents and our child's first educators. If you have so little faith in the MPS that you must send your child to Mercy, you have no purpose in our system anymore.
I sincerely hope that Dr Nocera will be part of this meeting. If he is not invited I hope that he is willing to be there anyway in order to serve as a representative of the parents of Middletown. I have nothing but high hopes for this new BOE. Please don't let the city down. Our children can't afford it.
*the monitor came to my door bit food.
ICM classrooms are self contained classrooms for children that their disabilities make it do that they can not remain within a typical classroom.
Another trajedy of the no child left behind laws that doesn't get spoken of - is the amount is children on IEPs in the regular classroom- with a regular educational teacher. A classroom of 20-25 kids can have as many kids in an IEP. How does even the best of teachers meet those IEPs? Impossible! Unfair to the teacher- to the kids on IEPs and to the typical children in the class.
And to the parent at farm hill- I fought to keep my son not at farm hill. The stairs alone are safety issues! So while I've not been a parent at farm hill- I know exactly the issues you deal with- there not just at farm hlll. I had my son "held" in a small room full of stuff at Bielefeld- as a teacher held the door knob on the outside to keep him locked in- as he climbed heights of boxes inside. I almost called Dcf then.
That had to be an illegal restraint. Now? The staff and students at Keigwin get to experience outbursts like you describe.
The staff at deal were trained- and specialize in typical behaviors of autism- knew the individual chdten- and at least until junior high- the kids were in a loving learning environment.
I've hijacked this article- line I said- I have a lot to say on this topic.
This just started to hit the farm hill students last year- but children like mine have always been here-
And I'm not even addressing the issue of kids NOT special that have behavioral issues. That's yet another topic in town-
Gee, maybe NOW Dan Drew will get tough with the BOE. Thankyou, Ms Dudley for the TRUTH. I have seen the police at Farm Hill. This used to be an award winning school. Now teachers are retiring early just to escape. The wisest parents finally found the truth- the private schools won't TOLERATE outlandish behavior.Parents, ASK YOUR CHILDREN.
I agree that the tone of Ms. Dudley's email is offensive. I can only assume that she has never had the pleasure of trying to navigate the systems in the Middletown Public School system for a child with special needs. She is very lucky to have a "good child". Those of us who have a child who is differently abled in any way know what a nightmare it is to try and get the services that our children are entitled too. Middletown schools are notorious for making it nearly impossible to access systems that would improve the educational quality for our children. Parents have to expend an incredible amount of time and energy familiarizing themselves with the special education system to make sure that the Middletown Public Schools are not taking advantage of our children.
I also think that Ms. Dudley is looking to blame the schools problems on students with special needs when the issues fall squarely on the shoulders of the administration and their inability to educate a diverse population.
That is the issue that should be addressed.
Welcome to public education!
As disturbing as this is, I'm frankly a bit annoyed at the way this is being made to sound as if the problem here is the students. True, they are a disruption, but it's pretty evident that the staff at this school is I'll equipped to deal with these behavioral issues in a safe and appropriate manner. This parent has no clue what these children suffer from...possibly autism, or Tourette Syndrome, or other disorders that should not ever bar them from being able to obtain an education in the public school systems. Locking a child up, especially a child who is already upset, is a surefire way to get a bad reaction from them. The staff is to blame here. I'm glad the woman who wrote this letter has children who are perfect, because judging by this, it would seem that she too would not be unable to provide the care and patience that some of these children need and deserve.
What this school needs is to teach the staff how to properly handle these situations, and teach the students, parents and everyone else involved about tolerance and kindness.
Typing from an iPhone- that keeps spell checking wrongly.
The private schools don't tolerate outlandish behavior- and they also don't provide special education services to children with more than simple learning disabilities.
Jane, you're right. Private schools also shelter children and do not teach them tolerance, or give them the skills needed to interact with other people who are not perfectly "normal" like them...which brings them to a rude awakening when they become young adults who enter the real world and realize that the children with behavioral, neurological, and emotional issues are the majority, not the minority.
Hi Apryl, I read your article, and I couldn't agree more. Farm hill has been a huge heart breaker. My son is in his last year and he is miserable. Maybe our kids were sheltered there but how could they shove the "rated R" content right down their throats while they are "unarmed". My child learned some terrible things, that left him very close to traumatized. I've been unaware of the cause until recently for his mood swings and stress levels. I approached the principal who the children hate, and I was assured that only age appropriate children were exposed to each other. That was a lie and a slap in the face. Both to me and to my son, sex Ed comes way to late for Farm hill's harsh reality. I am all for kids learning to function in the real world , however I am not for what they have done to literally throw our children to the wolves. And I don't trust them at all enough to confront them because my sons life there is hard enough. I'm running from farm Hill and spreading the word about why! I'm sickened by the school that once brought us joy and made sending our kid to school easier. I've heard over and over from the kids how certain staff left, the ones who cared an "loved us" and how they were replaced by uncaring people. Thank you for doing what you do.
It looks as some of you are looking at this news as a negative toward children with behavior issues. Well you have to read between the lines people. Since when did you ever hear of a learning environment ever become a place to treat children in this manner. When you hear terms like scream rooms and restrains this should throw up a big red flag to those of you first hearing about it. Read the letter people talk to your Children, Teachers, and Neighbors. Education as you know it is not what it used to be. It need to get back to the way it was. I blame it on budget cuts. When I entered the Middletown school system as a child I don't remember rooms where a child can let their frustration out. School is not a place for this. These types of facilities are called Dr's offices or clinics.
What is going to happen in 15-20 years? If we don't get results now and we don't do anything about it I feel really bad for our grand kids. And they have the right to look at you and say way did you let it get this way. I really feel for the families with children that are getting treated like this. They are the ones that should have said something first. I'm sure it is tough dealing with this on a everyday basis but we have the right to protect our children as well.
Concerned involved Parent
I doubt Apryl is angry or directing her anger at the kids with behavior problems. I believe if you read, that she's saying they aren't being handled properly. As another poster said, having these children in the school, isn't helping our kids or the kids with behavior problems. I feel for all of them. But my child who doesn't have a behavior problem, is now attending school that seems more like a rated "R" movie and I DON'T let him watch Rated R movies, but I send him to Farm Hill, or go ahead and insert the name of the school __________ that YOU care about. If it's happening everywhere then I think that means there are more people who should stand up and speak their minds about what the HELL is happening at our SCHOOLS!! We speak about Farm Hill because that is what we know. But the REAL ISSUE is not which school, it's the kids with behavior issues not being handled properly but the kids who don't are subject to it! It's disturbing, and unecessary, and unfair. Unfair to the kids and to parent's. Like I said, we don't allow the kids to watch certain shows, but school is a VERY stressful place. And I will also add, it has become VERY INAPPROPRIATE.
Stop your whining about the kids with disabilities!!! It's all being handled WRONG.Black or white, smart or not, learning disabled or not, EVERYONE is suffering, and SOME PEOPLE CARE! We aren't talking about Tourettes or Autism, we're talking about the TRASH that some kids witness in their lives, they bring to school. 4th Graders talking about PORN and what they do sexually with their friends and ANIMALS!! Older kids, POISONING the minds of younger kids because they have too much TIME ON THEIR HANDS BECAUSE THE TEACHER IS TOO BUSY WITH BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS TO NOTICE!! And they may be ill equipped to deal with these kids because THEY WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE!! They aren't SPECIAL ED teachers!! It's not their short coming, it's been DUMPED on them, and you're UNGRATEFUL for insinuating that they are incompetent. IGNORANCE seems to reign ALL THE TIME.
If your bratty kids can't behave, they should be your problem, not the school's. Parents should be either forced to find other means of education, or pay a fee for time in which their child is taking staff member's time for behavior issues.
And Why didn't the coward who wrote the initial letter attach a name? That coward's kid is probably one who requires the most attention.
So if the issue is that these students with behavioral or emotional problems "don't belong" mixed in with students who are closer to perfect, then where do you suggest they go? Many of these students are just as intelligent, if not moreso, than your "normal" kids, and placing them into special education schools is NOT the answer. It's labeling them and segregating them, and sending the message that if something is difficult to deal with, then it's okay to just push it away and shove it in a closet so you don't have to look at it. That's just pure laziness on the part of the parents and the school administration, and to me is unacceptable. I would rather have my child, who has no learning disabilities or behavioral issues, be integrated with these students in a safe and nurturing environment. The key words being "safe" and "nurturing," two things which Farm Hill school apparently is not.
The tone of Mrs. Dudley's email is offensive? She has done nothing but try and make sure that ALL children are safe at our school. She has given countless hours to the school for which we should all be thankful. To make comments about her children is outlandish. If you're reading the same email I did, she did not say or infer that her kids are perfect. The point of her letter was to let the BOE know that what is going on at Farm Hill is WRONG. The staff, which is top-notch, is not given the adequate support they need and deserve. The leadership is not there. The communication to parents is not there. What is there? The police and ambulance...on a very regular basis. Are we saying that's okay? If we bring this unacceptable situation to the attention of the BOE, we're wrong? What would you have liked Mrs. Dudley to do? Nothing? and wait for a serious injury to occur at our school? Answer those questions in your next comment please.
Any serious injuries that occur as a result of these incarcerations in the screaming rooms are the fault of your so-called "top notch" staff. Not the students. Locking a hysterical child in a room is child abuse.
"Many students, and I assume staff, are afraid of these children. The disrespect and language to our staff and students by these children is disgusting. I myself have been told these children can't help it. I find that VERY hard to believe and unacceptable. These students have negatively affected the learning enviourment and regularly intimidate other students."
No actually Mr. DiBose, Apryl did "go there"! She really believes children with special needs CHOOSE to act out. Sad, but true, that's what she wrote!
How sad. When I moved to Middletown and my son was in kindergarten, I specifically sought out the Farm Hill district because I had heard such good things. I still believe the staff are well-intentioned and competent people (though I have had less than stellar interactions with the principal), but things at the school have gone very downhill since the redistricting. This is not the fault of the children, even the new ones who may have behavioral problems... this is probably not even the fault of the staff. It is a serious failure by the BOE to provide adequate resources and support staff to schools who have not had to previously deal with difficult students. In 4th grade, a boy in my son's class was so disruptive, the entire class fell way behind in the curriculum. When I asked my son if this boy was ever removed from class, he said "no." This boy was also verbally abusive to his teacher and classmates, and when I found out that he was physically abusive to my son and other students, I demanded that something be done. My son told me that on numerous occasions, when this boy hit, kicked or threw something at him or called him an expletive, and my son told his teacher about it, nothing was done. Clearly the teacher was not given any way to remove this child from the class, due to some lack of resources of special staff to help her. I feel for the staff at the school, who were put in an incredibly difficult situation without the help they needed. Whether Apryl's letter was one-sided or offensive or not is not the point. She has brought light to an issue that the parents of Farm Hill have been attempting to deal with on an individual basis with no results. Hopefully the BOE will listen up and make changes NOW, not in September. There are still 6 months of school left that should not be wasted continuing with this failure of management, for the sake of all of the children at Farm Hill.
I believe that everyone would benefits by going to the website thinkkids.org and reading about the paradigm shift on treating and educating kids with challenging behaviors. Just as little as twenty some years ago kids with reading disabilities were thought of as "lazy" and not applying themselves. Now there are behavioral optometrists, prism reading glasses, reading without tears and other tools that educators use to reach those with learing disabilities. No teacher today would call a kid with dyslexia "lazy". This same change in thinking must occur for these behaviorally challenged kids as well. Thinkkids.org Read it! -Tony (dad of autistic kid @ Bielefeld, now Keigwin ICM class) hubby of Jane who is at BOE mtg tonight.
Mr. DiBiase-I would like you to spend a week with Jane's son or mine, then you can feel free to judge the parents of children with "behavioral issues."
Our 5 yr old son whos in kinderten at farm hill was at lunch when he asked to use the rest room. He was not escorted, instead he went from the caffeteria to the boys room unatended. Whenhe returned, there was an empty caf, no students, teachers, nobody. So he thought to himself that his class might be out at recess. So, still all alone mind you, he walks out of the building to find he was still alone, now stuck outside. He says he was outside for a long period of time and was scared before they noticed him and let him in. All of this came from our 5 year old, not anyone from the school. When we contacted the school to ask about this, they knew what we were talking about but told us it happened on a different day than it actually was (not realizing exactly how intelligent our son actually is). We just think its crazy that we put our trust a school to not only teach but to ensure the safety of our children and if something would happen like our sons story parents ARE NOT BEING NOTIFIED. Its time for a change people. How can the.BOE stand by and watch this go on for the past few yrs and now make corrections? These children are the future of our community and our country.
I also add that there are laws in this country that ensure ALL children are entitled to a free and public education. Your comment is ignorant at the least.
And as far as most parents with quirky or non-typical kids of any level, we put more out of pocket to give our kids extra services than most families. And there are some of us who are not able to work full time because of our children. I spend about $20,000 a year of my own money in medical (ncluding psychiatric, occupational therapy, vision therapy, etc) expenses for my children. I don't qualify for free state health, but if we made $15,000 less per year, I wouldn't have any medical expenses because it would all be paid for by the state (taxpayers). When I have evaluations that I paid for brought into the school to help the school to better understand my child, the school decides they won't accept them, and spends money on their own tests.
I think we need to look at the cause of the behaviors and not assume anything. A lot of kids have behavioral issues because they don't understand or can't communicate their needs. The core of autism or spectrum disorders is the lack of understanding facial, verbal and interpersonal relations. A teacher giving a warning look or a compassionate glance won't mean anything. Another child making a joke will be taken literally. If there are sensory issues, an accidental bump in the hallway will be interpreted as an act of agression by a quirky child. Sometimes the frustration is because the child doesn't learn like the typical child, or can't look from the board to the paper on their desk without spending time refocusing, or is dyslexic, or...
I agree wtih the commentator who feels the staff and teachers at the schools (maybe more specifically Farm Hill) were not given the proper training. I would add that the transition to the new environment was not handled well either. At Bielefield the PTA, the principal, the teachers and the parents all participated in several transition activities to welcome in the new families and to help everyone adjust. Was that done at other schools? Today, I couldn't tell you who moved in and who was there before.
The comment about the 5 year old is heartbreaking- and inexcusable. No five year old should be left alone in bathrooms- and the parent should have been called immediately.
WOW! WOW! WOW! Is anyone listening??
After reading all 37 comments so far to date, it is VERY apparent their is a Hugh problem in our Public School System. While some people may have found Apryl's letter pleading for help from the BOE offensive, it was simply asking for help for ALL students. I would want to sue the BOE and anyone involve if my child were placed in one of these closet, regardless as to why or in whichever school.
I attended the BOE meeting tonight to hear and see for myself what is going on. Several people were crying and even BOE members appeared shaken. I did notice Frechette and his assistant not moved and at times even having a smirk on their faces. This was most disturbing!!
""This is Not Funny.""
Why did Frechette open this meeting with a list of projected changes only tonight after this Media coverage and public outcry? It appears he was simply trying to cover his track record of little previous action.
Unfortunately the New BOE chairman now has to try to correct the last Chairman's poor management. Frechette has had numerous contacts from parents with concerns with little or No help. The BOE has much work to do to make immediate changes. I plan to start paying better attention to our Education system and I would hope after reading these comments, you will to. Help!!
Our Children, All our Children, need equal help to be provided with a safe and good learning environment, without weekly visits by the Police and even more visits from an Ambulance... Come on People, get involved for the children!!!
OK so, an ICM kid has a meltdown in a classroom, is quicklty removed and brought to the ICM classroom. There he/she continues their meltdown (screaming/hitting staff/swearing) Should they be left in this ICM room with other children (other behavior problems?) NO! They MUST be taken to another room. (And FYI EVERY ROOM in Farm Hill is made of concrete! Every classroom, the lunchroom, the art room... Come on...) Once this child is SAFE with staff memebers and away from all students they continue their meltdown and try to hurt themselves. What choice does the staff have but to try and stop them from "banging their heads against the wall"? Would you like your child to harm themselves? Or would you rather a staff member stop them? Yes, sometimes this means physically. "Please stop banging your head against the wall" clearly wont work. If a child continues this behavior for an extended period of time, "good kid parents", what would you have the staff do but call police to have this child taken to a hospital? How can the BOE stop an emotionally disturbed child from engaging in these behaviors? Guess what? They cant! Thats up to THE PARENTS! Welcome to the read world people. Sometimes others dont act the way youd like. Whats better? Youre child witnesses an ambulence or an empty stretcher and is asked not to use a certain hallway for a time period? Or take away the RIGHT of all children (ICM OR NOT) to receieve a public education? Sorry your child has been "traumatized" by hearing a child scream and swear. Get over it. Every child has a RIGHT to public education and MANY children recieve accomadations (Special Ed, academic, behavioral, ENRICHMENT for above-level students). Are you really saying take these kids out of the public school? And put them where? An institution? Read some laws; its called, "least restrictive environment". There are also laws about the confidentiality of each child's behavior/academic plan. Would you like your child's accomadations annouced to every nosy parent? (and I guarentee, your child gets an accomadation especially if theyre "good", its called "differentiation".)
This is the population of the school.Post your next comment when you get some facts. And oh ya, stop being so dramatic. Is your child's safety really in jeopardy? Would you rather have them hear, "So and so is now having a meltdown because he/she has a serious (medical) emotional disorder. Staff must get him/her to a safe place and obviously they dont want to go so theyre screaming. If they dont stop, dont worry, well kick them out of school." What "training" are you referring to? Im unaware of some type of "classes" staff and administartion can take to prevent emotionally disturbed children from melting down? If that existed, Im sure EVERY parent could use it! The fact is, staff cannot prevent how a student acts, espeically one with a documented and medically diagnosed behavior issue. ALl they can do is resond as efficiently and safely (and leggally) as possible. Sometimes that requires moving students (unwilling students) to another room. If your child sees/hears them while they are en route what do you suggest? Sound proof the halls? Ear muffs? Seperate tunnels? If a child is disrupting a class, they are removed (sometimes loudy). But what are the other options? Clearly not leaving them in the room. Parents, you DO NOT have all the facts and whether you pay taxes or not, you do not have a right to all the facts. This is the real world and different rules/consequences apply to different people. Some drivers can drive at night; younger drivers cannot. Different people, different rules. And if your kid is developing an "I dont care attitude" TEACH them something about choosing their own actions. Youre the parent. Better not take your kid to the park because of some other kid throws sand your kid will HAVE to throw sand and will never enjoy the park again. Instead of complaining blah blah blah make some suggestions if youre educationally qualified to do so. Doubt it though, considering your accusations are based on the accounts of 8 year olds.
BOE please look into this problem.I was at the meeting last night and was appalled to hear some of the stories from these families. My 3 children went to Farm Hill and it was a great school. After Loretta Rubin left everything went downhill. Teacher morale at that school especially is low, excellent teachers that my kids have had are asking for transfers. There is no support for teachers. Look at administration and make the changes that need to be done!! Do what you promised you would do. I cant believe this is happening in our beautiful town.
In summary this is what the concerned parents of Farm Hill want;
1. A safe environment for ALL children while in the schools care
2. IMMEDIATE action, a parent/teacher cooperative that will take 6 months to implement is UNACCEPTABLE
3. ICM to be HOUSED in a facility that is well equiped with the resources and staff that are trained to handle them. Why fix what isn't broken people, if it was working at Lawrence why not re-locate it back.
4. General behavior issues to be handled with HARSHER punishments.
5.Our school back to the community for which it was intended, the Farm Hill district, so we can have pride in our school once again
Anonymous and former parent of Farm Hill...
As a former parent of this once amazing elementary school I just want to say that this has been a long time coming. The behavior issues has been declining over the course of the past 4 to 5 years, because the principal in the school does not went to deal with the referrals from the teachers. The wonderful teachers in the school are already maxed out! How much more can they have on their plates?
I moved into the Farm Hill area 16 years ago, because of the great reputation that it had. Sadly, it hasn't had that reputation in the last five years and obviously is continuing to decline, and not because of the teachers. It's because of the leadership at the top, in the school and at central office. When you have fantastic teachers requesting to transfer to another Middletown school, teachers retiring early, parents continuously writing letters to the BOE and, teachers going to the BOE how can you not know that most of the problem is the principal in the school.
Amen to the above comment!!! Thank you for addressing the fact that this woman has no right to receive the details of every incident or accommodation. That's what she wants...names, parents' names, maybe perhaps she would also like to reach past all HIPAA and privacy laws and get these children's medical records. The Fact that the response did not include her as a recipient is telling...because she has NO business knowing any of it! She can disguise her disgust and intolerance and nosiness as "concern," but to me and so many others, it is quite transparent.
Let's see, in the "real world" if you can't do your job, you are fired. If you deface property, assault someone, and can not get along in society by following the rules, you are fined or throw in jail. Why does my innocent 5 year old have to be subjected to the "real world" behaviors at such a young age. Because some administrator decided "no child should be left behind"
childhood and adolescene are the time when we learn the rules and how to function in the "real world." Yes, to the comment that a person who acts out has consequences. They start to learn the cause and effect of their actions at this age. For some kids that is a simple and clear lesson learned through small infractions and testing of the waters. For others, including most teenagers, it can be acting out against rules and pushing the limits. A parent's role is to guide, teach and give consequences to help our children grow to become productive adults. When we put our kids on the bus, we trust that our kids are in capable hands in the school. That includes parents of quirky, disabled or difficult children. We can't be in the school building providing the discipline for our children. We do have th role to make sure the hands we trust our kids with are hands worthy of trust. But, we all have to remember that none of our kids is without fault in some way. We cannot protect our kids from the realities of the world. Those realities may be witnessing the outburst of another student. It may also be facing the consequences of their own actions.
I had been called to school one more day to talk about inappropriate actions of my son who has difficutlties with social interactions and most likely was responding to a situation he didn't understand. Because he is quirky does it mean he shouldn't have a consequence? Should he be given exceptions? I struggled with that until I went home and heard the verdict of the 2nd Cheshire home invasion criminal (I have no idea how to spell his name). It hit me, that I had been thinking all week about how if anyone should deserve the ultimate punishment, this man should. His reason for not was because he had a difficult childhood. And I realized that I felt very strongly that having a difficult childhood is not the reason he made the choices he made which resulted in the most hideous crime I know about. That same moral thinking needs to apply to my son. He may be quirky, but he is still responsible for his actions. I am not saying he always makes a clear and decisive choice, in fact most of the time his reactions are so primal that there is no thought, but that is just like a 2 year old. I am teaching my son to try and control that, but he is a child, not an adult and the standards which are set for an adult are not expected of a child because of the physcial and neurological makeup and capabilities of a growing mind.
This is a response to the woman who questions why her 5 year old should be subjected to real world behaviors. As soon as we walk out our door we are all subjected to real world behaviors, if you want otherwise you need to hide away in your home and not watch tv, listen to the radio or interact with the world at all.
How is a teacher supposed to handle a child that "hears voices in his head," threatens to kill himself, and assaults the staff? Meanwhile what does that teacher do with or tell the other 20 students in the class? How is that teacher able to teach and meet the needs of those other students as well? It is time to put these out of control students in another classroom/situation where their needs can be met and the other students' needs can be met as well. By the way, I am a retired teacher. I didn't teach at Farm Hill, but elsewhere in the city. I got tired of the red tape, the data collection, and the current administration not listening to teachers or dealing with the issues. The current administration took the fun out of teaching and learning!
Posted on Middletown Press also.
The situation at Farm Hill is unacceptable. Sadly, the ICM students are being made to look like the cause of all the problems at the school. They are in fact not. I have worked at this school and have seen what goes on in that building. There were many behavior issues before the ICM students arrived. The Principal has had very little control over the students for several years. She is a very nice woman but is not the right leader for this school at this time. There is a complete lack of respect for her by the students. This lack of respect has carried over to the teachers. Students think nothing of talking back, physical aggression or simply walking out of the classroom when they feel like it. Discipline and consequences for unacceptable behavior are almost non-existent. Teacher and staff morale is extremely low. Teachers have lengthy meetings just so they can get out of the classrooms. There needs to be a clear set of disciplines and consequences for these students as well as rewards for the students who consistently follow the rules and do not cause disruptions. I hope the resources being added to the school will put this into place.
With regard to the “scream rooms” these are questions that parents need to have answered.
1. What schools have them?
2. How long have these rooms been in the schools?
3. Do other districts use them?
4. Who ordered the rooms to be converted? (special ed dept, superintendants office, school principal,…)
5. What are the requirements for these rooms? (should they be padded, certain size, window in door, camera monitoring system,…)
6. Where they installed because of the disbanding of the Deal program to accommodate the ICM students?
7. Have the Deal students improved or regressed since the disbanding of the program? (academically, socially, behavior,…)
8. How often are these rooms used for students other than the ICM students?
9. What training or instructions were given to the staff putting non-ICM the students into these rooms?
10. What is the average time students are kept in this room? (5 min, 10 min, 15 min,…)
11. Are parents notified that their children were put in these rooms?
12. Do parents need to give permission for these rooms to be used?
You could certainly enroll your innocent 5 year old in private school, where you would be able to shelter him/her from these "evil" children. Or better yet, teach her to be mean and tease these "bad" kids for being less than perfect and having special needs. There are ways to accommodate special needs students without allowing then to cross the line and break safety policies. If they hit someone, deface property, etc, send them home like you would any student. But if there is a way they could be helped so they DON'T get to that point, then DO IT!
Apryl is the President of the PTA with several children in this school. She is going to know things that many other parents at the school don't know (like me - I was completely unaware of this happening at the school - I have a child in kindergarden at Farm Hill). I don't care what the reasoning is behind these rooms or which children are being put there but there is no answer that is going to be acceptable to me.
I have a child who is in Farm Hill and as of late due to the issues in the school my husband and I are looking for a house anywhere outside of Middletown. My only plus in this hole situation is that she is in her 5th year and will not be here next year. I feel that these issues should be addressed and not looked into..I have a family of four on one income and cannot afford to put my child in a private school and feel it is unfair that it should come to that.
As an employee of the Middletown Public School System and a friend of Apryl Dudley’s I can tell you that she is not fighting a one sided argument. I can understand how her letter can sound one sided but she is not worried about just her own children but about the children that are having issues controlling themselves in the school environment. When the deal program was in place at Lawrence the students were able to learn in their own classrooms but were also able to be a part of the Lawrence School Community because of the success of the program. When the deal program was taken away it was a concern for many parents. I do not know a lot about the ICM program but Apryl is not saying that she is against the program because she understands that everyone is different and some students need more help than others. What Apryl is trying to say is that the program needs the proper staff and support for the program to be successful and allow it to not be a disruption to the other students in the school. All schools have their issues but they are not all as bad as the issues at Farm Hill and MacDonough. Which brings up another point, Apryl is right in saying that MacDonough has more support and programs and it seems funding than the other elementary schools. I understand that the students need all they can get at MacDonough but I think it is time to share the support, resources, and funding with other schools who need it as well so their students can be as successful. We are a district, which means we should work together so all of the students in the district can be successful not just the students at one or two particular schools.
Thank you to the author of the 12 questions above. I am hoping that those can be answered and shared with the town. Can someone please bring this up at the PTA meeting at Farm Hill on Thursday?
To the BOE and Dr. Frechette-please answer those 12 questions as a start and make a quick and formal communication to all parents and residents in the town. Maybe send a letter home, give a copy to the Eye and the Press. Don't share it with the tv news, their reporting of 1 minute just gets people outside the town all worked up without the details and the conversations that are going on behind.
The city has a history of keeping things silent, but this is a city with a small town attitude, people talk to each other all the time. It is much better that we are informed by you than only by each other.
Question to the those who object to use of an isolation room...Have you used time outs with your children? Have you sent your child to his/her room? What is the difference? The only difference is that your "typical" child has the correct synapses, brain chemistry and emotional maturity to stay where you put them, calm down quickly, reflect and learn. Some children need adult assistance and sometimes environmental boundaries to accomplish the same. These isolation rooms are used only when the child is acting out aggressively most often because they lack the ability to control these impulses or because they are overloaded with sensory input. Learning that all children are different is a lesson that all "typical" children should learn at a young age or they may grow up to have the same views as some of the adults that have responded to this thread.
I think the point or oot of the problem is being missed based on some of the comments. I don't believe violence issue is with the students with special needs. It's the students that are poorly behaved and new to the school since the redistricting. People may be afraid to say it, but it's true.
It is unacceptable that teachers and staff have to use scream rooms and call the police to handle disrespectful students who are verbally and physically abusive as well as disrupting class. As taxpayers we are spending 70 million dollars on education this year and to allow a few poorly behaved students and careless parents to destroy that effort is inexcusable. To accept that good students and parents who contribute to the school and community go elsewhere for the same reason is shameful.
Superintendent Frechette’s e-mail indicated that he was developing a proactive plan to study and implement. First, we’ve had police at our school’s doorstep for more than four months; the proactive bus has left the station. Second, the Board of Ed already has policies in place to address this issue. Students who “endangers person or property…or is seriously disruptive to the educational process” including obscene or profane language, refusal to obey the directions of school staff and open defiance or verbal abuse are subject to suspension or expulsion.
We don’t need a study, we don’t need a proactive solution to an existing problem and we don’t need to spend more money on special consultants. We need to remove the problem to protect our kids, and force the parents of the few bad apples to deal with their sons and daughters. Once the students can prove that they are capable and willing to live by the same standards that the rest of us have to live by, they can come back. This does not cost anything, can be implemented tomorrow and most importantly is affective.
Have the courage to do what’s right for those students who want to learn and the parents that support them, not the politically correct course that caused these problems in the first place.
This is not brain surgery. Farm Hill, just like other elementary schools is not a rehab center, its a school. It's suppose to be safe for our children and it is supposed to provide an atmosphere for learning. Let's use some common sense and keep our emotions out of this. Create a location for these disruptive kids from all the schools and leave the kids who want to learn alone.
To the person who asked 12 questions- I want to answer some of them-
The DEAL program at Lawrence school was an in house "out of district" placement. Instead of sending children to wheeler, klingberg and other specialized schos. There was criteria for a child to be admitted- starting with a "failed" attempt to place a child in the least restrictive settings. (mainstream)
It was disbanded without parent input- what felt to me- quietly- in a line item with redistricting. As a parent, I was informed after it was done.
The answer we were given is that it wasn't meeting federal requirements to keep children with their neighborhood peers in lest restrictive environments. I met with the director of special services- for many reasons- one being- my son is in a "more restrictive" barricade to his learning- in a regular classroom,
The children were sent to their "home" schools with the specialized staff- incredible teachers and paraprofessionals who deserve honor recognition in this district.
When my son e tested DEAL- he could only be placed in a "padded" time out room if hurting others or himself.
Autism has inherent behaviors that children will react ito sensory stimuli or stress- in physical ways. Autism is not a result of bad parenting.
When moved to Bielefeld- there was no time out room. No one in this profession calls a TO room a scream room- that's unique to farm hill.
I asked- where will my son go to close off from sensory over load? Seemingly to me- they sent a group of kids to the district school/ with their staff- but not the structured they needed to perform at the level at DEAL. Social worker Libby was sent elsewhere.
Most of the Lawrence community accepted our children and included them in many things at the school. Kids were mainstreamed there as they were able. Behaviors were taught to children in ways they could understand. My son thrived under their care and I was allowed to be an active parent within his class.
I was not always thrilled with DEAL- at his initial entrance, I was mortified by the time out room and the restraints. It was my son who taught me those things helped him.
Much of my initial reaction to DEAL was my grieving the dreams I had as a parent. When his original mainstream kindergarten class played band at their fourth grade concert, I wept.
Is there a time out room at other schools? Yes. Bielefeld had one. Worse, I revived a call when he was about 5 to come get him. He was being held in a small room and climbing on boxes to heights. He had "run" towards the parking lot after a noise triggered him.
He is now at Keigwin as a fifth grader. I have to say the staff there have been gracious about accepting him- the vice principal and MR. Fong in particular. He is again with his teacher Beth- and trained para's.
So much for Dan Drew saving the school system as promised.
Mr. Profit and Libby are also there. Middletown has amazing resources.
There is not a time out room at Keigwin. However students could witness a meltdown and restraints.
I did find apryl's letter to have some biases. Her comment that good parents are leaving for one. Autism is not about bad parenting. Would you have these kids outsourced? That cost is extremely high, why not use the skilled staff we have? Asked them what they need to be effective. Another key player in my sons life is Karen Nocera- bring her to the table of planning.
Apryl's opinion that swearing is not disability related is off. Research it. Amazingly kids with speech impairments pick up the f bomb clearly.
My thoughts to the farm hill parents are this- if your room is cement - get rid of it. Fight for your voice- but educate yourselves in the process. Be honest with yourselves as well. It sounds like redistricting was a hard pill to swallow. We're you aware that the same children redistricting into your school would have been integrated at 6th grade anyway? Many of those parents are good parents- some report feeling treated badly by the good families of farm hill.
Use the experience to bring change/- but open your eyes to your own change.
One thing I learned from Caleb? Life is too short- smile if you have to, scream when you need to- and drop an F bomb once in a while - it helps you move on.
Good luck on your changes/- jane
We've been unhappy with our children's education in Middletown. Given the high taxes we pay and the fact we have a world class university in town, we have a sub par school system. The town shouldn't stand for anything less than the best schools yet we settle for curricula mediocrity, bullying and bad behavior on the part of both students and BOE/administration. Resources get funneled to one school while the problem students at that school get "redistricted" to Farm Hill and other schools where class size has grown and resources cut. Our children are unchallenged, our daughter doesn't get the special assistance the school and we claim she needs and class sizes exceed 23 in each of our three children's classrooms. Talking to administrators is like talking to a brick wall.
Enough is enough. There's a way out of this problem. Last month, my wife and I travelled to several local public elementary schools to decide which towns we want to to move to. We called the schools and they were happy to give us a tour and talk about their curriculum. We were impressed by each of them. We hate to move, we love Middletown and our home but these are the kind of issues that just say "leave"...so we will. We're tired of fighting just to get what we pay for.
We do have several special need kids in our school. Unfortunately, they are hard to handle. They do have a paraprofessional with them at all times & try to handle them. When they do get out of control, I know they take them out of the room so as to not disrupt the class. I have never heard of anyone holding a door shut. I understand they are protecting the privacy of the student & family of the child. It is not their fault. Our school probably has the largest number of special needs kids. They deserve a chance at education too. I am not sure how they are going to fix this.
I was very involved with the school when *** was there. I was on committees & helped in classrooms for 5 years. I loved our old principle. I am not fond of the one we have now. We have had a few incidents with her. I believe she is part of the problem.
I got so overwhelmed with the PTA in getting sucked into everything, that I am trying to stay out of it this time around, so I don't hear everything that goes on anymore. This is supposed to be about the students & alot of parents make it about themselves. Farm Hill is a good school & I believe they will come out of this rut.
Did Farm Hill parents write to Dr. Frechette and the board as soon as they knew about this? How can it be that the new BOE has been in place for 2 months and heard about it on the news?? Not once did I hear anyone from Farm Hill say they were repeatedly ignored by Central Office so it sounds like they never went to him...I went to him recently about a problem in my childs school and the child was removed the next day...don't go to the Press first!! Follow the chain of command!!! So thanks for the bad press.
Question is how do we help our teachers deal with a class that has sometimes 50% bad behavior kids?? Yesterday my child witnessed a boy putting another boy in a headlock and started beating on him in gym class cause the other boy scored a goal on him...just another normal day!! Thankfully we have a principal who is great with discipline...but that won't stop him from doing it again...he beats up kids every year...Farm Hill & all the schools need help with these bad behavior kids...not the ICM kids...it is sad that so much money has to be spent on discipline instead of more important things.
Just did a search on internet on 'scream room'. This story is all over national news. Please BOE FIX THIS PROBLEM! Our children deserve better, and news media little blurbs on this is not helping. Parents need communication, not to constantly read this all over the news. There is good in the school too, and there are excellent teachers there as well. I am glad that this has come to the forefront because sadly this may be the only way that this will get resolved.
And next time I see a news van outside of the school, I will say something to them - does NOT help the situation to explain to your child "what is that" "why are they videotaping the school". etc. etc.. C'mon, you reporters need to show some sensitivity - go camp out at the Town Hall where adults are, or at the BOE building, not where our children are - USE A LITTLE BIT OF COMMON SENSE.
BOE, PLEASE fix this so that our all of our students are "not left behind" (what a joke of an initiative).
So much about all these individual rights - what are the group rights to get an excellent education for as many as possible?
There doesn't seem to be a focus on getting the next generation prepared to support a successful society. We have a very expensive failure here.
Dr.Frechette's answer prior to media attention was to personally bring the students locked in the room hot lunch as witnessed by faculty.
The situation is much worse than most people know.Several times a week children are 100% out of control.They overturn desks in the classroom, run through the hallways screaming at the top of their lungs, swear at and insult teachers, run out of the school.Police and ambulances are being called more and more.Recently a kindergarten student ripped a stall door off in the bathroom!They are and have been violent towards other students and faculty and they need to be removed from the school.This is a SCHOOL, not a childrens' hospital.Teachers and faculty should not be required to be orderlies.These children are beyond school programs, why are they not being examined and possibly transferred to State schools and hospitals where they can get the constant help and treatment from the qualified, licensed proffesionls they need.Teachers need to teach, they cannot.Students need to learn, they cannot.Giving these children popcorn and candy, and letting them play board games (again there is a school full of witnesses) is also not the answer.This rewards bad behavior and encourages other students to copycat. The big question here is why the coverup ? and how does hot lunch help a child locked in a custodial closet ?
Let me first start off by saying that this is such a sad story; a sad story about a once fantastic Farm Hill School Community that is now being publicly shamed by this attention. My child does not go to Farm Hill; he goes to Spencer and we could not be more pleased with the school. Even though your child may not attend Farm Hill School we are all invested in the success or failure associated with the end result of this story as residents of the City of Middletown.
It's very easy to criticize Apryl for what she said in her letter or to pick it apart and make her sound like she was picking on a certain population of kids within the school. I do not know her at all but I respect the fact that she had the courage to write this letter and bring to light these issues (whether or not everything in that letter is true) and to bring forth concerns that other parents also had.
Things have obviously changed at Farm Hill. The school climate is very different since Loretta Rubin left. The positive school climate and feeling of community left that school with Loretta Rubin leaving. There were problems before all the new redistricted kids came over to the school with how families felt about the leadership at the school which has only worsened with a new group of kids coming ("normal" or with challenging behaviors). I have friends whose kids attend Farm Hill and I Have been hearing this for a few years now from them.
As far as resources go many schools, although they are in the same district, will not have the same exact resources. I do not claim to be an expert on exactly how the BOE distributes its resources to all elementary schools but I find it hard to believe that if a principal felt like they were getting less for their school and kids that they wouldn't bring that up as an issue. I find it annoying that everyone on these blogs and even Apryl like say that schools like Macdonough have more resources than other schools. When a majority of the families in your school are below the median income then you will qualify for a different set of resources (grant funded programs, more funding for additional before/after school programs, community health services etc). I also know that some of the resources that Macdonough has are due to the hard work of school teachers and the principal. When teachers and administrators go above their job description and invest some extra time they will have more. Any other teacher, principal or even parent in this district could make more resources available by partnering with different organizations and taking the time to research what's out there. There are also children with different needs and challenging behavioral issues at all elementary schools. This is not a unique problem to Farm Hill. If something is challenging to your school why not reach out to other schools in the district and see what's working for them and how they handle things. Be a resource to each other!
We have many fantastic teachers and administrators in this district. We are very fortunate to have many top notch teachers that love our kids and are committed to their success. Middletown is getting so much negative attention that it's very easy to forget all the good things we have going for us. The last thing I will say is that parents in general need to get more involved in their children's education. It's easy to get up and complain right now when things are bad and jump on that bandwagon but please be involved with your child's school all the time. A good school climate cannot happen without parent involvement! Good luck to the Farm Hill Community. It will get worse before it gets better.
A concerned parent last night at the BOE meeting mentioned to the board that each one of them need to walk around Farm Hill and witness what is happening! They would be very surprised. I am a Farm Hill parent and I help out at school as much as I can. I am in both of my childrens classrooms as often as I can....we have been there for 4 yrs. I knew NOTHING about these scream rooms until about 2 months ago! It is all a big scret and teh staff is told to say nothing about them. We aren't asking the actual names of the children being put in these rooms, that doesn't matter. We want to know why and how these rooms are used. How often? How long are the kids there? Who is authorized to restrain the kids and put them in there? I am almost positive that the rooms by law need to be padded....I have seen one (which conveinetly now is not being used~after all this information hit the media this week) of them at IT IS NOT padded. It WAS a small kitchenette type room yrs ago , everything has been pulled out and now it is concrete walls and the size of a large closet. My kids are witnessing kids being wheeled out and strapped down to stretchers, school being put on lockdown, kids in first grade overturning desks, kicking, rolling on the floor and his classmates being removed to another classroom to COLOR until this child is restrained or has calmed down. They hear kids screaming, being grabbed and thrown into a scream room while eating lunch. (This has been witnessed by both of my children). Fourth graders pushing their teacher, a kindergartener kicking down a bathroom door, (who was supervising this child? How long does it take to kick down a door?) a second grader giving another one a black eye, a kindergartener using profanity to their teacher.....all this kind of stuff happens weekly, daily. Where is our help? What happend if a child pushes their teacher? In school suspension? Out of school suspension? I haven't seen or heard about any type of discipline. All I know is that I hope Dr Frechette has alot of interesting things to say at the PTA meeting tomorrow night. I am also going to do my best to be on top of that school, be there as much as I can. If my kids teachers don't need me to help in their class, let me help out in aother class. We bought our house on this side of town to be in Farm Hills district, now we regret it.
Keep watching the news and listen closely to the union president. He said these rooms where closets. Yes closets.
A great read -
WOW, What is being done? This is crazy. It sounds like this has been going on for a long long time.Is anyone in charge there.
Is it a coincidence that all these problems have occurred when the redistricting went into place? That was a brilliant idea. Now they have even more problems on their hands. You can't make everyone happy. But I believe MOST people were happier before the redistricting. And for the troubled kids, policy needs to be revised so that it is FAIR TO ALL, not just the troubled kids, but to the non-troubled students too. You know, the ones that are ALSO there trying to learn but are getting interrupted? For those children that simply just misbehave violently need to have their parents called and the parents need to remove their children. END OF STORY!! I believe those kids learn it from outside the school and the parents need to take responsibility. The special needs kids, the ones that are not violent but need additional attention, should continue to receive such attention. BUT there should be a NO TOLERANCE policy like the private schools that is strictly enforced. Violence is not accepted NO MATTER WHAT, special needs or not!!!! If a child is really that out of control, then THEY DO NOT BELONG IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL!! They need to be placed in a program elsewhere that specializes in their needs. Let's be fair to everyone. No one is winning in the current situation. Let the teachers at Farm Hill do their job and TEACH!! Leave the more complex issues to other professionals. That would be the fair thing to do for ALL involved. You know, the student body have rights too! Let's not forget that. You cannot go back and repeat these learning years for our children. Its sad when the troubled violent kids SEEM to have more rights than the rest of the students that are ALSO there to learn. There is something MAJORLY wrong with children being violent like this. Let's stop making excuses for them, stop being enablers and get something done! I am sick to my stomach to have to send my children there. I do not have the luxury of paying for private schools. It is horrific to hear the things my children tell me that have gone on at Farm Hill. I have witnessed myself older kids using the "F" word being disrespectful to teachers because they were angry. Its disgusting how some of these kids act. Shame on the parents of these kids who treat others terribly for no reason, and shame on the administration for taking on this redistricting. I wish I could send all of them the bill if we do decide to send our children to a private school. Farm Hill should be a school. NOT a rehab, NOT a daycare, and NOT a hospital.
You have heard parents of icm state they want their kids separate- had a good program at deal?
You understand that redistricting is federally mandated?
Ms. Slade was quoted by the reporter as saying all kids are using the time out room- this is not just special Ed kids.
In CT it costs about $13,000 a year to educate a child and $350,000 to incarcerate a person for a year. The problem is not isolated to Middletown, the details may be different here, but it comes down to where we put our money and our focus. Every child deserves and equal chance at success.
For years Farm Hill has prided themselves on being "the best" school in Middletown. Why should the schools be unequal when they are all within the same town. Why should I feel that because of where my house is my kids may get a better or a worse education. The redistricting was meant to equal out the number of kids in the district, but also the make-up of those kids. I took the opportunity to give my input towards the redistricting and I don't agree with all the decisions made in the end. But, I do agree wtih the fact that each school should equally reflect the diversity of this town. I am sorry that the Farm Hill families aren't happy or were not prepared for receiving the same general mix of students as the rest of the district.
It seems to me there are 2 issues being discussed. First, is the ICM program which I think most people think is good, but isn't being managed properly since DEAL was disbanded. Second, is the challenging students in the general population. The later issue seems to be that Farm Hill isn't prepared or supported to handle the make up of students, but it also seems to that the Farm Hill families that have been there are just whining that their school is now more like the rest of the town.
One of my favorite things about living in Middletown is the diversity here. I grew up in a rural town made up of almost completely white middle class families. I am so happy that my kids are constantly exposed to people who are different from them.
These last two comments are beginning to return us to reality. Yes, we prefer to lock up juveniles and adults at great cost, rather than deal with their behavioral failings and the real problems they face when they begin to develop. And yes, Middletown is a wonderful, diverse community, far preferable to the lily white suburbs full of above-average little darlings. And yes, for too long Middletown's schools were unequally supported, with a couple of elementary schools having the deck stacked against them so that the rest of the schools in town could benefit from the lion's share of resources and attract all the problem-free children. Now the problems are being distributed more equally. The shoe is on the other foot.
Another key factor in all this has to do with basic demographics. Over the last four decades there has been a marked shift toward A) two-parent families in which both parents work outside the home, usually commuting significant distances; and B) single-parent families where the mother is working outside the home and the father is either absent (and possibly incarcerated in the prison-industrial-complex) and ininvolved in the child's upbringing or altogether unknown to the child. This has meant more and more kids with less and less parental involvement and guidance; the schools--along with television and, now, the computer (for which we can thank the epidemic of vulgar language and hypersexuality among the young and not-so-young alike)--have been left to take up the slack. That's why parents treat schools as though they are sites that provide free day care and socialization.
All these working parents has also translated into an expanded economy and, save for the occasional contraction (like the one we are coming out of), a rampant growth in GDP. What all this has *not* meant, ironically, is a proportionate expansion in the amount of money we are willing to spend on our schools. In other words, we have basically outsourced the upbringing of our children and we do not expect to have to pay for it. Wake up folks: if we want free day care, socialization, *and* education to take place in the "schools", it's going to cost a lot more money than it did in the 1950s. This isn't "Leave it to Beaver" country anymore.
By the way, by 'we' I mean US society. This is not a problem specific to Middletown. And another factor in all this, on which the jury is still out with respect to its causes, is the skyrocketing rates of autism or, if you prefer, autism spectrum disorders. Who knows why this is happening now. It probably has to do with the increasing time kids spend on the computer and watching television, but I wouldn't rule out the fact that more women are giving birth later in life so as to establish themselves in the workforce first. See:
Again, this is great insofar as it heats up the economy, but it comes at a cost. And we don't seem willing to pay it.
The bottom line is, we (in US society and in Middletown, CT) face some serious problems. And we've not yet had a serious conversation about how to deal with them.
Does anyone know what happened at the Middletown Republican Town Committee Meeting on Wednesday? Did they elect a new chairman or are they staying with the present chairman of the Middletown GOP?
I would like to mention the extra taxes that we pay to live in the South Farm district. Are any of the redistricting families helping pay for this? Are they paying extra property taxes too?? They can come to the Farm Hill school, which by the way most of the South Farm families moved here in the South Farm district and pay extra taxes so that their children could attend a great school like Farm Hill "used to be". I would like to know the facts about this. Are the "new" families that are receiving an education at our school in the South Farm district paying extra property taxes when they do not live here? They should be sharing the cost. I don't care if it has nothing to do directly with the school. We chose to live on this side of Town so that our children could attend this school. Now it seems all these new families are getting a free ride in a way. Its frustrating. We should get a vote and preference since we do pay extra to live here.
As one of the 'redistricted" families, I would love nothing better than to be sent back to Snow School. We were told what a great school, Farm Hill is. We have had nothing but trouble since starting there 2 years ago. I brought my concerns about my child's reading problems up, numerous times to the principal and staff. It took them over a year to acknowledge that my child needed help. A whole year wasted. I have 2 children that attend that school. They have witnessed fights between students. One fight happened just this week, A child had a tooth chipped during the fight. No staff intervened during or after this fight. One child involved in the fight was wearing a ski mask pulled completely over his face. Where was the staff????? We heard stories at last nights meeting about people moving just so their children could go to Farm Hill. I can honestly say, we would give anything to go back to Snow School. One of my children is up at 5AM and starts crying everyday and begging me not to send him to Farm Hill. Would you want to go and witness this everyday?
To Anonymous 3:05
What extra tax are you talking about? I can only assume that you mean the South District fire tax,the only additional tax paid by folks on your side of town. If that is what you are referring to, have no fear. We have our own Fire Trucks here in the "redistricted" part of town. So no - we aren't getting a "free ride" even on your fire trucks.
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