Friday, June 05, 2015

Amid more bad news for Bryan Station HS, Henderson Out as Principal

Records show increase in fights at Bryan Station

Updated: TELL Survey data (bottom)

Yesterday the Fayette County Public Schools posted a new vacancy for the principalship of Bryan Station High School. Principal Mike Henderson has retired from the beleaguered school. 

One FCPS administrator told KSN&C that learning at Bryan Station High School was "stagnant" and that "there are serious safety concerns" and a change in leadership was "completely necessary." Students complained to the administrator that kids "do whatever they want up there. They run the halls all day."

 This from WKYT:
Erin Charles has watched the video more than a dozen times and it has broken her heart every time.
Last month, someone sent her video footage of her daughter in a fight at Bryan Station High School.
"When I saw that, I felt like I couldn't help her. I felt scared for her and I felt like the school let her down," Charles said.

The video shows a student approach Charles' daughter in the hallway during a class change at Bryan Station on May 18. Her daughter, realizing what's about to happen, immediately turns toward the student and then the fight breaks out. The two girls end up on the floor with other students. Moments later, staff is seen separating the students.

That fight was one of 22 assaults at Bryan Station High School this past school year, according to data obtained by WKYT through an open records request.
The number of fights at Bryan Station surpassed the total amount of assaults at all other Lexington high schools in the 2014-2015 school year:
  • Bryan Station High School: 22
  • Lafayette High School: 7
  • Henry Clay High School: 4
  • Dunbar High School: 4
  • Tates Creek High School: 4*
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Academy: 13
Records also show Bryan Station and Dunbar High School both reported 21 incidents of disorderly conduct, which was significantly more than the other high schools this school year. Eight threats also were reported at Bryan Station.

Charles was upset because she felt like school staff let her daughter down. The video does show staff running to break up the fight, but it's well after the scrum has started. Charles also says a second fight broke out in the principal's office and her daughter was attacked a second time.

School officials would not discuss Charles' case in particular. Generally speaking, a school administrator says they have made efforts to crack down on fights in schools, including the creation of teams to intervene. Trying to stop fights, however, can be challenging.

Former principal Mike Henderson
"Every single one of those numbers, there's a back story, a very complicated story behind those numbers," explained Vicki Ritchie, the director of school improvement and innovation for Fayette County Schools. Ritchie, who oversees Bryan Station, said it's "complex and complicated work to figure out what is the cause of that, what's the root cause of that."

Ritchie said there has been a focus on school security at Bryan Station. There are teams and programs to promote best practices, like PBIS- Positive Behavior Intervention Supports which pulls ideas from staff and students.

"We've seen over several years that sometimes when you put things in place, it will be working," she said. "I know some of those numbers have taken some dips over a couple of years, one number might go down and it might jump back up."

The number of assaults at Bryan Station High School did dip two years ago.

There were 15 assaults in the 2013-2014 school year, a decrease from the 19 assaults reported in the 2012-2013 school year.

Jon Akers, longtime educator and director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, said there are ways to decrease the number of fights in schools. Among other things, Akers said school staff has to be more vigilant.

"Are you telling the kids what your expectations are?" Akers said. "If you fight, you are going to get busted and you're going to jail. It's as simple as that. You've got to flex strong if you want to keep fighting out."

Akers also said there is some strategy involved in preventing fights.

"Is it active supervision instead of passive where they are just standing up against he wall?" he asked. "Are we out in the hallways, are we spread out? Are we talking to kids? Are we moving kids? Are we keeping eye-to-eye contact with them?"

Ritchie said they have recently adjusted how the flow works when classes change and hundreds of students are filtering though the halls.

"If you are in the hallway, you can hear it," she said. "There's a different sound to that."

Ritchie explained when talking about fights at school. She also said the district works each assault case individually, and there's no one solution.

"Our goal is to not impede their education but to send that message very clearly that this is not appropriate behavior and it will not be tolerated," Ritchie said. "Trying to sift those down and treat every situation differently is a very serious charge."
 WKYT online poll

Tell Survey Results 2015 (selected)


1 comment:

Bringyoursaddlehome said...

Not sure what Akers is even talking about in this instance regarding active supervision. You can walk around and engage students during passing as much as you want but you can't stand next to all X hundred students as they walk from door to door. I suspect if we were to video the hallways of any of the other FCPS hallways, we would see the same level of supervision we see in this video.
Seems to me the problem is one of climate, culture and relationships (and politics). It is also a matter which doesn't start happening at the high school level but has its roots in the feeder middle schools and how those new students are transitioned into the school - one of the arguments for the freshmen academies approach. Actually it starts even farther down the education pipe. If you have kids resorting to assault by the time they are only a year or two from being 18, what have we really been doing to make them "college and career ready?

Sad part is Lexington assault statistics are about 106 per 100,000 which means that FCPS's 10,600 or so high school students should proportionately only account for about 10 assaults a year. Instead assaults are almost five times higher in the five high schools and alternative center than in the general public.

We need to stop looking for quick fix programs and stop cramming hundreds of kids into one building where they don't know anyone nor have meaning relationships with the educators who are trying to support them.