Interim Joint Committee on Education

 

Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 2nd Meeting

of the 2005 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> July 18, 2005

 

The<MeetNo2> 2nd meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> July 18, 2005, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Ted "Teddy" Edmonds, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senator Vernie McGaha, Co-Chair; Representative Ted "Teddy" Edmonds, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr and Ken Winters; Representatives Hubert Collins, Derrick Graham, Darryl T Owens, and Terry Shelton.

 

Guests:  Dr. Phillip Rogers, Executive Director, Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB); Theresa Walton, Kentucky Psychiatric Medical Association; Lacey McNary, Kentucky Youth Advocates; Todd Brendel, Erlanger Police Department; Ed Robinson, Richmond Police Department; Mike Caudill, Madison County Schools; Cheryl Roberts, Kentucky Center for School Safety (KCSS); Charles Morton, Director of District Wide Programs, Harlan Independent Schools; Peggy Shearer, Principal, Wayne County High School; Bonnie Brinly, Kentucky Department of Education; Linda France, Kentucky Department of Education; Lynn McCoy-Simandle, KCSS; Barbara Gateskill, KCSS; Lyn Akers; Tamara Tatum, KCSS; Kerri Schelling, Kentucky School Boards Association; Doris Settles, KCSS; Steve Kimberling, KCSS; David May, KCSS; Bill Scott, Kentucky School Boards Association; Janice Jackson, Kentucky PTA; Reverend Patrick Delahanty; Catholic Conference of Kentucky; JoAnne Rainey, Kentucky State University; Clyde Caudill, KASA and JCPS.

 

LRC Staff:  Janet Stevens, Audrey Carr, and Katie Carney.

 

Chair Edmonds welcomed everyone to the meeting. Chair Edmonds informed members that in 1998 a comprehensive school safety bill was adopted. He added that the bill included an infusion of dollars to local school districts for the purpose of school safety. The bill also established the Kentucky Center for School Safety to provide technical assistance and maintain statewide data. The Center is housed on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University and is a partnership between Eastern Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, Murray State University, and the Kentucky School Boards Association. Kentucky Revised Statute 158.442, a copy is included in the committee folders, identifies the work of the Center. The Center is required to provide an annual report to the Interim Joint Committee on Education by July 1 of each year. Chair Edmonds introduced Jon Akers, the Center's Executive Director, for a presentation highlighting the most recent annual report and to tell the Subcommittee how the Center helps schools deal with the many safety issues and challenges the schools face daily. A copy of his presentation and handouts are in the committee folders.

 

Mr. Akers thanked the Subcommittee and informed members he would be giving a PowerPoint presentation about the Kentucky Center for School Safety. Mr. Akers explained that his presentation would give an overview of the past, present, and future of the Center; along with insight as to who the partners are; and a chance to meet some guests that would explain to the Subcommittee how the Center benefits them daily.

 

In the next slide, Mr. Akers gave a definition of school safety. Mr. Akers stated that there are various versions used to define school safety. The Center's version to describe school safety is to address the needs of the children and adults that enter the school building to have a safe and healthy learning environment. There are four categorized areas of school safety. They are physical safety, relationships (staff and students), personal safety, and behavioral expectations. He explained that the Center currently provides services in these four areas. Within the physical safety area, Mr. Akers highlighted five primary areas: crime prevention through environmental design, physical plant safety, bus safety, parking lot safety, and hazardous materials. He commented that before a school building is built, Center staff are available to consult with architects and boards of educations and make suggestions on how the buildings can be safer prior to the foundation being laid. For existing buildings, Center staff can conduct a needs assessment to make sure that the building is as safe and secure as possible.

 

The next slide Mr. Akers explained how relationships between the staff and students are beneficial. Not only is the student/teacher relationship important, but also building a trust among school staff, students, and parents. The Center focuses on finding ways for students to be “connected” to the school, not only during the day but after. Mr. Akers elaborated that students and parents need to feel welcome.

 

Mr. Akers informed members that the personal safety of staff and students is a major concern for the Center. The Center works with schools on emergency preparedness, handling outside aggression, internet safety, bullying, and terrorism at home. Mr. Akers commented that school resource officers are utilized in numerous school districts and he informed members of their duties.

 

The next slide, Mr. Akers stated, focuses on the Center’s emphasis on behavioral expectations. Society expects our kids to be reasonable in their behavior at schools. Society wants children to be good citizens at home, on-line, and at school. Classroom management practices have changed over the years. Today teachers need to receive training on new policies, laws, and how classroom management practices can be improved. The Center works with boards of education on policies and also with law enforcement officers on the laws that affect students during the school day. There are alternative education programs were non-traditional students flourish very well. There is a smaller pupil teacher ratio, making it easier for students to stay in school and receive their diplomas. At the national level the NCLB law requires the state board of education to be involved in making the determination as to what constitutes a persistently dangerous school. When a school is identified as persistently dangerous three years in a row, parents have the right to remove their children from that school and transfer them to another school. A problem with transferring a student to another school is that in some of Kentucky's school districts there may be only one elementary, middle, or high school. A reciprocal agreement between superintendents is one solution to this issue.

 

Mr. Akers stated that Kentucky schools are safe but not perfect. He informed members that statistically schools remain the safest places in society, mainly because school staff has been trained to make them safe.

 

Mr. Akers gave a brief history of the Kentucky Center for School Safety. He stated that the Center started as a result of HB 330, passed in 1998. Mr. Akers stated that a Board of Directors governs the Center. He informed members that a listing of the current Board members is located in the members' packets. Mr. Akers commented that the Center is a unique model with partners consisting of Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky School Boards Association, Murray State University, University of Kentucky, and various consultants. Eastern Kentucky University is a contract agency and also home of central operations. The Kentucky School Boards Association provides training and conferences. Murray State University provides post-secondary and pre-service training. The University of Kentucky provides research and Web site maintenance. Mr. Akers also introduced some of the staff for the Center and staff from the partnering agencies.

 

Mr. Akers informed members of the amount of funds appropriated for safe schools since 1999. He then showed members how the monies are being used. The money is distributed between alternative education programs, school resource officers, in-school suspension, intervention services, community-based programs, training programs, security equipment, and other. Mr. Akers stated that the Center operates on 10% of the funds received and school districts receive the remaining 90%. He also pointed out that the alternative education, in-school suspension, and intervention services are all designed to keep students in school so they can earn their diplomas. Mr. Akers showed members how the Center for School Safety uses the 10% received. He mentioned that some salaries of staff are included in the 41% of the operating budget for the services category.

 

In the next slide Mr. Akers informed members of some of the services the Center provides. He mentioned that the Center has had over 2,300 meetings, visits, or presentations over the last five years involving 124,500 people and has had exhibits at 100 conferences. He added that the School Boards Association has held 181 trainings that have involved 7,876 people and the Center has also had 155 technical assistance visits. Mr. Akers stated that the Center's website has had approximately 930,000 web hits and that over 4 million resource items have been distributed. In addition Murray State University in conjunction with the Center has distributed over $250,000 for school safety training and curriculum for pre-service and practicing teachers and school administrators at Kentucky higher education institutions.

 

Mr. Akers stated that school safety associates for the Center make visits biennially to each school district. They produce an annual safe school data report, which has been used as a national model and was created prior to the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act. The safe school associates provide training in behavior management, bullying, developing alternative education programs, truancy, Internet safety, training for para-professionals and bus drivers, and crisis response and threat assessments. The Center and the safe school associates have also developed school safety standards, courses, web lectures, and endorsement for higher education. Mr. Akers informed members of a brochure in their folders that focuses on school safety endorsement program.

 

Mr. Akers said surveys are conducted continually to determine how the Center is doing. Mr. Akers listed some of the various surveys and the time frame in which they are conducted. The surveys mentioned are the superintendents survey, school resource officers survey, a statewide needs assessment survey for training and conference topics, focus group surveys, and a safe school assessment follow-up survey with superintendents and principals.

 

Mr. Akers stated that the Center has created a partnership the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky School Boards Association. The partnership performs safe school assessments. The assessments are a prevention program to examine a school's climate and culture in the four areas of school safety. Mr. Akers commented that the first safe school assessment was performed in Barren County. He stated that an informational brochure has been provided for the members in their folders. Mr. Akers then showed a map of Kentucky that lists where safe school assessments were performed from 2003 to present. He mentioned a colored map had also been provided in the folders for members. Also included in the folders are a safe school assessment report and a letter from William Modzeleski, Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, United States Department of Education.

 

Mr. Akers informed members that the Center has received additional federal grants to help support additional programs. Mr. Akers listed the additional programs and stated where and how the money was received.

 

Mr. Akers informed members that the Center is currently able to continue providing the services previously discussed. He stated that the Center's primary audience is still Kentucky's educators. He added that the Center would continue to provide expertise and support to fellow state agencies as they, in turn, also provide to the Center.

 

Mr. Akers introduced Ms. Peggy Shearer, Principal, Wayne County High School, and Mr. Mike Caudill, Superintendent, Madison County Public Schools.

 

Chairman Edmonds recognized Representative Graham for a question. Representative Graham asked Mr. Akers if there is a need for the legislature to enact bullying legislation at this current time. Mr. Akers replied that he would support bullying legislation that states that all children should not be bullied. He believes that this type of legislation calls the issue to the Kentucky Department of Education and school districts' attention. Mr. Akers added that many school districts currently have harassment and bullying guidelines, but no uniform standard exists. Mr. Akers added that he believes the legislation should also provide training for teachers, but that the legislation should not be too specific. Representative Graham asked if legislation should be introduced that encourages each school district to adopt their own policy. Mr. Akers responded that the legislation should request each district to address the issue.

 

Representative Graham asked what type of training did the Center provide that focuses on classroom management practices. Mr. Akers replied that the Center uses various national models, one being on instructional discipline. Representative Graham asked if training on classroom management was provided to beginning teachers or to all teachers. Mr. Akers responded that all teachers receive this training if they choose. He added that Murray State University provides information to all universities for programs and each university can choose to teach a classroom management program. He added that the Center would provide teachers with any information needed relating to classroom management practices.

 

Representative Graham asked Mr. Akers if the Center could compile demographic information on students enrolled in alternative education programs. Mr. Akers stated that the Center would be able to compile information for Representative Graham's request.

 

Representative Graham asked if the Center is capable of surveying all teachers, students, and staff so the Center is able to receive input from everyone in each school district. Mr. Akers responded that the Center is able to do that along with receiving information from parents.

 

Representative Collins asked why the number of school districts the Center has prepared a safe school assessment report for is so low. Mr. Akers responded that the program is voluntary. He added that all school districts have received information on the services, but the superintendent has to request the Center to come and prepare a safe school assessment report.

 

Representative Collins asked if there is any cost to the school district to have the safe school assessment report prepared. Mr. Akers replied that the service does not cost the school district anything.

 

Representative Collins asked if one of the reasons for the number of districts requesting the safe school assessment being so low was because of hesitation, resentment, or jealousy. Mr. Akers stated that the Center has not received any negative feedback relating to the assessment reports. He added that he believes that getting the word out about the assessment reports will help increase the number of schools requesting the assessment.

 

Representative Collins asked what Mr. Akers thought about random drug testing. Mr. Akers stated that in 1996 he started random drug testing for athletes at Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School, where he was serving as principal. He added that he believes random drug testing should be used for prevention, not for disciplinary actions. Representative Collins commented that random drug testing may be discouraging for new teachers, because some believe that it is an invasion of privacy. Representative Collins added that if they were drug free, why should they care if they were being drug tested.

 

Senator McGaha commented that schools should be safe and welcoming, but older schools are harder to change physical safety. He added that attempts have been made to make schools more welcoming, however some schools are still lacking. Senator McGaha asked if there is any input from architects or the Center in designing new schools in regards to make them more welcoming. Mr. Akers responded that there is input from architects, but the Center would like to have more input. Mr. Akers commented that Anderson County school district requested a consultant from the Center to discuss crime prevention at their schools through environmental design. He added that the Center would like to implement a policy that requires a consultant specializing in crime prevention through environmental design work with architects when designing new schools and renovating older schools.

 

Senator McGaha asked if new schools built within the last five to ten years were built with a safe design. Mr. Akers replied that out of the ones he has seen that were built within the last five years, they primarily have addressed the safety concerns. He added that most of these schools have a designated entrance with greeters.

 

Senator McGaha asked what the goal of the safe school assessment program was. He asked if it is to have assessments made of every school district every two years. Mr. Akers stated that the safe school assessment program was a voluntary program. He added that every two years school safety associates rotate throughout each school district. He stated that the safe school associate program was more like a review instead of an audit.

 

Senator McGaha asked if there were any requirements of school districts prior to money being granted. Mr. Akers responded that the Center used to review the programs at the end of each year. Now the Center asks school districts to submit a plan that the Center will fund prior to implementation.

 

Senator McGaha asked if there was a formula recommended to districts to determine the number of school resource officers needed in each school. Cheryl Roberts responded for Mr. Akers stating that the Center recommends one school resource officer per school. Ms. Roberts added that there are some school resource officers are assigned to multiple schools.

 

Ms. Peggy Shearer stated that she is very pleased with the safe school assessment program. She stated that concerns were coming from staff and students about whether or not they were as safe as they should be, so last year the district asked to have safe school assessment consultants review the high school. She commented that the Center interviewed about 100 students out of 700 and also interviewed around 30 staff members as well as 8 or 10 parents that volunteered. The high school received considerations, giving the school administration a different view of their school. Ms. Shearer noted that since the review assessment, the high school has made many changes. Some changes have been implementing a drug policy, installing security cameras, providing bullying training, and replacing gym steps. She added that the consultants were very professional and the assessment did not interfere with the school day. In addition the Center has provided follow-up which has been extremely helpful.

 

Mr. Mike Caudill informed the subcommittee of the reasons he decided to have the Center provide a school safety assessment for Madison County Schools. He commented that the assessment is a very valuable service the Center provides. He added that the number one concern of every family is the safety of their children in schools.

 

Senator Blevins asked how many schools have metal detectors. Mr. Akers responded that he doesn't know, but added that metal detectors do not necessarily keep weapons out of the school building because of windows and other entrances.

 

Senator Blevins asked how effective security cameras are in middle and high schools. Mr. Akers stated that most high schools and middle schools are getting security cameras or have them already. He added that he believes security cameras improve the student/teacher relationship. Senator Blevins commented that with the price of technology decreasing it would be nice to receive an assessment of the number of schools currently with metal detectors and security cameras. He added that Kentucky is receiving homeland security money and could possibly use some of that money to help schools receive metal detectors and security cameras to be placed at least at the main entrance. Senator Blevins stated that he would like to receive an assessment of the number of schools that currently have metal detectors and security cameras, the number of schools that need metal detectors and security cameras, and the implementation cost of placing metal detectors and security cameras in school. Mr. Akers stated that he could possibly create and distribute a survey and compile the results by mid-September.

 

Representative Graham asked if it was more cost effective to have a school safety assessment done in every school of one district prior to the assessors going to another school district. Mr. Akers replied that it is easier to assess two schools in each district at each time, because the consultants do not want to wear themselves too thin. He added that he would prefer to have three teams of assessors that cover eastern, central, and western Kentucky regions, so that assessments can be made in every school of the district at one time. He noted that the Center spends around $100,000 per year to be able to assess 60 schools.

 

Representative Graham asked if the distribution and storage of prescription drugs was addressed in the school safety assessment report. Mr. Akers responded that the school board policy is reviewed and the consultants make considerations, if needed.

 

Representative Owens asked if the safe school assessment reports are compiled into one report for the state. Mr. Akers stated that the report included in the folder was a sample copy of an assessment performed at one school. He added that the Center does compile a presentation of common issues the Center has found among schools. Mr. Akers commented that there is not a statewide report. Representative Owens asked if there was a general report of all schools evaluated. Mr. Akers responded that the Center likes to keep the reports specific to individual schools. Representative Owens asked if the Center would be able to develop a trend report that compiles data from schools that have been reviewed. Mr. Akers replied that current trend issues have been identified and the Center does have the capability of creating a trend report but they have not at this point in time.

 

Senator Blevins noted that the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky School Boards Association are in a partnership with the Center, but was wondering if the Kentucky Education Association was involved with the Center. Mr. Akers stated that teachers are being represented in the assessments, but also through the Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky School Boards Association, and consultants. Mr. Akers added that he would consider the possibility of adding the Kentucky Education Association into the partnership with the Center's Board of Directors.

 

Representative Shelton asked if any data is made available to parents. Mr. Akers stated that the Center tries to survey every parent during the assessment process, however the Center does not always receives a return of the survey. Representative Shelton asked if there was a way to get parents more involved, because if there was a way to have greater influence over the parents, then that would help more on education and discipline. Mr. Akers replied that the climate and culture inside the school is a large role in allowing parents to feel welcome.

 

Mr. Akers introduced Officer Todd Brendel a school resource officer with the Erlanger-Elsmere Independent Schools and Officer Ed Robinson a school resource officer with the Madison County Schools.

 

Mr. Brendel stated that school resource officers have to be an officer, counselor, and educator at the same time to many students. He added that the school resource officer program is a way to bridge the gap between law enforcement, students, and staff. The Center for School Safety provides crisis planning advice to resource officers. He stated that there are currently around 230 school resource officers in the state. Mr. Brendel informed members that school resource officers receive general training from the National Association of School Resource Officers and the Department of Criminal Justice and Police Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. Both training programs provide a basic and advanced class. He added that the Center provides additional training to the resource officers on school law, plans conferences for the resource officers, and helps create a network by maintaining contact information for the School Resource Officer Association.

 

Mr. Robinson highlighted a few concerns and problems he has seen since becoming a school resource officer in September of 2004 at Madison Central High School and at the alternative school. One concern Mr. Robinson mentioned was an increase in bad behavior from children placed in foster homes by social services. Mr. Robinson mentioned a need for more communication and interaction between school resource officers and social services.

 

Mr. Akers introduced Mr. Charles Morton the Director of District Wide Programs at Harlan Independent Schools. Mr. Morton gave the members information about alternatives to suspension. Mr. Morton stated that Harlan Independent Schools created a community workservice program for students to participate in lieu of out-of-school suspension. Since the creation of the program, the school system went from the top of the list of schools with a high suspension rate towards the bottom within a few years of their participation in workservice and other programs. Mr. Morton stressed that school systems need to stop sending kids home for suspension, because students will not learn the course material.

 

Ms. Lynn McCoy-Simandle an independent school safety consultant spoke to the members about school bullying. She stated that school bullying starts in elementary school, peaks in middle school, and begins to rise some in high school. She added that state anti-bullying legislation is not enough. Ms. McCoy-Simandle stated that in the fall of 2003, the United States Department of Health and Human Services launched a multi-year national public awareness and bullying prevention campaign. This campaign encourages local school districts to increase student awareness, of bullying behaviors, to develop consistent and clear policies against bullying, and to create reporting procedures and requirements for incidences of bullying at school. The Kentucky Center for School Safety began bullying prevention training in 2001. More than 30 schools have received three-hour awareness training sessions from the Center.

 

Mr. Akers introduced Ms. Karen McCuiston from Murray State University and Mr. David Rupsch. Ms. McCuiston stated that she works with pre-service teachers and tries to prepare teachers for creating safe school climates. She informed members that in the spring of 2004, Kentucky School Safety Educator Standards were passed under the direction of Dr. Jack Rose. The five standards and an endorsement are listed in the Kentucky School Safety Educator Endorsement brochure provided in the members' folders. Ms. McCuiston highlighted some courses offered by Murray State University that relate to school safety. Murray State offers a school safety educator endorsement program.

 

Mr. Rupsch is the director of athletics, academics, and school safety in Webster County. Mr. Rupsch informed members how helpful the school safety and alternative education classes at Murray State University were.

 

Representative Graham asked what are the primary duties of school resource officers. Mr. Akers responded that they are sworn officers of the law and that they do have the authority to make arrests. Representative Graham asked if the school resource officer position was full-time or an off-duty police officer. Mr. Brendel replied that the school resource officer is assigned full-time. He said some resource officers work with schools' D.A.R.E. programs.

 

Chair Edmonds thanked Mr. Akers for his presentation and the panel for their comments. Chair Edmonds thanked additional guests that were introduced by Mr. Akers at the beginning of the meeting and other audience members for coming to the meeting. Chair Edmonds announced that the next meeting would be August 29, 2005, and with no other business before the subcommittee, the meeting was adjourned.