JCPS leaders say perceived issues not what they seem in school s - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS leaders say perceived issues not what they seem in school safety forum

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Leaders from Jefferson County Public Schools say the perceived discipline and safety problems in some areas of the community are not what they seem.

Dr. Donna Hargens and JCPS Chief Operating Officer Michael Raisor spent part of Thursday night at the Louisville Forum annual meeting discussing school safety.

“It's an opportunity to communicate with the public and answer questions,” Hargens said. “We want to make sure the public has correct information in a context.”

Hargens emphasized during the question and answer section that the school system is doing everything it can to deal with student behavior problems.

“Safety is a top priority of the district and we want people to know that and when there is an incident we have a process and we track behavior to get support,” she said.

This comes after a WDRB investigation in November that found teachers resigning, with some citing student behavior and lack of support from the administration as the main reason.

Even parents of some students agreed.

“There is a culture of fear in this district,” said Dear JCPS blog co-founder and parent Gay Adelmann. “Teachers are afraid of retribution even if it's just a good idea. Even good ideas don't make it to the people that need to hear them.”

Teachers say if behavioral issues with students aren’t fixed and if teachers continue to not have direction when students get unruly, the problems will continue.

“If there are no boundaries given or enforced as a discipline they're going to keep escalating their behavior until they find it,” said Smyrna Elementary teacher Charles Bird.

JCPS leaders did cite a recent survey saying more than 90 percent of teachers feel safe at school.

Opponents say those numbers are skewed because some teachers are afraid to come forward with concerns.

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