Editor’s Note: In full transparency, this was read at public comment during the February 15 School Committee meeting, and then submitted to SOURCE media for publication.
FRAMINGHAM – I begin by acknowledging that we gather in Framingham, a community in which indigenous peoples were removed unjustly. We pay respect to elders both past and present, and we thank them for their hospitality and stewardship of this land. We acknowledge and honor the traditions of all people indigenous to what is currently known as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Nipmuc, Pennacook, Pocumtuck, Mahican, Massachusett, Nauset, and Wampanoag.
I begin this way because I am sure you have noticed that the October No School day is labeled INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY. I am asking you to honor those whose land we have taken stewardship of and refer to the October No School day only as Indigenous People’s Day, as requested previously by some FHS staff and students. It’s time we as a community recognize the injustices of our ancestors and respect indigenous cultures.
Now, something with deep daily impact to our school community. Article 18 in the unit A contract and article 27 in the unit T contract allow for a process by which staff can inform the superintendent of all cases of abusive conduct and/or torts suffered by them in connection to their employment. The report will be forwarded to the School Committee.
In all serious situations in which someone is harmed, staff inform building leadership and student support staff, such as guidance counselors, social
workers and school adjustment counselors. Social Emotional Mental Health teams provide support as needed.
At most school sites, severe student behaviors are continuing and in many buildings, becoming increasingly problematic and extreme.
This year, I am in receipt of almost 20 article 18 or 27 notices to the superintendent.
In each of these cases, the superintendent has responded to the affected staff member by copying you, the school committee, in his response.
By including the committee, the intention is for you to support whatever is deemed necessary to meet the needs of the students and staff involved.
Your silence on this crucial issue, though, has been deafening. You appear to be ignoring these challenging, disturbing and dangerous situations.
Not only is this not providing support to staff impacted but it also is not supporting students in managing their dysregulation. We are talking about instances in which there are victims of dangerous behaviors and those traumatized by witnessing these very unacceptable behaviors.
In addition to this, the code of conduct seems to not be employed when students misbehave on a consistent basis during the school day. Our students deserve supportive measures to remain in school and to have opportunity to correct their behavior, but currently staff are repeatedly disrespected, ignored, and sworn at with little to no consequences. Overall student learned behavior is that there are no consequences for not following the code of conduct and, therefore, behaviors continue to deteriorate. This is adversely affecting the learning and working environment for everyone.
We ask for your immediate attention to these matters to support the staff working hard every day to meet the needs of students, and to support the staff working closely with some of our more challenging students in providing the support they need to be successful in our schools. Help us in implementing policies and protocols to inform families when their student is involved as a witness to a challenging situation or if their child is a victim of the behavior so that all parties can receive supportive measures.
We must all work together to ensure that our schools provide safe and healthy learning environments and safe and healthy working conditions.
Framingham Teachers Association President