- Associated Press - Thursday, October 27, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - School officials are trying to quell student behavior problems at an Omaha middle school where enrollment has nearly doubled with the addition of sixth-graders this year.

Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Mark Evans and two school board members visited Nathan Hale Middle School on Tuesday in response to complaints from parents and staff about the behavior.

Board member Marque Snow said he has talked to teachers about students throwing things, running in the halls and interrupting class. School board member Justin Wayne said teachers are overwhelmed and don’t feel supported or safe at school. Snow said one teacher said students once threw rocks at her car, while a case reported to the union stated that a student stabbed a teacher in the hand with a pencil.

School district spokeswoman Monique Farmer said the problem stems from a small number of students who disrupt the school day. Wayne recommended that the school add another guidance counselor to help students who are struggling to control their anger or sit still in class. Snow added that the district should discuss disciplinary alternatives to suspensions and expulsions, so that students don’t lose class time.

Omaha Education Association president Bridget Donovan said officials are trying to keep teachers from leaving the school.

“We are really struggling trying to help teachers stay,” Donovan said. “There are teachers who are not really sure if they’ll make it to Christmas, let alone the end of the school year.”

The school district said it’s adding more security guards and two student deans to the middle school’s staff. Curriculum and instruction department staff will also visit the school to give teachers additional training on classroom management.

Some teachers and parents met earlier to discuss the discipline problems, however fewer than a dozen parents attended, according to Snow. Principal Darin Williams wrote in a letter that another parent meeting may be held in the future to “gather input, hear concerns and feedback and request additional parent engagement and support.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com


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