A group calling themselves “Anonymous MLK Teachers” emailed the following letter to media and school officials this afternoon:
State of MLK Middle School
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School very often accepts conduct that is unacceptable and violates acceptable codes of conduct. We the teachers of MLK can and will not tolerate the irreprehensible actions that are being committed by the administration and students. Here are a few examples of what really goes on at MLK:
Students are disruptive in their classes and administration refuses to enforce any level of discipline.
Students are allowed to come in and leave their classes at any time without teachers having any authority to do anything.
Students have made threats towards teachers and those students have been allowed to remain in the teachers classrooms.
The administration made a rule that prevents students from being removed from class, no matter how disruptive or disrespectful the students may be.
There are several classrooms that exceed the Department of Education’s guidelines for Special Education classrooms.
Students are able to walk the halls during class without any reproach.
Students are allowed to bully other students, while teachers and security have been forbidden from intervening.
One particular administrator consistently cites the failures of the school as teachers lacking behavior management.
Students can fight one another and return back to class.
Administration is not filing nor recording referrals being written by students. They are either being destroyed or sent back to the teachers. This is presumably done to reduce the number of documented disciplinary actions.
Administration has cited the fact that behavior problems have declined, this is not so, we merely have an administration that refuses to suspend and discipline children. This is why the disciplinary numbers do not represent an increase in behavioral issues.
We as teachers understand that every form of adversity cannot be avoided; however, we cannot teach in an environment where we do not feel safe, are not given our proper resources, and where teachers are constantly cited as being the reason behind so many school failures. MLK can best be referred to as a hostile environment. Students do not feel safe at our school. The environment is not conducive to learning.
Our specific demands are as follow:
We want students held accountable. Students who fight, disrupt class, and disrespect staff and students should be disciplined accordingly.
We want administration to work with teachers in resolving the schools issues, not putting the blame on the teachers.
We want to come to work in a safe environment that is conducive to learning.
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According to the school and system report cards on the Virginia Department of Education site, Richmond Public Schools reported 11,997 school safety violations system-wide for the 2012-2013 school year (PDF), 7,776 of which were for Disorderly or Disruptive Behavior Offenses.
MLK Middle alone was responsible for 3,082 of these school safety violations (PDF), or 25.6% of all in RPS last year. In addition, MLK was responsible for 2,539 of the Disorderly or Disruptive Behavior Offenses reports, or 32.6% of the system total.
For some further context, there were 198 total offenses at Richmond’s Albert Hill MS (93 for Disorderly or Disruptive), 113 at Chesterfield’s Robious Middle School (35 for Disorderly or Disruptive), and 443 at Henrico’s John Rolfe (144 for Disorderly or Disruptive).
Rickie Hopkins took over at MLK for Dr. Valerie Harris in a rare mid-year principal swap this past February, a situation 6th District School Board representative Shonda Harris-Muhammed described as “a sense of emergency.”