Cammack, Education Board to continue MJHS bullying conversation Monday

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez Unified School District Board of Education will continue the conversation Monday on behavior problems at Martinez Junior High School.

District Superintendent C.J. Cammack will offer a report on the topic, which was raised by parents and others who expressed concerns April 22 not only about bullying but fights at the school.

Because the topic wasn’t scheduled for discussion that night, the panel was prevented by California’s Brown Act from responding. However, the Board asked Cammack to provide them information by Monday’s meeting.

Yazmin Llamas-Morales said her son was beaten and threatened two months ago, and said that inspired her to ask other parents about how their children were being treated.

Another parent, Charlotte Newby, said her son, now a Briones Independent Study school student, was stabbed while he was in the boys’ locker room at the junior high. She said she wasn’t happy how the incident was handled and called for more mental health counseling for students suffering from anxiety.

Other parents had similar stories of physical attacks and cyber bullying, and said such incidents likely would worsen and students might be considering committing suicide. One parent said his daughter now attends a private school to avoid the junior high’s environment.

Several asked why they had not been given more information about specific students, although California’s education code prevents making some of that information public.

Teacher Kathy Walsh urged the placement of cameras in the school, and parent Craig Lazzaretti suggested the Board bring back school resource officers. Others asked the Board to develop an action plan or form a parent task force.

But Boardmember Kathi McLaughlin said parents and the public need more concrete information before the Board can take action.

Last year, the Board contracted with Sandy Hook Promise that was created after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

It’s a three-pronged approach. The first is “Start with Hello,” which encourages interaction with students may feel left out, isolated or lonely. It guides leaders through its “Threat Assessment and Intervention” segment that trains people how to recognize the signs of those who could engage in at-risk behavior and gets law enforcement involved through its “Say Something Anonymous Reporting System.”

The District’s website has an online link, a phone number and a text number through which incidents can be reported anonymously.

In addition, the Board has adopted safety plans. The District has a safety committee, which has discussed such topics as social media use, student communication and ways to keep schools, and is using an emergency radio communication system.

In spite of taking those actions, the Board had an unusually large number of people April 22 who wanted to speak on the topic of bullying and school violence.

President Deidre Siguenza suggested the Board might decide to address the topic through a public forum.

Cammack’s presentation is an informational rather than action item. So is a report by David Wildy, coordinator of Technology Services, concerning monitoring of student wellness and misconduct through emails and files on the District’s Google Platform Environment.

Such monitoring may enable the District to identify student behavior that either are ongoing or oare in the initial stages, which he said would strengthen the District’s ability to keep students safe online and give the District and its schools another tool to identify and follow up on student behaviors.

He is recommending future approval of the monitoring.

In other matters, Cammack will announced an appointment of a new director of Educational succeed Tom Doppe, who is moving to Arizona.

Cammack also will ask the panel to approve a declaration of need for qualified educators for the 2019-20 school year for positions that may need to be filled on an emergency basis other than through 30-day emergency substitute teaching permits.

Assistant Superintendent Helen Rossi will describe T-Mobile’s request to lease a portion of Knowles Field to install a cell tower on the same pole inside the caged area that as Metro PCS, the company has used in the past.

On the consent calendar, the panel may issue a statement of need for 30-day substitute teaching permits and emergency-designated vocational education 30-day substitute teaching permits during the 2019-20 school year.

By the same vote, the panel may consider approving a procurement policy for federally-funded programs and grant awards. The move would incorporate current Board policy and requirements of the California Department of Education.

The Board also may accept a donation of $200 from Jane Gamblin to students’ food service accounts at John Muir Elementary School, and consider ratifying contracts with Sierra School Equipment Company, Syserco, Bell Product, Capital Program Management, Paradigm and John Geisness.

The Board of Education will meet in a closed session at 6 p.m. Monday to discuss labor matters. The regular meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the District Board Room, 921 Susana St.

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