COLUMBUS, Ohio — Weeks before new Columbus City Schools superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon started her first full week, parents at one school were already expressing one of their biggest concerns for the district. "We have teachers who are overworked, underpaid, outnumbered and they have no voice," mom Chana Rivers expressed to the CCS school board at its regular meeting. "I wish I could stand here with a lot of confidence saying I think my children are getting the best quality education possible. But at this time, I do not feel that."
Rivers explained her son attends Berwick Alternative K-8 and said he finds it difficult to learn due to constant disruptions from bad student behavior.
"The expectation for my kids is to move onto college," Rivers said. "You have someone flipping their desk, throwing books, cussing, hitting teachers, hitting other students and very little is being done about it."
After more parents from Berwick complained to the administration about similar issues, administrators surveyed dozens of students and instructors at the school. ABC 6/FOX 28 obtained those survey results which indicate eighth graders who were questioned stated "Discipline is not handled unit it has gone on for a long time."
Thirty-eight teachers participated in the survey and more than half also made comments regarding a lack of discipline. Written statements include comments like "follow through on consequences for repeat offenders" and "now is the time to stop threatening OSS (out of school suspensions) and act on it."
Rivers also suggested the school's administration staff enabled the harmful disturbances. "What about our teachers who are being asked by their administrators to call them less, to deal with the problems themselves?" she asked.
ABC 6's Scoring Our School team took these concerns to Dr. Dixon to find out how the district's new leader would handle these types of issues. "School climate is everything," said Dr. Dixon. "We expect our administrators to be in charge for making sure that we have the proper culture and climate in our buildings."
District administrators held community meetings at Berwick to discuss behavioral problems at the school in February. ABC 6 was not allowed to attend these "community meetings" but district representatives said administrators asked for more parent participation when it comes to curbing bad behavior. The principal also vowed to communicate with parents more.
Dr. Dixon said one of her main focuses will be to meet the social and emotional needs of every student in the district and to try to keep each child in class. "We do want to make sure that we have environments that are conducive to learning," Dr. Dixon said. "If that's not happening, we're going to be working with our building principals and our teachers and our families."