BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Members with the Battle Creek Education Association have formally cast a no confidence vote for the district’s superintendent, central administration and the board of education’s policies.
With the majority of members in support, BCEA President Anthony Pennock says the vote is a result of a yearslong problem with student behavior and discipline.
In a letter stating their vote to administrators, the association claims they “have been left out of crucial elements of the process, questioned on referrals, and informed that consequences for behaviors should be minimal due to student trauma.”
According to Pennock, at least 15 teachers left their classrooms this year because of student behavior.
“Some staff members, specifically teachers, have been injured at work. … That’s scary. We don’t want that ever to happen. I know the administration doesn’t want that to happen,” Pennock said. “It’s been consistent. We’re not seeing improvement.”
Superintendent Kimberly Carter acknowledges many students are returning to the classroom with trauma and pandemic-related stress, with many not being back in as long as two years. She also admits the district hasn’t provided them the effective opportunities to unpack those in a way that they can be successful in school.
“We have disciplined practices that go across all schools,” Carter explained. “We recognize that there are discipline problems in some of our schools, not all of them. But it’s not just a one-building issue — I understand that.”
But to protect teachers, Carter believes the code of conduct established and adopted by the board of education needs to be consistently enforced.
“We’re absolutely going to find out where the disconnect is occurring in our district, then try to create a plan for moving forward,” Carter said.
Pennock also agrees change is a must, but adds that it needs to be done, not just discussed.
“Let’s actually do something about this now, because it’s not OK for staff and students to come to school or work and feel unsafe,” Pennock said.
Carter says she will be talking to teachers as early as Wednesday after meeting with district leaders on Tuesday.