Administrators began to make their way Tuesday into St. Paul schools plagued by behavioral problems, but the extent of their involvement remains a work in progress.
Eleven schools — five elementary schools, two middle schools and four high schools — have been identified by the state’s second-largest school district as needing additional help with instructional support or school-climate concerns.
The identification of the schools came a week after Superintendent Valeria Silva announced she was reassigning up to 50 administrators, including cabinet members, to spend “a portion of their day” at sites where suspensions have surged.
One is Central High School, where a student’s attack on a teacher in December ratcheted up concerns about safety across the district, and in particular, its high schools.
Karen Palmen, a Central High teacher who also is an executive board member for the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, implored the school board at its monthly meeting Tuesday night to back the union’s push to add counselors, social workers, psychologists and other support staff to the schools.
“At Central, we are hurting,” she said. “Across the district, we are hurting.”
The short-term deployment of administrators — as well as teachers on special assignment — to the 11 buildings is one of several strategies being employed to quell unruly behavior. The district is stepping up efforts to ensure that schools know more about the backgrounds of students who are new to their buildings. An after-school program for students who’ve received lengthy fighting-related suspensions will be launched at the start of third quarter for the purpose of “interrupting school violence,” said Jon Peterson, who oversees school-climate work for the district.
How much time administrators spend in the schools as part of the new deployment is dependent upon conversations between the administrators and the principals — discussions that are taking place during initial visits this week, he said.
Administrators may be asked to provide instructional support in classrooms, or supervise students in hallways or lunchrooms, or a combination, Peterson said.
In addition to Central, the high schools receiving additional staff support are Como Park, Humboldt and Johnson.
The elementary schools are Dayton’s Bluff, John A. Johnson, Wellstone, Highwood Hills and Hazel Park Preparatory Academy.
The middle schools are Ramsey and Parkway Montessori & Community Middle School.