The following is in response to a recent letter from Ms. Trina Baughn, which was published in The Oak Ridger on July 3 and subsequently reported in part by other area media.
I recently completed a six-month stint as interim superintendent of the Oak Ridge Schools, covering the period Jan. 1 through June 30. I will not attempt to speak to what might or might not have occurred prior to this time, but will comment only on events where I had some direct involvement during my period of service.
In assuming my role as interim superintendent, one of the things I felt was most important was for me to get out to the schools as frequently as possible. I was in the schools, on average, twice a week, especially the secondary schools, because they are larger and it takes more time to visit all parts of the buildings. For the most part, my visits came at random times and were unannounced. I visited many classrooms and talked with both teachers and students individually. I saw students moving through the hallways and congregating in the larger assembly spaces in a causal, but controlled manner, enjoying a few minutes to converse with each other. Overall, I observed a very orderly environment based on caring and mutual respect between teachers, administrators, and students.
This is not to say that there are never problems that occur among students. Anytime you bring 700 students together as in the case of the middle schools or almost 1,400 at the high school you can expect instances of inappropriate behavior by a few students. Although most discipline situations are handled at the building level, there were times when it was necessary for me to get involved in reviewing a specific incident. For the most part, I was very comfortable that these situations were handled appropriately and consistently by school staff. [Read more…]