Beaverton parents desperate for solutions to bullying
Several parents of Fir Grove Elementary School students are sounding the alarm about physical assault and bullying at their school.
At a Beaverton School Board meeting last week, several parents addressed the board and district leadership to decry what they say is a hostile environment at the elementary school.
Parents told of their young kids being punched and pushed, but said the bullying students faced little to no consequences.
Liz Ranweiler is a parent of a Fir Grove student.
"This is my son's fourth year at Fir Grove, and we are going into our fourth year of meeting with Mrs. Miles (Fir Grove's principal) and our second year of meeting with Mr. Meigs (executive administrator for elementary schools) about the violence issues," Ranweiler said. "My son has been physically assaulted (punched or hit in the face and stomach) every year he's been at Fir Grove, including this year."
Ranweiler is also part of Fir Grove's Parent Teacher Organization, but she didn't want to speak on behalf of the PTO, she told The Times. However, she said she and her husband sympathize with other parents whose children are assaulted at school, or don't want to go to school for fear of being bullied.
Jenn Hundt says she's had children at Fir Grove for six years. She's also hoping for change at the school.
"I know it isn't the teachers," she said. "We have some of the best teachers around. And sadly, these teachers are also not (being) advocated for. ... Fir Grove has been left to slip through the cracks, and its parents are doing all we can to help save it."
Since last week, the district reached out to Fir Grove parents to set up meetings with Patrick Meigs, the Beaverton School District's elementary school administrator, and Ginny Hansmann, deputy superintendent of teaching and learning.
But the aggrieved parents aren't all confident they will reach a resolution with school administrators.
Ranweiler says she's met with school and district leadership about the issue "multiple times," but it hasn't stopped the bullying and violence.
"I think there are workable solutions but the question is whether the district is willing to take action to make those solutions happen," she noted.
School says children need more help, mental health intervention
Erin Miles, principal at Fir Grove, said that over the course of her five-year tenure at the school, she's met with a handful of parents about the issue. Miles said discipline is part of the response to students who are disruptive and act out, but the school also tries to get to the root of the problem behavior.
"Our plan of action to address disruptive behavior has many facets," Miles said earlier this week. "We are continuing to implement consistent social emotional learning practices across the school."
Miles points to diversity and inclusion exercises, additional adult assistance in classrooms, a student wellness center and even a therapy dog being used at the school.
When asked directly by the school board, Miles said she'd add additional mental health supports for students on-site if given more resources.
"We are working hard as a staff to address behaviors, but more importantly, we are working to stop behaviors from happening," Miles added. "By trying to address causes of emotional disregulation, our goal is to keep students learning in a safe environment."
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