Message received: It’s a bad idea to have different discipline policies at Marysville’s middle schools.
When 200 students walked out of Totem Middle School to protest lax discipline, it not only got the kids in trouble, it also resulted in a close look at how students are punished at Totem, Cedarcrest and Marysville middle schools.
Marysville School District officials are revamping policies so kids at the three schools receive the same punishments.
“We hear our community and we’re taking every step we can to respond as quickly and appropriately as possible,” said Ray Houser, executive director of teaching and learning. “It really is a high priority for us. I’ve done little else than this since the walkout.”
Posters went up in schools this week advertising a seldom-used anonymous tip line for kids to report concerns. And teachers are undergoing mandatory training to review harassment, intimidation and bullying policies.
After listening to parents, students and teachers share their concerns at community and student forums, Houser said he realized a big part of the problem was communication.
For example, a computer program didn’t notify teachers when their students had been disciplined by administrators. Now teachers will know their complaints are being responded to, Houser said.
Some parents believe more needs to be done.
Mistrust between parents and administrators is building up again in the district, said Jan Maskell, whose daughter is in sixth grade at Totem.
She doesn’t believe the district’s plan will make a difference. Administrators also need to work more with local police to make sure crimes are adequately dealt with and schools are safe, she said.
Maskell also wants stricter discipline for kids who bully others. Marysville-Pilchuck High School was recently astir as students posted anonymous, horrible rumors about each other on a gossip Web site.
“If the district is going to set rules and policies, they need to follow through on them and treat everybody equally,” she said. “And if it doesn’t happen, I see there being bigger problems. Kids are going to start bringing knives and guns … I just see it as a matter of time.”
A week after walking out of class to demand more discipline, 172 Totem Middle School students met with teachers and administrators to discuss ways to make the school safer. The adults listened to the students and took their concerns seriously, said eighth-grader Kirstie Opel, who helped organize the protest.
The grown-ups are making some good changes, she said.
“I like it so far,” she said. “The principal has been walking around more and people are getting in trouble more for what they’re doing. There hasn’t been as many fights. Teachers are responding. They’re paying attention to the rules.”
Reporter Kaitlin Manry: 425-339-3292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.