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Superintendent responds to parent, teacher concerns

School isn’t in session right now, but concerns from both parents and faculty were voiced in the Jefferson City School District.

The Jefferson City Board of Education hosted a coffee gathering Thursday morning to discuss new technology, but that conversation turned to concerns. The main issues raised were over lack of morale among the teachers and how some students’ bad behavior affects others.

Ryan Penger’s wife has been a teacher at Cedar Hill Elementary for 14 years. But this year, he said she finally decided to resign because of lack of morale.

“The teachers really felt like they were being bullied by administration,” Penger said. “They couldn’t raise any concerns or they’d face repercussions.”

He said the low morale was even affecting their teaching performance.

“It’s not fair to the students,” Penger said.

So ABC 17 News took the concerns to Superintendent Brian Mitchell to get his response.

Mitchell said low morale among staff is an ongoing problem in public school districts across the country.

“Teachers are asked to more and more with less and less or at least no more resources than before,” Mitchell said.

When asked if he thought the teachers were bullied by administration, he said, “I would be mortified if I thought that was the pervasive feeling of our staff. We have a zero tolerance for bullying behavior by any person.”

Mitchell added that part of the low morale is out of their control, like students who misbehave so much it affects teaching and learning for other students.

“What we have to focus on is making sure what we can control is taken care of and our staff always feels supported. So we’ll ask them more often what their needs and work collaboratively to address those needs,” Mitchell said.

And they’re already starting to address one need, which also happened to be a concern brought up at the gathering: the bad behavior of some students.

“We put a transitional classroom in place that will be open next school year and it will allow us to serve our kids that our struggling the most to receive those educational services that are essential to their bright futures while allowing other students to focus on their studies,” he said.

The school district is now participating in a program that is new this year called the “Collective Improvement Process”. Through it, they’ll be asking students, parents, and staff more often what their main concerns are and how they would like them addressed.

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