School Report - Moberly Parents Blame Administration

1 decade 5 months 3 weeks ago April 04, 2006 Apr 4, 2006 Tuesday, April 04 2006 Tuesday, April 04, 2006 3:54:00 PM CDT in News

Steven Crutchfield remembers how the district's Levels program used to be.

"They taught me many respectful ways that I can be nice to my teacher, be respectful to students and stuff like that," he explained.

For years, the Moberly district has used the program for students with serious behavior problems.

"They have a multitude of diagnoses," said parent Mary Crutchfield, "anywhere from bipolar to ADHD and on down the list of brain disorders."

Parents said the program was successful, until recently. Now, they said, program changes are hurting their kids' education, and even their safety. First, parents said students had to move to a much smaller area to make storage space available.

"They went from about 1,200 square feet to less than 600 square feet," said Mary Crutchfield.

But, when five-year aide Susan Ehler expressed concern to Vice Superintendent Tim Roling, Crutchfield said, "It ended up, she was terminated from her position."

Griffin said the room change and Ehler's firing put Griffin's son in the hospital.

"He cried for three days," she recalled. "They think that maybe he has an ulcer. He would throw up. I would take him to school. He would throw up as soon as I'd get to work. They'd call and say, 'Come and get him.' You know, he just could not handle the fact that she was gone. He said he didn't think he could make it without her."

Lighthouse Center counselor Robert Carter treats students from the Levels program. He wrote to district administrators, telling them that firing Ehler was a significant and traumatic change for students.

Roling told KOMU News he does not feel he has to justify his actions. But, parents said his actions continue to cause problems.

"What they had done was take two bookcases, wooden bookcases, and put them in a corner in order to make a square, and in that area they had laid down a mat," explained Mary Crutchfield. "And I was told that is where the children are now taken for quiet, and usually wind up in a restraint."

Another parent, Penny Heckes, said the class used to have a private, quiet room. Now, she said, school officials physically restrain her daughter Erica almost everyday in front of the class.

"I realize that there are bookcases around there, but we're not fooling anybody," Heckes complained. "The rest of the kids know exactly what's going on in there, and they have eyes. They can see."

Steven Crutchfield said he can sympathize.

"I know how it feels when people get in trouble," he added. "It feels embarassed and mad and sad."

Heckes added, "I'm not asking them to do anything that's going to cost them money. I am not asking them to do anything that is going to cause harm to anyone else."

Parents emphasized that teachers and aides are not the problem in the Levels program, but rather an administration that won't take seriously their calls, letters and meetings.

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