Alabama school board member cites student conduct, discipline for number of teachers resigning

Alabama News

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A Huntsville City School board member says the district is losing teachers at a record number to what she claims is due to student conduct and discipline.

“We are losing teachers at a record number. And they are leaving these classrooms because they are sick of being disrespected. Sick of disrespectful kids that are defiant at all times,” Huntsville City School Board member Michelle Watkins said.

Meanwhile, the Desegregation Advisory Committee says the district disproportionately disciplines black students and encourages the district to work in that area.

So which is it? The DAC tells News 19 they believe Watkins is only speaking for her district, District 1 and data throughout the rest of the school system shows a clear disproportionate discipline of black students. News 19 also requested human resource reports for this school year from Huntsville City Schools. The district says they are working to compile documents for the request and will provide them to News 19 as soon as possible.

The Desegregation Advisory Committee helps oversee a federal consent order to achieve unitary status–meaning equal, educational opportunities for all Huntsville city school students. One area DAC says the school district needs to improve is student discipline.

“I often hear about the disproportionate number of African American students being disciplined,” Watkins said.

Watkins said that in her district, teachers are put in a hard place.

“What are we supposed to do? Excuse the behavior so we can reach the numbers? I’m just saying. I’m trying to figure it out,” she said. “It’s not all parents that aren’t parenting because most of them are but the ones that aren’t parenting. That’s our problem. No DAC report, no DOJ report, no consent order is going to stop that.”

Watkins said more teachers than ever are resigning in the middle of the school year.

“And for anyone who doesn’t believe what I’m saying, pull our H.R. reports since school started and look at all the teachers that have left our district,” she said.

News 19 also requested the number of teachers who have left and are waiting on Huntsville City Schools to fulfill that open records request.

“So we are going to continue to lose teachers when we sit up and talk about discipline numbers because when teachers listen to you talk about discipline numbers… We’re telling our teachers that discipline matters more for students to come back to class and not be reprimanded than the teacher matters,” says Watkins.

The Desegregation Advisory Committee will meet Monday, November 8th at 6 p.m. at Lee High School. At that meeting, DAC representatives told News 19 they will go into detail about the discipline data for black students in the district compared to students of other races.

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