In the news: another reason to question K8s

9:04 am

Reported on both KPTV television and KXL radio, a nine-year-old boy reported he witnessed a possible rape in the restroom of his K8 school, only to be accused of lying by school staff.

Portland Public Schools officials have piled on with further denial, claiming the alleged perp couldn’t have been in the restroom because he hadn’t signed out of class.

PPS has closed most middle schools in poor and minority neighborhoods over the past few years, converting elementary schools to K8s. Most middle schools in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods have been allowed to stay open.

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Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

filed under: Equity, K-8 Transistion, Media

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13 Responses

  1. Comment from Terry:

    I’m not sure I understand the connection here, Steve.

    Are you saying that a rape might not have happened in a middle school? Or is your concern that the alleged rape was witnessed by a nine-year-old?

    Bear in mind that middle school students are as young as eleven. And even older middle schoolers would undoubtedly be shocked –traumatized– had they witnessed such an assault.

    It’s troubling that school officials have accused the boy of lying. It would be equally troubling if it were middle school staff dismissing his story.

    So as I said, I’m not sure that this particular incident should be used as an argument against the K-8 model.

  2. Comment from Nancy R.:

    I wrote about this on my blog:

  3. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Terry, I’m referring to safety issues for younger kids. We don’t know the age of the alleged victim…. what if she was a 3rd grader? (That’s not to discount the gravity of an 8th grader raping a 6th grader by any means.)

    In this particular building, and in many K8s that were converted from elementary schools, there are not clearly defined spaces for the older and younger kids. There are obviously supervision problems, not just at this school, but district-wide.

    Putting sexually maturing kids in the same building with younger kids might work if we had adequate facilities and staffing, but we’ve got neither in this case. Who remembers when we had adequate staffing at PPS?

    And then there’s this grist from the rumor mill: the alleged perp is supposedly the child of a school staffer.

    I don’t know what to believe in this case, but I find the district’s denial mode extremely disrespectful and distasteful given what’s at stake.

  4. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    FYI, word from the district is “It’s been investigated. Nothing to see here, folks; show’s over. Keep moving.”

  5. Comment from pdxmomto2:

    Good thing this happened at the end of the school year – it will be much easier for PPS to sweep under the rug.

  6. Comment from shakingmyhead:

    Glad to see this topic on your website. I saw the story on the news, and was extremely disturbed. Please keep on top of this one, and don’t just let PPS sweep this under the rug.
    My kids attend a school very similiar to Beach, and this pre-k through 8th grades in one building is for the birds.

  7. Comment from Ohme:

    What is even of more concern is that there are middle school “behavior” rooms at both Clark@Binnsmead and Ockley Green K-8.

    So the most behavior challenged middle schoolers in the district (they get bussed in) are in the same building with and sometimes using the same bathrooms of k-5 students.

    I wonder how the parents at Beverly Cleary would feel if the district placed a “B” room for 6-8th grades in the same building as their first graders.

    Nothing serious has happened yet with this situation (that we know about), but this is a disaster waiting to happen. I also can’t blame parents who find out that their first grader is down the hall from a class of disturbed 11-15 year olds (yes, 15, since many have also been retained) for pulling their child out and looking elsewhere.

    Good thing for the district that they placed a focus option 7 blocks from Clark@Binnsmead, and left Chief Joseph a k-5. Almost like they wanted to give certain parents a way out, but leaves a highly inequitable situation for those who are not aware of, or able to complete the transfer process. (see previous posts)

  8. Comment from terrified:

    It also makes it very inequitable for the K-8 schools

  9. Comment from Stephanie:

    We can question the rationale of K-8’s and district practices but out of respect for those students in behavior rooms and the parents of children with disabilities such as myself who read and post here can we please not refer to children as “disturbed”. I could write pages and pages on how these children have been let down by the district, their families, the county, and state. The very existence of “behavior rooms” is a problem. Prison is a great place to go in with one behavior and then learn 10 new bad habits and a behavior room is no different…many of these children have disabilities and the reason they have behaviors is because they are being segregated, have to ride the short bus, get made fun of. I work with these children in their family homes, foster homes, or residential programs and they have hopes and dreams just like all children.

  10. Comment from Stephanie:

    FYI – I hope that did not come off as harsh. Just hard for me to hear as a parent of a child with some challenging behaviors at school and advocate for these kids with labels. There are teachers and evaluators I know that are trying to get the IEP eligibility of “emotionally disturbed” changed to something different. My statement was not personal to the poster Ohme and is a knee jerk reaction to caring about these kids so much and understanding the reasons why they do the things they do and working to change it. We must include mental health and disabilities in statements and actions of equity and diversity and that is my torch in this wilderness.

  11. Comment from Ohme:

    I did not post to offend. All students are unique and deserve to be treated with respect. Sometimes when a general education teacher only sees the behavior issues of child with special needs, that is what they react to. We are not allowed to see every file and understand the specific needs of each child. So…

    When I observe middle school age students screaming every curse word in the book at teachers in front of 5 year old students, I find it disturbing. When I am told to not intervene, and “let it go because they have a behavior IEP” when it comes to behaviors that interfere with the learning of other students, I find it disturbing.

    I don’t think it would be any less disturbing in a straight middle school, but I think that children in the same age bracket and teachers who are used to working with that age group would handle it better.

    I question why the district does not see a problem with middle school behavior rooms in k-8 settings. I was not trying to make a statement on the equity issues surrounding students in B rooms, but that it is another situation where schools in poverty are more likely to have them.

    Five year old children should not have to witness a 14 year old who is struggling with mental health issues have a full breakdown in the hall. I am very passionate about early childhood students, and I have witnessed their needs being pushed aside for the needs of older students in this K-8 “transition”.

    It is inane for the district to think we can keep the little ones away from middle school behaviors. I am asked to make sure each one of my students get to a parent after school, while on “duty” in the front of the building. I have had to pull small students out of the way of very large teenagers who were “rough housing” so they would not get hit or knocked over. I have been told that “that’s just the way they act”. Younger students see older running through the halls unescorted, yelling, cursing, and hugging inappropriately.

    Perhaps this will all get better with time, but it is awful that young children are having to live through this “experiment” by the district.

    The equity issue comes into the discussion because the k-8’s are mostly in schools of high poverty and ELL students. If k-8’s are so great, why are they not city wide? We know the answer to that question: they are not so great!
    This news story about the child who may have witnessed a crime
    is hard to hear, but I fear it is just the beginning of what could happen in this ill conceived k-8 model, but I will continue to hope for the best.

  12. Comment from Neisha:

    Thank you, Stephanie.

  13. Comment from Stephanie:

    Ohme – I appreciate the input and also recognizing in your own work the need to look at the student as an individual. Similar to the racial code word “disruptive” the term “disturbed” ruffles feathers for advocates of students with MH and DD challenges. As you say, it is what you observe and experience that is disturbing and my bent is only not to describe a child as disturbed. What is that saying…..? Love the child hate the behavior or something like that?

    I can tell you as a behavior consultant what really bothers me is an IEP meaning you get a free pass to behave inappropriately. At Ockley it took more than one conversation and email to help the special education dept. understand that I expect my child to behave and under the same circumstances as the other children. It is their job (with my help) to identify the supports she needs so she does not have the behavior at all; if she does though, same consequence must fall. I expect to have to go through this again every year and make sure she does not get a pass for being rotten. That is a huge issue that does not help right now however and I can understand your position and how hard it must be to be told to let it go because they have an IEP.

    As an aside, I actually think Ockley is doing a great job with the K-8 and the older kids crossing paths with the little ones has not been an issue this year at least for me and the kindergarten parents and those who I have talked with at the PTO meetings. Not sure what is working or if I am just not seeing the problems yet. I am very aware of how poorly it is going elsewhere and while feeling lucky (or blissfully unaware) that OG is not experiencing it to the same degree it makes me upset about how little attention to improving this seems to be happening. I am especially upset that K-8 gets the brush off while new projects are being undertaken such as taking the early intervention assessments away from MESD and saying it will save money….perhaps but at what expense in the future. To the credit of the district they are having public forums on this. Word on the street though is that the PPS early childhood team is not going to be ready by July 1st and that kids that would have been able to begin services for EI in the summer will be pushed off till September (so much for seamless if this is true). I will be watching this very closely.