Looking for consistent handling of discipline issues across Shawnee Mission buildings, teachers union, school district issue staff survey

Christy Ziegler and Doug Sumner of the district listened as members of the KNEA spoke during a May negotiating session.

Following a contract negotiation session last year that saw members of the teachers’ union raise concerns about the consistency of discipline enforcement by building administrators, the National Education Association-Shawnee Mission and the district have issued a joint survey to all employees about discipline issues in their buildings.

NEA-SM President Linda Sieck said that the union and district-level administrators have continued to meet and discuss the teachers’ concerns about discipline management since the start of the school year. The new survey is intended to gauge whether there are issues at specific buildings that could be addressed with more consistent treatment by building administrators.

A previous survey distributed to NEA members last spring found that more than two-thirds of respondents said their building did not have a clearly defined discipline policy. Nearly three in four said they were not satisfied with the way discipline was handled in their buildings.

As part of the agreement between the union and the district reached during negotiations, at the beginning of this school year building principals worked with staff to review district procedures for student behavior management. The new survey, which was developed jointly by the union and the district, will provide data about whether behavior management is now being handled more consistently in adherence with those procedures.

“Of greater concern is how staff and administrators are dealing with discipline issues in a consistent way, building better communication between staff and administrators so everyone understands how a particular discipline write up was handled/resolved, and ensuring that all staff are receiving the help they need when it comes to classroom management,” said Sieck.

Shawna Samuel, Shawnee Mission’s director of communications, said the survey will provide “local data for building staff to establish priorities for immediate and ongoing planning and professional development.”

“While the goals related to classroom management are district-wide, we want each school to design a tailor-fit action plan that is tightly aligned with their specific needs/circumstance,” Samuel said. “While more work remains, we could not be more pleased with, or appreciative of, the teamwork and solution oriented approach taken by all involved in this process.”