Throughout last fall, parents and teachers at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School in the City of Ellicott reported scenes of widespread chaos in hallways leading to staff injuries and a series of unofficial lockdowns.
A Maryland Freedom of Information Act request filed by Triadelphia Ridge Parent Angela Gravosky and released December 13, 2020 states that schools for students with mental requested all records and correspondence relating to the regional programs of School administrators, Triadelphia Ridge teachers, and members of the school board discuss various issues raised by the program.
“It’s clear that the program is not running efficiently,” said parent Katherine Loomis, who taught the behavioral program at a public school in Baltimore County for four years.
Thirteen months after Howard County Public Schools officials banned isolation, which forced students to be confined to rooms alone, in all schools, parents, teachers, and stakeholders reported experiencing behavioral problems. It says the county has not adequately provided training and guidance to staff on how to deal with students who are crisis.
In a Sept. 9 e-mail to the Howard County Board of Education, Triadelphia Ridge art teacher Michelle Sharick reported that “students face extreme crises every day,” and that the school is committed to safe learning. I mentioned that I struggled to maintain the environment.
“My administration has given us such specific modified corridor closure procedures [extreme behavior] On September 27th, I wrote to Caroline Walker, Executive Director of Program Innovation and Student Welfare. deal with the crisis; “
Ellicott City resident Barb Kurpiers, whose son attended the emotionally disturbed community program at Mount Hebron High School and graduated in 2018, has been an advocate for years to expand special education provision within HCPSS, and the school system He said we need to take a more proactive approach to support. Students with complex behavioral and emotional needs.
“The best thing you can do is train [teachers] Kruppiers, who served as deputy director of the Maryland Office of Education Accountability from 2018 to 2020, said:
The county operates 10 community programs for nearly 100 students with mental disorders at all school levels. Program students can spend time in the general education classroom or in their own independent space, depending on the individualized educational program or the IEP, a set of customized learning objectives.
Former school board chair Vicky Catroneo said schools with new community programs are suffering from a lack of adequate staffing and training as the county grapples with new statewide policies on behavioral interventions. says.
“There is pressure to be successful,” said Cutroneo, who finished his term on the school board in December. “What’s happening is that we’re responding to these situations that we can’t necessarily handle with what we have.
“I feel sorry for these students who are going through these horrible meltdowns in public,” she added. of students impact their overall educational experience.”
Bonis Felder, who worked as a student assistant at Triadelphia Ridge’s emotional disorder program, said she injured her ankle twice during fights last year.
“They put you in situations that lead you to failure,” said Felder, who started working at the school in the 2020-2021 school year and was fired on Nov. 21 after weeks of tension. with the administration when she resumed her duties despite her injuries.
Loomis, Gravoski, and several other parents at elementary schools have created a petition calling for greater transparency from their schools, and are still dissatisfied with the school system’s response.
HCPSS Executive Director of Special Education, Terry Savage, and Community Education Superintendent Patrick Sanderson, who oversees HCPSS Area 1, which includes Triadelphia Ridge, said privacy concerns meant that the program at that elementary school would not be allowed. Triadelphia Ridge management declined to be interviewed for this article.
In November 2021, the Howard School Board banned quarantine in all county schools. In April 2022, the Maryland legislature banned practice in public schools while restricting the use of “personal restraints that immobilize a student,” or physical restraints defined as reducing the ability to move freely. Did.
Advocacy groups, such as the Maryland-based Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint, believe that rather than effectively disciplining students, these practices can lead to serious trauma and injury. I claim there is.
According to data the school system submitted to the Maryland Department of Education, 65 of the 108 physically detained students in Howard County during the 2021-2022 school year were black. population. Students with disabilities accounted for him in 87% of all detention cases, and the majority of detained students were between the ages of 5 and 10.
One alternative to trauma-informed physical restraints employed by HCPSS is Ukeru. This is a method of blocking students in crisis using a cushioned shield-like device. An evaluation of his pilot program, published in June 2022, showed that Ukeru was effective in reducing the use of restraints, and will begin implementation in all non-high school community programs in the fall of 2022. rice field.
“You can use these mats and pads instead of laying hands on your child. […] Use them to prevent children from harming themselves or, if you are a staff member, to prevent children from harming you.
Cutroneo says it’s important to maintain the school system’s community programs to help one of the county’s most vulnerable student populations, but additional support and better communication with parents is needed. said it was necessary.
“The fact that we’re not being transparent and working with the community when these programs are introduced in schools is also a detriment,” added Cutroneo. and make everyone fail and doubt.”
In addition to increasing transparency, the organizers of the Triadelphia Ridge petition are asking staff at long-term programs like Waterloo Elementary School to provide additional Ukeru training to guide staff and assist in de-escalating hallways. Seeking to expand.
Sharik and others also advocate expanding the county gateway program to the elementary school level. Gateway, which operates out of Homewood Center, provides alternative education for middle and high school students.
“Your local ED team is working hard, but they need your help. can get the mental health care they desperately need.”
According to Leoutsakos, regional program staff are overloaded with having to deal with students with a wide range of needs. As of July 1, 42 of his 94 students enrolled in the program had his IEP diagnosis other than an emotional disorder, such as autism, developmental delay, or intellectual disability. I was.
“They are really all-encompassing programs,” says Leoutsakos. “This is where Howard County sends children who behave in ways they don’t understand.”