According to The Dispatch, a team of 17 district support staff members hastily descended on Columbus City Schools’ Africentric Elementary this past Friday, but the district won’t say why.
A source said it was in response to a potential walkout by teachers, who are fed up with unruly student behavior and an inability to remove problem students.
“They really got fed up,” said the person, who asked not to be identified out of concern that the district could retaliate against a relative working in the building. “They were all going to call in sick. They just got frustrated.”
“I don’t think it would be appropriate to talk about the reasons that brought them there,” district spokesman Scott Varner said Tuesday. The Dispatch filed a public records request Tuesday afternoon trying to determine the reason behind the decision to flood the building with personnel on Friday — a decision that was made Thursday night. No documents were released Tuesday.
“The teachers had some concerns and they have taken those concerns to the administration,” said Tracey Johnson, president of the Columbus Education Association, the district’s teachers union. “It’s an ongoing process.”
On Friday, four of the 13 teachers at Africentric Elementary called in sick or were gone for another reason, Varner said. The 17 staffers sent into the building Friday included supervisors, specialists, support staff members and special education teachers, Varner said.
“I’m not going to comment about any specific issue,” Varner said, but he characterized the intervention as “part of a proactive effort” that included training and plans for future support. Some of the intervention staff members remain at the building this week, but Varner couldn’t say how many.
The school, at 300 E. Livingston Ave. near German Village, had 210 students last year in kindergarten through fifth grade, and 11 teachers during the 2014-15 school year, according to its state report card. Africentric Early College, grades 6-12, wasn’t part of the intervention, Varner said.
The district is building a $39.3 million campus on 52 acres about a mile south of Port Columbus to house both schools. The school’s curriculum is infused with the Africentric principles of “Nguzo Saba and Ma’at,” or balance, harmony, justice, order, reciprocity, righteousness and truth, according to its website. Its founder, Charles E. Tennant, had a vision of a school that would show black kids how to be proud of their history and themselves.
Tennant, a district teacher now retired, said Tuesday that reports that teachers planned a walkout last week are baseless.