Strategic plan for Youngstown Schools to address discipline issues

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Academic Distress Commission for Youngstown City Schools met Thursday and the main topic of discussion was disciplining the students.

Larry Ellis, president of the Youngstown Education Association teachers’ union, said teachers are not being listened to when it comes to student conduct.

He addressed the Academic Distress Commission, referring to the discipline committee formed by CEO Krish Mohip.

“The last meeting, there were probably two or three of our members that were driven out in tears because they didn’t feel they were having a say, they didn’t feel they were being listened to,” Ellis said.

Volney Rogers Middle School teacher Wendy Mirkin also spoke, joined by fellow Volney Rogers teachers.

Last month, a 13-year-old student punched a teacher at their school and was charged with disorderly conduct and felonious assault. The teacher suffered head injuries and had to be taken to the emergency room.

“We are struggling with behaviors, we are struggling with resources,” Mirkin said.

The commission was already aware of the school system’s discipline problems. The purpose of Thursday’s meeting was to continue the process of finalizing a strategic plan to get the Youngstown Schools on a path of academic success.

Mohip’s initial draft did not mention discipline, but the commission wants that changed.

“Basically, creating a culture of respect and rapport within the district. Student-to-student, student-to-teacher, teacher-to-students,” said Commission President Brian Benyo.

He asked that the teachers and principals be involved.

“The people that are dealing with these issues every day in the classroom need to be part of the discussion.”

After the meeting, Mohip talked about the discipline issue, specifically addressing Ellis’ concern that teachers were not being heard.

“If the perception is that it’s not there, sometimes perception becomes reality. So we’ll work with our teachers if they feel like they’re not getting enough voice to bring them in further,” Mohip said.

The Academic Distress Commission also wants participation from community organizations, a section of race, equity and inclusion, and more on how to hire and retain quality teachers written into the strategic plan.

Benyo even suggested a bonus performance system where teachers would be paid extra for doing well.

The commission will hold off on finalizing the plan for another 15 days so it can address those issues.