Frustrated Youngstown teacher says district needs better handle on discipline

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Wednesday night’s meeting of Youngstown City Schools’ Academic Distress Commission began with the swearing in of a new member after the resignation of a third on Tuesday. But the highlight of the meeting were comments made by several Youngstown teachers.

One, in particular, has major discipline problems with her students.

Seventy-five percent of the 150 people at Wednesday’s meeting were Youngstown City School teachers, but it was fifth grade Harding Elementary math teacher Tanna Sebrell who produced the most reaction.

“If we cannot figure out how to get our kids to stop swearing at their faculty, stealing from their faculty, shoving each other, it doesn’t matter what I do,” she said.

Watch: “It doesn’t matter”

Sebrell has two master’s degrees and also teaches at Youngstown State. It’s her first year in the Youngstown Schools, so she bought supplies. But when she took time off…

“The kids that have no self-control and know there’s no consequences opened up my box of supplies and stole them,” Sebrell said.

She wants defined consequences for students who misbehave and their parents.

Sebrell said 75 percent of her students are failing because 25 percent are creating problems.

“I, for one, am tired of thinking, ‘Maybe if this one shoves me down today, [the administration will] actually take them out so I can teach the rest of them.'”

CEO Krish Mohip said when he arrived, Youngstown was suspending ten times the students of any district in Ohio. Policies were implemented to resolve conflict.

“We tried and we’re continuing to refine the work that we do but that takes time,” he said.

Sebrell may have run out of time. At certain points during her comments, some in the audience stood and applauded.

“If we do not hold our kids accountable now, it doesn’t matter if we educate them because they cannot practice self-management and self-control,” she said.

Other teachers also spoke. One wants music brought back to the middle schools. Another said she’s overwhelmed with the influx of Spanish-speaking students from Puerto Rico.

One parent wondered why East High’s band has no uniforms.

As for the Academic Distress Commission following the resignations of three members, John Richard was sworn in Wednesday night. He is the deputy superintendent for the Ohio Department of Education and briefly served on the commission previously.

Mohip also highlighted some of the progress. He spent an extra $8 million this year, but is expecting a $16 million surplus by 2020.

He said most grade levels have been curriculum mapped, meaning they’re teaching the same things throughout the schools, and every teacher has gone through professional development.