Parent issues safety concerns after student found unconscious

School board says supervision is adequate

Josh Pennell Josh.pennell@thetelegram.com
Published on June 4, 2014
Beachy Cove Elementary
Submitted

A parent is concerned with the amount of supervision his child is getting at school and with the response he’s gotten when he went looking for answers.

Dean Penton’s six-year-old attends Beachy Cove Elementary, a school that’s experiencing overcrowding to the point that the cafeteria is being used as classroom space.

Penton’s concerns were raised when he heard from another parent that their child was found unconscious in a closet after hitting their head. The little girl was taken to the hospital with a concussion, but because a teacher wasn’t in the room at the time of the incident, Penton says nobody knows how it happened.

Penton has since learned that three teachers are monitoring 15 classrooms or about 250 students at lunchtime.

“So basically half the school is being monitored by three teachers,” says Penton.

Penton’s six-year-old attends daycare when not in school. He says there has to be one adult for every five students and there has to always be a line of sight on the children.

“Yet when she gets aboard the bus and goes to the public institution that we have for education, it’s OK to have three teachers supervising 15 classrooms,” he says. “There should be no excuse for not having adequate supervision for children who are primary up to elementary.”

But the school says the supervision is adequate.

When Penton went looking for answers, he says he was given the runaround. He went to the school and brought up the issue with the principal and was told they were working with the resources they had. Penton then went to the school board and was told schools are responsible for supervision schedules. He then went to the Department of Education and was told it’s a school board responsibility and a direct school responsibility.

“So I can’t get an answer. The fingers are pointing in every direction,” he says.

Jeff Thompson, associate director of education with the school district, met with Penton and his wife last week. Thompson says there is a broad range of approaches to supervision and they vary depending on school size, grade configuration, etc.

Then it comes down to a school decision.

“The administration ultimately sets the supervision schedule for the school and then monitors the culture and climate within the school and makes decisions based on the feedback from teachers, from parents and students as to whether or not the supervision schedule that they have in place is working,” Thompson says.

When an issue can’t be resolved by contacting the school, it could be raised to the district level and may end up with Thompson, as happened with Penton’s issue.

“I’ve talked to the administration in the school. The administration in the school feels comfortable with the schedule they have in place,” says Thompson.

He also says there haven’t been any other concerns over supervision at Beachy Cove Elementary raised with him.  

But that hasn’t done much to quell Penton’s concerns. Since it’s come to his attention, he says other parents might want to think about their child’s safety at school.

“It’s something I think every parent should ask themselves now after what we’ve been through.”

 

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com