As you have heard, students felt strongly of the difficult decision I had to make to remove a teacher from our team at Telesis. I can assure you it was a decision I did not make lightly or without great consideration, first, for what is the right thing to do for the students and for Telesis. So, I did the right thing.
On Monday morning, the students wanted to express their opinions about it. We support our students’ right to free speech and staff members expressed that to them. However, a problem became apparent when we noticed the protest was taking place in one of the main walkways in the JA/Academy campus area. Even though some were sitting quietly, there was still quite a bit of disturbance to the nearby classrooms.
As the number of students grew, the walkway became blocked. The other issue was that we couldn’t account for all the students who were not in their classroom seats; we didn’t know who was at the protest or who could have walked off campus. As safety concerns grew, we asked students to go back to class, so that they could be accounted for and, most importantly, they needed to be safe in their seats, ready to learn.
Staff members attempted to calmly explain that we understood that they were upset and reiterated that we support their right to free speech, but we also cannot allow students to block the walkway, interrupt instruction time for other students, and not be accounted for. Ultimately, the main concern was about safety.
There was defiance from students, and they would not go back to class. Some students demanded to talk to me to express their concerns. I could not hold a conference with students in the walkway that they were blocking–and even if we could convince the students to move to another area, I could not lawfully discuss a personnel issue with them.
When our efforts to move students back to class were not successful, the decision was made to call parents of the students (who were missing from their classrooms) to advise that suspensions were being given, and the students needed to be picked up from school. It was a situation we needed to get under control before it got out of control.
The good news is that we protected their freedom of speech and their right to assemble, and at the same time, kept them safe on campus. No student left campus unaccompanied by an adult, nor was anyone hurt.
However, I know students were caught up in the passion of the moment, and it may have even been confusing for some students who were caught up in the peer pressure of the moment. Taking all things into consideration, suspensions given for the Monday incident will be erased. I want to reset the clock and give everyone an equal opportunity to start fresh.
The other good news is that we have an experienced teacher who will be joining our team.
We are happy to welcome Mrs. Nickie Kelley to Telesis. She will be teaching math, psychology, and computer science. Mrs. Kelley comes to us from Phoenix where she was a teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. She also has certification in Elementary Education I: English Language Arts, Social Studies; Elementary Education II: Mathematics, Science, Unified Arts; as well as Subject Matter Expert Standard Teaching in grades 6-12.
Mrs. Kelley is excited to be a part of the Telesis team and is very qualified to do so. In addition to the amazing qualities and capabilities she brings to our students as listed above, she is excited to take part in the MCC Math Olympics coming up next month in Bullhead City. She will begin preparing those students who are planning to go to the annual competition and travel with them to Bullhead City for the math competition.
Thank you for your support and understanding regarding Monday’s matter. We are looking forward to a great remainder of the school year.
Dr. Sandy Breece