Threatening graffiti found scrawled on Peoria High School bathroom wall … nothing done to secure building

peoria_high_school

 A police officer was shown a note that has been scrawled on the wall of the girl’s bathroom at Peoria High School. “OK so tomorrow I am shooting the school up so this is your warning. LOL. God be with us all.” The note was seen on Oct. 12, but the officer was told the note had been there since at least Oct. 6. The officer recommended extensive security measures be used on Oct. 13, including searches with metal detectors, but the District Administrator Taunya Jenkins (apparently) advised the school not to utilize those measures.

I receive a reply to my recent post about what is needed at District 150

I received the following email from Chris Copland director of communications from District 150:

Your blog post from Friday (below) was brought to my attention and I wanted to make sure you were aware that a few things you mentioned are in place and have been operating and expanding since 2011. I provided information in red to some of the suggestions you made. I am happy to see that you basically endorsed our programming with your suggestions, because it is exactly what we are already doing! =)

If it is ok, I will add you to our email list for our Remarkable Times newsletter each Friday, where we highlight these and other programs/classroom activities within our District. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks,
Chris

  1. It does not have any decent vocational education program. I was an education reporter at newspapers in Illinois and Missouri. I’ve done stories on large and small districts all over both states. Almost off of them had programs that taught agriculture, robotics and the building trades. Peoria has NOTHING. Woodruff is essentially empty and could house one or more vo-tech programs.

Woodruff re-opened as Woodruff Career and Technical Center in 2011. Currently, it has vo-tech programs (now referred to as Career Technical Programs) housed on the first floor and in the basement. All high school students in our district have the opportunity to enroll during their junior and senior year of high school in these programs. They attend their regular high school and are bused for a morning or afternoon block of time to participate. Programs offered include 1) Cosmetology (students can register for state exam once clinical hours are completed at the school); 2) barbering (students can register for state exam once clinical hours are completed at the school); 3) hairbraiding (students can register for state exam once clinical hours are completed at the school);  4) engineering; 5) Health occupations (CNA certification was added this year and phlembotomy certification will be added next year); 6) Culinary Arts; 7) Construction Trades; 8) Metals Manufacturing; 9) Autobody Repair.

In addition, several courses are offered at the home high schools as well. You can see our entire high school course registration book on our high school enrollment website (http://www.psd150.org/domain/15) if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. On that page, you can also see some videos representing the various programs at Woodruff.

  1. Peoria does not have a decent alternative education program. Two kinds of alternative settings are needed. First: An alternative setting for kids who just cannot and do not learn will in a traditional setting.Second: a Place to send kids who are discipline problems. It is ludicrous for kids to get out of the juvenile justice system and IMMEDIATELY go to sit down in seats right next to unsuspecting law-abiding students. There are empty schools all over th city that could house these alternative schools.

Woodruff Career & Technical Center also houses an alternative school on the second floor. This program is designed for students that just don’t fit in a traditional large high school. Students here can still participate in activities and athletics at their home high school, but come here for their daily classes.

In addition, Knoxville Center for Student Success provides instruction to more than 120 high school students. About 10% of these students are transitioning back to the school setting whether it be from Juvenile Detention, extended medical leave, etc. However, I think it must be noted that while we strongly encourage students to participate in this transition program when appropriate, as a District, we cannot tell a student that they cannot attend their home high school. The other students participating at KCSS are behind in credits and are provided both teacher led instruction and online credit recovery courses.

  1. Any student should be able to enroll in any age-appropriate school in the district that has room for them. Most parents will chose the school that is closest to them. But if a school has bad teachers, word will get around and their enrollment will drop and people will know. These teachers and principals can and should be replaced.
  2. Peoria’s Promise needs to be fully funded. It’s nice that PP can pay for Illinois Central College for all district graduates. But some big multi-national company needs to step up and fully fund this program to pay for four years education at any state-run four-year university.
  3. School board members should serve staggered four year terms, so that every two years, approximately half of sitting school board members come up for reelection.

A US District Court settlement agreement in November 1987 transitioned Board member elections from at-large seats to elected district seats. The court-approved agreement stipulates that the terms of office of the members of the Board of Education shall be five years. To make a change, I presume that this agreement would need to be challenged in court.

My two cents:

1. It’s obvious I need to attend more school board meetings.
2. I’d like to tour the Woodruff center, take some pictures.
3. I don’t know if its appropriate to take a kid who missed half a year battling cancer and put him in a chair next to kid who did six months in juvie for waving a knife at another kid.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! in Averyville

I read the Journal Star so you don’t have to.

» Faster_PussycatWomen say they were attacked in Peoria on July 19

Two women told police one of them was bitten and the other was hit with a two-by-four when a group attacked them July 19 in the North Valley.

Nothing in the report as to why it took a feel week for this report to appear in the police report. My guess is the police took their time to get in put in the bundle of daily police reports to cop reporter goes through daily.

BTW, the Journal Star used “North Valley” to describe a part of Peoria that real Peorians call “Averyville.”

» Woman reports Wednesday attack by females in North Valley

The woman told police was walking through the intersection of Northeast Madison Avenue and Park Avenue at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when three women reportedly ran up to her and struck her head with an unknown object. She fell down and saw the three females run away in an unknown direction.

BTW: This happened in Averyville.

It wasn’t exactly “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”

» Change150 president Jim Powell taking his kids out of Peoria District 150

Jim Powell will remain as president of the citizens’ group that seeks to change Peoria’s public school system from the top down. But he and his wife, Stephanie, plan to send their two sons to Peoria Christian School for the coming school year.

Powell announced the decision earlier this month on Change150’s website in a post headlined “What I love about PSD 150.”

After a stressful year, he said his family must do what’s best for their kids. The stress includes an incident in which Stephanie Powell was barred from school property without an appointment after an encounter with District 150 Superintendent Grenita Lathan last December. The order was lifted later.

More broadly, the chaos at the top, Powell said, referring to Lathan’s leadership, particularly the constant turnover in principals, funnels to teachers and classrooms.

Really? They’re upset about principal turnover? The only time I paid any attention to who was principal at any public school I ever attended was when the teacher would send me to the office for swats.

All I know about the principal situation was that during the administration of Ken Hinton, the loyal opposition claimed that the principals and administrators were all entrenched minions of Ken Hinton and ought to be removed. Then Lathan came along, started removing principals and the battle cry became: “OMG! They are moving MY favorite principal! Stop them!”

I think this couple will last at Christian school parents for maybe a year or two before they yank their kids out for home tutoring.

Holy crap! EIGHT stories on PJStar’s front page are Peoria-based

At least that’s how it looks right now at 10:51 p.m. Friday. Give it a couple of hours, and I’m sure they will f*ck it up with wire stories that I can get anywhere. Here are two that I found especially interesting.

» City attorney both team player and umpire

Don Leist has spent more of his career working in Chicago’s collar counties. I’m sure he’s well versed in the sleazy politics of the collar counties. He’s go far in Peoria. he might even teach the rubes here in P-town a few rules about how the game is played.

» District 150’s first chief legal officer gets down to business

District 150 is too stupid to realize that the way to avoid lawsuits over Freedom of Information Act requests is to just simply turn over the documents people ask for. And because they are too stupid to realize this, they hired THIS guy. For $150,000 a year. Here’s a clue: Do not require every f*cking FOIA request be reviewed by an attorney. 

Faced with criticism from the public, District 150 decides to limit criticism from the public (and the JS limits its coverage to three paragraphs)

» District 150 School Board meeting fields concerns about public comments, votes on superintendent’s pay increase

Under most circumstances, a grant proposal requiring Peoria School District 150 to provide education on birth control and to address high rates of sexually transmitted diseases among high school students would have been the hottest topic at a School Board meeting.

But the presentation on the plan at Monday’s board meeting received scant attention, overshadowed by audience concerns about the board’s plans to limit public comments to three minutes a person — and a board member’s concerns about Superintendent Grenita Lathan’s salary increase.

In the end, board member Rick Cloyd was the only member to vote against a two percent pay increase for Lathan, raising her base salary to $207,060. Board member Chris Crawford was the lone vote against a compromise that would reduce public comments from five minutes to three minutes at regular meetings.

Bah. It’s one thing to go about the business of governance not giving a rat’s ass what your critics in the public are saying — right or wrong. It’s quite another to go about the business of governance while using your power to limit their speech. I’ve attended school board meetings where the critics were absolutely correct an on point. They were using the public comment section EXACTLY the way people are supposed to in a democracy.

Naturally, the board members ignored everything that was said, except for the snotty comments made by board members. And the Journal Star didn’t print any of it. Except for these three generic paragraphs, they didn’t print ANY comments from the public THIS time, nor did they print any comments from any board member in support of limiting free speech.

No to get that part of the story, you will have to go to Peoria Story to read Elaine Hopkins fairly exhaustive report.

Eminent domain for new school site? No problem

District 150 may have to use eminent domain to get all the property it needs to begin construction of a new Glen Oak School site. It seems some of the people who own homes there don’t want to move for the price being offered.

My feelings on eminent domain on well-established. I’m opposed to using eminent domain to clear the land so some developer can build shopping centers and ball parks. Too many municipalities, including Peoria, confuse projects for “public use” with “private use” that happens to have its hands in the public’s collective wallet.

This new school is definitely public use. All we can do is insist the district give a reasonable price for the property. Without knowing all the numbers — funny how the Journal Star doesn’t mention asking prices and or offers — I can’t tell whether the district is low-balling these guy or whether they are asking too much.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to expect that when the government takes their home, they ought to be able to afford a house of the same size and condition, even if that means more than “fair market value.”