UPDATE: BAS administrators have since clarified that both special education and general education students have been involved in the classroom disruptions. Click Here

Teachers at Hawkins elementary School in Brighton showed up at the Brighton Board of Education meeting en masse Tuesday night to complain that the classroom atmosphere has become so disruptive that it’s become difficult for them to do their jobs as teachers.

Hawkins houses many of the district’s elementary level special education students, and at times they are interspersed with general education students in the classrooms, rather than being in a separate classroom. The teachers, who have filed a formal grievance with the school district, complained that students “act out” by throwing things and being out of control. However, several parents have since contacted WHMI to say they disagree with the notion that teachers are complaining and that it would be more accurate to say the teachers are frustrated with the current situation and are asking for help. One teacher, in addressing the board, said that she can no longer tolerate the situation and will apply for a transfer at the end of the school year, and take her school-age children with her.

A couple of parents who addressed the board also said their children would not be attending Hawkins this fall due to all the classroom disruptions. One teacher told the board that, even with a teacher and two para-pros in the classroom, there is a lack of order. Part of the problem may lie with a relatively recent law that states school personnel cannot touch a student, which makes it almost impossible to impose discipline on students with behavioral problems. The only exception to the law is if the student becomes a danger to himself or others.

One parent said the frequent disruptions can result in 2-3 classroom evacuations a day, which cuts into students’ instructional time. We asked Superintendent Greg Gray to comment on the formal grievance, and he replied that while he can’t comment at this time, the results will be made public within the next month.

The Board of Education, meanwhile, conducted its second closed door session of the evening at the end of the regular session to discuss the status of bargaining with the Brighton Education Association, the bargaining unit for about 325 district teachers. Earlier, during the open session, the board approved the hiring of Sharon Irvine, the Assistant Superintendent of the Warren Consolidated School District, as assistant superintendent for labor relations and personnel, who Gray says will be an integral part of the union negotiations process when she comes on board July 1st.