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NEW BERLIN - Further examples have emerged about what kind of elementary school violence that parents were talking about when they appealed to the school board last month to do something about it. 

About 30 parents of children at Orchard Lane Elementary School, 2015 S. Sunnyslope Road, appealed to the school board in a letter, presented June 12, that said violence occurred almost daily on the playground, on school buses and in classrooms.

Since then, two more parents came to the board describing what they see happening at the school.

Kicked and bitten

One said her daughter was repeatedly kicked and bitten on the playground last year, even after appealing to teaches supervising the playground.

The incidents at the time created "an apathetic attitude" from her daughter, said the child's mother, Jeannine Davis, one of the parents who signed the letter.

Davis said her daughter essentially reasoned " 'I'm going to get kicked, I'm going to get bit. No one is going to do anything about it, so why even go to the teachers.' That is literally what she told me."

The kicking and biting were in the previous 2015-16 school year. Since then, the child has received counseling, and the problem has cleared up, Davis acknowledged.

Davis said she discussed the incidents with the principal, who said she hadn't seen anything about them in the playground log. The principal said she would have the teachers watch on the playground and advised that her child try again to alert them of incidents.

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A student in her daughter's class is prone to violent fits of rage that result in such things as throwing chairs, Davis said.

One day her daughter and other students could see the rage coming on and warned a student near the one losing control to move or he would be hurt, she said. As it happens, the kids were right, Davis said after the meeting.

But her point to the school board was that these outbursts must have been frequent for the other children to be able to see them coming.

That is not a learning environment, she said.

The only incident Davis mentioned this last year affecting her daughter was of a boy who allegedly took off his clothes and ran through the playground "buck naked."

"That would be a felony if it were an adult," Davis said, yet no parent of students witnessing the incident were notified, she added.

She has had children at Orchard Lane for 10 years, and has seen discipline and accountability for actions go downhill, Davis said after the meeting.

Interrupted lessons

Another parent, Laurel Blinka, told the school board how her second-grader's teacher had to frequently stop lessons to deal with bad behavior.

"This teacher had control," was an excellent teacher, but bad behavior interrupted good teaching, Blinka said. 

As a writing assignment as to how she would like to make school better, her daughter wrote if she were in charge there would be fewer instances of stopping lessons, fewer fights and more learning, Blinka said.

She was also critical of the "think sheets" that elementary students get for inappropriate conduct. Blinka reported that her eighth-grader said students hold contests to see who can get the most think sheets, since there are no consequences for not turning them in.

What Blinka called "an example of the deteriorating discipline," she told of how a child who had too many think sheets to go on a recent field trip was allowed to go anyway. Children on the bus spoke up, but the boy was not kept off the bus, Blinka said.

Thoughtful effort

But Superintendent Joe Garza said in an email interview that think sheets serve a purpose.

Students receiving think sheets are supposed to reflect about what they did, Garza said.  

"The use of think sheets is a positive behavior strategy used to get students to think about their actions and how to better manage situations in the future," he said.

"When think sheets are sent home, parents are encouraged to ask their child why he or she got it and how they can avoid getting another one," Garza explained.

As for the student who took a field trip despite a high number of think sheets, Garza said Orchard Lane administrators' recollection was that a few students were held back from the trip because of poor behavior.

"If a student went that shouldn’t have gone, it’s possible it was simply a mistake," he said.

To date, the school board has taken any action on the parents' letters, though school officials promised all concerns are being addressed.

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