RACINE — In a grievance filed with the Racine Unified School District administration, Mitchell Middle School staff members describe a difficult teaching/learning environment, with reports of 15 staff injured by students, including one who was stabbed by a sharp object in the hall.
The purported pandemonium is detailed in an Oct. 11 grievance filed with Unified titled “Mitchell Middle School is in Crisis.” It is signed by more than 70 Mitchell staff members and depicts a school out of control. The grievance states that it resulted from a series of “emergency meetings” on Oct. 10.
A parent of a student there obtained a copy of the grievance and posted it on Facebook on Thursday. As of Monday afternoon, it has been shared 980 times.
“Mitchell Middle School is unsafe for staff, students, parents and visitors,” the grievance begins. It continues for six pages of problems that existed as of the sixth week of school, including student assaults against teachers and other students; vandalism and destruction of school property; gang graffiti; and large classes that make discipline nearly impossible.
Mitchell, 2701 Drexel Ave., is a boundary school campus for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Angelina Cruz, president of Racine Educators United, the union that represents the district’s teachers and teachers assistants, verified that the grievance was filed with the school district.
“We are currently working through the grievance procedure,” Cruz said. She said a meeting has been set up for early December and that she was unable to elaborate on the grievances outlined in the letter because it was too premature in the process.
Many problems at Mitchell School as of Oct. 11 were categorized by groups including hallways, curriculum, office and custodial/buildings and grounds. As of when the grievance was submitted, the Mitchell staff said that in the first six weeks of the semester, the school had had:
- 800 ODRs (office discipline referrals).
- 120 out-of-school suspensions.
- 15 staff injuries by students.
- Five calls for police assistance on one day alone, Oct. 5.
- Ten students removed by police from city buses outside the school.
- Students regularly and actively resisting and fighting the police resource officer.
- Multiple assaults of students, including one hit in the head by a thrown metal stool.
In a statement Monday, Racine Unified officials said: “We received the grievance last month and are working to address the concerns shared with us. It is not accurate to assume all the statements in the grievance are true. This is part of the process the district follows in which staff members can bring concerns forward and we investigate and follow up when appropriate.”
Sometime around Oct. 19, Mitchell Principal Esteban Malacara was moved to Goodland Elementary. Julian Thomas Principal Demetri Beekman was unexpectedly transferred to Mitchell and Goodland Principal Janet Colvin took Beekman’s spot at Julian Thomas, 930 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The transfer of Beekman away from Julian Thomas led to protests at that school. It’s unclear if that move was related to the grievance that was filed.
You have free articles remaining.
The grievance’s section on hallways alone describes an out-of-control school environment, including these complaints:
Mitchell Middle has no hall monitors, as those were cut from the budget. Unsupervised students occupying the second-floor, eighth-grade hallways have smashed out window screens and have been seen sitting on window ledges with their legs hanging out of the building. Unsupervised students from the hallways enter classrooms to disturb classes and assault other students.
The grievance continues on the subject of unsupervised students that they regularly leave school and return undetected, smash out door panels, walk the halls kicking doors and yelling into rooms and hide in hallways and bathrooms during class time. In hallways and bathrooms, they also reportedly use Facebook Live, Snapchat, Instagram and other phone apps to report and broadcast their activities.
“Hallways are overcrowded with students running full speed among the staff and students,” the grievance continues. “Many people are crashed into by the runners.”
“One teacher was stabbed in the arm by a sharp object in the hallway.”
There are many more examples for the school’s hallways alone.
The grievance speaks of overstuffed classrooms, equipment shortages and failures, unfilled teaching positions and more.
At Mitchell Middle School, the main office is described in the complaint as a place of overworked staff and, sometimes, violent activity.
“The main office is often the scene of violent outbursts and open physical confrontations between students, staff and the police,” the Mitchell staff wrote. “Angry parents yell at staff.
“Teachers call the office for help, but the phone goes unanswered because the office staff is busy with other callers and the parents at the counter. Teacher calls for assistance are answered, and no one is available to come.”
The grievance continues: “Truancy letters have not gone out because there is no one to do them.”
The descriptions of vandalism of school property are listed by the dozens, portraying an environment in which students not only disrespect their surroundings but actively and daily degrade them. That includes a drinking fountain stomped off a wall by a student, dismantling of lockers and metal trim, unsupervised students “hourly” throwing food in hallway floors, walls and ceilings; condiment packets stomped in the cafeteria and hallways; and juice packs sprayed on floors.
"It is not accurate to assume all the statements in the grievance are true. This is part of the process the district follows in which staff members can bring concerns forward and we investigate and follow up when appropriate."
Racine Unified statement