Kalamazoo, MI- January 13, 2022, was the first Kalamazoo Public School Board Meeting of the year. The first order of business for the Board was to elect the President and Vice President. Once President Sholler-Barber and Trustee Harrison were unanimously voted to stay in their current roles, the meeting went on. A father of a KPS student was present to voice is dismay at the lack of training that KPS employees have breaking up student fights at school. His daughter suffering a concussion and no longer wanting to attend her school.
Others in attendance used their public speaking time to voice continued concern of rising COVID cases and lack of transparency with rate of exposure numbers. Public comments to KPS BOARD
Communities all over the nation are divided on continuing to stay in person or go virtual. In 2020 PACCT BOARD worked in solidarity with Demand Safe Schools, National Day of Resistance.
(1) No reopening until the scientific data supports it
(2) Police-free schools
(3) All schools must be supported to function as community schools with adequate numbers of counselors and nurses
(4) Safe conditions including lower class sizes, PPE, cleaning, testing, and other key protocols
(5) Equitable access to online learning
(6) Support for our communities and families, including moratorium on evictions/foreclosures, providing direct cash assistance to those not able to work or who are unemployed, and other critical social needs
(7) Moratorium on new charter or voucher programs
(8) Massive infusion of federal money to support the reopening funded by taxing the billionaires and Wall Street
We are grateful to those students who demonstrated courage in meeting with us to share their experiences in the school system here at their high school (Loy Norrix, Kalamazoo Public School system).
Their platform is to make demands for the administration to acknowledge and to stop dismissing the lack of safe protocols being enforced to reduce COVID transmission, the lack of transparent data regarding transmission or a way to measure this at the school, lack of free tests available, or requiring students regardless of vaccination status to be tested when having symptoms or when being exposed to those who are positive in order to stay in school.
They also were honest that culture of enhanced police presence and “force” exists there, including measures common in S2PP (school-to-prison pipeline) models, which is a violent conditioning of students that prepares them in school to behave and respond to stimuli in ways they would experience it in prison, and uses punitive measures to create a hostile environment in school.
The reported tensions between the students and the administration have caused students to feel they don’t have any other choice for their own safety and for the safety of BIPOC students.
They request community support for their attempt to reach administrative attention and serve their demands for a Safe School for All.
There is no ability to have a return to normal pre-pandemic, and they deserve to have their needs seen and accommodated.
Some have offered to bring water, extra masks, and amplifying devices.
Let us gather in support of the youth and as responsible partners in the safety of our families who are impacted by COVID and racist practices in our school system.
Join PACCT at the Theatre!They have purchased 8 pairs of tickets to Face Off Theatre Company‘s production of PIPELINE on Saturday night (July 17th) at 7:30 pm to share with our friends and followers! Here’s how you can enter to win a pair: FIRST, “Follow” PACCT Board here on Facebook. Once you’ve done that, leave a comment here on this post with your answer to this question: How many times (approximately) this month have you heard or seen the phrase “School to Prison Pipeline”? Drawing closes at 5 pm Thursday, July 15. WINNERS WILL BE SELECTED AT RANDOM and announced here at 7 and notified via messenger to arrange to have tickets delivered.
Message from Statewide organization Michigan Liberation
Michigan Liberation friends & families have crafted a non-exhaustive list of demand elected officials in the position of power during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan Liberation organizers are demanding crisis protection for vulnerable populations and prevent the spread of the virus due to overcrowded conditions in Michigan state prisons and jails.
The grassroots organization recommends the following types of changes to be implemented by our Governor, legislature, sheriffs, prosecutors, and judges. Also demanding the immediate release from prison and jails for vulnerable populations, limiting arrests and warrants for low-level offenses so people don’t live in a higher state of fear, suspend criminal charges that can serve a more severe life-altering burden, and relief and care for our incarcerated loved ones. To find out more about the petition and details of the demands use the link below.
kalamazoo Public Schools Board Trustees superintendent search is well underway and the Board will be preparing for the first round of candidates submitted by MASB, the search firm hired to scout perspective candidates for the district. All meetings are open to the public.
The Administration Building is located at 1220 Howard Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Special Board meeting of the Board of Trustees regarding the superintendent search
at 6:15 p.m. on the following dates and locations:
January 16, 2020 – West Main School Professional Development Center – Workshop for Trustees to prepare for video interviews
January 28, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Board Workshop viewing of first round video interviews
February 5, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Second Round Interviews
February 6, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Second Round Interviews
February 18, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Finalists interviews
February 19, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Finalists interviews (possible board decision date)
February 25, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – alternate board decision date
Kalamazoo, MI – First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo, MI is the current host site for ProKazoo’s monthly meetings. Local grassroots organizers and community advocates presented their work with the goals of connecting allies with marginalized communities in Kalamazoo County. Local community leaders, Prosecuting Attorney, Jeff Gettings, Kalamazoo County Commissioner, Julie Rogers and Sherine Miller, Kalamazoo Charter Township Treasurer, were among those present to hear from local activists and organizers. Gwendolyn Hooker, Co-Founder of JABS (Justice Against Bullying in Schools) shared that Michigan ranks number one in the nation for bullying in school. Not isolated to Kalamazoo, bullying is a huge problem for youth, especially ages, 6 to 12 years old. October is national bullying month and JABS will have announcements of their next events coming up. Dr. Strick Strickland, Interim President of the Metropolitan Branch of the NAACP, explained his involvement with the Citizen Public Safety Review and Appeal Board. The members are appointed by Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema and serve two-year terms. The goal of the CPSRAB is to review complaints citizens have filed against the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and are unsatisfied with the result. If a citizen wishes to appeal this decision, it is reviewed by Ristema with input from the review board. Lead organizer for SEE Change, Elisheva T. Johnson spoke in detail and passion, the construct of the “School to Prison Pipeline”. Racism, a social construct that is invisible, targets African-Americans and youth of color, especially males. Recent data show that K-12 students are 3.8 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as white students. Johnson also shared that there is a lack of transparency between the school and parents and many of youth are “medicated and separated”.
Kelli Redman, the Restorative Justice Program Manager from Gryphon Place, shared out with the group, a presentation outlining the services that some KPS buildings have access too. Outreach to all KPS buildings is a discussion that is in the works. Amanda Miller, current KEA President shared insight on whats called a “bargaining crisis”. Negotiations stalled for KPS teachers and KPS Board on step raises and transparency. KPS teachers are asking for smaller class sizes and a proposed letter of agreement. Miller also urged members of the community to run for school board as two seats will be available December 2018. Ed Genesis, Rapper and community organizer shared first hand his experience going through the “school to prison pipeline” and his transformation and success story. The meeting concluded with a Know Your Rights Panel, consisting of SEE Change advocates answered questions from the audience. SEE Change is planning to Know Your Rights Workshop for parents, caregivers, and students, who wish to have additional support navigating through the educational system.
Kalamazoo, MI- Prior to the start of the regularly scheduled Kalamazoo School Board, dozens of teachers, parents and community members were seen holding signs protesting outside the administration building. Standing room only, recognizing area students for their athletic achievements. The meeting’s priority for many in attendance, t step raises for teachers after one year of service. KEA, President, Amanda Miller states, “the other way teachers receive compensation increases are when we bargain an increase on the step schedule. The money budgeted doesn’t even get us to the step that teachers earn for last year’s service”.
A very emotionally charged meeting, parents and former KPS students shared their experiences of support from a KPS teacher that “took that extra time” or provide resources to them that they were not able to get on their own at the time. Teachers current and retired shared emotionally charged stories as well. Students that were able to move past a barrier or challenge in their lives and contributing part success to the dedication of KPS teachers.
George White, Lead parent advocate for SEE Change a local group from Kalamazoo, states, “It appears there was an agreement in principle to a 2.2 percent step increase for teachers this coming school semester. Recruiting and retaining quality teachers depends on stability/dependability of employment and step increases after their first year to assure that teachers feel valued and are able to support their families”.
White has met with many KPS parents and working with them to “navigate” through the “chain of commands”. In addition, White adds, “80 new teachers last year aided by a very high turnover ratio in Kalamazoo Public Schools. Kalamazoo Public Schools enrollment is thriving/growing over the last 10 years and students received an increase in per pupil funding this school year. It is no secret the school board has never met with teachers and this action serves to even deepen the rift. Our pupils deserve a school board that visits the schools and talks to the students/teachers and places the value where it belongs”.
The next KPS school board is scheduled for August 31, 2017, at 7 pm. The administration building is located 1220 Howard Street.
Kalamazoo, MI- SEE Change, a parent/student advocacy group based in Kalamazoo held an open community speak out to hear concerns of parents, students as well as educators within the KPS school district. Many families seeking educational supports for their student shared similar stories of challenging progress toward successful resolutions.
A few KPS board members were present as well and made themselves available to parents to answer questions they may have. SEE Change is collaborating with similar organizations in Michigan to provide advocacy to parents, caregivers, and students their rights to “due process” and rights.
SEE Change plans on conducting workshops and trainings throughout the year. For more information on what this group is doing, visit them on social media
Kalamazoo, MI- S.E.E Change (Social Economic and Educational Change) a group of parent advocates affiliated with Michigan United and JABS (Justice Against Bullying @ School) attended Thursdays school board
meeting to express concerns about student bullying and physical restraint of students (By staff) that have lead to cuts, bruises, muscle strains, and a concussion in the case of one student. S.E.E Change parents also expressed concerns with segregation (alternative schools) of minority students and medicating of students with disabilities.
Earl Moore spoke of an SWIS report initiated by the schools that characterized his son’s behavior in criminal terms and the report follows his son wherever he goes. Earl also spoke of his son being bullied, which lead to a change in his son’s behavior, and the behavior change leads to physical restraint (by staff) of his son on numerous occasions and his son being suspended from school in excess of 30 days. Earl also commented that “The school refused to allow my son to come back to school unless he took medication”.
Gwendolyn Hooker spoke of the brutal multiple assaults upon her granddaughter (Justyce) at the hands of two attackers. She also spoke of the seeming lack of concern from the district in addressing the issue of the assault of Justyce and other bullied students in the district.
Tammie Woods spoke of her son’s battles with depression and anxiety after multiple restraints resulted in a concussion, cuts, and his arm being twisted., Tammie also spoke of the numerous services she pursued at SLD Read/WMU to help him with his reading, services that the school should have provided but she could not get any assistance and now SLD read Director has said her child does not qualify for SLD Read services.
George White lead advocate spoke about bullying and the effects of bullying that can lead to depression, withdrawal, low self-esteem, poor grades, poor peer relationships, increases the drop out ratio and in rare cases can lead to death. Mr. White also commented on the need for Restorative Justice models that are gaining traction all around the country in addressing student bullying, Trauma Informed Care practices in classrooms and the need for improving student, parent, teacher relationships.
Kalamazoo School Board Meeting March 9, 2017
S.E.E Change is committed to returning to every upcoming school board meeting with more and more parents/parent advocate groups until there is the change that the parents seek. S.E.E Change will lead the discussion in the community about policy reform needed to reduce bullying, expulsions, suspensions, restraint and medication dependence. The goal is to return all of our children to mainstream classrooms. It should be noted that school board member Lauren Freedman expressed an interest in working with S.E.E Change to resolve some of the issues. Dr. Rice also indicated his willingness to meet with the group. No other board member commented or expressed an interest in meeting with the group.
It should be noted that school board member Lauren Freedman expressed an interest in working with S.E.E Change to resolve some of the issues. Dr. Rice also indicated his willingness to meet with the group. No other board member commented or expressed an interest in meeting with the group.
Kalamazoo, MI-Michigan United, a statewide organization of community members and institutions fighting for the dignity hosted a debriefing/processing dialogue for members (MU), community leaders, and community members to discuss the recent mass shootings in Kalamazoo. A “space” was created for the community to share, process, speak openly, and know that others in the community are feeling isolated, hurt, and vulnerable.
The evening opened with a prayer/poem by Archbishop Oscar Romero, “A Future Not Our Own”. The attendees were asked to break into discussion groups based on how each person identifies racially. The facilitated groups then reported out what was discussed and the other racial groups listened and gave an interpretation of what they heard from the group reporting what was discussed.
Elisheva Johnson, lead organizer for the School to Prison Pipeline Campaign at Michigan United spoke with Majyck Radio, ” We realize we have to have this conversation because the community asked for this (conversation). People didn’t know how to process the information that was being reported so close to home.” Six fatalities and two victims have a long road of recovery ahead. The outpouring of support not just from communities in Michigan. Kalamazoo is not also known as “that town” where there were mass shootings occurred. Johnson went on to say, ” A lot of people decided to repress and move on business as usual, so this space was intentional where folks could come and be brave about how this made them feel and talk about how they process things differently because of race”.
There is definitely more work that needs to be done. More open conversations are in the early stages of planning for 2016. For more information about the School to Prison Pipeline and other social justice campaigns, visit www.miunited.org