Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - October 3, 2008

In this Issue:

(Click on article
to read more)

Regional discussions on Transportation Co-op continue
Superintendent Rich Carter reported to school board members at Tuesday’s school board meeting he is planning to visit with regional school district superintendents and school board members beginning next week to further discuss options for joining a Walla Walla coordinated Transportation Cooperative for bus maintenance and service.

Carter said he will meet during their regularly scheduled school board meetings to provide them more details about this service designed to save their districts thousands of dollars on bus repairs and upkeep. Carter organized a similar operation in his last school district in White Salmon, WA. In addition to lower costs for service and parts for Walla Walla buses, Carter said our community gets the added benefit of having state dollars pay for 90 percent of the facility and equipment needed to run the operation.

Carter reported some districts have concerns, which he plans to address. One concern is committing to the program for 10 years. Another concern is distance. Carter said he plans to discuss possibilities for a mobile repair unit and a shuttle service for bus drivers. He said he is asking for their commitment this month to meet an upcoming state deadline to submit the proposal for funding.

Walla Walla first district in Eastern Washington to develop student threat assessment program
This year, Walla Walla Public Schools became the first school district in Eastern Washington to develop a comprehensive Student Safety Assessment Team model. This model utilizes a team approach, including drawing upon community experts, to assess potential school threats.

The process requires building level teams to assess and screen the potential threats using a proven approach and standardized documentation forms. If the building level team needs additional support, the situation is then sent on to the district level team for help. Information sharing is a key component of this program.

The Student Safety Assessment Team model is based on best practices and is endorsed nationally by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Secret Service and at the state level by OSPI and ESD 123.

This week the district conducted a districtwide training designed to teach school and district level teams how to use the protocols. Martin Speckmaier, a retired law enforcement veteran and school safety expert who specializes in the development and training of student threat assessment teams for schools, campuses, districts, and school communities, led the training.

Special thanks to ESD 123 for granting Walla Walla Public Schools funds for this training and the required supporting materials. The training was very successful. Also thanks to Assistant Personnel Director Liz Campeau for providing the leadership for this valuable program.

The establishment of the Student Safety Assessment Team model is aligned with the core elements of the district’s Safe and Civil Schools program: prevention, crisis management and crisis recovery.

Next steps: School teams will get familiar with the process by conducting mock case studies using the forms and screening protocols. We will also have the support of Martin Speckmaier as needed. Some schools have already used this process and have reported it is very helpful. It is our goal that all district schools teams will be capable of using this process soon.

The Safe School Initiative (U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Secret Service) recommended in 2002 and 2004 that schools establish a team process with community stakeholders to address persons who make or pose threats of serious violence. The objectives of a threat assessment team are:

1) Assess threats of potentially harmful or lethal behavior and determine the level of concern and action required.
- Some people make threats but don’t pose a threat
- Some people make threats and actually do pose a threat
- Some people never make a threat but do pose a threat

2) Organize resources and strategies to manage situations involving persons who pose a threat to other students and/or staff.

3) Maintain a sense of safety. Psychological safety among our students, teachers, and staff is essential.

A school community threat assessment team is an integrated systems approach to managing situations that make and/or pose threats of violence. This collaborative, multi-disciplinary team uses a four pronged approach to identify and then increase protective factors, as well as identify and then work to remove risk factors. This four pronged approach looks at personality factors, social dynamics, family dynamics, and school climate. Expertise in Special Education and Special Needs is also necessary to address any medical, developmental, and or behavior disorders.

The threat assessment team process utilizes educators, mental health specialists and hand selected law enforcement personnel.
· Educator has knowledge of schools and Special Education needs and laws (ADA, IDEA, 504, IEP, etc)
· Mental Health Specialist is able to address mental health issues
· Law Enforcement member has ability to determine whether a crime has been committed and brings a healthy skepticism to the table

The goal of this process is to share crucial information so that school administrators no longer have to make decisions on their own about how to handle a threatening situation. FERPA regulations allow for the sharing of important information between the above listed entities if the school has a formalized threat assessment team process in place.

School Threat Assessment Teams do not engage in predictive profiling nor do they predict the future. They are a collaboration of community stakeholders with protective responsibilities working together, instead of isolation, to make schools safer.

Martin Speckmaier, School Safety Consultant is a law enforcement veteran and school safety expert who specializes in the development and training of student threat assessment teams for schools, campuses, districts, and school communities. Schools consult with Speckmaier to identify the strengths and unique needs of their community and facilitate the implementation of an effective threat assessment team process. The successful threat assessment teams Speckmaier has created have effectively re-connected disenfranchised students, implemented a standardized student safety assessment process and provided an important part of a comprehensive violence prevention and reduction program for their school district.

Son of the late Walla Walla High School teacher Dave Meyer named Homecoming King
Walla Walla High School Seniors Kenny Meyer and Mia Marrero were crowned homecoming king and queen. Meyer is the son of legendary Wa-Hi teacher and coach Dave Meyer who passed away after a long battle with cancer in 2005. Dave Meyer was named Walla Walla High School Homecoming King in 1980.


Breaking poverty barriers focus of 5th Children’s Forum -- The Valley’s Children 2008

Sunday, October 19
Free Family Night
4:30-7:00 pm
St. Patrick’s Church • Blanchet Hall • 408 W Poplar
Free dinner & children’s activities
Special Guest:
Dr. Donna Beegle (Featured in an upcoming PBS documentary titled: “Invisible Nation”)

Monday, October 20
8:30-4:30 pm
Registration begins at 8:00 am
Whitman College • Olin Hall

Keynote Speaker: Laura Porter, Staff Director Washington State Family Policy Council
• “The Dynamics of Thriving”
• “Our Valley’s Children 2008"
A Review of the Data and Break-Out Sessions

“Call to Action” -- Working Lunch
Sandwich Buffet Provided
Please RSVP for lunch 529-2130 • $5.00 fee

Special Presentation
1:30 – 4:30 pm
Reid Campus Center Ballroom • Whitman College
• Dr. Donna Beegle: “Seminar on Poverty: Breaking Barriers – Concrete Tools for Working with People in Poverty Working

Keynote Address:
7:30 pm
Whitman College • Maxey Hall
Dr. Donna Beegle: “Freedom From Economic Discrimination: Living in Poverty in a Changing Economy”


Blue Ridge teacher competes in Portland Marathon
Congratulations to Blue Ridge Elementary 5th grade teacher Amy Hartford for finishing in the top third in the recent Portland Marathon. Hartford maintained about a 10:30 pace for 26 miles and finished the marathon in 4:30. She finished 1262 out of 3901 for all women which placed her in the top third, and she finished 180 out of 526 for women in the 40-44 age bracket.

Sharpstein teacher named state outreach coordinator
Sharpstein Elementary Explorers Program teacher Mary Cortinas was recently selected to be the Education Outreach Coordinator for Washington state. Cortinas will partcipate in a four day training put on by National Geographic as part of the program. She said she will learn more details about this position at the upcoming training. Good luck and thanks for representing Walla Walla Public Schools at the state level.


Chamber Singers to perform at Westminster Woods Camp
Walla Walla High School Chambers Singers will perform at the Westminster Woods Camp in Meacham, Oregon, October 18 to help inaugurate the camp’s new chapel. The Chamber Singers use this camp for their annual retreat every year and were selected to be the first group to perform at the new chapel.

Blue Ridge students learn how to S.O.A.R.
Blue Ridge staff and students presented to school board members Tuesday night on the school’s S.O.A.R. program. S.O.A.R. = S - Solve Problems; O - Outstanding Decision Making; A - Academic Excellence; R - Be Respectful.

Last year Blue Ridge Elementary staff set out to create a more positive school climate by establishing the Soaring Eagle Program. This program rewards students for making good choices, academic performance and peer leadership.

“We let the students know that we value each of them as individuals and that we take the business of educating them seriously,” Principal Connie Taylor-Randall said.

A key component of the program is self-evaluation and student reflection. Students complete an evaluation form which asks them a series of questions relating to academics, behavior and social expectations. The program hinges on consistent performance at school as students in the program are required to maintain high standards throughout the year.

“The choice to do their best academically and to behave appropriately is theirs,” Taylor-Randall said. “We find they choose to SOAR at Blue Ridge.”

How the S.O.A.R. program works...
• Each month a teacher selects a student to be considered for the program.

• Students complete self evaluations and discuss results with their teachers.

• Students meeting the goals are given an application to the program.

• Students then get signatures from school personnel.

• Once students get the signatures and meet criteria, they receive S.O.A.R. necklaces at the monthly Super Eagle Assembly.

• Each month students meeting criteria receive new beads for their necklaces and are allowed to wear them at school.

Boundary review meeting scheduled October 15
Public Meeting
- Wednesday, Oct. 15 - 7 p.m.
Prospect Point Elementary

Learn more about the Boundary Review study process and the committee’s recommendations online at www.wwps.org (A to Z section - Boundary Study).

No injuries as result of Wednesday’s school bus accident
There were no injuries reported following a school bus accident Wednesday at the corner of Fern and Chestnut. District Transportation Director Steve Olson said it appears a van ran a stop sign and struck the bus.

The accident is under investigation by the police and the Transportation Department per district emergency procedures. The bus involved was transporting students from Blue Ridge and Prospect Point. Students and the driver were checked by local emergency personnel. Another bus was dispatched to the accident site to transport these students home.

Personnel Report (from 10/7/08 school board meeting)
• New Hires
(Classified) Danielle Alaniz, Para-Educator, Wa-Hi
Machelle Leconte, Para-Educator, Edison
Dawn Moore, Para-Educator, Berney
Theresa Reiswig, Para-Educator, Prospect Point
Mickey Weber, Para-Educator, Sharpstein
Justine Benson, Para-Educator, Pioneer Middle School

• Resignations/retirements
(Classified) Derrick Conley, Intervention Specialist, Berney, one year
Yaneth Hernandez, Assistant Secretary, Blue Ridge, two months