Santa Monica High School

April 21, 2014

Dear Ms. Banks @ LA Times

 Thank you for the all-around balanced reporting in your April 11th article on the incident at Santa Monica High School involving Mr. Black, a student, and the cancer of drug dealing on campus and in the classroom.


However, I must take issue with the letter and spirit of your summary paragraph that recommends more teacher training as the solution, "We need to train and trust teachers to manage their classrooms."


You ignored the overwhelmingly dysfunctional role that the District Administration played and too often plays in this and other campus incidents.


Did you ask yourself how a teacher is supposed to effectively manage their classroom, with or without this amorphous training that you suggest, while being undermined by the very people who are supposed to be supporting him/her?


As I followed this incident, both in the papers and online, it seemed crystal clear to me that whatever the content of the further "Training" that you recommend for teachers – It would be far more useful if applied to the District Staff. You know, the ones charged with supporting the teacher in the classroom by facilitating his/her delivery of their assigned educational goals.


How outrageous that the Superintendent of The District called this Violent Drug Dealer's family and apologized for Mr. Black's "Alarming" actions in defending himself and his classroom from direct assault by their son. Did Ms. Lyon even consider, until it blew up in her face, contacting the classroom teacher to ask about the particulars of the incident before jumping to a prejudiced opinion?


When a teacher signs a contract to work for The District, do they give up their right to self-defense? Do teachers give up their constitutional right to be considered, "Innocent until proven guilty," when they step into a classroom? 


In my opinion, this response displays such an appalling lack of sound judgment, that Ms. Lyons’ contract as Superintendent of SMMUSD should be reconsidered. Sometimes an administrator can sit in the District Office too long and lose touch with what is really going on in the District’s classrooms.


When was the last time that she walked the halls, visited classrooms, and talked with teachers about how things are going, and most importantly, what can I do better to help you accomplish your mission?


Jack Casey

Classroom Teacher

SMMUSD, 1977-78 ‘till 2007-08

Renee Dale April 23, 2014 at 09:03 AM
I agree With Mr Casey! The training needs to be higher up !Ms Lyons acted poorly, you get facts before you try to bring a good teacher down! S Monica teachers are the best , My daughter goes to Lincoln! Renee Dale Parent SMMUSD!
Renee Dale April 23, 2014 at 09:04 AM
Way before this happened I said she was the wrong fit for SMMUSD! She needs to be replaced!
mathew millen April 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM
The problem is the school board. It is controlled by candidates supported by Santa Monicans for Renters Rights. The criteria for endorsement by SMRR is support for building low income rental housing and funding for regional social service programs. Management or financial backgrounds are not relevant. We need to start by replacing the School Board
mimi April 23, 2014 at 01:57 PM
This entire incident is unfortunate and reflects poor judgement on everyone's part. Thankfully, no one was killed or seriously injured. Instead of continuing to point fingers, it's time to figure out the best protocol for removing disruptive students from the classroom without engaging in combat. At the start of each school year each student, teacher, parent and all school employees on every level must receive a copy of the protocol to read and sign. Failure to sign and/or comply----- you are out on your ass. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $100.


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