Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's true - Manual Academy Principal, Kherat resigns

Of course the question is why?

Sources tell 1470 WMBD Dr. Kherat has accepted a job in the Springfield School District's Central office, where she will serve as a turnaround officer. This evening, WMBD31 reported that Kherat expressed her dislike of the the constant changes required by the turnaround process as one of her reasons to leave Manual.

The first day of school was apparently one of the last for the principal at Manual Academy.

Sharon Kherat submitted her letter of resignation on Monday, and it was accepted that night by the District 150 administration at its regularly scheduled board meeting.

Kherat announced her resignation to Manual staff on Monday, and the personnel move was posted on the District 150 web site Tuesday.

Kherat’s last day will be Sept . 9.

“It is definitely a great loss to Manual,” said Martha Ross, the School Board member who represents the Manual attendance area. “No one was any more talented or more committed to the success of our children.”

Kherat was named principal at Manual in March of 2008 by then-Superintendent Ken Hinton. She has led a restructuring of the school that included adding seventh and eighth grade academies. She also has raised the graduation rate and attendance rate in her three years at the South Peoria institution. Source

Thursday, August 11, 2011

KILLED while sleeping: 8 year old shot in the head in drive by shooting, as young'uns with guns continue to do what they like in the streets of Peoria

I can still recall Police Spokesman, Doug Burgess saying confidently on the news if you are not doing anything wrong, or hanging with the wrong people, you don't have anything to worry about.

8-year old fatally shot

An 8-year old boy is shot and killed as shots are fired at a Peoria house. Police say it happened just after 4:30 Thursday morning in the 1000 of East Behrends. Peoria police spokesman, Officer Doug Burgess, says the child was alseep in bed when the shots were fired during a drive-by shooting.

Burgess says officers are investigating whether this incident is linked to a couple of other incidents of shots fired in the 600 block of East Wilcox and the 1300 block of North North. No one was shot in those incidents.

There were several more reports of shots fired overnight starting at around 12:45 Thursday morning. Those were in the 1300 block of West Wilcox, 1400 block of West Gift and the 1800 block of North Missouri. Source

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is the SRO Program - a chance for Peoria Police to become a positive force in our schools and subsequently our Community?

In essence Carl Cannon and his Elite Team can be considered School Resource Officers...

After learning more about the School Resource Officer (SRO) program, I must admit that I agree with the move to make this change. I view it as a chance for Peoria Police to become a positive force in our community. This program can be effective, in that it will make sure that the children with problems and/or acting out will receive the interventions they need, thereby making a healthier school and community.

We have tried for generations to push those we deem undesirable aside. Now that our chickens have come home to roost, we see that out of sight out of mind does not work. The way we have been dealing with minors with problems has hurt our community greatly. It's time to start dealing with our issues and stop pushing them aside. In my opinion, this program is a step in the right direction.

The description of a School Resource Officer (SRO), from a Chapel Hill, North Carolina school: The purpose of the School Resource Officer (SRO) is to be a peace officer by maintaining order at the assigned school campus with the legal authority to arrest if required. The SRO is a resource teacher in the areas of law enforcement education that can be applied in the classroom. The SRO can also be a counselor, by listening and assisting students with various problems. This approach enables the SRO to be a positive law enforcement role model and use proactive prevention by exposing human qualities of law enforcement to our youth and give them a trustworthy adult upon whom to depend.

The SRO shall be responsible for diverting minor law enforcement infractions through school disciplinary avenues and parent counseling as opposed to sending the juvenile into the criminal court system. However, if the SRO feels that the criminal offense is serious enough to warrant action through the criminal court system, he or she will investigate and file charges against the student with local law enforcement if the charges are substantiated and filing charges is consistent with local law enforcement procedures. The SRO should follow the proper procedures to see that charges are filed and supply court personnel with complete documentation of the crime, victims, suspects, reports and other required information.

The SRO shall carry out arrest, search and seizure procedures for juveniles under the age of 16 in accordance with state and federal law. When an SRO takes a juvenile over the age of 16 into custody, he/she shall follow the same course of action as set forth for the arrest of adults.

The SRO investigates criminal activity committed on school property or involving students assigned to the officer’s school. SROs shall not be utilized as school disciplinarians. However, they may assist school administrators with these duties as requested. The assistance may include searching and seizing students with reasonable suspicion only when requested by school officials, unless search and seizure is otherwise authorized by law.

An SRO is expected to handle all situations professionally and ethically. Student information may be obtained from a variety of sources and the SRO is expected to use sound professional judgment in determining what information they should share or act upon.

The local police departments require an SRO to wear a full police department uniform including all required equipment. On some occasions, with approval of their police department supervisor, it may be appropriate to wear plain clothes attire. The SRO shall have in his/her possession, at all times, department issued identification and badge, a fully loaded firearm, handheld radio, pager, handcuffs and all necessary keys to the officer’s assigned school. The required equipment may include a taser.

When performing security functions at school events and, as circumstances dictate, the officers shall wear appropriate uniform or plain clothes attire.

It is a goal of our School Resource Officers to make sure that the students feel protected and also that students learn there are consequences for their actions. We truly want the students and the community to feel secure in their schools.

If we care enough to complain, we owe it to ourselves and our community to do some research:

Officer Collins where for art thou?

While we have yet to hear from Chief Security Officer, Greg Collins (a/ka/ Chief SRO), as to whether he agrees with the Labor Representative for the Policemen’s Benevolent Labor Committee, that District 150 schools cannot be safe under the watch of School Resource Officers (SROs), District 150 Superintendent of Schools has gone on record to assure people that once August 22nd rolls around, the schools will be safe.

Dist. 150 School Resource Officers discussed
Peoria District 150 Superintendent Grenita Lathan once again addresses the recent policy revision renaming school security officers as School Resource Officers. Another major change prohibits those officers from carrying their service weapons when they are off duty.

"We are not eliminating School Resource Officers from the district or from our buildings," says Lathan. "They have been hired to serve and protect our students, our staff and our employees."

Lathan says while the officers are trained and able to make an arrest, Lathan says the district wants to make sure the incidents that necessitate an arrest are consistent district wide.

"We want to make sure when students are arrested they are not 14 and 15 years old being arrested for something that can be considered a felony and can haunt them for the rest of their lives," Lathan explains.

Lathan says, "They are students, they are children and sometimes they make mistakes."

Lathan says no work is being shifted to the Peoria Police Department. Lathan says School Resource Officers will still have the authority to make an arrest on school property. But, Lathan says, there will now be greater communication between the Sergeant on duty and the building principal. Source

Monday, August 8, 2011

How is it that Peoria appears to be filled with young'uns with guns?

When are we going to question how there are so many guns on the streets of Peoria? There appears to be a never ending gun supplier out there somewhere. When are we doing to deal with who is responsible? Our children are being shot and/or killed every day in Peoria. Instead of dealing with the issue, sometimes it appears as if the people who run this little town want to keep shootings under wraps (as much as possible).

By the way, there was a shooting at Wisconsin and Nebraska on Sunday at around 8:30, that has yet to be reported on by the mainstream media.

On another matter (related to young'uns with guns) I got together with the fam to play cards Saturday night. Usually the teenagers are not around, but this time my nephew was. When I asked him what was up, he said he doesn't like going out anymore, all people ever want to do is fight or talk about fights. I saw nephew again on Sunday, asked him what was up and he informed me his friend was shot at the roller skating rink. His friend is doing okay, but "he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time".

Two People Shot, One Beaten at Mossville Skating Rink Around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the Peoria County Sheriff's Office responded to reports of multiple shots fired at the Peoria Palace Skating Rink in Mossville. Authorities say callers also reported a fight in progress.

When they arrived, sheriff's deputies found a large crowd and about 100 cars fleeing the scene. Amongst the crowd were two victims with non life-threatening gunshot wounds, and the victim of a beating.

All three victims were juveniles. Their identities are not being released. The investigation is ongoing. Source

I'm thinking nephew is going to pass on this:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Should the BOE give Dr. Lathan a $10,000 bonus?

I guess it would depend up on if she met the goals that were set previously by the board. In early July, WMBD 31 obtained part of Dr. Lathan's contract, after filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA revealed:

"...the superintendent must evaluate student performance on standardized tests, curriculum, and attendance and drop-out rates.

The district's school board made changes to the contract at its meeting last month. At the time, the district would not release what specific changes were made.

She must also report to the school board and make any changes she sees necessary. The report must include goal and student achievements required by school code."

Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Grenita Lathan may be awarded $10,000 by the school board. Lathan's contract allows for a performance bonus of up to $10,000 each year based on goals agreed to between the superintendent and the board. The board Monday is being asked to approve the maximum bonus for the 2010-2011 school year. Lathan makes a base salary of $198,000 a year. Source

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The disservice that has been done to parents of District 150 Schools

Imagine if the school board started a letter writing campaign, to ask parents to demand that police make sure that their children are safe on the streets as they travel back and forth to school and once they reached their neighborhoods. I bet the police union wouldn't like that.

Today, the Labor Representative for the Policemen’s Benevolent Labor Committee sent a letter into the Peoria Chronicle to urge citizens to do the following:
"... contact each school board member and oppose any action that would diminish the authority of the campus police department and urge them to improve the safety in the learning environment."
I find this dissension among agencies charged with the well being of our children very concerning, and I really wish that it could have been resolved in planning meetings - not aired out in a letter sent to local blog.

When August 22 rolls around and the SROs are in place, how can we feel that our students and teachers will be safe, when the Leader of the Policeman's Benevolent Labor Committee said they won't be?

I can't help but to wonder what is the opinion of Chief Security Officer, Greg Collins on this issue. Surely he is involved in the planning meetings. Considering he came on board recently - more than likely he understood the move to the SRO program (I would hope he did at least).

The District needs to do a public relations push ASAP, to make sure that the community understands the SRO program; and more importantly, so that parents will know that their children WILL be safe when August 22nd rolls around and they return to school.

As a parent, I would like to see the District clarify publicly how the program will work AND the chief security officer needs to reassure us that he trusts what is happening and is a part of the plan to make sure it works. Parents deserve to get some type of reassurance at this point.

Meet District 150's new Chief Turnaround Officer

At the July 25, 2011, board meeting, the Board of Education approved the contract for the new position of Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO).

A generic job description for a CTO:
The chief turnaround officer will direct and coordinate academic and fiscal activities working in concert with the administrative team, school turnaround officers, and community partners, to improve student achievement. Manage the operational plans related to the work being done in the district’s lower-performing schools through the School Imporvement Grant. Duties also include monitoring turnaround school performance data, aligning resources with the district’s education plan and establishing early warning systems to ensure compliance with state and school board standards. In identifying new targets and shared strategies, the CTO will also be establishing and implementing strategies that provide for increased learning time and ongoing mechanisms for family and community engagement among other duties related to accountability.

I am Geraldine (Gerri) Russ Cox. I am a native of North Carolina. I grew up in the small Eastern North Carolina town of Smithfield, North Carolina. I later attended NC A&T State University where I earned both my bachelor’s and master degree. I also attended Gardner Webb University where I earned a Master degree of Educational Administration.

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother of three. My husband and I live in Rural Hall, NC with my mother and aunt. We also share our home with “Teddy Bear Cox” our 40lb. Chow dog.

It has been my pleasure to be an educator for almost 30 years. Helping children learn is my passion and life! I believe given Phenomenal effort success is enviable.

Campus police need to be team players

In my opinion, the pjstar did District 150 AND the general public a disservice when they ran the article on the campus police issue, without attempting to educate the public on the role of school resource officers in school turnaround. I mean really, are they trying to scare people, or what? I'm not an expert on what they do over on Wisconsin Ave., by any means, however, I do try to research and stay abreast of what is happening with the social giant that is the school turnaround process.

Some FACTS: Schools need campus police. Our schools are in the turnaround process. The changes are going to happen - they are mandated by the Department of Education.

Since the pjstar didn't bother to provide the info on SROs, let me give it a try. District 150 appears to be in the process of developing and implementing a School Resource Officer (SRO) program:

SRO Program Development

There are numerous unique challenges associated with SRO programs. Schools can be politically charged environments. There are limited amounts of funding and resources for both the police department and school system. In addition, there may be misunderstandings or mistrust by many individuals and groups concerning police officers being assigned to schools.

1. The first step in developing an SRO program is to complete an assessment. The school district must openly assess its security needs and look at the way they currently interact with the police department. When do schools call the police for assistance? How does the school report criminal offenses that occur on school property?

2. The next step is to identify those individuals who are the stakeholders in maintaining a safe school. Students, parents, school employees, community members and the police department must be brought in to discuss options in developing a partnership between the school district and law enforcement. At this point information and research on starting an SRO program should be presented to the interested parties.

3. If the School Resource Officer Program is believed to be the best option in providing police services to the school community, a project team should be assembled. The SRO project team should consist of representatives from the school system, police department and community groups.

4. At this point of the process several key issues must be explored. Who is going to pay for the School Resource Officers? What are the standard operating procedures and policies for the SRO program? How will we introduce the SRO into the school community?

State of Illinois Awards School Improvement Grant to Peoria High School

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First look... the new Woodruff Career & Technical Center

Curious about what the former Woodruff High School (now the Woodruff Career & Technical Center) looks like? Well, be sure to catch the "Remarkable Times" program on CAPtions, on August 7th @ 5:00 p.m.

Remarkable Times is the Peoria Public Schools bi-monthly program, which focuses on issues and events in the school district.

This edition includes interviews with various principals: Cindy Clark of Richwoods; Brett Elliott of Peoria High School; Laura Rodgers of Mark Bills, who gives details on the District's new middle years and IB program; Renee Andrews of Trewyn, who discusses the ELITE addition, her staff (which includes 57 new teachers) and transitioning to a K-8 school; Diann Duke gives a first look at Woodruff and discusses the new electives; and Dr. LaToy Kennedy discusses Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) and the incentive program, which will be mandated District wide to insure that discipline policies and procedures will be consistent throughout the District.

Remarkable Times will be broadcast as part of CAPtions on Sunday, August 7 at 5 pm, Wednesday, August 10 at 7 pm & later at Midnight on Peoria Comcast Cable 22. Produced in partnership with PCCEO, Inc.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What's going on in the Taft Homes?

As the PHA directors win awards for "doing their jobs", many of the residents feel that the place has never been worse. I'm sure we all saw the recent reports of rats running rampant in Taft. They were so bad, there is no way an active management could have missed it.

From WMBD...
"Not more than ten steps into our visit at Taft Homes, we saw the evidence everywhere. A dead rat, holes under the porches, in the ground, and even in people's homes. A woman living at Taft Homes in Peoria called the WMBD newsroom looking for help. Rats were taking over her housing complex. Brenda Coleman said she had been telling management about the problem for months, but nothing happened. After our station told the Peoria Housing Authority what we saw, it got to work right away."

We also saw what has been described as "a large-scale illegal fireworks display in a housing complex adjacent to the state’s largest Fourth of July celebration" - another thing that an active management should have seen.

Did I say active management? Perhaps thats the problem, because you see, I have it from a reliable source that the PHA manager at Taft walked out earlier this summer and last week the replacement manager walked out and as of right now, there is NO ONE literally NO ONE, on the property managing it. The doors to the office were locked all last week.

After the Fourth of July debacle there was a lot of talk about increasing security in Taft Homes. Well, I guess they haven't done it yet, because I heard that Saturday night (July 30th), gun shots were being fired for about an hour straight and it was so bad, some residents wouldn't even go home. Wonder why that didn't make the pjstar.

While we are talking about guns, shooting and not making the news... I also heard that Friday night (July 29th), several guys were shooting in Harrison Homes.

SIDEBAR... whenever I see the words Harrison Homes, I think Harrison Street. Anyhow...

Funny, the last couple of days I was thinking things (i.e., shootings) seemed to have calmed down a bit (guess I was wrong). Unfortunately, I now have to rely on the "on the ground reports" from people in the hood to find out what is really going on in Peoria's housing projects.