WINTERSET, Iowa -- Upset and frustrated parents, former teachers and community members overflowed the Winterset School Board meeting to express their concerns about student behavioral issues.
One Winterset parent said her child wanted to take her own life because of the violence she experienced at school.
"I got an email and a text message from a friend of hers because she was sitting in her bedroom cutting her wrists and saying she wants to die because she’s been given a concussion, broken her nose and had two fingers broken at school. And you know what the consequence was? The student had to write her an apology letter and sit by her at lunch and say 'I'm sorry,'" said one Winterset parent.
Bryan Snyder, another parent, said his child begged him to not make him go back to school.
“Throughout the year kids in his class have caused multiple room clears every week, sometimes multiple room clears a day. My son witnessed his teacher and other students get assaulted, projects destroyed, personal property broken and was assaulted and ridiculed on many occasions. He begged us to keep him home from school. He told us he was scared to go to school for fear of what would happen in the classroom every day,” Snyder said.
Superintendent Susan Meade said the school is trying to combat these issues in several ways, including paying more than $200,000 for up to six Winterset students to be part of a trauma-informed classroom program next year.
“We have students that are coming to our classrooms that have different views and they did five years ago and we are not equipped as school teachers to provide some of that programming. A lot of it has to do with mental health needs, a lot of it has to do with focusing on how to help students that have anxiety, frustrations and that sort of thing. So the neat thing about this program is it provides a classroom for six students. There is a teacher and there are two folks who are trained in the area of trauma-informed care and they really work with students on helping them process through when they are getting frustrated or angry,” Meade said.
Parents said it is not enough, and they want more disciplinary action.
“It needs to be expanded so that way more students can be included in it. And that way we don’t have the situations that we have now with students getting hurt and teachers getting hurt,” Snyder said.
Meade said they want to continue making changes and doing what they can to try and provide a safe environment for all students and teachers.
The board couldn't immediately respond to each concern during the meeting, but parents are hoping for a response and change before the school this upcoming school year.