School fights prompt superintendent to create new program

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Sick and tired of in-school fights and bad behavior, Kansas City Public Schools superintendent is trying to knock problems out high school classrooms. Despite funding issues, the district is planning to start a new, half-million dollar alternative program at Manual Tech High School.

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“If the students fight, they’re out,” said Dr. John Covington, superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools.

Some students and parents claim fighting, during the first two weeks of school, is not rare at Southwest Early College Campus (SWECC).

“They had fights day one, the first day of school,” said Patricia Tivis, a parent. “There’s basically about a fight every day up here.”

Wednesday, a female security guard was pushed down stairs inside the school , according to Kansas City Police. Witnesses said they saw several students involved. However, it is how the fight started that deeply concerns district officials.

“The problems were not sparked by the students themselves, but were sparked by the students’ parents who went onto the campus to engage in inappropriate behavior,” Dr. Covington said.

SWECC has 1,600 students, according to district officials. High enrollment seems to be a factor to parents and Dr. Covington.

Two weeks into school, some kids run rampant in hallways and skip class, Dr. Covington said. Southwest is not alone, though. With high school enrollment up across the district, other schools have similar problems with overage students.

“They are 18, 19, and in some cases 20-year-old,” Dr. Covington said. “There are some 17-year-olds who have only acquired to date maybe two, three or four credits. We know that those kids are not going to be successful in school.”

To fix it, the district plans to unveil the Options Program. Starting Monday, 100 students will move into Manual Tech. The kids, grades 7 through 12, will be selected by their principals based on academic or behavioral issues.

As a result, more teachers, possibly some laid off earlier this year, will be hired.

“They’re going to look for those teachers that really want to work with those kids and if they do that, this should be a good program,” said Andrea Flinders, president of the teacher’s union.

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