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Bettendorf School Board responds to middle school safety concerns

Less than 24 hours after hearing suggestions from parents, the school board provided an update with some possible solutions.

BETTENDORF, Iowa — The Bettendorf School Board responded Thursday night to concerns the middle school is "out of control."

It comes less than 24 hours after Wednesday night's parent and staff work session at the Waterfront Convention Center, addressing alleged students fighting, skipping class and vandalizing school property.

Parents called on the school board to take immediate action at the school board meeting.

Superintendent Michelle Morse spoke about the district's efforts to analyze the information collected from parents Wednesday night.

Morse gave some possible suggestions provided by parents and staff. Those included increasing support staff and creating alternative educational settings.

Another suggestion includes removing sixth graders from the middle school. Morse did not say where those students would go to school if that option were to be explored.

Parents also called on the board for more consistent expectations in each school and clearly defined consequences.

"From what has been combed through so far, the consistency with discipline and clear expectations, student-parent accountability," Morse said.

"District administration has failed the students, staff and community and resignations at the highest level are due," said David Fuglseth, a Bettendorf School District parent.

Fugleseth said his middle-school aged daughter would not be returning to the district next year because of these incidents.

Board member Richard Lynch mentioned a volunteer program for parents to help walk the halls and monitor the lunchroom. That was also a suggestion provided to parents by Morse at Wednesday night's work session, Lynch said.

The parent volunteer program is one many parents supported during the public comment session of the board meeting.

Board member Linda Smithson, however, stressed the need for parent volunteers to be trained before starting this possible program. Smithson said this is another way the school board would be responsible for ensuring student and staff safety.

"It's unfortunate that I'm hearing everybody on the board focus on the long-term solutions, when there is an immediate need," Fuglseth said. "There's an immediate crisis. Whether that's bringing in extra police to help the district in the immediate future just for the next few days while we get through the end of the school year, I think that's a very reasonable immediate solution, just to calm parents' nerves."

Morse said the information from Wednesday's work session will be compiled in the coming weeks. She said another update on the middle school situation will be provided at the next board meeting on June 9.

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