Teachers say DSUSD should be more transparent about student disciplinary records

Teachers say DSUSD should be more tranparent about student disciplinary records

LA QUINTA, Calif. - "In the 24 years I've worked for Desert Sands, there have been virtually no notifications of teachers when students have potentially violent behavior," said Jon Newland, an independent study teacher at Horizon School in La Quinta.

Since former Summit High School teacher Melissa Labayog came forward saying the school district didn't tell her the history of a student who attacked her, more teachers are speaking up. 

"We don't care if the student smoked tobacco once behind the stands, we want to know about things that have potential for violence or harm to other students or staff," Newland said.

"It's important that they know if they have a potential powder keg," said Mona Davidson, president of the Desert Sands Teacher's Association.

According to state law, it's mandatory for the school district to inform teachers of each student who has engaged in any act during the last three school years that constitutes grounds for suspension or expulsion.

"By the way, that includes juvenile records and things that happened outside the district. And the reason is not to refuse to deal with the student it's to give us enough information to deal appropriately with the student," Newland said.

"This is an ed code that has been on the books since 1997, so why a district this large wasn't in compliance?"

Earlier this week DSUSD told us it follows the law. But it didn't get back to our requests for a follow-up interview. 
The Desert Sands teacher's union said after the incident in 2012, it put pressure on the school district.  After a year and a half Teachers are finally able to look up some records, but they say the system is faulty.

"I can't see records of a student if they're not assigned to me. So everyone here has a caseload and we have around 26-28 students and I can look up the records of those assigned to me, but I have to see the other students that belong to other teachers," Newland said.

"Why is it important to know that?"

"It's important to know because those students are roaming around the hallways and coming into your office just the same ways as the other ones," Newland said.

"As students transfer in and out, it's not being updated quite as efficiently as it needs to be for the sake of the students and teachers," Davidson said.

The teacher's union says it reached out to the school district to make changes but the district's response has been this:

"They're working on it," Davidson said.

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