Parents outraged by a rising tide of violence in an Oregon school district are calling on the superintendent to resign.
Over the past several months, the Tigard-Tualatin School District (TTSD) has dealt with threats of violence on campus and viral videos of fights, according to local KGW News 8.
“Trans male attacks female student in Oregon…school,” wrote Riley Gaines, who has been a vocal critic of males competing against females under the guise of being transgender. “This was certainly planned given multiple people were filming. All involved should be suspended and he should be charged with assault as a male.”
After the video went viral, local police were forced to shut down the school when a bomb threat made on social media was deemed “credible,” according to KGW.
The district said the bomb threat was directly tied to the fight in the video.
Police later arrested a juvenile said to be responsible for the threat. The Washington County Juvenile Department said it plans to use “evidence-based” intervention practices, said KGW.
And that’s part of the problem, says local parents, teachers and students.
“Evidence-based” intervention practices are code for what’s more commonly called “restorative justice.”
Restorative justice tries to replace punitive punishment, such as suspensions, with equity-based consequences that are determined by skin color, socio-economic class and gender identity.
Parents, teachers and even students are saying TTSD Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith’s emphasis on restorative justice has fostered a permissive attitude leading to worsening violence.
“Sue Rieke-Smith, TTSD Superintendent proudly admits to using Restorative Justice (RJ) discipline and forgoing a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for violence,” wrote Suzanne Gallagher, National Director of Parents’ Rights In Education and 40-year Tigard resident.
Gallagher then called on the school district to make a clean sweep.
“Admit it, the experiment failed,” Gallagher continued. “Replace the School Board. Fire Rieke-Smith. Restore local control. Stop messing with our kids.”
It’s not just education reform activists who are outraged, however.
Teachers, who are usually supportive of district administrations, are speaking out at public meetings.
“We aren’t teaching discipline, period. Would any of you who have children allow your child to act in those ways?” one teacher said at a TTSD school board meeting broadcast on YouTube.
Another teacher, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told a local TV news station that the district’s schools face a cascade of troubles because of the permissive restorative justice policies.
“There are no consequences for these kids. They are running the schools,” one teacher told local KOIN News 6. “The physical violence is not that common. It’s the vaping, it’s the cussing, it’s the skipping classes, it’s the bullying, it’s the cyberbullying. It’s all of that stuff that’s most of the issue.”
To make matters worse, even students are saying the verbal abuse of teachers and children is common.
“Nobody should hear the things that I hear at school every single day,” Amy, a Hazelbrook Middle School eighth grader, told KION.
A seventh grader at Hazelbrook told the station that she “watched students cuss out teachers when they don’t want to follow the rules or they are having a bad day.”
But the biggest shock for parents, teachers and students came after the video of the fight with the trans youth went viral.
Multiple threats directed at the school came in via social media and email including threats of shootings. It culminated in the bombing threat, which necessitated one school being evacuated, with classes canceled for two days, said local media.
Few are convinced that Rieke-Smith and the district have done enough to solve a violence problem that their policies have fostered.
Thus, a petition drive to oust the TTSD superintendent has begun.
“We need to have a sense of emergency and urgency,” Teagan Milera, a parent of Tigard-Tualatin students told KGW.
Milera said that it’s now gotten to the point where she is “ready to take our kids out of school.”