BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — Administrators and educators in the Bristol-Warren Regional School District met once again Tuesday evening to address ongoing issues regarding school safety.
The discussion follows concerns raised by the local teacher’s union, the Bristol Warren Education Association, about safety at Hugh Cole Elementary School.
The meeting comes after changes were made to promote safety at Kickemuit Middle School. In late January, teachers at Kickemuit staged an apparent sick-out due to an increase in unruly student behavior and safety concerns for both students and teachers, forcing the cancelation of classes.
A subcommittee was later formed to look into the safety concerns at Kickemuit, eventually leading to several changes at the middle school, including placing a police officer on school grounds and the addition of a school resource officer and a behavioral specialist.
Prior to the closed-door meeting between school administration and the teacher’s union about Hugh Cole Tuesday, parents and teachers gathered outside the administrative building on State Street in Bristol to show their support.
“I think there are situations that have been happening in the classrooms where teachers aren’t getting the help and support they need,” Bailey Richardson, whose children attend Hugh Cole, said.
Following the two-hour meeting, Co-President of the Bristol Warren Education Association Michelle Way DaSilva said when all was said and done, the union felt heard by the administration, but ultimately worried about how quickly the administration will act to ensure a safe learning environment at Hugh Cole.
DaSilva said the teacher’s union is looking to implement a multi-tiered system at Hugh Cole to address the needs of all students dealing with behavioral issues, similar to the one in place at Kickemuit.
In a statement to Eyewitness News, Superintendent of Schools Mario Andrade said the tiered system at Kickemuit promotes, “…a positive school climate, along with intervention specialists to address the needs of students who require additional social, emotional and behavioral supports.”
He also said plans are already in the works to begin implementing the new safety measures at Huge Cole, adding he believes Tuesday’s meeting ended on a positive note.
DaSilva said changes to ensure safety at Hugh Cole, which is the largest elementary school in the district, are desperately needed.
“If those behaviors are addressed while the children are younger, eventually, when they get to the middle school, we shouldn’t be having these problems,” she said.
DaSilva said they plan to wait for Andrade to get back to them about how to proceed with implementing the new safety plan.