Parent expresses concern about violent student behavior

Published 5:57 pm Friday, February 16, 2024

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STANFORD – A parent of three Crab Orchard Elementary students expressed concern about violent behavior from a student at the school during last week’s Lincoln County Board of Education meeting. 

Prior to public comments, Board Attorney Grant Chenoweth read the board’s policy regarding public comments and stated that the board does not get involved in day-to-day matters involving students or employees. 

“Concerns of this nature should be made at the school level or to the superintendent so they can be handled consistent with board policy while protecting individual rights,” Chenoweth said. 

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Phillip Coots, a father of three students at Crab Orchard Elementary, spoke to the board about what he believes is a serious situation.  

“For the last two years, my children have been in a disruptive, vulgar, dangerous and violent learning environment,” Coots said. “There is a child that is responsible for all of this and yet he is still in our school.” 

Coots said the child has allegedly had to be restrained more than 20 times and classes have had to be evacuated on a regular basis. 

“Last year this child picked up a stick while out on the playground and threatened to kill everyone and then started to chase the children,” he said. “One of my children still has nightmares about it and is now enrolled in mental health counseling because of this situation.” 

Coots said recently the child attacked two teachers in front of the students. 

The father of three said he was worried for the safety of his children and the rest of the children in the classroom. 

“Just think about it. If one of your children or grandchildren was in that class, how would you feel? Would you feel safe for your child or grandchild?” Coots said. “Every second that we allow this child to stay in the general education classroom with the rest of the children is a second too long. It’s risking the safety of our children and our staff. I’m asking you to act now and act fast. I’m pleading with you to protect my children, protect the other children in that class, and the children of Lincoln County.” 

The board did not respond and moved on to the next item on the meeting agenda. 

Following the board meeting, Coots was asked if he had reached out to the school prior to addressing the school board. 

Coots said after the stick incident last year he wrote a letter and received a quick response from Crab Orchard’s principal who met with Coots and his wife and reassured them a plan was being made to address the issue. 

“We like Mr. Abbott, he’s a great guy,” Coots said. “We trusted that things were going to get taken care of. Of course they can’t tell us anything about what’s going on.” 

Coots said the child wasn’t in school for a few days after the stick incident last year and things seemed to have calmed down but recently with the two teachers being attacked, Coots started to worry again. 

During one of the incidents, Coots’ child was pushed down in the lunchroom, he said. 

“This is not normal,” he said. “It’s been two school years, my kids think this behavior is normal, it’s time to do something else. So that’s when I decided I was going to the board.” 

Coots said he believes the principal is working on the issue but whether it’s lack of resources or too much red tape, things are not being resolved as quickly as he’d like to see. 

“Obviously I didn’t get a response from the board so it’s hard to tell how the board took it. But I’m always hopeful,” he said. “I hope that the children in the general education class can get to a place where it’s safe. But I hope this other child gets the help that he or she needs as well.”