The Robstown Independent School District Board of Trustees is looking to bring police officers to a pair of schools, both of which house elementary and middle school students, in an effort to curb bullying and vandalism.
RISD School Board president Robert Tapia led a workshop at the district's administration building on the issue of student discipline. Also on hand at the meeting were principals and staff members from Ortiz Intermediate and Seale Jr. High schools, who discussed ways to provide a more suitable learning environment for students at both campuses.
Dora Elizondo, a language arts teacher at Ortiz Intermediate, said students are often after one another, which can lead to violence or bullying.
"There is always, always some kind of constant aggressiveness towards each other because they don't know each other or they're always (antagonizing one another)," she said. "I've encountered three fights in my classroom this year - boys with boys and girls with girls."
Staff often intervenes in those situations, with school administration following the necessary protocol to discipline students via in-school suspension or written referrals, Elizondo added. ISS is not effective, she added, because students "like to go - they get to be with their friends."
"The kids are not intimidated by us," Elizondo said. "What we really need to see is some kind of authority…We need help."
Ortiz Intermediate's ISS teacher, Armando Gonzalez, said he has begun to implement new procedures to ensure students have work to stay busy. Otherwise the time spent in ISS would be wasted, both for the teacher and the students, he added.
"I don't want you to think that these kids are coming to ISS and having a blast in there, or having a ball, because that's not the case," he said. "They do want to come in there with their buddies…But I don't allow that. The worst thing that can happen is a kid coming in there and doesn't have any work. That's when they get into trouble."
Tapia proposed the measure to bring officers from the Robstown Police Department to work at Seale Jr. High and Ortiz Intermediate during a school board meeting last week. The reason, he said, was to begin holding those who vandalize or create a disturbance for other students wishing to learn responsible for their actions.
"We need to help them," Tapia said at the Jan. 26 meeting.
Currently, the Tuloso-Midway and Calallen independent school districts make use of Corpus Christi police officers at their high and middle schools. Both districts pay the officers to work at the school on their off-days.
While neither has officers stationed at their elementary schools, Ortiz Intermediate only houses fifth and sixth grade, a mixture of elementary and junior high grade levels.
Robstown High School also currently makes use of Robstown police officers at its campus, with an agreement similar to those of the TMISD and CISD with the CCPD.
Elizondo said she would like to see officers who have experience dealing with high-tension situations and know how to manage an unruly student, not an inexperienced force like the controversial in-district police force formed in 2006.
"We've had security guards, little guys, that graduated from high school and our kids intimidate them," Elizondo said. "Then they get into the aggressiveness and it doesn't work because they don't have the background to assist or even to restrain if they have to."
No action was taken on the item, but Tapia said he hoped the issue would be brought up for approval at the school board's next scheduled meeting on Feb. 9.