CHESHIRE — All eyes will be on Superintendent of Schools Jeff Solan and Board of Education members Monday, as the long-awaited school climate forum will be held.
Solan plans to begin the meeting with a short presentation on steps the district has taken on issues, including bullying, since the last informational forum was held on May 8. He will also review district behavioral data.
“At this meeting, we plan on giving the community a status update on any behavioral issues since May,” Solan said. “I also want to discuss the impact that social emotional learning has on our students.”
There had been discussions about holding another forum before the end of the school year, however Board of Education Chair Kathryn Hallen made the decision to schedule the meeting after the start of the new school year. That decision drew some criticism at the time, including from Board of Education member Tony Perugini, who shared his belief that a forum before summer break was warranted.
However, Perugini is hopeful that this month’s forum will be more productive than the last two. The March meeting concluded with both parents and Board members voicing their frustration over how the district has dealt with bullying issues in the past.
“I hope it’s [the forum] in stark contrast to the meeting in March,” said Perugini. “I’m a data guy. I want to see if the number of complaints are increasing or decreasing, as well as some meaningful metrics on how we’re doing.”
Perugini also hopes that Solan and his team will be addressing the root causes of the issues that were mentioned in March, such as “parent and teacher communication.”
After the presentation, members of the public will have the opportunity to address school board members.
“We will be able to share with parents and other members of the public the progress we’ve made in addressing school climate issues,” Hallen said.
In December of 2018, an 11-year-old student at Doolittle School, Anjelita Estrada, was found dead by her family. The cause was ruled to be suicide. Afterwards, it was reported that Estrada had been involved in an incident at Doolittle and her parents claimed that bullying may have played a role in her death.
At a Board of Education meeting last winter, Board of Education member Adam Grippo said that several parents had approached him with concerns about the district’s response to bullying and other complaints. Shortly thereafter, the district held its first forum on school climate.