Citizens For A Better Norwood

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just in: St. Aloysius’ answers to interview questions

Moments ago, we received the responses to the questions we sent to St. Aloysius on January 22. In her email to us, Chief Operating Officer Joan Tumblison apologized for how long it took to provide the answers and stated that St. Aloysius officials will have these responses with them at tonight’s City Council meeting.

Q. What is your response to a reader’s concern that St. Al’s would “wait a few years and attempt to increase grades K-12 from the current K-8 grade levels and then “bring in your dispensary and psychiatric clinic?”
A. St. Aloysius’s dispensary and psychiatric clinic are housed on Joseph Street in Cincinnati and will remain there. Those buildings were built specifically for that purpose and those services will not be moved to Norwood.

Q. Are there any long term plans to increase the K-8 student enrollment from the current 90?
A. No

Q. Would St. Aloysius consider expanding into the Holy Spirit Center if it were ever for sale?
A. No

Q. What are the essentials of security training for your staff?
A. Our staff are trained in TCI (Therapeutic Crisis Intervention) to help calm a child who is experiencing an emotional or behavioral issue.

Q. Apart from regular staff trained on security procedures, how many designated security personnel will be employed at the proposed school? Will they be armed?
A. There are two staff in each classroom that are trained in TCI and they are NOT armed.

Q. In addition to daily pat-downs, will metal detectors be employed at the proposed school?
A. No.

Q. Have daily pat-downs ever resulted in the discovery of weapons, and, if so, how often in recent times and what kinds of weapons have been confiscated?
A. The only objects we have infrequently discovered are small pocket knives.

Q. What are the consequences for students found with weapons?
A. They are given a warning and possibly a suspension.

Q. What are your procedures in the event a student escapes?
A. Students remain with teachers all day even during lunch. All staff know that students should always be with a teacher or in a classroom. When staff sees a child who is out of a classroom, they ask whose classroom they are in and they then escort the child back to that room or to another teacher or the principal.

Q. Do you have a system in place to warn nearby residents?
A. We have never had to warn residents.

Q. Some residents are concerned that the Norwood Police Dept. will be burdened by calls to the school. Can you provide data on the incidence of calls to the Cincinnati Police in recent times and examples of what kinds of problems generate calls to the police?
A. Norwood Police Department will not be burdened by calls to our school. Calls to the City of Cincinnati Police Department have averaged between 2-3 calls per month for last year.

Q. What is the height of the new chain link fence that will be installed around the property, and will it include barbed wire on the top?
A. The chain link fence will be the same as what is currently in use at Holy Trinity and no it will not include barbed wire as this is a school not a prison.

Q. Does your Reading Road location have barbed wire fencing?
A. No.

Q. Will the height of the current fence that surrounds the playground remain the same?
A. Yes.

Q. Does St. Aloysius carry liability insurance to cover residential property damage or personal injury caused by students?
A. St. Aloysius carries insurance as is required by the Ohio Department of Education for elementary schools.

Q. How consistently are you able to maintain your 4:1 teachers to students’ ratio and 1:1 staff to students’ ratio?
A. This is a self-imposed ratio and we maintain it at all times.

Q. Do you employ substitute teachers and staff to maintain the ratios on a daily basis?
A. We have substitute teachers on staff.

Q. Your website states with regard to your charter school that “in many cases, it is the last resort.” What does this mean exactly?
A. A school like St. Aloysius is the last opportunity for some students to continue their education. We keep children from dropping out of school altogether.

Q. Do you accept students with juvenile criminal records?
A. We accept children from all of the local school districts so we may end up with students with juvenile records-it depends on the local school district and their policies.

Q. We understand students typically attend St. Aloysius for 6 to 9 months before they are reintegrated into their regular schools. What is the incidence of students failing to reintegrate, and are there any further educational options at St. Aloysius for those who don’t achieve reintegration?
A. A child’s home school can always ask that the student come back to St. Aloysius for an additional period or they can extend their original period. There are more incidents of children coming to St. Aloysius because they have failed in their home school’s version of our program rather than the other way around. Many public schools have tried to replicate our programs but they were not as successful as St. Aloysius has been with preparing students to reintegrate.

Q. What is the incidence of student expulsions from St. Aloysius?
A. Very rare.

Q. What types of infractions result in expulsion?
A. The same type of infractions that would cause a student in a public elementary school to be expelled would cause an expulsion here. This happens very rarely as we are here to help the student return to their regular school so the student needs to be here to get the education and coping skills they need.

Q. Is there any truth to the rumor one of our readers reported that one of your students is responsible for the death of a sibling?

Q. Your attorney told the Planning Commissioner that PTA meetings would be the only evening activities at the proposed school. One commenter would like to know the purpose of having a PTA in a “temporary school situation” and asks “would these meetings in fact really to PTA meetings or would they be some sort of family therapy meetings or group therapy meetings?”
A. These are NOT family or group therapy meetings. We have meetings with our parents (e.g. Family Welcome Night) to introduce them to the school, our policies, the teachers and staff just like an elementary school does. We have other meetings with parents to keep them informed and involved in the child’s educational progress while at our school.

Your attorney Mr. Trauth informed the Norwood Planning Commission early on that a discrimination lawsuit would be filed if the school were not approved. He also stated this in an Enquirer article published December 11 prior to the December 17 Norwood Planning Commission meeting when members voted in favor of the school. Some of our readers have commented that the threat of a lawsuit displays arrogance and is an attempt to intimidate City officials into making a favorable decision. One commenter questioned what type of neighbor St. Al‘s will be with “that type of attitude.”

Q. What was the purpose of Mr. Trauth’s threat if not to intimidate our City officials?

Q. Is it still his position that a lawsuit may ensue if Norwood City Council does not approve the Planning Commission’s recommendation allowing the school?

A. Mr. Trauth indicated that St. Aloysius is an elementary school chartered by the State of Ohio and that St. Aloysius wanted to be treated equally with all other schools within the City of Norwood. Mr. Trauth was not trying to intimidate City Officials but merely trying to assure St. Aloysius of equal treatment under the law as afforded other schools in Norwood.

We thank you for graciously answering our and our readers’ questions. In closing, is there anything you would like to tell our readers that we haven’t asked about? (CBN note: St. Aloysius did not add any comment.)