Green Bay teacher resigns due to students' behavior in school


GREEN BAY, Wis. - (WFRV) A Green Bay middle school teacher announced her resignation earlier this month after shocking claims that the school is a hostile environment. 

Washington Middle School sixth grade teacher Kerstin Westcott made the tearful announcement in front of the Green Bay Area Public School District on June 5.

Westcott says she has been a teacher in the district the past 12 years, spending 9 of them at Washington Middle School.

She claims that the school has been in a downward spiral.

She says the teachers are sworn at and are called "vile, crude and sexual names every day." She added that it takes a toll on the teachers' bodies and minds.

She also talks of several incidents at the school including a teacher being injured trying to break up a fight, a student's legs held down in a vice grip so other students could take his shoes, a student having his pants and underwear pulled down in a crowded hallway and numerous cases of inappropriate sexual contact amongst the students. 

She says just those incidents alone happened in the month of May. 

Westcott also talks about fires being started in the school, weapons being brought in, drugs being sold and used, and one student saying he wanted to shoot up the school.

Westcott then called out the school district board members and said something has to be done now. 

"We need more attention, more support and more help long term. We need real solutions that come from above, that's you, along with the money, the people and resources to make those solutions a realtiy," she said. 

Superintendent Dr. Michelle S. Langenfeld released this statement regarding Washington Middle School Tuesday afternoon:

On behalf of the Green Bay Area Public School District, I would like to assure our families and community that safety is our highest priority. We have and continue to be committed to the Washington Middle School students, staff and families to ensure a positive learning environment. District administration and the Board of Education have taken all concerns brought forth seriously and have been working with Washington Middle School administration and staff to improve student behaviors and to address any safety concerns for both students and staff. 

Executive Director of Secondary Education Tom Hoh, who supervises all secondary principals, has worked closely with Washington Middle School administrators to provide direction and support. As concerns emerged in the winter of 2017, a District office student success team was created that included administrators and staff from the departments of special education, teaching and learning, technology, and pupil services, who meet with Washington Middle School administrators on a regular basis to continue to strategize how to best support staff and students. These supports were implemented due to our recognition that additional resources were required to address student academic and behavior needs at Washington Middle School.

In early May, the Board of Education and administration became aware of the growing staff concerns similar to those shared by Ms. Westcott in June.  Upon learning of these concerns, the Board of Education and District Administration took the concerns very seriously.  In response, the following occurred:

We held a meeting with staff.
Mr. Hoh increased his time at Washington to provide daily on-site support.
Two District office administrators were deployed daily to Washington Middle School until the end of the school year. Additional staff resources were also provided.
A second meeting was held in June with Associate Superintendent John Magas, Director of Pupil Services Vicki Bayer and myself after Ms. Westcott’s address to the Board.  The purpose of this second meeting was to listen to staff concerns following the infusion of the additional resources and to continue to strategize solutions. Staff reported concerns, but also reported improvements in behavior and reinforced their commitment to the students and families of Washington Middle School and to improving the environment at Washington.

Due to our observations and staff reporting improvement in student behavior based on the actions taken in the spring, the District will continue and expand our support of the efforts described above. The District’s plan for next school year, with input from staff and community, includes additional school administrators and staff to provide support with counseling, ELL and special education services, family engagement, and student behaviors.

Specifically, in response to Ms. Kerstin Westcott’s statement to the Board of Education on June 5, 2017, first, I would like to state that Ms. Westcott is an excellent teacher. I know this because I have been in her classroom as recently as April of this year, during an unannounced visit, where I found students to be engaged in learning. I also visited Washington Middle School two other times in May, and at those times I did not witness behaviors that would have raised concerns.  So it is with deep sadness that Kerstin had not shared her concerns with me prior to her resignation in June.

I do think it is important to note that Washington Middle School staff and its students have many wonderful achievements and much to be proud of and we ask for our community's support as we continue to ensure student success and a positive school culture for all.

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