School officials mum about grievance against Mill Creek

The Kent Education Association and Kent School District have remained quiet about potential ways to resolve the KEA's grievance against Mill Creek Middle School.

The grievance, filed at the beginning of summer, charges Mill Creek administration with negligence in its duties to provide effective conflict resolution support for problem students in the district.

According to the grievance statement, Mill Creek administrators and Principal Sherilyn Ulland failed to address the issues of student discipline, which it said were "widely known to be out of hand. Students engage in violent behavior toward one another on campus and en route between school and home."

These problems culminated last year in several students being beaten up at the school and harassed outside the school.

At the end of the year, Ulland's assistant principals, Martha Shevfeland and LySander Collins, were reassigned to Panther Lake and Meridian elementary schools, respectively.

The district denies that their transfers coincided with the grievance or spike in problems at Mill Creek.

Because the grievance was filed at the end of last school year, Mill Creek will have several days to respond to the complaints with changes in the school's structure to address the problems it faces with its student body.

According to district emails, Mill Creek dealt with more than 60 referrals a day from teachers near the end of the school year. Such referrals ranged from small classroom disruptions and bullying to confrontations and fistfights.

Some teachers and parents said the issue with Mill Creek goes beyond the school. They said that the issues Mill Creek deals with are endemic to an impoverished area and until Kent can resolve that, there's only so much that the school district can do.

"We're on the same page, but the particulars of how things will be implemented need to be agreed on," said KEA President Cindy Prescott. "Everyone wants a safe school."

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