Antioch School District investigation confirms problems at Black Diamond Middle School

By John Crowder

Following numerous complaints about violence, profanity, disrespect, and threatening behavior instigated by a group of out-of-control students at Black Diamond Middle School (BDMS) over the past few months, Antioch Superintendent of Education Dr. Don Gill contacted Dr. John Bernard, a longtime educator and consultant, and asked him to conduct a thorough investigation of the troubled school. Bernard presented a report on his findings at the February 26thmeeting of the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Trustees.

During his wide-ranging presentation, Bernard essentially confirmed the complaints the Board has been hearing during the public comments section of their meetings over the last few months, complaints that had come from both parents of students at the school and school staff…and added a few additional problem areas that had not previously been identified during the public outcry. Bernard also provided recommendations to the Board regarding actions that could be taken to alleviate the problems.

Bernard prefaced his remarks by outlining the process he had undertaken to conduct his investigation. He noted that there may be other areas of concern, but the ones that he spoke to were those that he had been able to see firsthand, or had discussed with concerned parties at the school. He then went on to describe problems with the physical condition of the school, stating that it was in need of painting and a “thorough cleaning.” He also said that the procedures under which the custodial staff were operating were inadequate.

Student behavior was a particular area of concern, according to Bernard. He confirmed that there were “between fifteen and fifty students who continually challenge adult authority.” Bernard had several recommendations for dealing with this issue, which appeared to be the catalyst for the complaints the Board had been receiving. He called for the identification of these students, and their removal from the rest of the student body.

They should start school at a different time, have lunch at a different time,” he said.

He also called for the establishment of a school-wide discipline policy. “That means consistency across the board,” he stated.

Bernard also addressed the administration at the school.

Everything needs to change,” he said, “some classes have a disproportionate number of disruptive students.”

He noted that many policies were inconsistent, including those relating to dress, cell phones, disrespect, and threatening behavior. He recommended the continuing assignment of site support personnel and assistant vice-principals, but noted that additional developmental training should take place for administrative staff.

In addressing the situation with regard to the teaching staff, Bernard noted that there were fourteen teachers who were brand new to BDMS this year. He recommended that teachers be provided with training on classroom management and working with unmotivated students. Bernard also found that there was a greater than average level of absenteeism among the teaching staff at this site, which meant an increase in substitute teachers, who often “had no lesson plan available.”

Bernard also spoke about several other areas in which he found problems, including a lack of communication with parents, site safety, on-campus suspension, tardiness, uniforms, and cafeteria issues. He concluded by urging the Board to implement needed recommendations, monitor their effectiveness, and conduct another review within the next four to five months.

Following the presentation made by Bernard, the AUSD Superintendent, Gill, again addressed the board. “Some of these recommendations Bernard mentioned are already in place,” he said. He went on to inform the Board that up to two positions for “opportunity school” teachers had been posted and applicants were already available for interview.

In other news, two speakers addressed the recent petition by teachers from Dozier Libbey Medical High School to convert the school to a charter school. Both expressed concern about the move, which teachers at the school made because of what they characterized as philosophical differences with AUSD with respect to their original mission. Almost all (88%) of the teachers at the school signed the petition, and the Board must now respond with a hearing on the matter within a month.

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7 Comments to “Antioch School District investigation confirms problems at Black Diamond Middle School”

  1. Reginald Jamal Brown says:

    I really don’t think anything will happen to address these issues unless they are ready for lawsuit after lawsuit based on discriminiton an racism.

    • Jeanne says:

      I disagree, I believe it has nothing to do with race. Any color of Gods children should have ramification’s for physically or verbally hurting or disrespect’s another of Gods children. Or if there are some whom have other’s spiritual beliefs. All walks of life, need to show respect to each other.

  2. Donna says:

    I took my daughter to a neighboring district to show her the school she’ll be attending next year and She cried. Why? Because there’s no trash on the ground, no chipped paint on the property and they have good grass on their field. (Her words) It’s a shame that seeing another school would bring a 12 year old to tears. I’ve failed her by allowing her to go to BDMS. No more. Everyday she begs not to go to school. Today while in the office, I watched the administration shuffle 3 classes around because they had no teachers available… No subs to come in. Hardly anyone is seen wearing a uniform ( my daughter does, however she tries to hide it so she “fits in”) and every day I tell her “it’ll get better” and “tough it out” Has it?
    No. I’m tired of lying to her. I’m tired of letting her down. She deserves better. The district has failed. I’ve failed her. AUSD needs to do more than hire consultants and do studies. Maybe an eye Dr needs to be hired because apparently There’s a lot of blind people running the show.

  3. Jeanne says:

    Following the presentation made by Bernard, the Antioch Unified School District Don Gill Superintendent and the board AUSD need to focus on BLACK DIAMOND MIDDLE SCHOOL AND DALLAS RANCH MIDDLE SCHOOL. THOSE SCHOOLS,SOME OF THE STUDENT’S AND TEACHER’S AND STAFF ARE BEING PHYSICALLY BEATEN. There may already pending law suits from parents, teacher, and any other staff. will probably be law suits due to AUSD from parents and student have been terrified to go to school. Spend our tax dollars on protecting the students and teachers at these school!
    DON’T SPEND ANTIOCH TAX DOLLARS TO FIGHT DOZIER LIBBEY MEDICAL HIGH SCHOOL. SPEND MONEY ON THE SCHOOLS THAT NEED YOUR PROTECTION! SHAME ON YOU! Prayers for everyone that have been effective by the lack of support from Don Gill and the board!

  4. Jeanne says:

    Good Afternoon Bernard! I also have stated to the Don Gill AUSD, they are not putting in enough time to Black Diamond Middle School and Dallas Ranch! I pray for all the students, staff and teachers and for the parents that are probably scared to send their children to these schools. When did you start communication with Don Gill and AUSD? As you might know Don Gill and AUSD is using our tax dollar to stop DLMHS from becoming a Independent Charter DLMHS. Don Gill AUSD board members to our school and paying men to walk around our school and watch our teachers. Walking into class rooms. Don Gill and AUSD is making it a hostile work and upsetting our school that has no crime. They should be at Black Diamond and Dallas Ranch. I am so sorry they are not protecting your schools. We now know they have the money, since they are spending it on attorney’s and the man power intimidating DLMHS. Prayer’s to all, Jeanne Stuart-Chilcote
    I don’t know if you also have this info at CCTIMES.

  5. Alicia says:

    My son is a a student at Black diamond middle school with special needs. Because the kids at school have been fighting teachers his resource t teacher only lasted for the first three months of school. After that there was substitute after substitute man his teachers did not honor the terms of his IEP so none of his teachers abided by his IEP Or gave him extra help. Instead because he’s a good student they let him sit and fail at the end of the year when we were up for IEP review they stated that they had so many bad children in their class they didn’t have any time for him or to help him carelessly. It’s not only the children at Black Diamond that are the problem of Blackdiamond it’s also the careless teachers. I hope they do something soon because no child should be left behind but no child should have to go to school every day scared of other students. Teachers should not have to fear students and pay attention to the ones that need the help and want to learn. This is my son last year here thank God but this should have never happen to him.

  6. tim mckeen says:

    Black Diamond is such a mess. I am beginning to think that segregated school were not such a bad idea after all! I would be more than happy to send my kids to a school that was primarily white and Asian-American.
    At least I would know they wouldn’t be bullied by black kids every day as they are now.

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