This was a challenging week to cover. Adding to the number of accidents, Middle School troubles, flag stomping discussion, and Teacher of the Year (one bright thing), was the fact that the school district chose to schedule its regular meeting on the same day as the regular city council meeting.

First, congratulations of our Teacher of the Year, Laura Todis. Ms. Todis teaches science at Sierra High School.
With so many serious disciplinary problems erupting these days it’s a happy relief to report this kind of teaching excellence. Thank you Ms. Todis for the great work you do.

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Another positive event took place during this week’s city council meeting. Mayor Rick Neal and Councilmen Doug Tucker and Manuel Minjares chose to appoint Diane McCall as replacement for former councilman A. Eduardo Gonzalez who recently resigned for health reasons.

Diane was chosen from a group of three, among whom were two other excellent applicants, Dante Diaz and Kendall Hancock. Diane, veteran of 6 years on our Planning Commission, and active in several other civic works, will be a valuable asset on the council. Our new council is doing great things.

Councilperson Brian Sipes was absent as he was for the previous council meeting.

Again, congratulations Diane!

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Middle School miseries
I was approached by a parent of another Middle School student just before Tuesday’s school board meeting. Like two other students mentioned last week, her daughter is being bullied and was assaulted by another girl at school recently.

I have asked parents who may have children attending Fillmore Middle School to contact the Gazette in the event their kids are being bullied, threatened, or assaulted by other students. So far three have cooperated. Letters have also been received alleging serious threats of bodily harm, assaults, and classroom disruption which goes unpunished. These complaints are serious. I hear of legal action if these allegations are not quickly corrected. Getting someone to take action is the problem.

Here is how one concerned resident describes the atmosphere at the Middle School: “...You have a student body who has taken on a Lord of the Flies type mentality as even the good kids have seen that hard work and a positive attitude do nothing to advance their cause at the school.” The actions of some students are truly outrageous. One teacher was “struck by a purposely thrown burrito for the second time in 5 days.” The student responsible for this assault was not suspended; he just had to pick-up trash for a couple of days. “This type of “’discipline’” is the norm ... at FMS.” “Neither the AP [assistant principal] nor the Principal seem to have any grasp of how to handle students of this age group.”

This complaint continues: “There is such a high level of disrespect from students towards all staff that we will be lucky if no other staff members are attacked by students. Defiance towards authority is where it all begins and students routinely defy everyone from the Principal on down. This stems from one of the weakest efforts towards discipline ever put forth at the middle school.”

“New kids routinely get beat up because they are new, look different, talk differently, are a different race, or come from a rival place.” This situation is outrageous and intolerable.

I am convinced that our Fillmore Middle School is out of control and presents a threat to the safety and wellbeing of students, teachers, and staff alike.

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Time and space prevent me from commenting on Pastor Leslie R. Lanier’s comments at yesterday’s school board meeting. I support him in this effort and will say more about this later. Our flag is a sacred symbol to be honored.