Parents worried about inappropriate behavior incidents

CHANDLER, AZ - A Chandler elementary school is facing the wrath of parents upset at what they say is a lackluster response to continued behavioral issues from certain students.

“Tarwater has always been the school that was a cut above everybody else,” said Ellen Dempsey, whose daughter is the third in their family to attend the school. “We’re just concerned with some new stuff that has been going on with new leadership, and most of it has to do with not really any consequences for bad behavior.”

Dempsey says that behavior includes fights on the playground, bullying, classroom teasing and disruption. 

She says parents are also faced with a greater concern: sexual assault. Word of the trouble came from Dempsey's daughter. 

“She has come home from school and talked about a boy who has inappropriately touched a couple different girls and girls who have reported have been told by leadership at our school that they shouldn’t be talking about this because this is gossip,” said Dempsey. 

That response that prompted a dozen parents to show up at a recent school board meeting to demand action. 

“It’s gonna lead to her not reporting things in the future which we want out kids to report,” said Dempsey. 

On Friday, school administrators sent out this letter to fifth-grade parents.

It lays out a strategic plan that includes increased supervision in classrooms and at recess, along with presentations on inappropriate behaviors and lessons on the importance of being kind. 

“They’ve done some things which is great, we’re moving in a positive forward direction but we can’t stop yet,” said Dempsey. 

Dempsey and a dozen other parents are expected to speak at Wednesday's school board meeting to demand actions to follow through on the district's words. They plan to urge school leaders to follow through on their commitment to change the culture at Tarwater. 

She says that starts with ensuring students face appropriate consequences for their actions. 

Full statement from the Chandler Unified School District

The district and school are aware of parent concerns and have been working to address issues as they occur.

The school administration takes each student behavioral concern, investigates and addresses the issue.

The Federal Privacy Act does not allow the sharing of specific information relating to individual students and disciplinary consequences.

The Tarwater administrative team continues to follow the District’s Code of Conduct and Board Policies. 

In addition, the school administration is proactively talking with specific grade level classrooms regarding behavioral expectations and consequences. Tarwater Elementary continues to offer their students an exceptional educational program. 

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