This article has been updated at the end.
East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon will hold a “School/Public Safety Listening Session” on Friday, Jan. 27. The event is set to run from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Hannah Community Center’s banquet hall, at 819 Abbot Road.
Councilmember Dana Watson will also be attending. All members of the community are invited.
Bacon announced the event during the period set aside for official comments during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
He called this a “really challenging week around our schools,” and said he, like other East Lansing Public Schools parents, are feeling very concerned about safety.
The Friday event, he said, is designed to “make the school aware we are here as a city to offer support, that we have their backs.”
Bacon said he wants to “make sure we are hearing from everyone involved and affected” and that he “feels a sense of urgency” around the situation.
A press release on the event was issued this morning by the city.
Monday’s school board meeting left many parents, teachers and students angry about what they described as problems of violence, bullying and lack of discipline at the high school.
On Tuesday morning, the high school was put into a lockdown, later described by Superintendent Dori Leyko as a “shelter in place,” that left teachers, staff, parents and students even more rattled.
ELi reported late yesterday that the police found out about the lockdown from a parent who called 911.
The East Lansing School Board issued a statement late last night to respond to criticisms.
The East Lansing High School Student Council Executive Board, representing the ELHS student body, has issued a letter calling on School Board President Kath Edsall to step down as president.
The letter also calls for “enforcement of punishments and clear consequences for student actions.” It goes on to say, “The gross misuse of the board’s policies and privileges allow for students that have broken state law (i.e., bringing a firearm on school grounds) to resume learning with zero additional thought to patterns of violent behavior.” Students want “reinstate[ment of] authority back into the hands of teachers and administrators, which has slowly been taken away from them as a result of the lack of discipline and loose consequences that students have seen this year, and ensure the safety of students and staff of ELHS.”
The letter also asks for more mental health support.
An online petition has also been started calling for a change in leadership on the school board.
Update, Jan. 26, 3:50 pm: The city has announced that newly-seated Councilmember Noel Garcia Jr. will be taking Watson’s place at the Friday event and that “the session will be moderated by Dr. Dorinda Carter Andrews, a professor and chairperson of the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University, and it will provide an opportunity for participants to have a solutions-oriented conversation. There will be opportunities for both smaller group discussions and larger group discussions.”
According to the newest press release, “All community members, including East Lansing parents and guardians, are invited to attend to share their feedback and concerns related to school safety and/or public safety in general.” The event will run from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Hannah Community Center.