Posted by – October 17, 2011
Remember that federal lawsuit a former Hannibal High School student filed against the school district?
Dylan Mardis, identified in the lawsuit as DJM, alleged that the school district infringed on his First Amendment rights when it suspended him for threats he allegedly made against his classmates in an online chat with a friend. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, and eventually the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, sided with the school district, and the case was dismissed in Monroe County circuit court shortly thereafter at the request of Mardis’ attorney, Branson L. Wood III of Hannibal.
Education law experts across the country, including the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., kept an eye on this case because of its implications for off-campus student expression.
SPLC included DJM v. Hannibal School District in a recent review of off-campus student expression cases. These sorts of cases are important, the center says, because the Supreme Court has been asked to hear four off-campus speech cases this term, which could thrust this category of student expression further into the limelight (disclosure: the author of the blog post linked here is a friend).
DJM v. Hannibal School District isn’t among the cases that have been forwarded to the Supreme Court, and its dismissal at the circuit court level in Missouri seems to indicate that the case is closed (Judge Rachel Bringer’s words in the Case.net file). Further, SPLC’s executive director told me back in May that since this case revolves around alleged threats, which aren’t protected under the First Amendment, it’s not a good test case for the Supreme Court to use in deciding how to treat off-campus speech. However, that doesn’t automatically preclude the Mardis family and their attorney from appealing the case to the Supreme Court — and if the high court does take any off-campus speech cases this term, that certainly could muddy the waters.
Posted by – September 22, 2011
Hannibal Board of Education members and other district officials took their first construction tour Wednesday of the district’s all-new $4.3 million Early Childhood Development Center. Although there’s still a long way to go, the building is beginning to take shape, and some of its distinctive architectural features already are evident.
In the video below, follow the district tour around the new building on Hannibal’s western edge.
Posted by – September 20, 2011
Grace Douglas, a Hannibal Middle School seventh-grader living with autism, became part of the school’s cross-country team this year. Under the terms of a special agreement with the Hannibal School District and the Missouri State High School Athletic Association, Grace runs with an adult partner, usually Marlene Rodenbaugh.
In the video below, Rodenbaugh, herself the mother of a child with autism, talks about teaching “good running mechanics” to Grace as the girl learns how to run competitively.
Posted by – August 18, 2011
After a long summer, Hannibal’s public schools come alive again today. I dropped in on Oakwood Elementary School to watch the first-day-of-school festivities unfold. (Thanks to Principal Penny Strube and the gang for letting me visit.)
Posted by – July 28, 2011
Below are documents from the website of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, detailing changes to the Missouri School Improvement Plan, whose fifth iteration is scheduled for a State Board of Education vote next month. The participation of two Northeast Missouri educators — a building principal from Hannibal and the superintendent of the Knox County R-1 district — is detailed in this story.
Key changes that have rankled Missouri educators include more student assessments, decreased standards for physical education and art, and requirements for the percentage of students in a district who go on to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The review process for achievement in each district will also occur more frequently, moving up to an annual basis from a five-year basis.
All documents are presented here as PDF files; you’ll need a free PDF reader like Adobe Reader to open them.
Proposed rule in Missouri Register providing for MSIP 5 (starts on p. 37)
MSIP 5 Questions and Answers
Performance Standards Crosswalk: MSIP 4 to MSIP 5 — This gives the most details on the differences between versions of the MSIP.
Posted by – March 30, 2011
Marion Blumenthal Lazan, who with her family survived the Holocaust, spoke to Hannibal High School freshmen Tuesday about her experiences surrounding World War II and the genocide in Europe that killed 6 million Jews during the war.
The persecution of Jews lasted throughout Lazan’s childhood, beginning long before her family’s interment in the Bergen-Belsen and Westerbork concentration camps. Nazi Germany’s anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were enacted shortly after her birth in the small town of Hoya, Germany.
Below, Lazan discusses the persecution that beset her family even in her earliest days.
To learn more about Lazan and her memoir, “Four Perfect Pebbles,” go to her website.
Posted by – February 4, 2011
In the course of our roamings around post-snowstorm Hannibal Thursday, ace photographer Phil Carlson and I received a tip from our copy editor/fitness blogger colleague Mary Lynne Richards that a few of her teenage son’s friends were planning a massive snowball fight on the lawn of Hannibal High School early that afternoon.
We’d been wondering how the children of Hannibal and their parents were holding up after three snow days (with a scheduled teacher in-service day greenlighted for Friday, so really, four snow days). This answered that question…
Posted by – January 20, 2011
In the midst of a short agenda for Wednesday’s Hannibal Board of Education meeting, as district officials discussed progress toward the school’s state-mandated achievement benchmarks, the principal of Veterans Elementary School shared the best practices that have brought her school up to snuff with state standards and made achievement a priority.
Veterans last year met all of its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals — state benchmarks mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind Act and measured in part by the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests for third- through eighth-graders — for the first time since 2006. Some key factors in that progress: a positive attitude and an eye toward results.
Beverly Walker emphasized in her presentation that attitude and action have been key to the school’s achievement. Faculty have studied the book “212: The Extra Degree” and implemented its message of finding a tipping point to act and get results. That’s been borne out in what Walker termed “results-oriented meetings” among faculty and administrators, aimed at quickly finding and effectively solving problems.
At the same time, positivity is key, Walker said. For example, kids struggling with school are called not problem kids, but “success kids.” “We believe that they will be successful,” she said.
Besides addressing achievement, the school targets social development — specifically, the problem of bullying, which Hannibal Middle School also has worked to address — by holding regular class meetings, a phenomenon unique to Veterans that assistant principal W.T. Johnson said has been “implemented as a lifelong intervention.” Teachers set aside intentional time to discuss with their students social skills, anti-bullying techniques and conflict resolution, as illustrated in a video Walker screened of first-grade teacher Denise Hudson discussing bullying with her young pupils.
Walker called Veterans a school full of leaders who are working to ensure the school’s success. Their leadership will become even more crucial next year, as Superintendent Jill Janes announced at the end of Walker’s presentation that the principal will retire at the end of this academic year.