At the K-12 level, Flagstaff Unified School District addressed shortcomings and successes in 2015, including honors for individual staff members, problems with services for special needs students and a sigh of relief for student safety.
The last came when, after a series of threatening phone calls, a self-described “gamer” was arrested in New York in connection with several telephonic threats to FUSD schools.
The threats, which included messages about being inside a school planning to kill children, caused schools to go on lockdown multiple times during the 2014-2015 school year.
FUSD also ended the district’s contract with the Arizona School’s for the Deaf and Blind, after the Arizona Department of Education found the district in violation of several policies regarding services provided for special needs students.
The district was investigated after a family filed 55 complaints against ASDB and FUSD, focused on record keeping to track their son’s progress in learning Braille. The state Department of Education found the district in five violations of the law.
At the high school level, a controversial school tradition came under fire, after a student at Coconino High School said the Mr. Coconino pageant was offensive to nonconforming people. The student engaged in discussions with CHS principal Stacie Zanzucchi to find an alternative for upcoming years.
One success for the district this year was Katherine Pastor, a counselor at Flagstaff High Scholl, was named national Counselor of the Year. Pastor will receive a White House reception in 2016. Pastor was one of six finalists for the award, but was named the winner in December.
AzMERIT scores were recorded for the first time, showing the majority of students in Coconino County and Arizona did not pass the test. Some charter schools showed higher passage rates.
However, district officials said low scores were to be expected with the new test and change to an online delivery method. FUSD officials said it would be about five years before the test results were truly a reflection of what the students are learning in class.
Scores also showed a wide variation among individual schools within the district, including three elementary schools that continuously scored the highest on the English test at every grade level. Flagstaff High School also outscored Coconino High School in every level of testing.
Other stories that topped the K-12 2015 education news included news that only 86 percent of Coconino County kindergartners received the MMR vaccine, Kinsey Elementary became a magnet school, CHS automotive class earned a national accreditation and tax credit donations varied greatly between schools, both public and charter.
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