Officials: Playground supervision is adequate

TERRY ORGAN/Miner<br>
Children spend part of the lunch hour Tuesday having fun on the playground at La Senita Elementary School.

TERRY ORGAN/Miner<br> Children spend part of the lunch hour Tuesday having fun on the playground at La Senita Elementary School.

KINGMAN – Playgrounds at local elementary schools have adequate adult supervision.

That is what officials say following a call to the Miner last week in which a woman said she has contacted the Kingman Unified School District and state Board of Education about the matter.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said guidelines on playground supervision are “very vague.”

She stated another child at La Senita Elementary School punched her son in the stomach and head with the offender being suspended for the act. Later that same week another child was hit in the head by a rock thrown on the playground.

The woman said La Senita officials are suspending kids for throwing rocks, but these incidents might not happen if there was adequate playground supervision.

Principal Sue Hamilton acknowledged there have been incidents of rock throwing at her school, but they have been declining in number since the start of the year.

“We’ve let all of our children know that if they pick up a rock and throw it they’re automatically suspended,” Hamilton said.

Lunchtime is divided into two 1-hour periods of 11 a.m. to noon and noon to 1 p.m. at La Senita. Children are on the playground during those times with one regular supervisor, plus teachers “rotating” there for supervisory duties. It means there are always 3-4 adults present during lunch hour, Hamilton said.

Two teachers from each class are playground supervisors during recess periods and with assistants helping there may be 5-6 adults present then, she said.

Hamilton added there are never more than 200 children on the playground at one time and there always is adequate supervision.

Maurice Flores, superintendent of the KUSD, said there is no regulation on playground supervision as far as a ratio of adults to children. Administrators at each school set their own policy on the matter.

He was asked about discipline a student faces for hitting another student, whether with a fist or object.

“There are a variety of ways to deal with playground misconduct,” Flores said. “It usually begins with a parent-teacher conference for a first offense and can go up to suspension and expulsion for a serious incident such as hitting someone with a baseball bat, which is considered a deadly weapon.”

If two children get into a fight, both are sent home for a couple of days regardless of which child started it, Flores said.

Matters of conduct are addressed in school handbooks sent home with students at the start of the fiscal year, he said.

Susan Chan, district administrator at Kingman Academy of Learning, said there are no state or federal regulations regarding adult to student ratios on playgrounds.

“But I think it’s common sense to look at how many students you have and how many pairs of eyes are needed to watch them,” Chan said. “When we decide how many people are needed to watch children at play we also need to look at the amount of area the adults must supervise.”

Principals make recommendations regarding playground supervision on KAOL Primary (preschool through grade 2) and Intermediate (grades 3-5) school campuses based on their particular circumstances, Chan said.

A student hitting another at either school is sent home for one day to “cool off” and may return to class the next day. Two days of suspension is meted out to any offender on the middle school (grades 6-8) or high school campus of the KAOL, she said.

Chan was asked how her administrators proceed if one child allegedly hits another, but there are no adult witnesses.

“In that case, all we can do is interview other students as possible witnesses and make a judgment call on what happened,” she said.

KAOL students were explained rules of conduct on the first day of school. Further discussion takes place in specific classrooms as needed if any incidents occur during the year, Chan said.