Commission To Examine Root Of Problems In Woodland Hills School District

CHURCHILL (KDKA) — Something isn’t working in the Woodland Hills School District, and the district is trying to fix the problem.

It recently hired a local public relations firm, and Thursday afternoon, announced the formation of a special commission.

The commission is made up of 20 members, representing each aspect of the community. Their intent is to look at the root of the problem in the district and make recommendations.

Dr. Jerry Zahorchak, former Pennsylvania secretary of education, and Karen Farmer-White, a community activist and member of the state board of education, are the co-chairs of the newly formed commission.

“It is my hope that our results will perhaps become a model for other school districts that are experiencing some of the same situations,” Farmer-White said.

And those situations in Woodland Hills over the last several months include videos allegedly showing a school resource police officer attacking a student and knocking his front teeth out, the principal of the high school recorded allegedly threatening to punch a student, and most recently, video of a behavioral specialist dragging a student down the hall by his neck.

“At the root of everything that’s happened, it seems to us that there is likely some deficiency there,” Superintendent Alan Johnson said. “There’s some things we’ve done really well. There are some things we could do much better. But when you’re inside the system, it’s a lot harder to see that.”

Johnson talks about the purpose of the Woodland Hills commission on youth development and learning.

“To focus on what are the best pathways to academic success for our kids,” Johnson said. “And, as Dr. Zahorchak said, perhaps more importantly for us at the moment — what are the things we need to do to assist our families and our community in this really critical area of child development.”

The commission hopes to have its first meeting in a few weeks and have a detailed report by the beginning of the school year.

Some of the 20 members on the commission include clergy, law enforcement, business owners, parents, and the commission eventually wants input from students.

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