Margo Bushmiaer, director of nurses at the Little Rock School District, warned school district nurses that they will see more student injuries with a large number of substitute teachers in an email that the Arkansas Times has obtained.
“We expect there will be many substitute teachers in the classrooms,” Bushmiaer wrote. “I know there are more injuries and visits to the nurse when there are substitutes.”
Bushmiaer sent the email on Oct. 30, a time when a strike was merely seen as likely. On Monday, the Little Rock Education Association called for a one-day strike for Thursday, Nov. 14.
Bushmiaer also warned school nurses about social media posting. She said that the Arkansas State Board of Nursing would investigate if parents or coworkers complained. That suggestion might be seen as an attempt to quiet school nurses who have been critical of the state’s treatment of the LRSD.
The Times made a Freedom of Information Act request to the LRSD for all Oct. 30 correspondence between the LRSD and school nurses. The district did not produce this Bushmiaer email. The Times obtained it from Ross Noland, an LRSD parent and an experienced FOIA attorney.
Noland has additionally sought information about how the LRSD will operate its schools during a teacher strike. How will the district address school safety concerns? How will it maintain state required teacher to student ratios? (I’ve separately asked Pam Smith, district communications director, for comment on this). Noland has also made a series of requests regarding background checks for prospective substitute teachers. In response, the district provided Noland only with records that are already publicly available.
Noland told the district FOIA staff he had a hard time believing that “no one at LRSD has sent an email, issued a memo, or communicated with your sub contractor in the last three months pertaining to the process of securing background checks, despite the fact LRSD is currently in the process of hiring many, many subs in preparation for a strike that could happen any day now.”
The district says it’s looking further into its records.
UPDATE: Noland has filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court alleging the LRSD has violated the FOIA. A judge has not been assigned the case.