Parents in Granite Falls are upset over what they see as a lack of consequences for violent students. They complain about violent episodes every day at Mountain Way Elementary, with some students so scared they're becoming physically ill.
"It's bad. It's stressful every day," said parent Jessica Sims.
Sims recently quit her job as a student supervisor at Mountain Way and pulled her six-year-old daughter from the school because of what Sims says are daily outbreaks of violence.
"It's specifically the behavior of a few students that would regularly throw chairs, pencils, scissors," she said. "It happens all the time. It's out of control."
At one point her daughter, Madelyn, was hit in the leg when a student threw a chair, leaving a bruise. That student was allowed to return to the classroom that same day.
The outbursts became so pervasive throughout the year that little Madelyn literally threw up in class.
"When I got there, there were four staff members in the room who had been in the classroom helping with the situation, and they all told me she's not sick. She's stressed," said Sims.
Sims wrote a lengthy letter to the school board, blaming something called "restorative practices" for the apparent increase in classroom violence.
Introduced last year, it's an approach that favors de-escalation, discussion and second chances for problem students to teach them how to better interact with others.
Sims says it isn't working.
"It seems like it's just have a talk and send them back to class," said Sims. "I would love to see some consequences. If a student throws a chair take him out of the classroom for at least the rest of the day. Maybe some children don't belong in these classrooms."
School administrators say 70 percent of the kindergarten students at Mountain Way are not emotionally prepared for a school setting and getting them there takes time.
Mountain Way principal Cheryl Larsen says "restorative practices" aren't to blame for the problems at the school.
"This is something new to the school and people are unfamiliar with it, so they're grabbing onto it as a cause," said Larsen. "We have a lot of high-need students, students who have experienced trauma at an early age. That raises a lot of challenges."
Larsen sees changing student behavior as more of a marathon than a sprint. She thinks the "restorative" approach will work, given time.
"We need to make these children feel a sense of integrity, so they don't act out when they're at school."
As for those who say she's being too soft, Larsen says she issued 85 suspensions this year as opposed to just 10 last year.
"I understand parents' frustrations, but they don't always see everything that goes on," Larsen said.
Now Sims is preparing to homeschool her daughter, frustrated with a system she feels is simply unsafe.
"They tell me every student has a right to an education, but what about all the other students' rights?" she said.