Monday, December 17, 2012

Our School Children in Crisis? What Can We Do?

As I sit here reading more about the horrible incident that happened on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I find myself in an angered, saddened, and confused state of mind. Angered that someone could do something that terrible to children. Saddened for the parents of the 20 slain elementary Students. Saddened for the families of the staff members that lost their lives that day.  Saddened for the heroes like Victoria Soto
who hid her students so that they would be saved from the criminal that perpetrated this terrible act, and finally, confused as to what led to this action. What could have been done? Finally it hit me.

Have I done enough as a parent to protect my children from incidents like this? Can an incident like this happen at my kids school? Could I be one day receiving a phone call like the one the Families of this tragedy  received that day? So it made me want to put these words to paper.

My Kids go to Taft ISD . Taft ISD is a school district for a small town with a small town way of thinking. Taft ISD has not met the state's requirements for schools in a long time now. Taft is rated academically unacceptable, so much so that there was a page sent out stating that if they do not increase the school scores that they could close down the district. The same school district that recently passed a 7.5M bond tho help their sports program
A Bond that pays for:
Athletic Field Renovations:
Build a Complete New Greyhound Stadium Including:
New Football Playing Surface
New Eight Lane Competition Track
New Field Event Areas (High Jump, Long Jump, etc.)
New Seating on both the Home and visitor Sides
New Lighting
New Concession Stands and Restrooms
New Parking Areas
New Home and Visitor Press Boxes
Renovate Junior High Band Hall to Visitor Locker Room
ADA Improvements
Rebuild Softball and Baseball Seating Area and Infield Playing Surface
New ADA Accessible Seating and Walkway Areas
New Concession Stands and Restrooms
New Backstop Fencing
Re-Conditioned Infields
Build Two New Tennis Courts
New Courts
New Nets and Standards
New Lighting

High School Conversion:
Build New High School Front Office and Classrooms Including:
New Welcome Center
New Centrally Located Offices
New Security Entryway
New College Career Center
New Classroom
Connects Krumnow Center, Classrooms Wings and Library
Replace Existing Windows with Energy Efficient Windows
Re-roof Existing Structures
New Air Conditioning in 9th and 10th Grade Hallways

Yes folks, 1 classroom. Now, I realize sports have their place but it seemed on this one they were more important than the classes, which honestly makes no sense when they are not meeting their academic standards. But this is not the Only Problem with Taft ISD. Taft has problems in every school in their District.

In Taft High School, last year 2 staff Members have been arrested for sexual assault. One, an Athletic Trainer, and the second the band director. A band director who one staff member has stated has done this for years and was caught several times having relations with other female staff members. Both were allowed to resign. Not fired, mind you, but resign.

In Taft Middle School there is an assistant principal who stated to me that "I'm here to protect the teachers, not the students." This same assistant principal even tried to bully me during this conversation after I told him that the students come first. Which made him stand up and point his finger at my face. The same teachers who find it OK to belittle students and parents. One parent/staff member told me once that a science teacher called her child, who suffers from ADHD, "retarded," something my student told me was norm in that class.

Worse yet, the elementary, my own student is a victim of bullying.  Bullying that is being covered up by the Principal herself. The latest incident happened just last week. An incident where the principal told me that my child was hit on the head by another child. At first that other student was a female. Then it became a male. It wasn't until my student came home that I found out that it was actually 3 males. When questioned, the principal's reply was this:

During the investigation, your student reported three students hit her; one on the eye, two on the arm.  After I concluded the investigation, one student did hit her on the eye, and one student hit her on the arm.   All children involved were disciplined.  She also stated she hit a student on the eye.  As I stated on the phone yesterday, your student said she was hit first on the eye.  Others interviewed stated your student hit another student first.  There is not a definite answer as to who hit who first.  Our phone conversation ended right after the 3:00 dismissal bell, due to your request to have your other student picked up for the day, instead of riding the bus.  At that point, I was not able to inform you of the other student hitting your student on the arm.

OK, this phone conversation was 15 minutes long, and at no point did this Principal find it important to state that it was more than one student that attacked my child!  Even though my child said it was 3 boys that hit her, the principal then made it two. What was even more disturbing was the fact that this principal believed that my student, a 40 lb skinny as a rail female, would go hit 3 boys first was very unbelievable.  It actually brought up an old 3 stooges scene in my mind where Larry and Curly stayed in place with their faces out and eyes closed while Moe slapped them both at the same time.  I honestly wondered if this Principal actually believed that story as she wrote it, thinking out loud in her mind
"Oh yeah they will believe that!!!" while smirking.

What made me worry even more was this: This principal is willing to change and leave out facts on an assault.  Then again, this is the same person who wants to be the non biased mediator on a grievance against her. Yes, I said that correctly. So how far is this individual willing to go? What is she willing to hide? Sexual assault, abuse, a child bringing a weapon to the school? What is she willing to do to save ill conceived prestige? And has she and the other staff members already hidden something that could make my child a victim and threaten their lives?

Can we really trust these people to protect our children? Can I trust a school district that seem to have their priorities in the wrong place?  A staff that is more concerned with themselves than the lives placed in their hands? Have I failed my students in not trying to do more to make sure these individuals do the best for the children in the school?  What can I do about it rather than sit here worried, stressed, and scared?