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The writing on the wall; Parents outraged
DIXFIELD- As more and more parents became aware of the inappropriate words scattered over the civil rights team wall at T.W. Kelly Middle School last Tuesday night, Facebook was the choice media used to express their anger and disappointment in their children's school officials.
While most parents were alerted to the disgraceful words (only spoken by the most drunken of sailors) by their young wrestlers attending the school for their evening practice, others saw the posts by the outraged parents online and became infuriated.
“OMG,” posted Tanya Ellis of Dixfield. “So Hunter, Joe and Jake come home from wrestling and what was posted on the walls at the middle school? All kinds of racial slurs, swear words and derogatory names that the kids are calling each other. It's called “No Name Calling” week, but the teachers at the middle school thought it appropriate to put on the walls. The kids, 4 (years old) and up were reading all of these names (post of names not suitable to print). This is what our middle school principal is allowing at school. I will be demanding that it comes down ASAP in the morning. So I guess I will let the teachers know that when Hunter calls someone a (sexually inappropriate word from the wall), that it was a word she allowed on the wall at school.”
In response to the outrage, Principal Celina Ranger, noted, “We wanted to offer the students a place to write the names they had been called. The names needed to be on there, but only after school hours were the inappropriate words added by unsupervised students.”
Ranger added that the civil rights team, supervised by guidance counselor, Kate Clough and teacher Shane Jamison, have been working hard to show that bullying will not be tolerated.
“We wanted to show the school how they shouldn't behave during the school day. In hindsight, we weren't really thinking of the influx of students that wouldn't take the exercise seriously and write on the paper after school. All we want is for our students to feel safe when they come to school. We want the kids who did this to come forward.”
When asked how the school plans to deal with the situation, Ranger noted, “Our biggest focus right now will be to praise the students who did the right thing during the exercise. Those students who did the wrong thing need to know it wasn't okay, what they did, but they don't need to know they ruined it for others. We won't focus on the negative impact it has had.”
It was common with many of the parents, that they felt as though this incident was one more in a long line of lack of communication with between faculty and parents.
“In my experience with this principal,” noted Donald Hebert. “It is par for the course. We were not informed of this exercise. When I spoke to my son about it, he was a bit put off by explaining it to me. My sense of that, was that he knew it was wrong. He told me kids were laughing about this. Also, I do not understand why we need to write these down, let alone have our students do this. I'm not quite sure what it is teaching besides that sometimes apparently it is okay.”
The paper was taken down on Tuesday night by a janitor and the students were asked, on Wednesday morning to write the names they had heard on a piece of paper during homeroom. Upon passing it in to their teachers. They were assured that, if at any time they heard those words and went to a teacher, disciplinary action would be taken to protect them from hearing those words again.
On Wednesday, Ellis had posted a follow up to her first post on Facebook, noting, “Although I have been told, and I do believe that the middle school had good intentions for trying to show our kids that words hurt, I still find myself disappointed in how it was done. I don't understand how no one in the facility thought this was a bad idea. Did they think the kids were not going to be honest on the names that they have heard. Did no one honestly think that the kids wouldn't write the names that they did? Really? Also, with this particular topic, it could bring out some serious emotions for some kids and we, as parents, were not told about it. I'm just very sad about this.”
Principal Ranger noted that she has approximately one or two students per week that visit her with bullying complaints. “The teachers have a great level of communication and report all bullying behavior to me. Our goal is to convey the consequences of poor behavior to the students and help change that behavior.”