Just a 'little thing' at Troy Howard Middle School
A not-so-little incident happened at the middle school during the month of November which, if you are aware of it -- it is only because your own child discussed it with you. The incident I’m referring to is the discovery of drugs on campus. What type of drug? That is open to rumor and really does not matter. How was it discovered? I am not – nor do I expect to be -- privy to that information. Why were we not informed by the administration as parents and guardians of children attending the middle school? Good question!
Our children – ages 11 through 14 -- attend middle school for six and a half hours per day, five days per week, averaging 175 days out of a 365-day calendar year. We, the parents and guardians, entrust the administration with the responsibility of educating our children. However, that responsibility is limited and not all-encompassing. The parents and guardians were uninformed while the administration “handled” the incident according to protocol. I would have expected that once the immediate reprimand was enacted the administration's next step would be to inform the parents and guardians of the entire student body.
A simple, unspecific statement notifying us of the incident and assuring us of the action steps being taken is all that was necessary. However, none of that happened. As the days grew on and the lack of information mounted, I decided to meet with the superintendent to discuss my concerns. Upon meeting with Superintendent Brian Carpenter and citing my concerns over the lack of information being shared, he informed me that he did not agree with my assessment, and further asked if I wanted the school to inform us about "every little thing that happens on campus?” I guess the small incident of an illegal substance brought to school by a minor is considered a "little thing" in the administration's opinion. Sorry, not mine, and, upon talking with other parents, not theirs, either.
This small “little thing” resulted in three days of a drug-sniffing dog and police on campus. Their purpose -- general information, introduction to the dog and instruction regarding the students’ rights to their personal belongings and their lockers while on campus. Kudos for that. Instruction and information, what a powerful tool – one which can positively reinforce what is expected. Why are the parents and guardians not allowed as much – instead, we are trivialized and deemed not necessary in the mix.
When my child began middle school the parents were invited to attend a meeting to discuss this new phase in their lives. We were advised to “stay involved” in our children’s lives. During middle school, we were told, our children tend to try to push us away – but “don’t listen” – “stay connected” and involved. My, do those words ring in my ears – when the school administrators are the ones creating the wedge between parent/guardian and student.
The lack of information is frightening. The school administration, by virtue of its silence, has stepped into my home and decided what warrants conversation; and have completely rendered a teachable moment at our dinner table unnecessary. I am my child’s parent, not you. I decide how, when and where to discuss “little things” such as this. I accuse the administration of being reckless and obtrusive beyond repair if this continued action is allowed. If you agree, please get involved; speak with Superintendent Carpenter, speak with the administrators at the middle school, call your school board representative. These “little things” cannot be ignored.
Our children face many challenges during these years to come. I do not want the school administration to take away our influence because it doesn’t think an event warrants notification. We are their parents/guardians for a lifetime.