I am compelled to write this letter in response to one that was written and published in your Bag of Mail column, Feb. 22nd. After reading the letter several times regarding "Wants the Facts", I was saddened by some of it's content regarding students and misinformation. The P.T.A. (Parent Teacher Association) president of Beach Channel High School called a special meeting for February 14 in lieu of information that was received by her. A teacher, who was removed from the school several months ago while under investigation with the Board of Education for inflicting corporal punishment upon a student, was to return.
The P.T.A. was unsuccessful in receiving information from the Superintendent's Office about this specific case. (i.e. guilt or innocence of this teacer) What was mentioned by the Superintendent's representative at the meeting when speaking "in general" is that a teacher could be found guilty of a crime(s) and brought back into the school system with as little as a fine. (I find this fact from his office to be one that should give everyone something to worry about and looked into very seriously.)
The principal, Mr. Gassaway, took a position that gave to most parents along with the P.T.A. great concern. As mentioned by some of the parents, if a principal feels so strongly with regard to something, WE SHOULD LISTEN CLOSELY. As an obligation of a P.A./P.T.A. within every school, it is one's duty to provide information and/or knowledge to parents of attending students. The P.T.A.'s intent was to inform parents of a situation that was to have occurred between a student and his teacher. The principal along with teachers (unless a parent of a student) were not encouraged to attend this meeting because under the Chancellor's Regulation book A-660, this would pose a "conflict of interest".
The position was presented as, ."No teacher has a right to physically harm our children", and that a "situation" could have led up to that circumstance, I believe was answered at the meeting. The parents of the student stated, " he (the student) needed no disciplinary action nor were legal charges brought against him by the teacher, school or superintendent's office. Some information that I came upon and provided at the meeting was that this occurrence had gone through (two) hearings and investigations. The student and his parents were never asked to make a statement, participate in any investigation,,, or notified of any hearing took place until this meeting.
I went on to explain that the student had TWO separate confrontations with the teacher at TWO separate locations with a lap's of time (app. 15 minutes) between them. When I spoke, I believe it was calmly, objectively, telling what I was informed of which helped to control a crowd of angry parents and assorted onlookers. If I did so, in a way that not everyone was able to hear, I do apologize. This might explain the contradiction of information.
I am a parent of a student first, then a P.T.A. (Fundraising) Executive Board Member, which should explain why I did not open the meeting. As such, I have as many questions and concerns as you and all the parents. What has saddened me the most within your letter is a student(s) felt as if they were silenced because of articulation or being "with the teacher". All of the students that spoke that evening, I thought were applauded at one time or another. I would like to believe that there was never any intention of the executive board or parents to have a student feel silenced. My heart goes out to that student.
As an officer on the committee, I am here for the children first and then their parents. With that mind, on behalf of the person(s) that made a student feel as such, I am sorry for their actions. I would prefer not to see anyone lose one's livelihood or position that has done many good things in their career. However, a situation of poor judgment also has to be taken into consideration. As parents of our students throughout, we have to ask all the questions, seek the right answers and try to provide the best environment for "our children" within our HOME and SCHOOL.
It may be that the first question WE should ask is, Does ANY teacher have a right to return to a school if they are found guilty of a crime?