I have been reading the articles regarding the unauthorized visit some parents and school board members allegedly made to Los Alamos High School (a public school).A few concerns come to my mind and more than a few questions.
I am not too concerned about the nature of the visit or details of prom but more about a few comments that stand out to me, as a parent. I graduated from Los Alamos High School, as did my mother and two of my children and Los Alamos has always been home. Parents care and are involved, for the most part, and we are all very fortunate to live in a community where Topper Review makes headlines in the news, as opposed to a shooting on Central Avenue.
So my question begins with the subject no one has brought up. What was a student doing on campus with pepper spray? Protection perhaps but in class and on a school campus? Parents and visitors must to check and be escorted but any student can go to any class and in the office with pepper spray? Good to know. Could be considered a weapon but obviously a weapon of this nature is allowed. This fact alone gives me reason to pause and wonder. Protection from what? Am I missing something? What is it that I don’t know?
The principal obviously cares about the teachers and showed great concern for the educator involved, yet I am concerned that the teacher felt threatened. Threatened by questions that she was unprepared to answer? Threated by what? I don’t know or care about the details of what was going to be discussed. Who knows if it got that far. My thought process goes to the “alert” to staff that visitors were on their way and all come to the rescue.
Perhaps security protocol was not followed, however, from what I have read, protocol was out the door since the office was infiltrated with a pepper spray, so if I was a parent or board member visiting I would have been discussing that issue and measures to guard against future incidents of this nature, as the administrators should have been, rather than running to announce someone wanted to speak to or meet with a class sponsor.
In reading the comments from the teacher’s perspective, it reminded me of an 80’s movie about a principal who chained the doors against drug dealers and all the security officers were in look out for the Fire Marshall, carrying communication devices yelling “Code red, code red”. But this time it is to keep the parents and school board out. Sad times.
I my opinion, as a parent, or a concerned perhaps curious citizen, I should be able to go to the office unannounced, check in and get a badge, and drop in and observe any class or engage in a conversation with a teacher at any point during any school day. Could it be a disruption? You bet. And what better way to understand just how well a teacher copes with disruption or observation than an unannounced visit. Every parent should do this at least once in their child’s school career. However, it is not allowed. It is unfortunate.
There is always a level of accountability, and this would be an unexpected, yet very useful tool for the kids, parents and teachers, and perhaps the administrators. My children have come home and said some things that happened in class, or something a teacher said, that I think to myself, “Did that really happen or is this a perspective issue.” Regardless, the perspective that causes a parent concern is the perspective of their child. A more open and welcoming environment would benefit all. Most of the time I enter campus and feel like an instant criminal under constant surveillance.
How do the kids feel? Do they feel welcome and comfortable? I have heard the kids talking and that is not the impression I get but it could be just me.
The other issue comes to prom. There was a similar, more privately shared issue with homecoming, which was held in ‘”commons”, or from what I have seen, a small cafe type sitting area the kids are not allowed to sit in during class time, and the hallways.
In reality Los Alamos does not have a venue available for the expected attendance. The new facility at the golf course could be an option, but seems a bit pricey, unless the venue offers dinner, etc. Buffalo Thunder is not that far, and if the price is right, what would the issue be? Paying for the venue and the band or DJ would be a burden that the host class should figure out, with community and school support.
This should be about the students. Teach the lessons needed about organization, expectations, etc., but keep in mind that support along the way is essential to the success of any project.
I believe this incident was blown a bit out of proportion and the school community could all learn a few lessons. Protect when necessary but teach coping. A life skill is to be prepared to diffuse and discuss. Refusing a discussion makes me think there is something to hide. A school administrator alerting a teacher or an individual of visitors makes me wonder why? What is going on that no one is allowed a discussion or visit without an appointment? What do you not want the community to see? I am sure it is nothing, however from the works of William Shakespeare, “Me thinks thou dost protest too much”.