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Parents need to 'go public' with their school concerns

April 09, 2001

Parents need to 'go public' with their school concerns



At a recent meeting of the Washington County Board of Education, Board President Bernadette Wagner said she's been told that some parents feel school principals are being stifled by central office staff. Wagner said parents at four schools have told her that they feel principals are being silenced in the way they can respond to parent concerns on certain issues.

And which issues are those? Wagner said that she couldn't talk about which issues parents were concerned about or which staff members allegedly stifled them because those were personnel issues.

Yes, it is, if individual staff members aren't following the board's policies. And such issues should be handled first in a closed session of the school board, so that allegations against staff members can be freely discussed without endangering their reputations.

At this point, what we have is rumors about hearsay about third-hand conversations. And since Wagner has chosen to make at least part of it public, we believe that it's time for the parents who have concerns to raise them in some public way.

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That could involve contacting the newspaper to discuss their worries, to allow journalists to get a feel for whether further investigation is warranted. It could involve going to a school board meeting and addressing the board publicly.

At that point we'd know whether we're talking about a major problem, or something that can be easily handled. The Washington County Commissioners hear from citizens every week, consider their concerns and refer them to staff for correction or other action. There's no reason the school board can't do the same.

If you haven't done it before, calling a newspaper or making a complaint to a government body in public can be an intimidating experience. But if the situation is serious, getting the problem out in the open may be the only way to get it corrected. We hope the parents who've called Wagner will care enough about making things better to take their concerns one step further.

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