- Last Updated on Saturday, 26 January 2013 11:02
- Published on Wednesday, 23 March 2011 00:00
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Upset with the schools, King George citizens go online to vent, discuss, organize
Oftentimes when you have a problem concerning your child at school, whether it is a child with an IEP or a child who has been bullied or beat up, you complain to your family and maybe your friends and coworkers, but you stand alone before administrators when advocating for your child. The tide has turned in King George and parents are no longer standing alone. Parents across all ages, economic and social status in the county have found each other and have
united in a common cause — a cause to create change in local schools.
In response to recent articles documenting systemic problems in King George schools, a parent movement has sprung up on Facebook and The Journal’s website. The ease with which we are able to communicate instantaneously has brought together parents and residents who share the same concerns about the safety of all students and the special education program for students who have an IEP, out of the dark and into the spotlight.
The parent movement took a first public step at the March 14 School Board meeting where approximately 30 concerned parents and citizens came together publicly to address their concerns with their elected officials. Many of those present at the May 14 meeting credit local residents Matt and Holly Hayden who publicly addressed their young son’s situation through an article in The Journal with their awareness of problems at the school. Also of note in bringing the parents together was an article in The Journal published on February 16 which spoke to the plight of a sophomore at the high school who had been jumped in the school cafeteria and spoke to the failure of school administrators to take threats of physical harm seriously and brought to light other policy failures such as the failure to provide emergency medical treatment.
The Haydens’ story documented their perspective of events that unfolded when their 10-year-old son had a knife placed to his throat at school. The Haydens alleged several incidents of mishandling of policy and procedures both at the school administrative level and further allege failure to follow policy on “weapons in school” by the school board’s decision to place the offending student on a 12-day out-of-school suspension status.
Community members Jean Conn and Patty Golightly then created an invitation Facebook page, initially in support of Matt and Holly Hayden, which encouraged the local community to attend the March 14 school board meeting and was titled “Protect Our Children.” A second Facebook page was then created and linked to the first invitation page titled “King George residents who attend School Board meetings and PTA meetings.” To date, the second page has garnered 49 likes and many comments.
Much of the discussion taking place on the page centers around information. Friends of the page are posting articles and informational website links for other parents to peruse and comment on.
For those not familiar with Facebook, it is an online community that allows members to comment or post photos or information on a “wall” that can be viewed by “friends,” “friends of friends,” or “everyone.” Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of King George residents of all ages are Facebook users.
Equally responsible for bringing parents’ concerns into the light has been the comment section of The Journal newspaper. Online readers have the option to leave a comment under each article published on The Journal’s webpage. The initial article published on Feb. 16 about the sophomore who suffered three jaw fractures from being jumped at school received 255 total comments. The comments on recent articles published by The Journal range from disbelief and outrage over the handling of the sophomore’s plight to comments such as this one from “An Angry Student” that says “Mostly all the facts in this article are made up and a lie,” and “BE QUIET! AND STOP SLANDERING THE SCHOOL! You don’t know what goes on here and you don’t know any facts about anything.”
Also being posted by readers of The Journal website are personal stories of parent struggles with the school system, the exact language on how to recall
or terminate school board members, and the dates for upcoming school board meetings.
Local resident and grandmother to seven children in the school system, Patty Golightly, summarized the concerns of parents at the March 14 meeting by saying to school board members and School Superintendent Candace Brown, “I need you to make this right!”
Coincidentally, the word of the month for March, according to King George County Schools website, is “Perseverance: sticking to a purpose or an aim; never giving up what one has set out to do; persisting,” which is always good advice no matter what side of the fence you’re standing on.
It is expected that the school board will address its policy on bullying at its upcoming meeting on Monday, March 28, at 6 p.m. in the Revercomb building meeting room.