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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Belpre Schools Plans To Re-examine

Policies Surrounding Saturday School:

By Tracy Ezolt

BELPRE Belpre City Schools' officials are re-examing Saturday school policies after a 10-year-old boy was locked out of Belpre High School earlier this month.

Robert Piggot raised the concern after his son, Zachary, was left outside the school May 15 to wait for Piggot to pick him up. The doors to the school building were locked, Piggot said.

Zachary, a fifth-grader, was with about 12 other boys at Saturday school. Many of the boys were high schoolers.

All of the boys went to the bathroom at the same time, Piggot said. After Zachary was seconds late returning to class from the break, the teacher would not allow him back in the classroom.

Piggott said the boy had never been in the school before and was unfamiliar with where the bathrooms were. He also had to wait for the other boys to finish, Piggott said.

Piggott said he was called about 10:30 to get his son and arrived about 30 minutes later to find Zachary sitting on a bench outside the school with all the doors locked.

"They sent him outside and locked the door," Piggott said. "If they're going to have the door locked, I think the students ought to be on the inside."

Piggott said he confronted a teacher at the Saturday school and was told standard procedure had been followed.

"She said that was the rules," Piggott said.

Piggott contacted Belpre police after the incident, but no report was filed because it was determined no criminal charges occurred Chief Ira Walker said.

Piggott also met with Belpre Superintendent Tim Swarr the Monday after the incident.

Piggott also contacted a lawyer who sent letters to each of the board members, addressing the issue of leaving a student outside the school unattended, locking the doors to the school and sending high school students with middle school students to the same Saturday school.

The lawyer, Paul G. Bertram II of Marietta, said the procedure of leaving students unattended and locked out of the school can lead to problems.

The letter addressed concerns about leaving children unattended and asked board members and the superintendent to 'review and revise' the Saturday school procedures.

Piggott said the policy needs to change.

"What if he was abducted?"

Swarr received the certified letter from Piggott's lawyer on May 20. He declined to comment on the situation or the letter, saying he could not discuss specific children and only a specific student was addressed in the letter.

Swarr said the administration is re-examining the grouping of middle school and high school students for Saturday school.

"Next year there will be some alterations to make it more age appropriate," he said.

Swarr also said the administration is "looking at the issue of students waiting outside for parents."

Belpre Board of Education President Rod Hineman said he could not comment on the letter and said it was a policy concern, which is handled by the administration.

He said the issues were "addressed immediately in response to the complaint." When asked about the issues at the regular board of education meeting May 17, he said, "I don't know there is an issue at this point."

High School Principal Robert Hattman said the general procedure during Saturday school is to unlock the front doors until it starts at 8 a.m., after that the doors are locked.

According to the policy, if a student misbehaves, they are sent home and given access to a phone to call someone to pick them up, Hattman said.

Hattman said when students are sent home they wait outside for their ride unless the weather is poor.

Hattman said the students are observable from the Saturday school room. He said he was not familiar with the details involving Piggott, but did address the situation.

"I'm guessing the problem is a middle school kid in a high school situation," Hattman said. "I am sure the parent complaint is based on an expectation of a middle school parent (in) a high school situation."

Middle School Principal Kathy Garrison could not be reached for comment.

End of article

Well, here we go again folks. We've had children abducted from streets, school yards, play grounds, public parks, etc. all across this nation. The federal government is constantly harping on "safety measures," that must be taken. There must be several dozen "child watch" groups that have sprung into action in recent months. Amber alerts have been made into law almost nation wide. People are told....use the buddy system.... even for adults, women especially ..... don't put youself or your child in any potentially dangerous situation. And yet, it just never seems to sink in when it comes to this area.

So, once again, we see parents forced to hire attorney's in an effort to get "policies" changed that should never have been implemented in the first place.

And as far as "no report was filed because it was determined no criminal charges occured," is concerned ..... Duh. The police have to ..... "make the report, and file the "criminal charges, before they could "occur!"

Consider and compare the following .....

What happens if you leave a small child in an unlocked vehicle, in the sun ..... even for just a couple of minutes while you run into the store for a gallon of milk ..... and a cop comes along and sees the situation? What happens?

Another example .... You're just going down the street a couple of blocks, so you see no need for your children to "buckle up." Nothing goes wrong .... except half way there a police officer passes you and notices none of the children are wearing seat belts. He turns around and comes back. By this time you've arrived "safely" at your destination and the children are piling out of the car. What happens?

I'll tell you what, in all likelyhood will happen in both instances. You will be charged with child endangerment. You will, at the very least, end up in court, and you may very well have your child {or children} taken away from you for a time. And heaven help you should anyone be able to prove that this behavior had been a regular occurance {a policy} for a long time .... perhaps years.

Most people cannot afford to send their children to private schools. We are all compelled by law to send our children to school, and we are told repeatedly that they are in the "care of experts" ..... people trained {often at taxpayer's expense} to oversee the education and safety of the children. Then, we turn around and discover that our trust has been shattered by a situation such as is listed above. And, what happens?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No one can think of any "criminal charges" that could possibly apply!

Well, I'm not a cop or a lawyer but I am an American taxpayer who believes wholeheartedly in our civil rights and our constitutional rights, and several things came to my mind ..... Child endangerment / neglegence on behalf of a custodian / humiliation and emotional cruelty ... and if you'll give me ten minutes I'll probably come up with a few other things!!!

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