Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education

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Author:  LaRhonda Williams [ Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Racism

Okay, so in my school, 2 students received a hate letter. Both letters contained racial slurs, foul language and a detailed image of a student getting killed. The letters were found on 2 different seats. One was a hispanic girl and another child was a black girl. No one in 6th grade is talking. My principal is upset and wants to press charges. I want to know how you would handle the situation. Later I will tell you how she handled it.

Author:  Nicole Hazelwood [ Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  answer

WOW LaRhonda! I think I would question both students and see what they said about the notes. Also, I would have the guidance counselor speak to both girls and ask if there is anything troubling them. I would ask if they had any idea who could have said those comments to them.

Did anyone see the notes left? If no one came forward, I would have a 6th grade meeting and discuss the how we should treat others and tell the students that if no one comes forward, the whole 6th grade will have a special class on bullying. I would let the whole grade know the severity of the situation and that the police could be involved. "This will not be done at this school without punishment. My eyes are watching you!"

Just my two cents! Definitely post what she did!

Author:  Misti Holloway [ Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:57 pm ]
Post subject: 

Who had access to this room at this time?

Wouldn't it have to be someone who knows these girls since they knew which desks to leave the letters on?

Could it be someone in the class? Could handwriting be analyzed by the teacher to narrow down possible suspects?

(I guess I watch too many crime shows :) ).

If narrowing down the list of possible suspects and looking at the window of opportunity do not work, I like Nicole's idea of speaking with the whole sixth grade. I would attempt these other options first while keeping the girls' parents informed daily of what was being done and allowing the girls to speak with guidance counselors--like Nicole said.

I think keeping close supervision on the classroom, ensuring the girls feel safe and protected, and keeping the parents informed are good first steps. I would act quickly. If in a day or two no suspects present themselves, I would speak to the whole 6th grade. Just my take on things...

Author:  Lisa Pendry [ Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

We had a similar incident, but were able to identify the writer of the note. He was suspended and parents contacted. When he returned, I read the book "Sister Sara's Hands" which is about a black nun who is a new teacher in an all-white school and receives a racist letter and picture from a student. The book was well received and was a great opener for a class discussion.

There are also good classroom activities where you show preferential treatment to students with one characteristic (such as are wearing blue, or having brown eyes) and discriminate against the others. It can be a real eye opener. (Depends on age of class - mine are 6th graders.)

Author:  Lora Tiano [ Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:12 pm ]
Post subject: 

So, how did the situation turn out?

I think this goes back to the discussion on one of the other topics about how such young children can really feel such hate/anger towards another child based solely on race...or even socioeconomic status. It's sad that in 2011 in our little town of Kernersville, we have to still deal with such ignorance...that is being taught in the homes of students we teach.

Author:  Meghan Wood [ Mon Apr 25, 2011 4:59 pm ]
Post subject: 

What would I do? Wow big question and scary at the same time because you have to be prepared for anything as a teacher or administrator!

I think I would also do some of the previous things mentioned: examine the school schedule and who had access to the room, ask all students who were in the classroom one by one, question others who may have been near or walking by the room, hold an assembly on bullying, and if possible I would check for fingerprints (bring in the whole crime lab) if possible. I think I might also get students in the class to write something as to have a writing sample.

I would call the parents of the children involved as well as all the parents of the students in the class to let them know what had happened and not to become too surprised if their student will be asked some questions relating to the issue. I would also make it clear that students who know anything could step forward anonymously. I might even create some rules or procedures with the SIT team if none were in place as to how to address any further issues.

Those are just some ideas, but please post back with how it turned out!

Author:  LaRhonda Williams [ Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:08 pm ]
Post subject: 

So, our principal spoke with the 6th grade and no one admitted to anything. She called every parent and explained the situation. After 2 weeks, 2 more letters appeared. She addressed the staff and enforced locking doors and making sure all students are closely monitored.
In the letters the k's were written distinctly; so, she made each child do a writing sample. The writing sample narrowed it down to 3 kids. The teachers went through the desks of the students and found some interesting "flags, quotes, and pictures." But guess what, that wasn't the student that drew the letters. Finally a notebook appeared under the desk of a student. The notebook had other letters written in it and the handwriting matched perfectly. (Now this is the short version of what happend). And now the principal is pressing charges. We still dont know why the student wrote the notes, and I am still waiting to see what type of parents this child has.

Author:  Lora Tiano [ Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:44 pm ]
Post subject: 

Wow! That's why your principal is so respected by parents and staff alike. She's willing to go through whatever it takes to "make things right." I'm so glad ya'll got to the bottom of that horrible situation. It is so unfortunate that children have to deal with that at such a young age.

Author:  Tina Bullington [ Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:58 am ]
Post subject: 

I think that we, as educators or administrators, have to address the issue of hatred. You can never be comfortable in the thought that people just know better in today's society. The sad thing? Most children are simply a mirror image of their parent's beliefs. We do weekly character education lessons. Our principal has done a great job making the videos, games or discussions very relevant. I think it has created an awareness in our students and staff.

Author:  Meghan Wood [ Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:17 am ]
Post subject: 

Tina I like the idea of your principal having a character education lesson each week. I think this is something we take for granted that kids know.

LaRhonda, keep us updated. If you have time, I would like to know the process your principal used to tell the parent/guardian of the student caught that she is pressing charges. I know you can't give full details but am interested in how your principal handled the situation. I thought about that this morning actually about how would I tell a parent I was pressing charges against their 6th grade student?

So thankful though your school was able to get to the bottom of this. Also sounds like a lot of us had the same ideas your principal used to try to narrow down the unforturnate candidates. Looks like we are on the right track to thinking as administrators!

Author:  Daniel Bryant [ Sun May 01, 2011 4:17 pm ]
Post subject: 

I have to say that I'm glad to be reading this for the first time after the situation has already been taken care of... It seems like your principal handled things well, and it might have actually been good for the school as a whole that the kid responsible was not discovered immediately. That allowed your principal and fellow teachers to bring significant attention to how wrong racism is, how it will not be tolerated, and how it will be responded to in the future.

While you obviously can't change parents' beliefs through threats of punishment, many elementary school kids' decisions are dictated by right and wrong. Regardless of what they've learned at home or from their friends, I dare say they have a new, definitive understanding now...

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