Friday, January 13, 2012

"Time Out Rooms": Policy Is Changed

Thanks to Darrel Lucas for the video.


The Superintendent of Schools, Michael Frechette, announced at a press conference in District Headquarters that the Farm Hill rooms used to provide students with a time out will no longer be used for this purpose. He said, "A new suite area on the second floor of the building will be modified for use as a safe area by [these] students ... if necessary for their safety and the safety of other students and staff."

This occurs one week after he received a copy of a letter sent by Farm Hill PTA president Apryl Dudley to Mayor Dan Drew, protesting the use of rooms which she said children and parents referred to as "Scream Rooms".

Frechette further said that there would be no further use of time-out rooms for students who do not have a specialized learning plan, "I wanted to make clear that I have directed all administrative staff in the District to cease, immediately, using time out rooms for students who do not have specialized, legally created ... plans."

These "legally created" plans follow either the Americans With Disabilities Act (504 plans) or the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which mandates individualized education plans (IEP) for students with very specific mental or physical disabilities. See HERE for a brief discussion of 504 and IEP.

The press conference was short and seemed forced. Board of Education Chair Gene Nocera told the assembled media there would be no questions, and after being introduced, Frechette tersely read a 164 word statement.

After the conference, I asked Frechette to give his perspective on why so many parents were upset about the situation at Farm Hill. He declined, saying this was all discussed at the Farm Hill meeting last night.

Nocera told me that the Board will continue to monitor the situation, and will hear from the Superintendent at every Board meeting about the progress in resolving the issues.

April Dudley, the Farm Hill PTA president, was deluged with cameras after the meeting. She said that the changes proposed by the administration were good ones, calling it a win-win solution for everybody, "I think we need to move on."

Dudley also said that the concerns of the parents were not about the teachers, "We thank the teachers at our school for doing an outstanding job with our children despite the issues going on."

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Apryl-
You initiated change about a situation that bothered you. Good job.

I have one question, after reading the comments of so many parents, have you given thought to the way your original letter was written?

It would be nice for many to hear that while you meant well, you realized that a few comments in your letter were hurtful. Your mistake about special needs kids swearing as well as your comment that good parents are leaving.

Especially given that as facts came out- there were many non special Ed children in that room.

The board of Ed heard your outcry-
I plead with you to hear the outcry of parents that felt condemned by your statements.

The divide at farm hill that rippled through this town can only begin healing when all sides humble themselves and let down walls.

My hope is that the change in policy opens up dialogue for so many other changes- we are after all one community; one community responsible for all of our children.

Anonymous said...

"she also said the concerns were not with the teachers.." No, we know this. HER concerns are with the fact that her precious children have to attend public school with "bad" kids. Good for the changes that came from this, but I will not give this woman credit, as her motives were not well intended for the children involved. How can you not be concerned about the staff at this school if they deemed it acceptable behavior to lock children in solitary confinement?! If THAT is not her concern, then WHAT is?!

Anonymous said...

What about similar "time out" rooms at most of the other schools?

Anonymous said...

As a Farm Hill parent, I'm quite upset about how this was handled. Ms. Dudley's use of the term "scream rooms" was uneccesary and irresponsible, and predictably embraced by national media who are sensationalizing this story and portraying Farm Hill as some sort of torture chamber. This issue could have been resolved with out resorting to public humiliation for the school, its administration and teachers who, as I have witnessed for the past 6 years, are doing a remarkable job given the circumstances (poor leadership, lack of resources/support, etc.). Additionally, unless an extreme change in procedure happens quickly and flawlessly (which is highly unlikely), the administration will be walking on eggshells regarding children who are out of control, which is a terrible position for these students and the rest of the school. Not only will we now have staff who are hesitant to use disciplinary action, but we will have students who sense that the authority figures charged with setting boundaries for them are wavering and uncertain about how to proceed. Additionally, if removal of disruptive students is delayed (which I predict it will be, given the intense scrutiny the school will no be under), lessons will be delayed, interrupting learning for the rest of the student body. There are other ways to get results than through embarassing the school and administration by putting it on the national stage. Poorly played.

Anonymous said...

This is an editorial posing as a news story. The Eye is flawed. Way to count the number of words used by the superintendent- that isn't at all snarky... and neither is this. I hope I want too terse in my comment.

Anonymous said...

I agree...either Apryl Dudley herself, or one of her friends, is clearly connected to the publishing of these articles. There is a definite bias in the reporting.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the supt. had done something about the situtation when it was first brought to his attention the whole mess could have been averted.

Anonymous said...

He didn't sound terse to me either.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comments that the tone of this piece was far from neutral. And the question he posed the superintendent was silly. Why are parents upset? Really?

Anonymous said...

At NO point were students locked in there. The majority of the time there are 1-2 staff members IN the room with the child with additional staff outside the door monitoring the safety of the staff and the student inside. People walking by would not see the staff INSIDE the room unless they went right up to the small window and looked in (which is not allowed). The staff outside the door stand in front of the window so other students can't see in. The only time the staff vacates the room is when the student is assaulting them (and sometimes not even then). It is used when the child is attempting to hurt themselves or others (we're talking very dangerous behaviors and only after everything else has been exhausted-removing the student from the reg. class, brought to the counseling room or office-which has furniture and objects that often become "weapons" against staff, calling parents, etc.). I implore people to get the facts and not go on what parents/students "think" they've seen. There are reports that are filled out each time. Yes the student does scream in "the room". This is NOT a daily occurrence like they make it seem. The staff can't leave the student in the class or in a location where he/she might physically hurt other students. If the student is held, that can be just as invasive to the student and disturbing to others (and parents would still be complaining). The BOE, the Mayor, and these agencies that are investigating should try talking to the teachers since they are the ones that are there. Read the incident reports. Staff has communicated the behavior to the parents of the children that are exhibiting these behaviors. For whatever reason, some parents choose not to get the appropriate help that the kids need outside of the school. There is only so much that the staff can do. PLEASE DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT YOU SEE ON TV OR READ ON-LINE OR IN THE PAPER. The facts that were reported at the PTA meeting were written wrong in the news reports. All the 911 calls were NOT related to "the room" as one story reported! There were medical calls (like for allergic reactions), not related to the rooms. Only a small number (I believe the principal said 3-4) were for behavior when students weren't de-escalating; NOT because students were physically injured in the room.

Anonymous said...

Oh, did it seem forced? More crap journalism. I respect what you're trying to do. Now do it right.

Anonymous said...

Why do people expect unbiased " reporting" from a BLOG? Lets remember this is not mainstream journalism where fair and balanced reporting of facts are presented. Obviously the creators and contributors of this blog have a bias and make no bones about presenting the information in a way that reflects their opinion, wrong or rignt. People seeking just the facts should go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I can under stand how people can take what the letter said as personal. Just know the letter was proofread by many of the family's that had the concerns and had the courage to come forward. Unfortunatly the media stuck there claws into it a focused on the subject of the time out rooms. I don't think anything would have been done if it didn't get the coverage it did. And as for the good families. We know there are good families through out farm hill. It's the ones that have tried to stand up and fight in the past and it fell on deaf ears. They now send there children to other schools or have moved.

Anonymous said...

The night of the meeting the board said they would review all the schools and there policy's of the use, location, and standards for children eligible.

Anonymous said...

Was that fast enough for you. 3:00 new concerance. And it is funny how people have been coming out of the wood work commenting now. Where were you a few weeks ago when inecent kids where getting hurt.

Anonymous said...

That is correct. Issues like this have been going on for a year and a half. I'm sure they got back to the proper people but fell on deaf ears.

Anonymous said...

If you attended the meeting on Thursday night you would know the answers to this question. We as parents have been dealing with our children comming home weekly complaining that they can not concentrate on there study's because a student in one of these rooms having a episode. Some of our children like the one that had the courage to get up and speak that night are having a hard time with it and it is effecting them in a unsettling way

Anonymous said...

I would like to make a comment on this scream room, I was reading that there are teachers in this room with these "bad"kids, how it was stated if that was the case then how were students getting hurt like banging their heads, urinating on the floor ect. The term "bad"kids is not an appropriate term. Are these teacher trained in restraining these student NO they are NOT and why are they doing it.
I myself has gone to the super to tell him what was going on with one of his schools and I was told by him "It's not my job to over see the running of our schools". How can anybody make a comment about "how can any parent be upset" really I have a child that I can honestly say that is no longer in the Middletown school system. Teacher are showed the records of special needs kids and told to look over them and make sure that it's a student that you can handle. When my son was in Keigwin I was getting phone calls on a daily basis to come get him because he was having a bad morning I asked what was the trigger and I was told "well can you email them to me" How can i do that I wasn't there to see what took place.Does any body stop to think that maybe these kids with special needs or other disorders are being bullied by the "normal"kids or staff and they don't know any other way to express there feelings NO nobody takes that into play.I fought to keep my child in Middletown but now I am saying I AM GLAD THAT HE IS OUT OF THIS SCHOOL SYSTEM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was also told by the super that if you have issues that you don't go to him that you need to go to the principal of the school.
I have brought many issues to the super after I have done the proper change of commands and he is never around to talk to him and when you actually to get to talk to him about the issues he says "It's not his job to take it up with the principal". So as parents when this comment is made what do we do. People shouldn't blame the news on this story because of the super not doing his job. I as a parent was going to go to the news about my story because I wasn't getting anywhere help from the BOE.

Jam (Jennifer Mahr) said...

To anonymous 5:59, 6:01, and 9:57:

Let me get this straight... it's OK for a paid news reporter to call parents "angry" or "frustrated" or "furious," but it's NOT OK for a Middletown resident to volunteer his time, get to know the individuals at the BOE and the Central Staff better than any paid journalist currently does, and then pick up on the fact that the people in charge of our children's education and safety are NOT getting along right now? How a person says something is often way more important than what is actually said, and if words and tone don't match, then that's a problem. The point of counting the words in Dr. Frechette's statement and reporting that no questions were allowed isn't an attempt at an undercover editorial, it's the real story.

Consider the cover picture on yesterday's Hartford Courant - it was two parents yelling at each other over whose child was suffering more (I was sitting just a few rows behind that scuffle, so I had a "front row" view of what happened). So, while the media frenzy is over the shock value of "scream rooms," not one other media source is watching the fault lines tremble between the BOE and the Superintendent's office.

The "scream room" story is over now - the policy has changed and the rooms will be moved. The REAL story is still unfolding: how is the discipline policy going to be better implemented at Farm Hill? Are the teachers and the principal on the same page? Will the new resources target the actual problem? Do the parents trust the system? In what measurable ways will communications be improved? Are the BOE and the Superintendent actually of the same mind on what changes to make or are they just putting on a good show?

The answers to these questions matter way more than how the story broke. The ultimate point is that the system is not functioning properly and that has to change.

On a different note, there's nothing magical about the EYE or who publishes in it other than there's a group of Middletown residents who think our town functions better when people know what's going on. We don't do it for fame, money or because we're bored. In fact, you couldn't pay most of us enough money to sit in some of the meetings we endure, yet we all believe we have a responsibility as citizens of this town to make sure our elected officials are accountable for their actions and our taxes dollars are spend efficiently and to benefit all.

You are welcome to join us at any time. There's no secret club handshake, no particular political affiliation required, no editor to fear, no dress code, no paycheck, no health care, and in many cases, no thanks for what you do. You'll be criticized mightily and scoffed at for what you've said. You'll live for the moment someone understood what you were trying to say, and you'll be quietly satisfied when someone else learned about something he or she wouldn't have otherwise known. I do it because I said once that I would, and no one else has since begged me to do it instead.

One more thing - please at least consider signing your name when you have a serious accusation. Doing so honors those men and women who gave their lives to protect your freedom of speech and my freedom of the press. I might give up my family time to follow BOE events, but those men and women gave something they don't get back, and they depend on us to value and to nourish what they left behind. It's not that we can't ever disagree, for that, too, is the heart of a democracy. It's about how we treat each other when we disagree, and there was enough nastiness on Thursday night to last this town a long time.

Anonymous said...

Apryl;
Good job. You addressed a situation that should never existed. You made the school administration react to a situation that they knew about but did nothing. In the real world the superintendent, his assistent, the principle and others would be looking for other jobs. It would be interesting to see what the other special need students have for placement. Are or were there placements out of state?

Lisa s said...

Where is Dan dress statemen? Oh wait he doesn't care!! Do not blame the messengers for brining our towns dirty laundry to national attention, blame the admin and politicians who allowed these things to happen.

Anonymous said...

While I understand why you are curious, I don't understand your need to know who I am. The constant harping by the Eye moderators against anonymous comments makes me wonder why you allow them. It's my opinion that the eye moderators have failed to consider the value of anonymity in online discussions. Anonymity encourages freedom of thought and expression because it promises the possibility of expressing opinions, and developing arguments, without fear of reprisal or ridicule.

It's not that you don't know who I am that's important, it's that you cannot reach me outside of this particular post.

And invoking the deaths of soldiers to argue against online anonymity is low. It trivializes their sacrifice.

Maureen said...

To Jam: I, for one, thank you and the other writers at the Middletown Eye for the hard work that you do - with respect this story and all of the other stories you cover. I read the Eye first thing every morning to learn about what happened at various town meetings the day before and to find out about the various goings on in our community. There is no other publication around that provides as much news and information as the Eye.
Moreover, I couldn't agree more that the mainstream media was fascinated by the "scream rooms," but that all of the families at Farm Hill care not only about the rooms, but about so much more! The television channels had already left when Dr. Nocera and Ed McKeon jumped to the defense of the parents that Barbara Senges attempted to reprimand on Thursday evening - you could have cut the tension between the BOE and Central Office with a butter knife, but the Eye was the only news publication (and I read every one I could find yesterday) that reported on that. It was a very big moment for parents - all parents - that the BOE appeared to be committed to making things better for all students, not just maintaining the status quo.
This revised policy is just the tip of the iceberg at Farm Hill and I have every confidence that long after the local television news channels have forgotten about the "scream rooms", the Eye will be following up on the promises made by Central Office.

Anonymous said...

To "Anonymous said... As a Farm Hill parent, I'm quite upset about how this was handled. Ms. Dudley's use of the term "scream rooms" was uneccesary and irresponsible, and predictably embraced by national media who are sensationalizing this story and portraying Farm Hill as some sort of torture chamber. ".....

Whoever posted this, I couldn't agree with you more.

Anonymous said...

Placements out of state? I'm confused by that question. Those special Ed kids are remaining there according to frechette- a Time out suite is being built upstairs.

The deal program kept kids in town as opposed to schools like wheeler, klingberg or CHOC which are day schools in the state.

Anonymous said...

What she (or he) said!!!

Jam (Jennifer Mahr) said...

Anonymous at 12:26 -

It might seem "low" to remind myself that American soldiers are indeed sacrificing their lives for us, but last I checked, there isn't one freedom more important than another. My twelve years on active duty weren't just for the benefit of the second amendment.

And, I'm curious now. Just what do think would happen to you if the EYE knew who you were? How exactly would you be "reached" outside this post? There are many other "real" news sites that require users to register before they can comment, but given the homespun approach the EYE has taken, that just seems like a silly requirement to me.

Even a first name would change the flavor and intimacy of the discussion, and I think that's all the "harping" is trying to accomplish.

Anonymous said...

If the letter was proof read by other families- she still signed it. How about a letter from the farm hill PTA apologiIzing to the good parents in town that have special needs children that swear? Or the good families in town that were redistricted into farm hill.

I fought to have my son segregated- administration closed deal without my in put-
The comments about getting kids with behaviors out of this school it's not a clinic- made assumptions and were rude.

Apryl- you or your PTA owe the good parents- special Ed staff- and children with disabilities an apology. Your letter could have been written without those comments- next time ask a parent with a special needs child to help proof read.

I pray none of you experience the birth of a child or grandchild with needs- of course then, you would understand the reaction you are getting from those of us you caused pain to.


Jane majewski

Anonymous said...

jam your article is perfect and right to the point. the "scream room" story is over. People are missing the BIG picture here why are there so many BAD behaviors at Farm hill. let's not blame the redistricting. There are bad behaviors at all the schools but the principals seem to be handling it well. To me it seems that when a teacher is having difficulty with a student's behavior and he or she is disrupting the learning process that student is sent to the principal's office. it is the principal's job to take care of the problem. if she cant handle the student she should have a team in place that she could call to help her.(psychologist, social worker, etc) we have 3 SPECIAL ED SUPERVISORS AT CENTRAL OFFICE that are paid very well. what are they doing everyday and why 3 of them??? farm hill is right up the street from Central office. why arent they helping out this principal? it is the principal's job to make her school a safe and nurturing place for ALL children. teachers at farm hill work very hard and truly care for their
students. they need to be respected and supported by their principal and by central office staff. things need to change and it needs to happen soon.we need people at central office that truly cares about EVERY child in this district. we need a principal who could handle her school. BOE please make the changes that need to be made. keep your promise.

Anonymous said...

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Why can't my argument be evaluated solely on its merit? I don't understand the need to attach an identity to it.

BTW, aside from this anonymity argument, I *do* appreciate the Eye. The report on the Board of Ed meetings are outstanding.

Anonymous said...

If readers are looking for balanced journalism, read the Hartford Courant. This is a blog, and the blog masters control what gets submitted and posted.

Anonymous said...

Jane,
We love these kids but when a situation like this gets out of control you might write a letter that will get attention hurting some families in the process. What mother wouldn't love a child with a disability. I don't think April meant to hurt you

Anonymous said...

Out of State placement is EXPENSIVE and the district has to pay for each student to go somewhere else to a cost of possibly 80,000$ a student. So what would you choose?

WSD said...

Thank you for seeing it as it really is.

Anonymous said...

Part of me feels sorry for the children and farm hill families by the way this unfolded by the MEDIA! Not APRYL DUDLEY! The other part of me feels sorry for people like you that can not see the good that will come from this all. Have you ever heard if unlawful restraint? That's what these rooms basically where. So if you think thats ok for our young children to go through or witness then you need your head check along with the super. Thank god for people like Ms. Dudley and looking out for our kids at the school.

Anonymous said...

It's almost worse that a group of her friends sat around and proofread the letter, offered input on its content, and not one person thought that it was offensive! I do not live in Middletown. I live over the bridge in Portland. We have a group of elitists here too...with seemingly perfect children, who have the unpleasantries of having to deal with these kids with behavior problems. I have never seen an instance where any child was allowed to break school policy, special needs or not. And we don't have a need for time out rooms, or whatever you want to call them. We have properly trained staff who know their roles and who are given the resources (child psychologist and school social workers on staff) they need to help them. In my daighter's class, there is a particular child who has many behavioral issues. She has struck other children and her teacher, she has defaced school property, and she has tried to run away off of school grounds. Each time, she is punished and it is made clear that she is no exception to these rules. Instead, the school recognized her special needs and anger management issues, and worked with her to devise a plan to avoid these outbursts. It is giving her the chance to take responsibility for her actions, and recognize her own needs and to be proactive in preventing these incidents. It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that locking her in a room would not have been a good idea. Sadly though, it would seem that the only thing that would make the Apryl Dudley's of the world happy is to completely remove these children from her sight. I am disgusted with the level of intolerance that she and others have portrayed. It is a sad display of ignorance, which will unfortunately most likely manifest itself in the attitude and behavior of her own children someday. How sadly irresponsible of her. To me, that does not make her one of the "good" parents. Not by a long stretch.

Anonymous said...

As a good parent I have taught all my children that sometimes we make mistakes- bad choices- or take a wrong path-
That when we do, we need to repair such.

I learned from my middletown math teacher- that the shortest distance between two dots is a strait line; for myself and kids- in behavior; that strait line is; " I'm sorry"

Intended or not- her words were wrong, judgmental and painful. The angry frenzy that follwed in the mob mentality of the crowd following behind her leadership echoed her words with less class. At the board of Ed meeting I overheard "a good dad" say; "get the tards out of farmhill"

My son was with me..... He later asked if this is what shriek felt like? (he dressed as shriek for his talent show)

Apryl- you're in leadership - as a leader; take the right path- apologize- intended or not- and set an example for all our children!


Then we can perhaps organize an effort in unity to get appropriate services for ALL the kids in town- starting with a Vote of no confidence for three pupil service positions and asking for their letters of resignation.


Jane majewski

Anonymous said...

What was done in our community was done to get a problem resolved for all the children in our Farm Hill District and all the schools in our District, lets stop attacking the people who were looking out for all our children if you reflect back to the meeting at Farm Hill School and Remember that they said they were putting children with 504 Plans and children who didn't in the rooms that's a major issue you all should have the problem with we the ones who brought this foreward were doing it for all our children , whether they had a special need or not none of our children should of been put into a room with concrete walls and a door this is a Elementry School let's not loose focus of the fact. If the administration would follow the Rules and Laws which govern the Education system we as a community wouldn't be in theese type of problemes and remember there wouldn't be change if we didn't involve our Board and City Entity's I hope our Central Office Staff Rememberes they work for us our Community so let's keep our focus on keeping them accountable for following the laws that protect our children and Never put any of our precious CHILDREN in a concrete room make our children Safe if there is a need for them to calm down.. Enough for now but I'll be watching everything.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why the complaint letter was written to the Mayor and then broadcast to the media? I have never heard anyone from Farm Hill say they went to Central Office with their concerns and were ignored...Was the BOE ever brought into this or did they have to read this in the media too??
If you were ignored my apologies but if you didn't at least go to Central Office and the BOE first then that is very disappointing...good luck selling a house in that district!
You are all proud of yourselves for uncovering what you think is a "dirty little secret" as one of you said on the news...spare me

Anonymous said...

To Jane Majewski:
I am curious as to why you think that the Farm Hill PTA owes you an apology. I just read Mrs. Dudley's letter yet again. She never says that she is writing on behalf of the Farm Hill PTA, she simply identifies herself as the president of the Farm Hill PTA and says that many parents reached out to HER, because of her position as such, with their concerns. The comments I have read on this post suggest that some families had the opportunity to read the letter before she sent it. I am a member of the Farm Hill PTA, and I read the letter for the first time when just about everyone else did - when it was posted in the Eye; most people I know at the school were in the same position as me. I understand that you feel that some of Mrs. Dudley's words were inappropriate, and I won't quarrel with you about that, but I'm not quite sure why I owe you an apology simply because I paid dues to the PTA.

Anonymous said...

Jam,
Being anonymous protects my son who is one of the kids that fits the original description of a behavioral child. But he is also not getting the services he needs from this town because the special education department that Jane wants a vote of no-confidence in has refused to accepted many professional records and evaluations.

Anonymous said...

To the PTA member who did not see the letter before myself, I apologize. I assumed when she signs as president- she represents the PTA. I want her to apologize publicly as she signed her name publicly.

I invite any parent interested in signing my petition of no confidence to contact me @ janemajewski sbcglobal.net

I welcome personal stories any would care to share - anonymously or signed

Anonymous said...

Headline grabing PTA president is the issue, noe one apparetnly contacted central office since no claims hav ebeen made by the acusers ofa failure to respond by the School System.

Middletown has a diverse population and that is why some of use chose to raise are kids here instead of in lilly white suburbs so they can see that there are different people in this world and we all can live peacefully together and do not have to be afraid of someone because of their look or socio-econmic status.

It seems to be an issue the the Farm Hill parents who school was perceived by them as the best (most white) prior to redistricting.

The new code word with this group is redistricting versus race and socio- economic status, I am embrassed that in this age we still have these"good family" menatality inour community move to Durham.

Fishmuscle (Stephen H. Devoto) said...

Is Eye reporting biased? This is not the first story eliciting this accusation. After the accusation, The Eye was defended in another comment:
Why do people expect unbiased " reporting" from a BLOG? Lets remember this is not mainstream journalism where fair and balanced reporting of facts are presented. Obviously the creators and contributors of this blog have a bias and make no bones about presenting the information in a way that reflects their opinion, wrong or rignt. People seeking just the facts should go elsewhere.

I thank anonymous for the defense, but I find myself agreeing more with our detractors. I do not think readers should imagine that The Eye can be unbiased, but neither should readers imagine that "mainstream journalism" provides that magical bias-free refuge.

OF COURSE WE ARE BIASED! All of us, but it becomes really obvious when writing about the news. No communication, especially about social issues, can avoid bias. What do we write about? What questions should we ask? What words should we use? Was the Nocera/Frechette statement "short" or "terse", or is its length utterly irrelevant? Should I report on who actually wrote it? Were parents "angry" or "confused"? Was the press conference held by the Board of Ed or by the Superintendent's office? Is this an"ongoing story" or "problem solved"? Should there be a quote from the Mayor or from the Superintendent? Should the cameras descend on Apryl Dudley, or on Superintendent Frechette? Is a press conference more important than a planning and zoning meeting? How many column inches on schools versus police activity? Every story we (and every other news outlet) write about, or choose not to write about, is the result of hundreds of seemingly trivial choices. It is naïve to think that we (or anyone else) can make those choices without any bias.

In my own writing, I try to report as succinctly as possible, but I try to reveal the evidence on which I have based any conclusions. I walked out of the press conference thinking that there was a lot left unsaid by the Superintendent, and that he was tense and in no mood for reflection on what had led to the situation at Farm Hill School.

Another person reporting on the conference may not have seen this, may have found it unworthy of reporting, or may have seen something completely different. I would submit that each of those viewpoints reveals a bias.

If you want to see the press conference in its totality, I have linked to the original story a video by Darrell Lucas. Draw your own conclusions.

Finally, if you want to contribute your own writing about municipal events, The Eye would LOVE to hear from you. This gives you a chance to inform fellow residents about events as you see them.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Apryl owes people an apology for her insensitive letter. Maybe she didn't mean to insult "those kids" and their parents, but she did and she should own up to it and apologize.

Some of the comments made at the Farm Hill PTA meeting on Thursday were rude, obnoxious and downright racist. And shame on Dr. Nocera for thinking that is okay.

It is sad that something that is one of many tools to assist children may be eliminated because of racism, intolerance and ignorance. More is expected of our BOE than their pandering and knee jerk reaction.

Where will "those kids" go? Stay in the classroom and disrupt Apryl's child? Get kicked out of school and the town reported for excessive suspensions/expulsions? Be put in an institution at exorbitant costs?

Compassion and cooler heads need to prevail.