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Topic: Help -attending a school committee meeting for 1st time

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Subject: Help -attending a school committee meeting for 1st time
Date Posted: 1/31/2009 9:27 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,289
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In my opinion, my son's school made a poor decision that put many children in potentially dangerous situations.  My son is in first grade and this effects children in grades K - 2.  While the principal and superintendent feel that they made a good decision, I can tell you that there are many, many parents that feel differently. 

So, I will be attending my first school committee meeting in February and was wondering what I can expect.  I have never been to one before and was looking for any pointers on how to present my complaint. 

The details about this is very long but I can say that there was an unexpected early release one day and parents were not notified of this.  Kids were put on school buses without a parent/guardian at the bus stop.  There were several hours that many parents had no idea where they children were.   After trying to make several complaints, I received some very snippy answers from the administration about how my child should have access to a house key, know how to let himself in the home and call an adult on the telephone.  (Mind you these kids are ages 5, 6, and 7).  Personally I feel my son is way too young for that and I resent the school trying to make me feel like this is somehow my fault because my son does not have a key to my house. 

Anyways, I am really looking for help about my first school committee meeting.  I am a bit nervous speaking in front of groups but I feel so passionately that there were other things the school could have done in this situation that would ensure student safety so I don't mind speaking up.  Has anyone attended a meeting before that can give me some ideas/pointers? 

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 1:43 AM ET
Member Since: 11/22/2008
Posts: 836
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You may want to find out if this topic is on the meeting agenda already, or if there is a "community speak" time built in.  I believe your school building principal can request you to be placed on the agenda, or you yourself can call a school committee member and ask.

Have you phoned or written to the committee members already?  Just a short call or note to let them know you have a concern that was not appreciated by the principal / superintendent, has left you to fear this same safety issue could arise again.

Be direct and to the point.  It certainly doesn't hurt to have an index card with a few notes.  You don't want to leave and think...I forgot to say.....  Numbers are helpful also.  Get as many parents as you can to go.  School Committee meetings don't usually attract many individuals from the public.....so when a bunch show up.....they know there is an issue.

Not knowing all the details, it sounds as if they were negligent in providing for the safe return home of your child.  That word alone will get their attention.  I'd advise that you express concern for the situation that occurred, and ask what steps the school has taken  and will be taking to ensure that your child will never be put in harms way again.

 My school system now has an "All - Call" instant phone system that would have been able to notify all parents immedately.   We also have a "crisis" committee (within our building) that has worked to put plans in place for various emegency situations.  Some of these plans are in cooperation with our fire and police depts.   Although you can never plan for everything, we believe it is better to be proactive.

Some state statutes make it illegal for children under a certain age to be left unattended at home.  Investigate what that age is in your state.  If indeed these children fall under a statute like that, I wouldn't hesitate to tell the committee about the response you rec'd that directly violated the law.   They should not want to be in a position of breaking the law......unforseen circumstances or not. 

I'll be anxious to hear how it goes.  Best of luck as you advocate for the safety of children.