Published 9:02 pm Wednesday, June 6, 2007
I am writing to bring to light an incident involving a student in the graduating class of 2007 at T.R. Miller. It is my understanding that in order to participate in the commencement ceremony, one must participate in class night. However, the agenda on which this was stated has not been approved by the Brewton City or the State of Alabama Board of Education; and therefore, is not considered a prerequisite for graduation.
It is my intent to inform the citizens of Brewton of the incident, make the citizens aware of requirements vs. personal desires, and encourage the parents to play an active roll in determining what we will allow to be imposed on our children. We, as parents and concerned citizens, have to follow-up with decisions that affect our youth. If something doesn't sit right, we must fight for justice. If we don't stand up for our kids, who else will?
To sum up the incident, there was a student who decided not to participate in class night. As a result, he was told that he would not be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony. It didn't matter that he'd passed the graduation exam and completed the course work which are the only written requirements set for by the Board of Education. According to the TR Miller administration, lack of participation in one activity would forfeit an opportunity to participate in his graduation ceremony.
I'd like to be the first to admit that ideally the child should have participated in class night. There was no valid reason for him not to participate. He was not ill, he had transportation, he had clothes to wear, and no prior commitments. He simply chose not to participate in class night. However, I must ask: is it fair to deny a child who has met the written and lawful graduation requirements the right to participate in a once in a lifetime high school graduation simply because he made the decision to miss one off-campus after-hours activity?
A high school graduation is something that one looks forward to from the start of kindergarten. It's the hope and prayer of each parent that their kids will complete high school and graduate. Please understand I'm all for teaching accountability, but it's more than obvious that this kid should not be held to this extreme because he made one not-so-thought-out decision about whether or not to participate in an activity.
In attempts to rectify the situation, we first reviewed the handbook and the policies and procedures set forth by the Brewton City Board of Education for rules and requirements of graduation. As we thought, participation in class night is not a requirement. We then initiated contact with Principal Rotch, the person who made the decision to deny him participation. Our efforts were unsuccessful and we were referred to the superintendent. As we soon learned, Superintendent Smith was not aware of the situation. Mr. Rotch soon made Mr. Smith abreast of the situation. I understand that a united front is sometimes needed, but it was our hope that the law would prevail and Mr. Smith would abide by the written rules. To our disappointment, that didn't happen. It became evident that Mr. Smith would not make a decision either way. I can only assume he hoped his refusal to make a decision would make us give up. It didn't.
We proceeded by contacting a representative with the Alabama State Board of Education and a board member for the Brewton City School System. At this point, the situation was bigger than one kid not being able to participate in a graduation ceremony. While I do not agree with the child's decision not to participate in class night, I had to ask myself, how can I consciously sit back and let a child be punished when the rule he supposedly violated is not in place? I can't! It's him this year, but it maybe someone else next year. This has to stop and rules have to be put in place before they are enforced.
The child was able to participate in graduation and will have the memory forever.
A very special thank you to the Brewton City School Board Member who made the necessary contact to make graduation a reality for this child. A special thanks to the representative at the Alabama State Board of Education who suggested which steps to take. We appreciate your support! And even a thank you for Mr. Rotch and Mr. Smith. You taught a priceless lesson. You made this kid focus on accountability, before he goes off to college. You gave him a lesson in responsibility and showed him first hand what it's like to be held responsible for decisions you make today and how they affect your life tomorrow. You taught the citizens of Brewton that sometimes individuals do win and to continue to stand up to for your kids and to fight for what you believe in. You allowed the school board to be seen as more than a group of people making decisions on higher levels. We see now that they really are here to service the community and they have the students' best interest at heart. You also taught us the importance of following protocol to get proper rules and regulations in place. We can't just take a person's word for something because he has some authority. To the community, do your research. Find out what's right and what's wrong, and don't allow your kids to fall victim to one person's perception of the rules.
Mrs. Adell K. Brown
Red Cross grateful for work at emergency drill
Please allow me to use this forum to thank those who richly deserve our thanks.
Thank you to all those who worked so hard in last week's countywide emergency drill. As someone at the “hot wash” said, we played together well and shared our toys well.
From the American Red Cross support function side of the exercise, we need to publically thank several groups. The Alabama Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross provided the ERV and two drivers Roger and Wanda Reek out of Mobile. Atmore Red Cross volunteers Sandra Gray, Joan Hackman, Julia Stroud and Sandy Zuiderhoek joined with local volunteers Gary Findley, Chris Smith and myself. Snacks, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches sandwiches and various cold drinks were available for all attendees. Cups and napkins were donated by Burger King.
Red Cross supports during disasters large and small. And, not only for the home owner/client, but Red Cross also supports the efforts of those first responders whenever we are able to do so and for large scale fires or situtations in which we receive the call. In a real emergency situation, these different Red Cross units could all be called in to support each other as needed. Thank you all for a job well done with a positive attitude.
The local Escambia County Rescue Squad van was driven by a volunteer (who loaded up three hours yesterday) and the van allowed us to transport all the various supplies needed to support the responders, victims, and various fire departments and law enforcement agencies. Thank you Rescue Squad members, for being there so consistently for Escambia County.
This exercise was well planned and was a positive learning experience. This is the first time local Red Cross volunteers have been included in such an exercise and the training opportunity is much appreciated. Again, thank you to all our Red Cross volunteer participants. If you would like to volunteer please call 867-3426 for more information.
I cannot end without offering a hearty “well done” to all the many agencies and participants and to our Emergency Management Director David Adams.
Rogene Martin, director
East Escambia County Chapter
American Red Cross