This letter was sent to the JCPS Superintendent and Board Members by an Academy @ Shawnee parent on Nov. 3, before the student-initiated WDRB news stories aired. Student names in this letter have been replaced with first initial. The instructor who was instrumental in the student’s decision to transfer to Shawnee and fly the plane at Bowman Field has been transferred from Shawnee against his wishes.
My husband and I are finding ourselves more and more fearful about our daughter, J’s, health and safety as she progresses in her first year, although a sophomore, at the Academy@Shawnee. Her freshman year she attended Atherton, our reside school.
J was exposed to the programs that the school offers because our son, W, attends the Academy@Shawnee middle school. She was able to go and do some amazing activities because the middle school was invited to participate and she tagged along. One Saturday morning, they both got to take a ride in a small aircraft at Bowman Field’s Hanger 7 for Free! While W was hesitant, J was “all in” for the ride and loved it. I tell you this because it was one of many small but pivotal events that led us to the heavy decision to transfer J from Atherton to A@S for the Aviation Program.
Last year when we dropped off W for school, he walked into the left side of A@S and had hardly any contact with the high school side of the building or the students attending. It kept us isolated from the high school. We became active with the school’s PTSA and got to know several parents with children in the high school. While listening to them, it seemed the biggest concern was teacher retention and subs. When I expressed my concern about the high school’s bad reputation and making the decision to transfer J, these parents put me at ease. Academy@Shawnee is the best kept secret in town with so many great things happening. She will love it! So, cautiously, we transferred J for the 2016-17 school year from Atherton to A@S.
I wrote an email to Dr.Hargens on Friday, September 16th expressing my concern.
While teacher retention seemed to be the biggest focus last year, this year, it is the SAFETY and HEALTH of the children, namely our daughter, J. I wrote an email to Dr.Hargens on Friday, September 16th expressing my concern about the 3-5 fights DAILY and asking for additional security. The following Monday, she called me and said that the data showed only 3 fights for the whole WEEK. My reply was “[The data] is wrong. Either the reports are not getting entered into the system or they are being lowered to a different offense.” I shared my experience of me walking in a hallway during class time and passing a group of girls who were standing around, mouthing off. I didn’t know if it was to me or not but I wasn’t going to turn around and question them. I was all alone in this hallway with 3-4 girls saying “bitch, ain’t nothing you gonna do about it”. I was quite unnerved and just walked faster to get to my destination. No, I did not report it, which was my fault. However that incident, pales in comparison to what my daughter sees and hears on a daily basis. Among all the brawls, there have been teeth broken, arrests and Tasers being used so far this year.
My reply was “[The data] is wrong. Either the reports are not getting entered into the system or they are being lowered to a different offense.”
After a particularly rough week in school with fighting, while driving my children to school, I said to J “watch out for the fights. Duck and cover. Run for safety.” Then I said in disbelief, “WOW, last year at Atherton, I used to say, “have a great day and you will do fine on that test”! What a difference. Actually, J still has friends from Atherton and to listen to them talk, there is a world of difference between the two schools code of conduct for students and the consequences they receive. Why is that? What is it going to take for JCPS to listen to the teachers, parents and students that there is a serious problem with safety at A@S High School.
As we write this, school has only been in session for 12 weeks, yet it feels like school should be letting out for summer. We are exhausted and need help NOW, no matter what the data says.
(of a Middle AND High School Student)