Brentwood Union School District Superintendent Merrill Grant issued a very uninspiring and unimpressive open letter today via the District Website along with a 7-slide Power Point Presentation.
Yes Superintendent, we get that parents are angry, you stated that many times in your letter, but it’s what you didn’t state which will add more fuel to the already hot fire. This was a very calculated open letter that revealed very little, which has been what the Districts problem had been from the beginning.
For starters, acknowledge how the District messed up and how you will prevent it in the future. Instead, Brentwood and others who care get a line stating “There was confusion and delay over bringing this incident to the attention of the proper authorities.” Okay, explain what caused the confusion and how its been fixed!
Another line states, “We are taking action right now to clarify our policies and enhance our training related to mandatory reporting.” Okay, what policy is wrong and how are you enhancing training and reporting? I could bird dog this letter much more, but you get the point.
The letter says close to nothing and is yet another poorly calculated move by the Superintendent. It’s time for full transparency because honesty will go a heck of a lot further than a lawyer reviewed letter which you can review for yourself below.
January 29, 2013
In the past two weeks, we have seen more anger and discord in our district than at any time in memory. After our meeting last week, there was no mistaking the fact that parents and others are very angry over the fact that a teacher who abused a child was not fired immediately.
As the Superintendent, I apologize for that, and the damage it has done to the trust our community has in our school system. On one point, though, there is no debate. All of us agree that what happened to a student in one of our classrooms in 2010 was reprehensible. It was abhorrent to every one of us who cares about children and education.
The discord lies instead in how our district handled this incident. Members of community have made it clear that they believe we should have moved immediately to fire the teacher involved.
It is very clear that our community believes that in cases where student safety is in question, the right thing is to get the offending teacher out of the classroom and keep him or her out of the classroom.
We understand that. Our obligation is to Brentwood, and Brentwood has made their position on this issue very clear. Our response to this incident was out of step with what the parents and residents of this district expect of us.
It is clear that we did not perform as we should have to fulfill our duties as mandatory reporters. There was confusion and delay over bringing this incident to the attention of the proper authorities. That should not have happened and we are determined that it will not happen again.
We are taking action right now to clarify our policies and enhance our training related to mandatory reporting. Every employee in our district shares a legal duty to report—this is a critical component of how we will keep our classrooms and our schools safe.
We also did not communicate as we should have with parents, particularly the parents of special-needs children. In this case, we should have done a better job of informing parents what happened in their children’s classroom and what was being done about it.
We want to do better than this and we are working on ways to make sure we do better in the future.
For today, one of the most important things we can do is listen. Parents in our district are angry about this case – angry that a child was abused in one of our classrooms and angry that it wasn’t dealt with in the way they believe it should have been.
I think it’s essential that we listen to what each parent or member of the public has to say about this. Although many are angry, there is more being communicated than just anger.
We share an interest in making sure our children are safe and that includes making sure that a teacher who hurts a child doesn’t get to remain in the classroom. It is my hope that by listening to each other and understanding the issues that lie beneath this case, we may be able to work together toward better protecting our children.
Merrill M. Grant, Ed.D