Monday, November 10, 2014

Open Letter to Clemente Middle School Principal Regarding "Incident"

The Parents' Coalition received the following comment in response to the letter from the Clemente Middle School principal announcing that there had been an "incident" at the school. 

Here is my response to Friday's notification. It was initially drafted exclusively for the Principal, but since I'm not expecting a response any time soon, and I share your frustrations, I'll post it as an open letter:

Principal Barkley,

I am writing because I have questions regarding the timing and manner of how the suspected abuse incident has been reported.

1. I understand it was ultimately your decision to withhold information to parents. Was this decision based on a recommendation? If so, was it from the police or school system?

2. What is the impetus for informing parents of the incident now, given that the arrest was made on October 14th? The timing of a 5pm message on a Friday, through a proxy, and weeks after the incident, does not inspire me to believe communication to parents is of primary concern.

3. Are other incidents you would like to inform the parents of at this time? Prior to this notification, I was under the impression that communication between parents and Roberto Clemente staff was both timely and comprehensive. Given current developments, I may have to revisit that assumption.

4. Your communication, delivered via Dr. Awkard, states that the students were supported. Can you please elaborate on how the students were supported? The effects of sexual abuse can manifest in different ways, and a cursory statement--accuracy notwithstanding--falls short of a thorough explanation of how students (children) were kept safe or otherwise rehabilitated.

A few years ago, I tried to get my daughter transferred from Roberto Clemente Middle School. You took exception to my action, and asked me to your office to explain myself. One of my reasons for requesting the transfer was a report highlighting a higher prevalence of sexual assault at Roberto Clemente Middle School compared to other MCPS schools. In our face-to-face conversation, you suggested that other schools may have a similarly high rate of sexual assault, but that it might be underreported at those schools. Are we bearing witness to proper reporting now? if so, no apology is warranted. If not, I recommend a review and revision of the notification policy.

I look forward to your response.


  1. This is an excellent letter.

    This culture of secrecy and non-disclosure must change. I believe accountability starts at the top. Starr has encouraged this culture. He MUST go. Our school system needs an awakening. Starr has yet to hold himself for anything. He is quick to blame students, families, teachers and anyone else except the incompetent executive staff he put in leadership roles.

  2. The culture of secrecy is prevalent in MCPS and county agencies as well. Yes, Josh Starr needs to go and replaced with a superintendent who is clearly in the students' corner and not just accepting the position to pad a resume in anticipation of moving on to a larger school district, as been the case with the last few superintendents. Hey, is Michelle Rhee available?

  3. I attended an in house meeting where Starr dismissed community calls for accountability by saying "they don't know what they are talking about." He said we have to be accountable to ourselves and then encouraged the principals to replace ineffective teachers who aren't culturally proficient. What does that mean? He told the principals, "You know who they are." He never says those kinds of things in front of teacher groups, only behind their backs.

  4. No doubt this individual passed his background check with flying colors!
    Another example of Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO) technology.


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