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Yesterday I heard on the news that the Florida school board is considering a dress code for parents when dropping their children off on school property.  I certainly agree that their should be a set of standards that the educational system expects from both their students as well as their families.  However, instituting a dress code for parents is pushing things a little too far.  I think that a letter from the principal or even the school superintendent stating that anyone working at or visiting any school within a particular school system, must wear the appropriate attire on school property.  This would include all children, parents, visitors, and staff.

It’s always best not to do things that may possibly alienate any one group or class of people. You may end up losing individuals that were willing to participate in school run activities. I certainly agree and have seen that there are parents, children, teachers and visitors that still don less than appropriate attire on school property. However, it is important that messages such as this be meant for all those utilizing the space in question.  It is not appropriate to single out any one or two groups of people.

I’m almost certain that every school has at least a set of expectations of what staff and students should and should not wear when on school property. It would also be helpful to remind families as well as staff via a seminar on “How adult behavior affects child behavior”, highlighting things such as dress, vocabulary, and behavior.  All of these things are important as they can cause friction within the students peer relationships as well as how students interact with adults who they may have little or no respect for because they too don’t dress or act appropriately. These types of problems are not usually just occurring based on daily family life, it’s based on daily interactions altogether.

Sometimes when you sit in the big seat it is easier to assume that parents are the only problem, but if we are all honest with ourselves, we will realize that problems as big as these may be caused by all of us.


Recently, Carol Thebarge lost her job as a long-time substitute teacher.  She refused to unfriend her students from her Facebook account.  The school policy of Stevens High School in Claremont, NH has a very strict policy against communicating with students via social media.  Read the story by clicking here.

I have to say I disagree with the school’s policy.  I am the proud parent of 6 children.  When social media first came about I was really concerned for my children and whether I would be able to keep them safe.  The truth is, like everything else in life, you have to use safety measures. Be strict about your child’s usage of the internet and educate them as to its proper use and what is allowed and what isn’t allowed.  Then be sure that you check what your children are doing.  Let them know that you are not spying on them, and be clear about the fact that you are just trying to keep them safe.  Let them know up front exactly what you are doing and why.  I find that being up front about what is going on builds trust between parent and child.  Making them feel a part of the situation is key. But just as important is letting them know you trust them and that you are watching out for them is important. Kids are less likely to make mistakes or allow others to mistreat them if they know that they have support from an adult that they trust.

Technology is a blessing, but it can also be a curse.  But not allowing our children to use it when it benefits them would be a waste of valuable resources.   I think it’s great that a student could potentially be on Facebook and chat with their teacher if they get on their homework.  If a student missed the homework assignment for the day, they can see the tweet on twitter.  There are so many ways social media can help our children. It is our job as parents to keep our children safe.  It’s not easy and we are not perfect, mistakes will be made.  Whether it be social media, the phone, or an event outside of the house things will occur that we as parents aren’t always able to handle.  Mistakes will be made but realistically, no one is perfect all the time. We can continue to be vigilant, at least then we know we are trying, and we are working on whatever needs to be worked on.

One last note: Just as all parents should be offered every possible resource to help them raise their children, every teacher should have access to every resource that will make their job easier in teaching our children.


Student recorded incident on video

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — A New Bedford teacher who had a chair thrown at her by a student now says her job is in jeopardy.

Watch the full report

High school teacher Joanne Maura said she received a letter from administrators telling her she failed to preform her “responsibilities as a teacher at New Bedford High School” and could be terminated.

“I feel like I’ve been assaulted again,” she said.

The letter said she did not inform the administration of the nature, details and severity of the incident.

Marua told NewsCenter 5 that after the student threw the chair at her, other teachers ran to the room, along with an administrator and the school resource officer.

Another student in the classroom was recording the outburst and posted it on YouTube.

Maura said she took the student’s phone away during class and he began yelling at her to return it.

The video shows the student pick up the chair and hurl it toward the teacher.

It smashed against her desk.

The superintendent would not comment on the details of the investigation.


Michael Gagnon assaulted teen during ‘test drives’ of work cars, police say

BELFAST, Maine — A teacher at the Waldo County Technical Center who also coaches softball at an area high school has been charged with sexually assaulting a student.

Police allege that 46-year-old Michael Gagnon, of Winslow, an automotive technology instructor at the career training school, assaulted the 17-year-old Belfast High School student when he took her on “test drives” of vehicles other students were working on.

Police tell the Morning Sentinel that Gagnon also allegedly assaulted the girl at his home in Winslow and a motel in Bangor.

The technical center has suspended Gagnon, as has Mount View High School in Thorndike, where he coached softball.

Gagnon is being held on jail on $10,000 cash bail on a charge of gross sexual assault. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer


Lisa Haney Bilodeau accused of forging nursing license 

HAVERHILL, Mass. — A Haverhill school nurse entrusted with the care of special needs students was accused Friday of being a fraud.

Lisa Haney Bilodeau worked in the Haverhill public schools caring for physically disabled children since last summer — students with down syndrome, epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

Watch report

“The medical care that the children required included the administration of medication, insulin and the administering of feeding tubes,” Assistant District Attorney Tom Sholds said.

Aroutine internal audit two weeks ago revealed Bilodeau was not a nurse.
“The license number listed on the suspect, on the defendant’s job application, was not a nurse number, rather that of an aesthetician,” Sholds said.

Bilodeau allegedly provided a copy of someone else’s nursing license, substituting her own name when she was confronted.

Brian Todd’s 12-year-old son Logan, who is severely disabled and nonverbal, was in her care.

“Logan has severe epilepsy. He takes several seizures a day,” Todd said. “He was put in danger daily by the fact he does take narcotics on a daily basis to stop his epilepsy.”

Bilodeau’s attorney said her client worked as a certified nurse’s assistant in the past.

“She actually administered medication. She actually provided shots for children. She took care of tubes. She actually worked with doctors. She worked with other nurses and she did that for 10 years,” the attorney said.

She said Bilodeau panicked and lied because her husband had lost his job. Her mother, who works in the school system, declined comment.

“There has to be an accountability process and someone has to be held accountable,” Todd said.

The superintendent of schools sent a letter to parents last week, informing them Bilodeau had been fired.

“We are still trying to figure out what went wrong and if anyone was responsible for her passing the initial background check. It is disturbing that something like this happened and not fair to the children,” he said.

Judge Patricia Dowling said they are serious allegations of fraud, but there is no evidence of this time of any mistreatment of any children, so she set bail at $5,000 cash. The case was continued to May 2.


Carol Thebarge worked more than 30 years in school system

Stevens High School

CLAREMONT, N,H, — A popular teacher said she was dismissed Thursday from Stevens High School in Claremont after she refused to unfriend her students on Facebook.

Carol Thebarge, who taught for more than 30 years in the Claremont school system, said a school administrator gave her an ultimatum to remove all students she was friends with on Facebook or be dismissed.

Those of you who know me and my philosophy in life, that of marching to the beat of my own drummer, would assume I would choose the latter of the two choices.
And I did,” Thebarge said in a Facebook post Thursday.

Thebarge said administrators first approached her four years ago about deleting her students as friends on Facebook before issuing what Thebarge called an ultimatum recently after a fellow teacher, 29-year-old Christopher LeBlanc, was accused of sexually assaulting a student in a classroom.

Thebarge vowed to keep in touch with her students despite her dismissal.

I will continue to stay in touch with all of them here. No man or institution will dictate my relationships here, or otherwise that are within the range of my own consciousness. This is not rebellion. It is standing up for my beliefs… for silence and compliance is agreement,” Thebarge wrote in the Facebook post.

WMUR-TV has attempted to contact Claremont school administrators but they have not responded.


Foundation deciding what to do with $11 million in donations

Sandy Hook Report 4

Second floor computer room in the Lanza house

Danbury State Attorney

HARTFORD, Conn. — Some Newtown residents are calling for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter’s home to be torn down and replaced with a park or nature preserve, according to a new community survey.

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation received more than 1,600 responses to the survey it released Monday on town residents’ unmet needs in the wake of the December 2012 shootings. The foundation has been deciding how to distribute more than $11 million in donations made in response to the shootings, which left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.

While most of the survey responses said money for mental health counseling and other family expenses are top priorities, a small percentage of community members mentioned funds to buy and tear down Adam Lanza’s home, said Jennifer Barahona, the foundation’s executive director. She said several people who live near the Lanza house said in the survey that it should be razed.

“That’s not something we’re considering at this time,” Barahona said. “It’s really outside of our scope.”

The house in Newtown is where Lanza, 20, lived with his mother, Nancy Lanza, and shot her to death before the school killings. It’s about 5 miles from the school, which has been demolished as part of the plan to build a new building on the same property. Adam Lanza killed himself at the school as police arrived.

Nancy Lanza’s property remains tied up in probate court proceedings. After her death, it was turned over to her ex-husband, Peter Lanza, and their other son, Ryan, according to court documents. Town records show the 3,200-square-foot colonial home and 2-acre property has an appraised value of about $524,000.

Lawyers in the probate case didn’t immediately return messages Wednesday seeking comment.

“There really is nothing we can do,” Barahona said. “The estate is in probate and it’s likely to be there for years to come. I also imagine there would be lawsuits against the estate at some point.”

There have been no talks among town officials about buying the property or doing anything with it, First Selectman Pat Llodra’s office said.

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation has about $4 million left after giving more than $7 million to the 40 families most affected by the shootings.

The foundation recently approved $200,000 in spending. That includes $75,000 for out-of-pocket mental health costs for families, $75,000 for a “financial needs fund” for those affected by the shootings, $40,000 for public education and training on how to respond to signs of trauma and other mental health concerns, and $10,000 for community-wide educational programming.


Teacher has been target of past slurs

AMHERST, Mass. — A black math teacher at Amherst Regional High School has again been the subject of racist graffiti.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that graffiti intended for Carolyn Gardner was on a wall in the boy’s bathroom at school.

Sonji Johnson-Anderson, who says she is Gardner’s sister, says they are hurt and bewildered. She says the community should pressure school administrators to end the graffiti.

An anonymous tip line has been set up on the high school’s website.

Racist graffiti was left in a bathroom in October and on Gardner’s classroom door.

On March 24, a racial slur intended for Gardner was left in a girls’ bathroom.

Principal Mark Jackson says an individual was found responsible for one of the incidents and punished.


Richard Koster accused of assaulting boy

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — A Rhode Island teacher has been arrested on allegations he assaulted a student for eating a cookie in the classroom.

Richard Koster, 49, of Cranston, turned himself in to police Thursday and was charged with misdemeanor assault after authorities obtained an arrest warrant.

Police say Koster teaches at Slater Junior High School in Pawtucket and assaulted the 13-year-old boy March 18.

Authorities say the boy claimed Koster lifted him off the floor, pinned him against a wall and yelled at him, after catching him eating a cookie. Police say Koster got upset after another student told him the boy made a face at him after he told the boy it’s against the rules to eat in class.

Koster and his lawyer didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment Friday.


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