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School missed important teaching moment

Published: December 19, 2012 4:00 AM

I have child that attends Rootstown Middle School and was shocked and saddened to learn that there was very little discussion surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. According to my daughter, the principal made a short announcement over the loudspeaker during homeroom assuring the students of their safety. That was it.

Rootstown leadership had an opportunity to be great Monday and instead fell flat on their faces. In her social studies class, my daughter has a current event due every two weeks, yet this horrific tragedy was not even mentioned in that class. How is this possible? What could be more current or impactful in the lives of these young students than the despicable acts that robbed an entire nation of precious innocents? There is a Sheriff's Department office across the street from her school; how difficult would it have been to have a deputy's car parked outside the school, to help reassure our children that they truly are safe?

I wanted to witness the lack of leadership myself and decided to attend the school board meeting Monday night. To my dismay, the topic was only brought up by the superintendent midway through the meeting, saying that our hearts go out to the family's and friends impacted by the Sandy Hook tragedy. There was no discussion about school safety, any changes in the near future, the fact that my daughter's homeroom class has no locking doors, no talk about encouraging our children to reach out to a teacher, principal or counselor with any questions. Nothing.

Rootstown educators, Monday was your opportunity to be great and you failed. You let me, my child and a community down. This is not a gun control issue, a political issue or even a mental health issue; this is a humanitarian issue.

I believe most parents probably spoke to their children in the aftermath of last Friday's events, but it takes more than that, especially with today's social media outlets. It takes a village to raise a child and we need to do everything in our power to prevent these types of tragedies from happening in the future.

We need to expect better of our community leaders, our educators and most of all of ourselves.

Eric Kokochak, Rootstown

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anonymous Dec 20, 2012 4:25 PM

Hello Eric,

We seen you at the recent board meeting and didn't realize why you were there, but we were there for similar reasons. Our daughter was actually a victim of harassment from a parent in the middle school. The mother went in to the school and directly to the locker room to find my 12 year old daughter where she was then verbally attacked and threatend on school grounds. Yes thats right a grown woman went into the middle school and then proceeded into the locker room (where our daughter was getting undressed for a game)to find our 12 yr old daughter. She was successful!! The attacker was never asked to leave and stayed to watch the sporting event while my daughter was there suffering inside after what just happened to her. We have been back and forth with the school district and our answers have been avoided. Since October 1st, 2012, we have had four incident reports revised since they keep getting the details wrong or trying to cover themselves in my opinion. They totally "dropped the ball" or "missed" this one. These are the words they used. Nothing still has been done to the attacker besides a phone call to say not to do it again according to the incident report. Since then our daughter has transferred out of the school district to a place where we can provide our daughter with a safe environment and a school that will protect her if she is verbally attacked and threatend; which Rootstown failed to do. They have failed our daughter since the 4th grade and we wish we would have made that move a lot sooner. When she was threatened, there were no coaches or staff around when this incident took place so our daughter had no one to escape to. In the handbook it states students should never be left alone, but she was left alone. We are trying to get the laws updated and to make the school safer especially after the most recent tragedy our nation was faced with. We are dealing with dangerous people at Rootstown and they are not dealing with these incidents appropriately. We know for a fact that we are not the only family that has been "missed" as I am sure this will all come to light very soon. When we went to withdrawl her from the school district all we got was "sorry it didn't work out." Of course it wasn't sincere since if they really wanted it to work out they would have tried to talk to our daughter and console her to reassure her that they wanted her to stay, but they "dropped the ball" and "missed" that opportunity as well. We were never called to ask why we were leaving. We felt they were happy we left since they didn't have to deal with us anymore (the good people), but we will keep fighting because that is what parents do. They fight for justice for their children. Our daughter never received any justice over this incident and it was so wrong in every way you can imagine. I can go on and on about these past three months and the emotional pain and stress this has caused our daughter and our family. We just hope and pray this doesn't happen to another family so we are fighting for these precious children in our community to make sure they are safe. Thank you Eric for your comment and article as we know we are not the only ones that have these feelings about Rootstown. We personally know of other families that feel the same way as well. Good luck to you and your family and we hope for the best for all these children in the Rootstown School District. Oh by the way, the same day the article was in there and it listed a lot of area schools that are taking action and stepping up security in their schools because of the tragedy, but guess what school wasn't one of them?? They say they have a no tolerance for incidents as in our case, but they have tolerated ours and many more. There really should be NO TOLERANCE. We are talking about grown adults, they should know better and if they don't then they should not have the privlidge to come to events and they should have consequences to their actions.

anonymous Dec 19, 2012 2:10 PM

I agree with you Eric! What's even more scary for you (at least I think it is), there's a college campus across the street from your schools. You hear so much about things happening on college campus'.