Letter to the Editor: Policy changes send negative message to staff
As a former Shenandoah County Public Schools teacher and coach, I am concerned by events that have occurred with the Strasburg High School boys’ basketball program. While I am alarmed by the serious and appalling allegations and rumors, I am also concerned about the rush to judgment, attention-grabbing headlines, and guilty until proven innocent mentality our society tends to operate by.
I have been a colleague of and mentor to all three coaches and know them to be of the highest character. I know they would never condone any hazing or bullying. They are professional, competent, and well respected.
The question then is who should be held accountable?
Many will point to the adults who were in charge. At what point do we hold young people accountable? As coaches, sponsors, and advisers, we are expected to supervise students at school and at school events. But is it practical or even possible to do so every moment of the day? Students don’t grow into responsible adults when not given freedom and opportunity to develop decision-making skills. That doesn’t happen when one is watched and controlled every minute.
I heard that policy changes have been made as a result of the alleged event. Such policies include that if during gym class a student needing to use a restroom must go up the hall to one rather than one in the locker room. Who will monitor the restroom? On athletic bus trips there will be a coach at the front, middle, and back of the bus. Some athletic teams have one coach. Are we going to pay for chaperones? If that is needed on athletic buses, it should be for all buses daily, to and from school. As a county, are we prepared to pay for this?
Such policies send one message to staff: if you coach, sponsor, are an adviser or chaperone, your job is in jeopardy. Finding individuals to do these jobs has always been difficult; it will be even more difficult given unreasonable demands.
The court of public opinion will render its judgment, but let’s be certain it does so based on facts and not innuendo, “word on the street” conjecture and political correctness.
Millson French Jr., Strasburg
Linda O’Dell Ash
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