01 September 2012

Just barely into the school year: Principals declaring war on your parental rights!

Today (9/1/12) I am coming to you from aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 3967 from Tampa to Kansas City, of which I am changing planes there to continue on westward to San Diego for a great Labor Day weekend vacation, instead of the usual Ft. Lauderdale stuff. Southwest has introduced in-flight Wi-Fi and it lets you stay connected even while you are on your way. The price is right - $5.00 for an entire day. (Just make sure your laptop battery is fully charged up - no power outlets on board!)

We're just barely into the 2012-2013 school year in the school districts of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, and another elementary school decided to declare war on your parental rights! If you as a parent are concerned about what your child is exposed to in the closed neverworld of public school, you need to read this.

This article I found in the St. Petersburg Times' Whoa Momma! blog is part of a disturbing trend: School stops parents from walking kids to class in the morning. This time, it is Sand Pine Elementary School in Wesley Chapel in Pasco County, which is on Interstate 75 north of Tampa just over the Hillsborough-Pasco county line. According to the St. Petersburg Times article, a sign was erected by the fence stating that "parents will no longer be permitted to walk students to class in the morning".

Here is a comment I wrote to the St. Petersburg Times regarding this article I would like to share with you:

This is a great example of how parental rights are somehow being eroded when it comes to your child's education in public schools. What Sand Pine Elementary School in Wesley Chapel is doing is effectively telling parents that you are not welcome on campus.

A similar situation is in effect at Virgil Mills Elementary School in Palmetto (Manatee County). Parents are not allowed to even set foot on any part of the school campus, including where you pick up and drop off your child. What makes this so tyrannical is that parents who do so are being declared second class citizens on the orders of Virgil Mills Principal Mike Rio by having a trespass warning issued against the parent which bans the parent from campus for at least six months, if not the entire school year.

It seems like our public schools are becoming closed neverworlds, almost like the closed prison state neverworld of North Korea. God knows what your child could be experiencing in school: Physical abuse? Emotional abuse? Sexual abuse?

Parents, the school district does not own your children, period. As a parent, you set an example for your children.

By placing that sign at the school entrance, Sand Pine Elementary Principal Todd Cluff turned his school into yet another closed neverworld, essentially another North Korea so to speak. All in the name of school safety and Florida's Jessica Lunsford law.

Yeah, right. All in the name of school safety and Florida's Jessica Lunsford law, which mandates rigorous background screenings before you are even allowed on a public school campus. What happened to Jessica Lunsford, the young girl from Citrus County (about an hour and a half north of Tampa on the Suncoast Parkway, FL Toll 589), was extremely horrific and her perpetrator got what he deserved: A one way trip to Florida's death row at Florida State Prison in Raiford. (Unfortunately, Jessica's perpetrator died in prison before the State of Florida had the opportunity to carry out the ultimate penalty). In the wake of Jessica Lunsford's murder, lawmakers in Tallahassee wanted to make our schools safer: Turn them into mini-North Koreas.

The message that Principal Todd Cluff is really saying to parents: Stay out of our school or we'll trespass you. Doesn't Virgil Mills Elementary in Ellenton (Manatee County) and its principal, Mike Rio, ring a bell here? That applies even if you are coming to pick up your child from school - don't even think of setting foot anywhere on campus or we'll trespass you.

The solution that school officials will tell you, if you don't like the parental pick-up procedures, is to have your children ride the bus. Unfortunately, if your child lives within a two mile radius of your child's school, your child does not qualify for the bus even if it involves a dangerous walk to and from school. But with news stories accompanied by plenty of videos out there about incidents on board the school bus, parents don't want to take the chances.

The Code of Student Conduct of the school districts in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area make it obvious: Your child is guilty of any offenses committed until proven otherwise. In other words, the burden of proof is on your child, not the school administration. Just like when you are in Mexico or any civil law country, where you are guilty until proven innocent.

In the years since Florida's Jessica Lunsford law was passed, we have turned our public schools into so-called "security zones". Simplest explanation: You can be trespassed or even actually arrested for trespassing for even being on public property within 1,000 feet of a public school. After all, being trespassed - by issuance of a trespass warning - is the equivalent of a misdemeanor conviction for trespassing in Florida pursuant to Florida State Statute 810.09 without the benefit of due process and trial.

Why should you care as a parent? You worry every day what your child is exposed to once your child is past the gates of the closed neverworld of public school. And you have reason to be.

Turn on Bay News 9. Or 10 News (WTSP-TV). Or ABC Action News (WFTS-TV). or even NewsChannel 8 (WFLA-TV). Or pick up a copy of the St. Petersburg Times and/or Tampa Tribune in the morning. We are seeing this headline more and more often: School teacher arrested on child pornography charges.

Here is most recent proof, according to this article over at 10 News (WTSP-TV): Kathleen High School principal Cecil McClellan among 89 arrested in Polk County prostitution bust. A well respected high school principal is now facing not only serious charges of prostitution, now his career may be the end of the line depending on how things play out in the courts. By the way, Lakeland is a city situated between Tampa and Orlando on Interstate 4.

Kudos to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd for keeping Polk County safe.

Add to that the recent arrest of a teacher's aide at Nina Harris Exceptional Education Center in Pinellas Park, and that is good reason for you as a parent to be concerned. As I said in my previous blog entry, God knows what your child is being subjected to once your child passes through the gates of the closed neverworld of public school: Bullying? Child Abuse? Physical abuse? Sexual abuse? Emotional abuse? The subject of a teacher's negative comment on the teacher's own Facebook page?

On a personal note, I don't have any children of my own but I have a nephew that has recently graduated from college that I am proud of.

In fact, Bay News 9 has put together a page of your rights as a parent when it comes to your child's education in public school. A couple of them, according to the Bay News 9 article, are as follows:

1. You, as a parent, have a right to look over your child's school records and see test results, teacher comments and any disciplinary action taken against your child. In the Pinellas County School District, you can log in to Parent Connect and see much of this information on your child; access requires a login which you can get from any school upon presentation of a government issued photo ID.

2. If your child's school is a Title I school - a school that receives federal funds for low income children to help them succeed in school - federal law requires that you as a parent be involved in programs and decisions that affect your child. Your child's school principal will tell you if the school is a Title I school.

If anything, just remember this as a parent: Neither your child's school principal nor the school district does not own your children, period. You play an important role in your child's education and your child's teachers are there to help implement that role. Parents, it is your children.

Here is a link to the ParentalRights.org website with plenty of information on the subject of your rights as a parent when they are in the closed neverworld of public school. There's also a 36-minute movie produced by ParentalRights.org, Overruled, which is highly recommended viewing (in fact, you can find that video embedded into my previous blog entry).

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