MCFARLAND (WKOW) -- McFarland High School Principal James Hickey sent an email to parents and students of the high school over the weekend about an assault case involving two students, one who has now transferred to a different district.
Below is the full text of his message:
Dear Parents and Students of MHS-
I am writing to provide you some perspective and answers to concerns and activities that have been presented to us at MHS via students, the social media and parents in the last few days. I regret that I was not able get this out last evening, but I needed to spend some time reflecting on "what and how I wanted to say what I wanted to say." My goal always has been and will continue to be to keep parents and students apprised of "happenings" at MHS in a transparent and timely manner.
Please if you have questions regarding this email, or the incident, I will gladly address them the best that I am able to under the constraints of the laws governing confidentiality, etc.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to indulge and read this email. It is as some say, "a long one by Hickey!" I sorry that we find ourselves "here." But as I trust that you understand life is "not linear", and there are always challenges and matters that individually and as a community we need to work through.
Continued best regards,
A.) FACTS that I Can Share:
1. The incident that is being discussed involved a sophomore boy and a freshman girl in April of 2014. It took place after an athletic practice about 6:15PM in the hallway that leads to the MHS auditorium.
2. Upon hearing of the incident, the MHS Administration notified parents and suspended the student out of school for 13 days, referred the incident to our Police School Liaison( PSL) and began the School's investigation into the incident.
3. As is the practice at MHS a "Pre- Expulsion Recommendation Investigation" was conducted. The team included among others, District's Legal Counsel, MHS School Counselors, the Superintendent, and the PSL.
4. The "Pre- Expulsion Recommendation Investigation" looked at and considered, among other matters, the Police Report upon the conclusion of their investigation, statements from the students involved, social media that was available regarding the incident between the parties, behavioral, attendance and academic record of the male student, and District's legal counsel's recommendations as related to expulsion, or other disciplinary options.
5. Taking into consideration all of the above articulated in #4 , the recommendation was made to impose discipline through a Behavioral Contract. The Contract articulates stipulation for a student's return back to school.
6. The male student was suspended from his co-curricular activities for the balance of the school year in accordance with our Athletic Code.
7. Prior to the male student returning to school, and through yesterday, the female student's School Counselor has been working with and monitoring the female student.
8. The male student to date has completely complied with the District's Behavioral Contract.
B.) Some Thoughts From "Where I Sit/Stand......":
1. Be assured that your children (male or female) are indeed safe within our MHS learning community.
2. The female student was and is a victim. Be assured that MHS and the District understand the need to provide support to victims. It bothers me to no extent that this incident happened.
3. What the male student did was wrong--- no excuses were presented by him or his parents through-out the investigation. Nothing justified his behavior. It bothers me to no extent that this incident happened.
4. Unfortunately, for all the parties concerned we (the school) are limited in what we can provide our public. This is EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING, and IRRITATING to me as the school principal. It irritates the heck out of me when I hear public officials indicate that "we can not comment due to confidentiality"------ so when I find myself having to say that, "the school can not comment on the details of a situation due to confidentiality", it is a very "hard pill for even me personally to swallow."
5 I would ask all those that are making judgement and drawing conclusions about, "how this situation was handled;" "the consequences that were imposed; and "why a student is moving from MHS", etc. to take a few minutes to let the emotion settle, step away from the social media for a minute or three, and reflect on the following questions:
Do I really know for a fact what happened back in April?
Do I know factually all of the factors that went into the disciplinary sanctions imposed?
Have I had a conversation with both parents and students relative to this incident;?
We are all entitled to our opinions. Likewise, it is important that we help our children use social media responsibility. It is incorporated in our District's curriculum.
6. I never will second guess a decision of any parent to do what they think is in the best interest of their child. This is because it is a very personal decision made by parents and their children, and I know that there are multiple factors that go into those decisions---- some shared and others not.
7. Our learning community of MHS is not perfect or a utopia. We believe in continuous improvement, and realizing that we are a learning community, we take on challenges and issues as opportunities to continue to improve.
8. Finally, if I did not believe in the disciplinary decision that was made, nor the support and services provided to the victim at the school I would have spoken up.