The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 28, 1999


A lack of civility observed among Carlisle students

"As a parent, I want to ensure the safety and well-being of the children," parent Jayne Prats told the Carlisle School Committee on May 18. She expressed concern about the lack of civility; the ways children at school are treating authority figures as well as one another in areas such as the cafeteria, the buses and on the playgrounds. Some parents of the younger children are reluctant to put them on the bus and have heard children as young as third grade using inappropriate language. Parents also have seen harassing behavior exhibited by the kids in their treatment of one another on the school campus.

Committee member Peter Cole agreed that the kids have become less civil to one another and to authority. He

The goal is to have the child and parents become invested in the intervention.

sees it on the soccer field. Newly elected member Harry Crowther has seen similar behavior, such as the lack of respect for volunteers and teachers, in the school library. There was general agreement that this disrespectful behavior can most easily be found in the less structured environments at the school, such as the school bus, cafeteria, library and playground.

Member Paul Morrison asked what happens when "the kids curse each other." Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson replied that the school tries try to vary the punishment according to the severity of the situation. The goal is to have the child and parents become invested in the intervention. However, she said that some parents seem to condone disrepectful and disruptive behavior. A school committee member added that the superintendent has been threatened with lawsuits. Fox-Melanson said that one parent even took his son out of detention. "If the school has no authority over the children's behavior, the school has lost. The school feels it has failed to teach the child awareness of and responsibility for his/her actions."

Alan Ticotsky, systems mentor for the elementary school, suggested that school personnel begin by centering energy on one area, such as the cafeteria. The school committee discussed adopting elements of a "Policy against Harassment" report obtained from the Triton Regional School Committee. School committee member Cindy Nock agreed to tailor the report for the Carlisle School to define the nature of harassment and reporting procedures. The school currently has no such policy except for that which is posted for employees. Member Suzanne Whitney-Smith liked the idea of having a comprehensive policy. Morrison said that when one has specific procedures, expectations are raised as is the commitment to follow them.

Fox-Melanson answered that the Open Circle, a social competency program, may need to be reenergized. This program is instructional in helping children with relationships and appropriate behavior. Perhaps the program should be expanded to include playground supervisors and other school personnel, such as the bus drivers and all volunteers so that " all the people are speaking the same language," Fox-Melanson suggested.

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito