Friday, December 3, 1999
A parent's concerns
To the Editor:
I have read with dismay the letters concerning the sexual harassment investigation, and I ask myself why such a serious matter is being addressed in letters to the editor? I would think an open meeting, which allows concerned parents, teachers and community members to ask and receive firsthand answers, would better serve our community.
However, since this is the only avenue available, I find it necessary to establish a few fundamental facts as I know them.
Complaints of sexual harassment have occurred in the past at the Carlisle Middle School. My daughter, along with other seventh-and eighth-grade girls, filed complaints with the appropriate administrative staff member. Mari Jo Alberico's account of the harassment she experienced is consistent with my daughter's experience not only in the type of behavior but the individual teacher involved. My daughter reported this behavior to the guidance counselor, assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools. The school administration did not follow their published policy regarding sexual harassment. They engaged in a number of meetings at all levels of the administration with my daughter without notifying us. Other girls have discussed with me that they have experienced and/or witnessed similar behavior by this teacher and reported these incidences to the appropriate staff member. Assurances were given that these complaints would be taken seriously; the individual teacher would be dealt with appropriately and precautions against this happening again would be taken.
I agree that we need to move on. However, I would like to know what we are moving on from. It seems to me we moved on before and we are back with the same complaints with the same teacher under most of the same administration.
I urge the school administration to host a public forum to discuss and help bring closure to this issue. We have public notices and meetings regarding building issues; I would hope we could do no less for our children and teachers.
Don't be afraid to stand up
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter to let the town of Carlisle and anyone who is interested know why I dropped the sexual harassment charges made against a teacher at the Carlisle Public School. It was my choice to drop the case. No investigations have been completed or rulings made in regard to my charges. I decided to drop the charges because I had done as much as a child of 13 could do without having to go in front of a court and tell my story. The only possible outcome of winning the MCAD case would be money. To me the money wasn't worth it. Money doesn't solve or prove anything. The truth does.
To prove that I didn't just do this because of a bad grade or a family problem, I would like to say that I lost almost all my friends during this process. I had no one on my side. I felt very scared. One of the teachers (one of the supposed leaders) of the school made a big mistake and that was a very hard mistake to fix. I knew in my heart that what I was doing was right. I had support from one teacher, my family, and the courage within me.
All I wanted in the beginning was that it all would just stop. I took all the right steps. When I told the school what had happened and how I felt, they told me that the teacher was wrong and that it would stop. When it didn't, they removed me from my class and brought in a tutor for me in the library. Now they began to say it was, "poor judgement on the teacher's part." Why would they say something like this to me and then never try to do anything to help solve the problem? If I had done nothing wrong, why was I alone in the library and the teacher was still in the classroom?
Referring to Tim Morse's letter, and wanting to be a teacher when I get older, I would like to ask "why should you believe only 50% of what the students say when believing 100% of the truth could help if a situation like this was to occur?"
In summary, I did all I could do. And now as a school, town, and community it is your turn to make the change. Do not be afraid to stand up for the truth because you will get nowhere in life if you are afraid.
Mari J. Alberico
Former resident of Timothy Lane
Two former students respond
To the Editor:
After reading the letters to the editor regarding the sexual harassment, I have very mixed feelings. I am pleased to hear of the heightened attention to the sexual harassment policy, but as the sister of a current student, I am fearful.
Some of the comments bring back the fears I had as a Carlisle Middle School student, while I was experiencing inappropriate behavior directed toward me by a teacher. Comments like, "Adults would always be believed over kids." "Students would lie to hurt a teacher." "A teacher would have no reason to lie." "The principal will decide who is telling the truth."
I felt fear as a seventh-grade student. I would go to school and dread going to this particular class. The comments by this teacher made me feel bad and would embarrass me both privately and publicly in class. I knew what this teacher was doing was not right but I was afraid because the behavior was no secret. Other students in school would make jokes about this teacher's latest sexual comments. So I was sure other teachers would have to know. How could they not? People knew what was going on but this teacher never seemed to get in trouble.
I wasn't sure what would happen if I told and I was scared but I knew the way I felt wasn't right. I went to my guidance counselor and others and I thought that things would change. They did for a short time and then they started up again.
I was sure that in the eighth grade I would be fine because I would be out of this teacher's class. But the behavior continued.
With the exception of this situation, I was very happy in middle school. My teachers were excellent educators and caring individuals. Adults working in the office and around the school were great.
But I was happy to graduate and get away from having to deal with this teacher and the way this teacher was always able to make me feel uncomfortable and never seemed to be held accountable.
I was a good student, with good grades without emotional struggles at home. So why, when I brought this to the attention of the school staff, was this inappropriate behavior forgotten about?
In closing, I would like to commend Mari Jo for having such strength and courage. Hopefully others will follow your example and help put an end to this behavior by the same teacher and most of the same school staff.
Carlisle class of 1996
To the Editor:
Throughout the past weeks, when I have been reading the comments in the newspaper about the recent sexual harassment case, I have been hurt and frustrated by the lack of consideration for the students that have been subjected to this type of behavior. I personally have experienced and reported similar behavior when I was a student in the middle school. I hope that this case has finally brought to the surface the fact that this teacher's behavior was unwanted, unacceptable, and never dealt with, even though I, on several occasions, had filed complaints. I am truly sorry that Mari Jo had to be faced with the same exact problems that I did. Maybe now someone will listen, and take truly positive action.
Carlisle class of 1996
Book Sale a success
To the Editor:
The Carlisle School Association's Fall Book Sale at the Concord Bookshop on Saturday, November 13, was a tremendous success. There was a steady stream of Carlisleans all day long at the bookstore, as they came in to browse and buy books and art teacher David Negrin's tote bags and T-shirts.
Purchasers were especially delighted by the festive table set up in the bookstore with its mouth-watering home-baked goods, coffee and cider provided by Carlisle parents. We thank all the parents who generously donated these treats. Special thanks to Jennifer Hart and Donna Vienneau for spending several hours on a busy Saturday helping us at the bookstore.
We would also like to thank the management and staff of the Concord Bookshop for lending their support to our fundraiser.
Finally, many thanks to all the Carlisle parents who demonstrated their active support for the CSA by making it a point to stop by the bookstore. The money raised brings plays, storytellers and other invaluable cultural events to the Carlisle school. Your support helped us make this fundraiser the success that it was!
Tricia Reed and Anjli Trehan
Co-chairs, CSA Fall Book Sale
Peaceful illusion shattered
To the Editor:
Last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, my dog "Georgie" was struck and fatally injured right in front of my house. My husband, my four-year-old son and the mail person were standing at the end of my driveway when it happened. No one heard tires screeching, just the thumps of the car going over Georgie; there was no chance to stop for Georgie. The car, driven by a neighbor, didn't stop until after the collision. Georgie sustained spinal injuries which paralyzed her from the neck down. Ironically, at her annual check-up the previous Saturday, not long after her fifth birthday, Georgie was found to be in perfect health. The injuries were determined to be fatal and to prevent her further suffering, she was put to sleep. In the opinion of witnesses, the car was going faster than the posted speed limit of 25 mph. In fact, most cars speed past my house on Fiske Street, which is on a straight part of the street. The speed limit on our street is posted at 25 mph for a reason. There are many runners, walkers, bicyclists, people riding their horses and dogs that pass by my house on this very narrow road. Part of the charm and the safety of a rural town like Carlisle is lost when residents can't drive the speed limit. We've only lived here for a few months and this whole experience has tainted my view of the relaxed pace of the town. Georgie was not just a dog; she was a beloved member of our family who was taken away from us, and life as we knew it will never be the same.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito