The story in Babble: Two More Yearbook Fails
The story on Fox 5 News:
At a time when school bullying has become an issue of concern across the country, several parents have written us concerned about a distinction given one Senior in the Mamaroneck High School yearbook. He was voted “Most Feared by Freshmen”
A cartoon, below, appears in the new MHS yearbook, depicting him holding a dismembered head and hand.
A special meeting is called for Friday at the High School to address the situation with school officials.
The following letter was sent by an MHS parent who asked to remain anonymous.
To the Editor:
We have disintegrated to such a state that the inmates are running the asylum. The student voted “Most Feared by Freshman” seems to also instill fear in school administration, teachers and parents. The race is on for next year’s contenders for this exalted title to out beat, out taunt and out terrorize the younger students. Are teachers and administrators looking over or overlooking their responsibilities?
Who deserves to be safe? The teachers and administrators in their jobs?
By not acknowledging the problem of hazing, and ignoring any parent who dares to raise the issue, they save their jobs, are reinstated under false pretenses and live happily ever after.
Or the students? At least they have last year’s biggest bully identified in the school-sanctioned yearbook, but what about next year? Who will out do this year’s terrorist? Is student safety to be sacrificed for job security for staff paid by tax-payer money?
Anyone know the answer?
After we inquired, the School District, in a letter to parents from Dr. Shaps, responded:
It has been called to our attention that an inappropriate photo and artist rendering – along with a caption with the words “Freshman’s Worst Nightmare: Fear Factor” – is included in the senior superlative section of this year’s yearbook. This item contradicts the clear message our district has been sending throughout the year that bullying will not be tolerated.
Indeed, addressing the problem of hazing or having upperclassmen bully freshmen is central to our effort to promote a safe learning environment and positive interactions among students. As a district, we have acted on numerous fronts to confront inappropriate upperclassmen behavior:
– In the fall, our high school guidance counselors visited every single class at every grade level early in the school year to discuss the issues of hazing, bullying and cyber-bullying.
– We’ve encouraged our own staff members, including teachers, coaches and administrators, to regularly discuss these issues with students and let them know that bullying will not be tolerated.
– We’ve invited outside speakers to conduct two one-hour assemblies this year (one with freshman and sophomore students and one with upperclassmen) focused on bullying.
– Our interim principal John Goetz sent out an automated message to all parents the evening before what’s traditionally known as “Freshman Friday” to speak out against this topic.
– Our student Caprice Advisers also help us to reiterate anti-bullying messages.
In addition to district-wide measures, we partner with our local police departments to investigate any incidents that are called to our attention and take appropriate action.
Moving forward, we will ensure that the faculty adviser of the yearbook conducts a thorough review of each page so that the yearbook’s content is consistent with the District’s code of conduct/beliefs and there are no offensive photos or statements suggesting we condone inappropriate behavior. We will of course continue to work with faculty to educate students and parents around bullying issues and encourage parents to reinforce the seriousness of bullying, including hazing, in and outside of school.
We recognize that tackling theses issues is challenging and complex. Therefore, we ask that students, parents, educators and law enforcement work together toward the common goal of eliminating bullying from our schools and community.
Dr. Robert I. Shaps
Superintendent of Schools
Look for this story tonight (June 17) on Fox 5 at Ten.