School staffs work hard to make campuses safe and positive places

23-Aug-2016

Leila Hayashida, the Complex Area Superintendent for Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui, penned this piece for the Maui News. She is a longtime teacher and educator, including a former principal and assistant superintendent of curriculum and student support.

The daily responsibility of protecting every child and every staff member on our public school campuses is great. It is the foremost thought that principals mull over before any activity. When we say that the health and safety of our campuses is of utmost priority, we mean every word.

On average, our school campuses host 500 to 1,200 students and 60 to 150 staff members. It is impossible for a principal to know the actions of every person on campus at any given moment. Sometimes, unfortunate instances occur in and outside of the classroom, whether it's when a teacher is giving special attention to one student that results in bad behavior behind his back or a misunderstanding between a faculty member and a principal.

Unpredictable situations take place all the time. This is why having great school leaders, faculty, staff and students working together with common objective of being at our best at all times makes a difference. This team approach includes our parents.

Unfortunately, the world doesn't work with everyone in step at all times. There are differences and, at the school level, we work hard to understand conflict before jumping to conclusions.

Additionally, as our society advances with a social media "instant satisfaction" pace and culture of drive-thru coffee stands and retail shipments being delivered to our door step, school administrators have difficulty keeping up with the demands of investigating complaints to the satisfaction of parents that expect a one-day turnaround.

Every administrator takes ample time investigating each situation and complaint, which requires listening to all perspectives in order to make a fair determination.

Our principals are expected to perform their due diligence in addressing every issue with respect and consideration for all involved parties before reaching a resolution.

Far too often, our school administrators and teachers who are making tough decisions are now faced with being attacked on social media by secondary parties. We teach our kids about bullying and cyberbullying, however these lessons cannot compete with what is modeled in society or by their parents.

As a complex area superintendent, it is difficult for me to see this added burden placed on our school administrators.

At times, due to impatience or disagreement with the administrators' decisions, some parents have turned to social media to post vulgar statements about the school staff. There have also been instances in which some parents have resorted to threatening physical confrontations with school staff that result in police involvement and criminal charges.

Schools are a place of learning. Yet, for those in education it has sadly become increasingly difficult to deal with harassment, whether online or in person. The state Department of Education works hard to develop our school leaders. However, our employees should not be subjected to threats for doing their job. In fact, our community should be proud of the work, time and considerations that these school leaders are providing to ensure the fair treatment of our students and staff.

Children learn academically and they also learn how to behave with respect in social settings. Raised voices, posturing, threats and vulgarity are not welcome at any school. While school staff will continue to do what it takes to ensure our campuses are safe and positive learning places for all students, it's important for parents to be sensitive and respectful to the process.

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