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After the kidnapping: Child safe, parents worried, politicians bloviate…

KW: I was hoping not to write much more about the dramatic story of the 15 year old boy who was whisked away from his home in Massachusetts to West Virginia, with his 24 year old teacher. I do wish everyone well in recovering, recuperating, reflecting, and also in dealing with the politicians and school officials who will no doubt try to capitalize on the media attention.

I had to point out the irony of the story below. (Perhaps the reporters juxtaposed the ideas on purpose?). First, it notes that the parents of the boy had come to school officials two days before, and pointed out their concerns, but the school did nothing. Then, there is a quote from the Mayor noting that in this “poor” school district, there is a lack of “parental involvement.”

Well, I guess we can see why the parents don’t try to get involved, since the parents were right, they spoke up, and no one listened.

Very glad the boy is safe and sound.

Hope that this teaches school districts to listen to parents, and shows that there is more than one side to a story when school officials or politicians claim that poor people don’t get involved in their schools enough.

(excerpt from) The Boston Globe
Teacher, student found in W. Va.
Holyoke parents alarmed over alleged affair

By Megan Woolhouse / February 25, 2009

…”You think they’ll be safe,” Sweeney said, shaking her head as she picked up her children yesterday. “You don’t ever think that a teacher would let something like this happen.”

Lavoie and the student were taken into custody yesterday at a Super 8 Motel in Morgantown, W.Va., Holyoke police said. She was charged with kidnapping and will return to Massachusetts to face charges of child enticement, a felony…

Police said yesterday that an alleged affair between Lavoie and the student went on for months and that the boy’s friends knew about it…

Police added that the boy’s parents had complained to the school about their suspicions of an affair just days before the two went missing, but no one at the school had contacted police. The boy’s family contacted police after he disappeared.

School officials refused to comment yesterday.

Mayor Michael J. Sullivan called the alleged kidnapping and affair a “maddening” blow to a poor, urban school system that already struggles with gangs, drugs, and a lack of parental involvement…

But parents like Luis Ortiz, the father of a kindergartner at the school, expressed outrage. When he learned about the alleged kidnapping, he went to the school to pick up his child.

“I was afraid yesterday, and I came down here right away,” he said. “There’s no security at this school.”

[Note to Mr. Ortiz: The school officials will no doubt be pleased to add security at the school. Security would not have helped this situation. But, having metal detectors or security guards is another way to demonize and alienate your children, and it will add a need for new money to the school budget. You fell right into the trap…fear and politics…Now, how about making a rule that when parents contact the school, the school does something? That is what might have prevented this incident, or made it less traumatizing.]

[Sorry, I am on a roll…other things that would help the situation besides traditional security measures: 1. Smaller class size, so everyone sees more what is happening 2. Perhaps having the early childhood separate from the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. I believe reports said this was an elementary school with an 8th grade. 3. More teachers and/or teacher’s assistants in class and after school activities, so that students and teachers are left alone less 4. Various positive programs on self-esteem and safety for children, such as programs designed to teach children about protecting their personal space and sharing their feelings when they are confused about a situation 5. Ensure that there is a policy at the school that parents can drop in at any time. Many schools do not do that, but it is the only reliable way to be sure parents have ultimate control and responsibility for the children entrusted to their care. 6. An excellent guidance department. And, many other proactive measures that truly would have helped and could help in the future.]

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