Try explaining to parents why a convicted drug offender with a warrant was able to chaperone his daughter’s class on an elementary school field trip.
“It appears that there was a miscommunication in the building today. The parent was not cleared to chaperone,” the Seattle School District said in a statement according to a December msnbc.com article on the incident.
Oh, OK — just a “miscommunication.” We can all feel better now.
A fellow parent recognized the man from a TV show, according to the news report. School officials said the male, the father of an elementary student at the school, was supposed to have been given a criminal history check required for all parent volunteers.
The father, who was reportedly convicted of a drug offense and had a parole violation warrant issued for having wine in his home, was said to have fled from police but later turned himself in after police searched for him for hours.
Although some debated the nature of his “parole violation,” that is not the point for purposes here. The point is how one “miscommunication” could potentially result in a tragedy had the circumstances been different.
What if the person allowed to chaperone had been a convicted sex offender and raped a student during the field trip? The list of other “what if” questions could be pretty long.
I talk in school safety workshops about “the perfect storm.” The perfect storm is a situation in which a number of conditions, often small when isolated individually, occur at the same time and add up to a major, serious occurrence.
It may be easy for one teacher to individually believe his or her absence from bus, parking lot or cafeteria duty may not make a big difference on a given day. After all, other teachers will be on their assigned posts — right?
Well, that may not be a “right” assumption. If one or more other teachers think the same way, several adults will not be present for their supervision duties. And that is when safety or other risks can escalate into an ugly situation very quickly.
Do your school leaders train their staff on the value and importance each staff member plays in the safety of children? Has “the perfect storm” been addressed in school safety training for your school’s staff?
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