Thursday, December 14, 2006

One Principal's Pathetic Potty Policy

What kind of knucklehead educator operates his or her classroom like this Maryland teacher allegedly did? And what kind of wanker principal would impose the sort of policy that permits this incident to occur in the first place?
A Salisbury Middle School policy that called for students to be escorted on bathroom breaks resulted in three students being forced to answer nature's call via a soda bottle.

Excessive requests for bathroom breaks throughout the day have prompted faculty members to be more skeptical, requiring some students to be escorted.

When no one was available to escort three bathroom-eager students on Friday, their teacher had an unusual solution to the problem.

Preston Whittington said his 13-year-old nephew, an eighth-grader at the West Side school, was told to urinate into a soda bottle along with two other boys.

Allen Brown, Wicomico County's assistant superintendent for Student Services, said the incident is being reviewed as a personnel matter. Brown would not release the teacher's name.

Whittington, whose two children also attend Salisbury Middle, said the incident occurred because of the strict policies at the school.

"So I guess they either have to hold it or mess themselves," he said.

Whittington's mother, who is also guardian of his nephew, is upset and wants answers.

"Kids should be able to wash their hands or pee in private," Whittington said.

Brown said the school has been having problems with students defacing the bathrooms, such as not urinating in the appropriate area.

To address the situation, school administration felt it necessary to announce to all eighth-graders and teachers that teachers and administrators would be more selective on students going to the bathroom.

That meant that students who made a habit of going to the bathroom several times throughout the day would have to be monitored by a faculty member when they left the classroom.

According to Brown, the students involved in the bottle incident asked to use the bathroom at about the same time. The teacher called for someone to escort them, but nobody came.

Rather than leave the classroom unsupervised, the teacher's solution was to give the students a bottle.

Brown said the fate of the teacher has yet to be determined. "(Interim Superintendent Thomas Field) will have to review the incident and he will decide what measures will be taken," he said.

"In my 39 years of working here, I've never heard of anything like this," Brown said. "It was just a dumb thing to do."

Levi Willey Jr., president of the Wicomico County PTAs, on Tuesday criticized how the matter was handled.

"That's not even civilized," Willey said. "You don't ask anyone to do that in a public area."

Christopher Wilde, Salisbury Middle School PTA president, has had two children go through the school and has a daughter now in eighth grade.

He said his children have had positive experiences.

"I have a fair amount of faith in the administrators," Wilde said Tuesday.

Wilde said that in the fall parents and teachers had told him they observed students spending more time wandering the halls than learning.

"I trust their judgment for the safety of our children," he said. "Are they perfect? Certainly not."

Wilde said he talked with his daughter after school Friday and she had not mentioned the incident. His daughter did, however, express concern that teachers said bathroom times would be limited.

She told him that in her class, when the teacher had commented on excessive bathroom usage, a girl raised her hand.

"She explained to the teacher that it was a biological function and that if you eat and drink, you'll have to go," he said laughing. "They made kind of a joke about it."

"If this happened to my daughter, I would be a little upset, but I would ask why," Wilde said. "How do you know for sure if some kids have to go to the bathroom? That's a tough call for teachers."

Whittington said he believes the bathroom rules are too strict for children to follow.

"I'm a retired correctional officer and we didn't run things like this," he said.
In order to prevent my junior high school students from taking an excessive number of bathroom breaks during their 50-minute class periods, I have a simple solution: I never say "no" to students' requests to attend to their restroom needs. But there is one little condition: All students taking bathroom breaks must come-in for five minutes after school in order to make-up the lost instructional time.

Most of my students end-up requesting only one or two breaks per semester
See our latest EduPosts here, yesterday's Carnival of Education here, and this date's Extra Credit Reading there.