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FiveMinutesForEvan.com

Last year Senator Hertel introduced Senate Bills 192 and 193 to amend PA1976.  Senate Bill 193 proposes amendments to make our schools more responsive to the warning signs of emotional distress and compliance with the law for incident reporting.   Evan's specific amendment requires that schools notify parents immediately when they become aware of a child in distress.  Had this been in effect on October 10, 2016 the school would have been required to contact us at the first sign of his distress early in the day.  Numerous teachers observed and commented on him that day long before the final class.  Many of his classmates shared their concerns with teaching staff who did not follow through to send him to the office or have us notified.  

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Evan Morley Thompson
November 15, 2002 - October 10, 2016

 "There are 600 kids in that school,
a lot of them cry"
February 2017 / Steven Cook
Superintendent of Schools
Haslett MI


This was Cook's response to us when we asked how a child could cry all day in school, be recognized and acknowledged by teachers and students as showing aberrant behavior, and the parents not be contacted.
 
Evan had never cried in school before, but on this day he cried so hard he was unable to function - yet not a single adult at the school that interacted with him called us despite having all of our contact information on file.

IF THE STAFF WOULD HAVE TAKEN JUST 5 MINUTES TO CALL US
WE WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SAVE HIM.

THIS IS WHY WE NAMED THIS SITE "FIVE MINUTES FOR EVAN"


 

Two weeks before Evan passed away he was kicked, punched and spit upon by another student.  Evan did not strike back, instead choosing to use words to retaliate by making fun of the other kids pants.  As a result of this incident, Evan was given in school suspension and we were contacted about it.  His mother had a 20 minute phone conversation with Assistant Principal Mona Kay Woodhams expressing our concern that he was having problems adjusting.  She shared intimate details about Evan.  We followed all of the  HPS parent guidelines for staying involved with our child, communicating to staff about our child when as parents we wanted them to know something we deemed important.

Mona Kay Woodhams thanked us for speaking with her and told us she would inform us of anything she saw in the future--she did not communicate any information about our concerns to any of Evan's teachers. When we asked why she did not say anything to the teachers on February 10 2017 we were told by Superintendent Cook that because 6 years ago she had been a guidance counselor she was still bound by a confidentiality agreement that prevented her from saying anything to the teachers .

That following Monday, on February 13 2017  we asked the assistant superintendent, Sherren Jones, to tell us where that was documented anywhere on the Haslett school site or communicated to parents.   Where is this confidentiality policy, where is the form we would need to sign to authorize her to speak to teachers.  Jones said that it is not available on the website.  This is VERY important--at NO TIME did Jones tell us that we were mistaken... when she told us that the information was not available she corroborated what Cook told us, and she was in the room when he said it.    I asked her how that could be, that Woodhams was kept from speaking to teachers because of confidentiality but parents have no way to know that she wont say anything unless 

The failure by Mona Kay Woodhams to pass this information along to the teachers is an outrageous breach of our confidence and trust in the Haslett Middle School staff.

As we said in our public meeting with the board of education in December 2016, Evan's classmates didn't fail him -- they tried to warn the teachers -- it was the adults that failed him - and our concern is that they will fail your child too.  

 

No law, policy or procedure is an acceptable substitute for human decency and taking a moment to look a child in the eye and recognizing distress and following through on your responsibility as a public school employee to act “in loco parentis”.  

​How can it be that Evan cried so hard in third period that his English teacher pulled him out of class three times and decided to give him an all day hall pass so he could "walk it off if he needed to".

Why was he not sent to the office or the guidance counselor? Why weren't his parents contacted?  It took longer to write the pass than it would have to just say "Evan, go to the office and have them call your parents".

 

​How can it be that he was specifically discussed at noon that day in a staff "Team Meeting" and still nobody thought that his parents should be notified? The teachers that were yet to see Evan were in attendance, yet they saw nothing out of the ordinary that afternoon?  Not according to his classmates or as it turned out, his teachers as our FOIA filing has revealed.

 

​How can it be that in 6th hour his math teacher saw how distressed he was at the beginning of her class and she decided to do nothing until the end of class when she sent an email just moments before the end of the day instead of sending him to the office?  She actually cited a discussion that they had about him at lunch that day, and still not one of these people thought that his parents should be contacted?  ​It took longer for her to author that email than it would have to just send him to the office and have us contacted and we believe that it cost him his life. 

And what does Superintendent Cook have to say about that email she sent?  He told us that “it was more about the test, and not about his emotional state”.  A copy of this email is on the page dedicated to those communications— read that and decide for yourselves if she was talking about the test or talking about Evan’s emotional state.  It is clear, the teacher was worried about Evan emotionally, and she said that she had heard about him crying earlier in the day when she had lunch with “our team” and did nothing to hold him and have us contacted.

 

​After Evan passed, many of his classmates came to our home and told us that everyone knew he was upset--something was going on.  He sat at the lunch table and sobbed--his classmates told us that the teachers knew.  Superintendent Cook disputes this, telling us that the teachers deny that they were talked to by any of the students!  These are your children that are speaking out, not us, yet this man is defending his staff against the innocence of youth—so much for character.

 

 

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