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CATCH 22 For Superintendent Cook -- You cant have it both ways !

“A man’s character is his fate”    Heraclitus 

In September 2017 Evan was kicked, punched and spit upon by another child in the middle school. Evan was given in school suspension because he did not strike back, the other boy was not given an out of school suspension. I emailed principal Susan Gillings for an explanation as to why the other boy was not given out of school suspension which was the policy as I understood it.

 

I sent her two emails requesting a response – she ignored them both—she never responded to me.

 

 Additionally Evan’s mom had a 20 minute phone conversation with associate principal Mona Kay Woodhams where Evan’s emotional state was discussed in detail as we were concerned about him and this event caused us to take the time to reach out to the very people that are around him all day.

 

Patty was very clear when she told Woodhams to let us know if Evan displayed any type of behavior that would cause concern.  Woodhams responded by saying “thank you for sharing” and indicated that she would do so.

Two weeks later, Evan had an emotional breakdown at school - he cried all day and many of his classmates tried to help. After school that day he took his own life and it took three months before we were granted a meeting with Superintendent Cook and assistant superintendent Jones.

As it turns out associate principal Woodhams said nothing to any of the teachers to be on the lookout for anything different in Evan's behavior. She kept it to herself. When we first met with Superintendent Cook and Assistant Superintendent Jones we asked if they thought that she should have said something to the teachers, and Jones said "yes, I would think that should be shared with teachers".   

Two weeks later Feb 10 2017 when we met again Superintendent Cook who told us that the reason Woodhams said nothing was because 6 years PRIOR she had been a guidance counselor and was still bound by a confidentiality policy.

The following Monday Feb 13 Eric had a phone conversation with assistant superintendent Sherren Jones.  Eric asked how we as parents could possibly have known that such a limitation existed as there is virtually no documentation of that for parents to have at hand to understand and then give permission. 

 

Jones admitted to us that nothing exists to that effect and followed by telling us that "I have to support my staff".   SHE DID NOT REFUTE THAT WOODHAMS WAS BOUND BY CONFIDENTIALITY AND AS SUCH COULD SAY NOTHING TO TEACHERS which is exactly what we were told by Superintendent Cook.  If there was any misunderstanding or clarification to be made, she would have made it.  Instead, she reconfirmed what Cook told us which is why we made that phone call to her in the first place.  It was such an outrageous story that we knew it was a complete fabrication by Cook to cover for Woodhams lack of follow through with the teachers. 

 

So the Catch 22 for Superintendent Steve Cook...

If a confidentiality policy is in effect that prohibits the assistant principal from speaking to teachers then any reasonable person would expect that there must be some type of release that can occur by verbal or written means. 

 

 

If on the other hand no such agreement exists, then Superintendent Cook has been caught in a lie and the entire statement is a total fabrication. 

We did not bring this up -- this is what Superintendent Cook told us in his offices Feb 10 2017, and we followed up very specifically on Feb 13 with the assistant superintendent to confirm what we had been told.

If there was any doubt about what we were told by Cook then Jones would have said so -- instead she told us that there was no information for parents to read about the confidentiality policy that kept Woodhams from telling Evan's teachers about his mother’s conversation.

 

On June 28 2018 when we met Superintendent Cook and board president Coady in Senator Hertels office the senator was able to get Cook and Coady to admit that was no such confidentiality agreement!  

The fact remains that on January 27 2017 Cook told us, witnessed by assistant superintendent Jones and not disputed by her the following Monday, that Woodhams could not speak to teachers because of a confidentiality agreement.

 

If he denies saying this, he is not telling the truth – and if we had any type of legal recourse to depose him under oath as well as Jones then he would be bound by the law to speak truthfully.

 

The fact of the matter is, as parents we have no recourse against a school administrator or other school employee that fabricates stories in an attempt to cover for their own failures. 

 

Our only recourse is to submit a complaint to the very people that we feel purposely misled us to cover for their own inadequacies and failures.  There is no way this school system will hold Woodhams or Cook accountable unless we as parents collectively decide to force their hand by citing other examples of this school system to respond to bullying and parental complaints – all since the passing of Evan in October 2018.

 

No amount of training can change the soul of a person -  Cook, Woodhams, Gillings, Jones all should stand up and be willing in a public forum to defend themselves and their actions, inactions and statements.

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