I am a parent of two students at Loesche Elementary School, as well as a Substitute Noontime Aide.
Recently, I voiced my complaints to Dr. Kolakowski about conditions in the lunchroom that affect our children. I also expressed concerns about things I saw while working in the lunchroom as a Substitute Noontime Aide. I was extremely upset over the way the Noontime Aides and the 'police officer' treated our children in the lunchroom and in the schoolyard, and I felt that our new principal needed to know what has been going on.
You may or may not know about the 'police officer' that patrols the school hallways, the lunchroom, and the schoolyard, at Loesche Elementary School. (I refer to this woman as the 'police officer' because she refused to give me her name.) Some students have told their parents that 'the police officer' threatens to handcuff the children if they misbehave. The students have also seen the 'police officer' make children 'assume the position' when they act up, as if she is going to frisk them.
I do not know how other parents feel, but I hope that my child NEVER comes home and tells me that the 'police officer' actually put her hands on ANY part of my children's' bodies. These things the children have told their parents may or may not be true, but when you are the parent of two children in the school where this 'police officer' is left on her own to do what she will, you tend to worry and wonder about it. I know I do.
I gave my entire list of complaints to Dr. Kolakowski regarding the Noontime Aides, on Tuesday, October 31st after the head Noontime Aide, Ann Boice, harassed me and accused me of filing out my own hall pass when I came to the school to visit the children in the lunchroom during “Wacky Hat Day”.
On that same day, the 'police officer' followed me out of the lunchroom while three fourth graders were leaving to help in Ms. Olsen's classroom, as they do every day. (My own daughter was one of those children.) The 'police officer' got on her walkie-talkie and told someone, “I have a woman here taking children out of the lunchroom”. She made the children go back into the lunchroom and said to my daughter and the other two girls, “Don't worry, that woman will NEVER be allowed in this school again”.
To add insult to injury, on Wednesday, November 1st, the 'police officer' went around to teachers in their classrooms asking them to put something in writing that would ban me from entering the school building.
The principal of Loesche Elementary School, Dr. Kolakowski, and Wendy Shapiro, the Chain Cluster Leader, are aware of this latest incident. They were aware of the situation regarding my complaints before this also, and nothing has changed. Matters have only gotten worse. That is why I am sharing this with you, as a concerned parent of students at Loesche.
On Monday, November 6th, I had a meeting with Dr. Kolakowski and we spoke about a few things that I brought up in my letter to him. He denies that the 'police officer' spoke to teachers about me, but my children's former Kindergarten teacher confirmed that she HAD indeed done so.
As a result, I now have to ask Dr. Kolakowski's permission, by appointment, if I ever want to resume my tutoring in my son's classroom. The principal will not permit me to simply have the teacher's permission, and obtain a Visitor's Pass to enter the building. I need special permission from the principal of the school.
Because of this, I will not continue my tutoring. I am not comfortable with these terms under which I can continue volunteering in the school. I feel that Dr. Kolakowski has reprimanded me for complaining about conditions in the school and I can now be denied access to the very place my children receive their education, whenever he sees fit.
I would like to point out to you that, academically, my children have never, and probably will never, need tutoring or help with their schoolwork. All three of my kids started to read before their fourth birthday. My oldest is a freshman at Dartmouth, an Ivy League school, on a full scholarship. My son is at the age where he is embarrassed to have his 'mommy' at school. It is not for my kids alone that I would like to help out at Loesche.
Therefore, I hope that parents of children, who DO need a little extra help with their learning, will agree with me that this should not happen.
I am requesting that you support me by signing my guestbook and voicing your opinion on this matter. I believe that parents that have known me for four years know that I would NEVER be a danger to their children and I have faith that they will stand behind me if I need to defend my character or myself. I should not have to defend myself because I have never done ANYTHING to warrant this latest attempt to intimidate me into backing down about my concerns. This has now reached outrageous proportions. I am NOT a threat to the children and I hope that you feel the same way by signing my guestbook and voicing your opinion.
This being a public school, there should be no question as to whether or not a parent should be allowed to enter a building where their children spend six hours a day, ESPECIALLY when they go through the office first and receive a Visitor's Pass.
I spoke up for ALL of the children at Loesche Elementary School regarding the behavior of, and the tactics used by the Noontime Aides and in retaliation, they, and the 'police officer' are now trying to ban me from the school, by making it difficult for me to get permission to do so. The people behind this affront to my character are the very ones I have voiced my concerns about and they want me denied permission to enter the school. In my opinion, they are doing so because they do not want me to see anything else that I feel is inappropriate behavior on their part.
The children are the ones that matter here. I could care less how they feel about me. Up until now, I have chosen not to tell EVERY parent I know about what has happened to me. I think other parents would feel the same way that I do if they were aware of the situation. I had hoped it would not come to this, but unfortunately, it has.
I have volunteered in the school for the past four years, helping teachers and, most importantly, the students. Not ONCE have I ever had my integrity questioned by ANYONE. I will not be intimidated or threatened to the point where I stop caring about the students. I am sorry that I will not be able to continue to help our kids at Loesche Elementary School. I love working with the children, and I think they liked working with me. However, without support from other parents, I do not think I will be able to.
Following is the list of complaints I wanted to discuss with Dr. Kolakowski, but never got the chance. I ask that you sign my guestbook and I will share your comments with the principal.
1 - While working side by side in the lunchroom as a Substitute Noontime Aide, I have seen and heard children scolded, yelled at, berated, and humiliated, in front of other children. It does not seem to matter what the child had done, or the severity of his act, the response by the aides is usually the same. The tone of a person's voice can make all the difference for a child who has done something wrong. Yelling does not help; it only tends to make the child repeat the act.
The aides never fully hear the students out. Most times the aides take matters into their own hands, when teachers and parents are better equipped to do so. To solve a minor problem, all it takes are a few words from someone in authority. The child is satisfied if someone just listens to what he or she has to say. There is no excuse for an aide not taking a few minutes of their time to spend with a child. For a severe problem, the aid needs to talk to the child's teacher, parent, or the principal regarding the situation.
2 - At lunchtime, the aides rush the children while they eat. At a time the aides designate, all children are to clean up, throw away whatever food they have not finished eating, and line up for recess. Therefore, they do not get a full half-hour to eat, as stated in the Loesche Elementary School handbook.
Is there a regulation written down somewhere that says the children must go outside whether they are finished eating their lunch or not?
3 – At morning recess, the aides tell the children they must go out into the schoolyard if they are not eating a snack. Many of the children have complained (while I was working in the lunchroom) that they would rather not go out, but sit in the lunchroom and talk. The aides do not allow the children to do so. They have to go outside.
4 – There are only a maximum of three noontime aides out in the schoolyard at any time during the children's' lunch or recess. Sometimes there are, depending on the number of children in each class, 120 children in the yard at once. Three people cannot safely be responsible for that many children. There have been too many accidents, fights, and mishaps. Sometimes, there are only one or two aides in the schoolyard.
5 – The aides do not always allow children to go to the nurse or to go back to their classrooms to get their lunch or money. There are times when a child has come up to me in the schoolyard or in the lunchroom stating that they are sick or that something hurts. Since I am only a substitute, I ask one of the fulltime aides if the child can go to the nurse. I have had aides look at the child and say, “Oh, he'll be okay. Just let him tell his teacher when he gets back to the classroom.” Other aides informed me that we could not send a child to the Nurse for every little thing.
A child banging their head on the concrete, for example in my opinion, is not a “little thing”. This happened to my daughter two years ago. I do not think that a Noontime Aide, myself included, is qualified to make that decision. I am qualified to make the judgment call on one of my own children, however.
6 – On days when I have not been working as a Substitute Noontime Aide, I have had children confront me with problems in the schoolyard before and after school, while dropping off or picking up my children, because they either could not find an aide, or the aide they did find could not help them. I help them if I can without having to be working. I help them because I am a parent and I want to help the children when I can because I would appreciate someone helping one of my children if I was not there. The aides, according to the handbook, are there to help the children if they need it.
7 – At a staff meeting toward the end of the last school year, an aide told me that as a Substitute there was no need for me to attend. I truly wished I had now. I found out that after that meeting, the aides no longer had to clean up after the children. Children had to clean each table themselves.
I know what it looks like after my children clean up after themselves. Therefore, picture an entire cafeteria of tables cleaned by children. I do not think the tables are clean enough for the next group of children coming in to eat.
8 – To reiterate the point of children having to clean up after themselves, the first child an aide sees in front of a mess or in front of garbage, is told to clean it up, no matter who it belonged to. The aides do not want to hear whose garbage it is.
I do not want MY children to clean up someone else's garbage. They will, however, clear their own place, throw away their own trash and garbage, and wipe the part of the table they dirty, with the rag given to them by the aides. I cannot see other parents willing to let their child put their hands on something others had in their mouths or in their hands.
9 – Noontime Aides watch me, sometimes follow me, and on a few occasions, have stalked me in the school building, when I was there to speak to one of my children's teachers, or to volunteer in the classroom. Noontime Aides never ask if I have a visitor's pass. The aides simply tell me "You can't go in the building with your child". Not once, in five years, has a teacher stopped me or questioned me as to why I was in the school building. I could not imagine myself doing that to another parent.
My children have been attending Loesche Elementary School for over four years now. Just about every teacher in the school knows me. Most of them can vouch for my character, or whatever information you may need to find out who I am. Why is it up to Noontime Aides? What authority do they have to do that, especially outside of the lunchroom or schoolyard?
The following two points may or may not pertain to the Noontime Aides, but to the Food Workers:
10 – Going back to the subject of cleaning the tables, one day I worked a few weeks ago in the lunchroom. The bucket used for the rags to clean the tables the children eat off, was empty. I went to fill the bucket with hot soapy water and found no soap in the room. When I asked one of the other aides if I should ask the cafeteria ladies, who supply the disinfectant cleaner for the lunchroom tables, I was told that they would not give it to me because they were rationing the soap because of the school budget. One of the aides told me to clean the tables with plain water.
How often that has happened since then, is anyone's guess. Is this something other parents should know about?
11 - I would like to add that I have seen with my own eyes, cafeteria workers handle the food with their bare hands. It is bad enough they are not required to wear hairnets. However, I think it is a requirement, by the Health Department, to wear gloves. I have seen a food handler pick up unwrapped slices of pizza and hamburgers with their bare hands and place them on the children's trays. When I mentioned this to other aides, they told me it was not my business. They said that I was a Noontime Aide, not part of the cafeteria staff. My main concern is the children eating food handled by workers not using gloves, my children being two of them.
I do not feel this point needs an explanation. There certainly would not be any need to explain it to the Board of Health.