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Your Opinion: Parents not informed of cocaine found at daughter’s preschool

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Every week, I eagerly turn to the Police Beat in our local paper to find out the latest and not-so greatest of our community. Yesterday, I rolled my eyes at the 16-year-old kid who was busted with marijuana and wrote a letter defending his use of weed by quoting the Bible. How utterly religious of him.

I looked at my two young children and thought “How glad I am I don’t have to worry about this yet.” But then I kept reading.

The next story was about cocaine found at a preschool. I was initially upset but then became enraged when I realized it wasn’t just any preschool: it was at the playground at my daughter’s preschool.

The school administration somehow thought it was not important to relay the information to parents that illegal drugs had been found on the premises during school hours. These same officials who somehow deem it necessary to print off hundreds of fliers detailing banal “issues” such as the dangers of letting children use the handicapped door opener.

I addressed the issue at school that morning. The director was stupefied over it all. She said she called the police to investigate and her supervisor advised her to not go public with the information. She defended herself: “We did not know it would get printed in the paper.”

Obviously.

Do I blame the school? Definitely not. They likely had nothing to do with the cocaine being there.

Do I blame how they handled it? Definitely. I firmly believe that anything illegal on school property should be made known. Parents have the right to be informed so they can reinforce safeguards to their children if they see something out of place.

Their lack of responsiveness to the situation demonstrates a serious lapse of judgment and even after I addressed the issue, there was a foreboding lack of accountability.

The director assured me it will likely be an isolated incident, to which I respond, “Doesn’t every chain of incidents begin with just one?”

But I certainly hope she is right.

What is your opinion? Should parents have the right to know if drugs are found on property?

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Melissa Garrett February 8, 2008

    Absolutely!!!

    We had a student at our local HS who brought a loaded gun to school not too long ago, and the parents didn’t find out about it until they READ IT IN THE PAPER!! This is the same HS where there have been tons of racial tension, bullying, and outright fights. They’ve had to bring in extra security, and some parents have kept their kids out of school.

    I think anytime our kids have the potential to be put in danger, parents need to know. You’re right in that the cocaine is most likely not related to anyone at the preschool, but how can you be sure it won’t happen again? There needs to be some sort of meeting to address what the school is going to do about it – volunteer parents to comb the playground, after-hour security, etc.

    Lis Garrett
    http://www.MelissaGarrett.wordpress.com

  • comment avatar Angie February 8, 2008

    I’d be really irritated, as well. It makes them look worst that they “got caught” not telling about it. They were probably hoping to avoid exactly the publicity that they ended up getting. I would imagine information like that could affect next year’s enrollment numbers, albeit unfairly. However, every parent there had a right to know that information.
    Angie
    abeonill.blogspot.com

  • comment avatar Lady P February 8, 2008

    It angers me how many institutions try to hide the negative side of life…and every time it blows up in their face. I will relate a couple of stories here because if we do not educate our children they can be harmed by the lack of information. What if a child picked up a bag of cocaine and thought it was candy? What would the school say then? Oops?

    1. When my niece was very young, there was an used drug needle on the ground where she was playing. Before my SIL could react my niece stuck the needle in her mouth. She was rushed to the hospital along with the needle and received a Hepatitis B vaccine. She was then tested for the next 3 years for AIDS. There wasn’t enough “stuff” left on the needle to test for AIDS and so the family suffered for 3 years before receiving an all-clear. If anything is found IT MUST BE MADE KNOWN to ALL the parents who can then best educate their little ones.

    2. My son came home from Junior High and told me his teacher had seized a gun from another student in the school that day. It just so happened his teacher was a retired RCMP officer and another student saw the gun and went to tell her about it. The school kept this under wraps although I spoke to them about it – just as they didn’t mention when one of my son’s classmates brought a pellet gun to school and started shooting other students. They keep this quiet yet they practise lock-downs with the kids….

    3. An elementary school in my previous home of Edmonton, had a washroom that parents were concerned about. They had pressed the administration about security because the washroom was close to an exit and not to a classroom in the school. The school had cameras and pooh-poohed these concerns. Well, 2 years ago a man hid in that bathroom and sexually molested a grade 2 girl who went to that bathroom. The resulting massive anger and publicity did not help the school’s cause… they had used the excuse “well that will never happen”… which is surely the first clue that it will happen.

  • comment avatar Lady P February 8, 2008

    It is vital parents be updated on what is happening in the school environment. How else do we protect our children and help them learn? What if a child had found some cocaine in a bag and thought it was candy? And ate it? In Edmonton, my old stomping grounds, dealers are handing out “free samples” of crystal meth to school children, in the hopes of getting them addicted and then having them act as a go-between at the school.

    My niece picked up a needle on the ground some years back, and stuck it in her mouth (at a playground). She was rushed to the hospital along with the needle, where she received a needle for Hepatitis B. As there was not enough “stuff” on the needle for testing, she underwent 3 years of AIDS testing before she given the all-clear.

    The schools practise lock-downs with the kids and in the event of a serious situation in the neighbourhood, the schools are locked down. The extra anxiety put on our school children these days, if they are not trusted to be informed and educated, is so hard on them.

    Another school in Edmonton did not take parents’ concerns about a washroom seriously; it next to an exit without any nearby classrooms and parents expressed alarm that a stranger could abduct a child there. The school brushed off the concerns with the comment the school had security cameras. Well 2 years ago a sexual predator hid in that washroom and sexually molested a 7 year old girl. The school did not fare so well with the ensuing media attention and outrage from the public. To say nothing of the horror for this little girl and her family. This happened AFTER some young students had told faculty about a man “lurking” near the playground.

    Be the advocate for your child. The one thing you are assured won’t happen…is guaranteed to be the one thing that does.

  • comment avatar Gina (mannyed) February 8, 2008

    I agree with you, Amber. Schools should let the parents know what is going on in and around school and the surrounding area. I remember my school used to send home letters whenever they caught wind of some illegal or suspicious activities going on in the area. (i.e. a mysterious white van circling a block asking kids for directions). With a lot of tech-saavy parents out there nowadays, schools should devote more time providing a website that keeps parents up-to-date by a click of the mouse. At the very least, hand out fliers and tell them about this so called isolated event.

  • comment avatar Amber February 8, 2008

    Well said, Ladies. And Gina, last fall I suggested they stop printing allllllllll their fliers and switch to an email alert system (which would have been perfect for something like this).

    They are completely resistent to change and totally turned down my idea. For me, it is a no-brainer. Half the announcements/hand outs never make it home to me anyway because a 3 year old isn’t exactly reliable when it comes to relaying information!

  • comment avatar Tanya February 8, 2008

    I can’t imagine the anger you felt and I feel that it is completely justified! You are looking out for the safety/well-being of your child and you have a right to know what is found or what is going on at the school. Not just the good stuff but all the dangerous stuff too.

    I hope they realize their mistake and don’t make the same mistake again.

  • comment avatar Dedee February 8, 2008

    http://www.ddfreestone.blogspot.com

    I have to say that I’m totally with you on this one. That makes me angry. The best school system I have ever been in had a phone system–an automatic one–that called every parent in the school and let them know if anything unusual happened. We had third grader come with a pellet gun for three days before she got caught and we knew about it the instant they did, practically. There was also a man sending threatening letters to a couple of the elementary schools and on the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre there was a lot of nasty graffitti all over the playground.

    The one thing about it was that because they let us know, I felt better about being there. Sure, there were dangers, but I knew that the school was doing everything they could to keep on top of the problems. That is what keeping us informed does. It lets us know that they know the dangers and are being aware, as opposed to ignoring the danger and letting it slide.

    I’d probably remove my child from that school. The fact that they tried to brush it aside scares me. This is a world where we cannot ignore those types of things and expect them to be isolated incidents.

  • comment avatar Awesome Mom February 8, 2008

    You are right to be mad. Personally I would call up the other parents I knew that took their kids there. I would also pull my child out. If they start loosing business over it then maybe they will be more inclined to do the right thing and inform parents of stuff like that.

  • comment avatar Melissa February 8, 2008

    I would be enraged! The way they handled it shows that that care more about what the public will think and not that of the kids or the parents. School are getting scarier anyways with shooting, molesters, we don’t need drugs! Let alone the school trying to hide the fact that there were drugs! It is moments like this that show have far down the public school system has gone.

  • comment avatar Melissa February 8, 2008

    I would be enraged! The way they handled it shows that that care more about what the public will think and not that of the kids or the parents. School are getting scarier anyways with shooting, molesters, we don’t need drugs! Let alone the school trying to hide the fact that there were drugs! It is moments like this that show have far down the public school system has gone.
    http://www.rappleyefam@blogspot.com

  • comment avatar Scattered Mom February 8, 2008

    http://cookienotes.blogspot.com

    I would be furious. What if a child had found the drugs, and injested it? I’d be letting them know that I don’t feel my child is safe there if they are going to brush the incident off.

    Proclaiming stuff will “never happen” is just ignorance.

  • comment avatar Melody February 8, 2008

    In Texas, I’m pretty sure they have to report things like that. My son only opened the gate, and snuck to the front parking lot, and they had to report it to the state, inform me at work, and the state conducted an investigation, which I was interview for a dew weeks later. For something as minor as a maintenance man leaving a gate unlocked! If your state has a state agency, I would MOST CERTAINLY report the incident.

  • comment avatar An Ordinary Mom February 8, 2008

    I would have been fuming mad, too. They obviously don’t know how to responsibly deal with situations like this. I am glad you told them how you honestly felt. It would scare me a little to have my child in such a place where their reputation is more important than the safety of their kids.

  • comment avatar Loralee February 8, 2008

    That school is not very good at crisis management, is it?

    First, I hate the hideous amounts of fliers that schools send home. ESPECIALLY the preachy ones.

    Second. You had every right to know if there is anything involving police that occurs at your children’s school.

    Can you imagine if a kid had gotten into that bag of cocaine?????

    I think that the way that they handled the whole thing could be used as an example of “What not to do”.

    The erred by not being proactive about involving parents. Yes, some would have been alarmed, some possibly might have pulled their kids out, but in the end it is always better to be forthcoming in situations like this.

    They did not, but then they erred again when dealing with you. Apologies should have been made and they should have just handled it differently.

    Surely if they can whine about the proper use of the handicapped button, they could come up a better response then “We didn’t know that they would print it.”

  • comment avatar SJ February 8, 2008

    I would hope like heck that they’d communicate the fact that an illegal substance was found on school property. I would be enraged. I mean really, what if a student had found it? Or gotten a hold of it and ingested some of it – would the school have felt so inclined to cover up a possible over-dose at a preschool? I’d like to see how they’d try and cover that up.

    Good for you in expressing your feelings about this matter.

  • comment avatar Guinevere Meadow February 9, 2008

    Amber, I think you should print up your own flier consisting of this post and all the comments, and pass them to all the preschool teachers and administrators. It is ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE that the school chose not to inform the parents about this.

    Maybe if the school sees how enraged the rest of us moms are (and we don’t even have kids in their school!), they will start taking things like this more seriously.

  • comment avatar elasticwaistbandlady February 9, 2008

    I think that’s outrageous! If your kid has given another kid a kiss on the cheek it would have made national news because they would have been arrested for “inappropriate touching.”

    Know what?
    We live in an area of mini-mansions and inflated property values. I believe that due to that factor it wasn’t reported that theres been a string of sexual assaults on women jogging in the pre-dawn hours at our local park. I found out about it through my officer friend. I love how in these times we live in a nanny state and we’re not told things for our own “protection” when if we are told we could absolutely prepare ourselves.

  • comment avatar Erin February 9, 2008

    Okay, first of all, they should have a legal responsibility to tell the parents. I believe!
    This is an environment that you are trusting your child with when you aren’t there. You should be able to trust that you know what is going on in that environment.

    I’d be outraged with the fact that I had found out about this in the paper instead of the mouth of the administrator!

  • comment avatar Tonya February 9, 2008

    I would be livid. How dare they not tell you about something like that happening where your child.

    I can’t believe you had to read about it in the paper and there only excuse was “oh, I didn’t know it would be printed there’ SHEESH!

  • comment avatar 4 what it's worth February 9, 2008

    From this side of the desk:
    I can tell you that sadly more and more questionable things happen at a school than you would like to believe. But, do to the privacy issues of the students involved, most schools are not at a liberty to discuss them.
    BUT when it becomes a safety issue such as what you have experienced, I think that it behooves direct communication with the parents and then in a far more practical realm, a presentation about safety should be made to address the situation. A reminder not to pick up anything from the playground; always tell a teacher/parent and so on should be done. Invite the parents to come along so that you and your child can have a dialogue to reinforce what Miss. Pretty just told the class. It also gives parents with differing moral stands to address it on their own terms as well.
    So, yes, parent’s should have been informed, but more importantly, the kids should have been informed in a safe, non-fear mongering way at the same time. Proactive beats reactive any day.

  • comment avatar MommyTime February 9, 2008

    I would be furious because this is precisely the sort of thing that I would want to be sure to have a talk with my child about to ensure that he would NOT touch it and would report it to a teacher. This is really irresponsible of the school. I don’t know what their legal obligations are, but I’ll bet there are some… You are in the right on this one, for sure.

  • comment avatar jodi jean February 9, 2008

    holy moley, yes they should have informed the parents how scary! i would be furious! good for you for actually reading the paper, go amber!

  • comment avatar Caloden February 10, 2008

    Regardless of whether it is a preschool or a high school, it is vital that parents know what is going on either on school grounds and even surrounding areas. These are our children who we treasure to the depths of our souls. We likely chose the school with the concept of safety being a priority, and if drugs are being found on the premises that goes against what we deem as safe for our children.

    Good for you, Amber, for being on top of the situation. Also, an administrator should acknowledge a mistake and not try to pass the buck.

  • comment avatar Lizzy February 10, 2008

    Uh, YEAH! How else are you supposed to know that it is time for you to have that all important “What to do when you find a funny little package on the playground” talk with your kids if you don’t know it’s a possibility? Shame on them for treating lice with more urgency than illegal drugs!

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