Last night I attended the monthly board meeting of the Armour Hills Homes Association. A resident came and shared with us copies of two long email messages, written by a community volunteer, about her experience at Southwest. Her email outlined several disturbing incidents in and around the school: kids getting off the bus but not going into the school; open pot smoking just outside school doors; extremely loud hallways filled with foul language and name calling; dress code not being enforced; video of students having sex in the bathroom; sex on cars; verbal and physical harassment of persons walking by the school; teachers call for security but no response; students refusing to comply with requests from administration; truancy; fires being set…you get the picture. There are security officers at the school but they cannot keep up with the non-stop chaos. I have no way to verify these incidents but surely school officials are following up with more investigation.
What’s interesting about this email is that the author was asked to leave the school and discontinue her volunteer role. She seems to feel that she was asked to leave because school officials do not want the general community knowing about the extent of the problems at the school. Here is someone who is trying to make a difference, who isn’t being paid, who is willing to try, in a small way, to help out on a regular basis–and she is no longer welcome at the school. Is there another side to this story as to why she was asked to leave?
The Brookside community made a very deliberate effort to reach out and welcome the students at Southwest. Volunteers cleaned up the grounds and painted the walls; communication was started, residents offered their time in the school. Brooksiders would love to have a local public school middle/high school it could show off. A few years ago when the SWECC reopened with an emphasis on preparing kids for college, there was real hope for success. Teachers, students and parents had to make a commitment to the challenging college prep education. Now, it appears the school has many more students who really don’t care at all about paying attention in the classroom. A high percentage of the students who wanted to take advantage of the college prep program have left this year. As a community we reached out to the students and administration at Southwest–was that just a wasted effort? It’s so bad that Steve Scraggs, Southwest’s principal, had enough and quit over the weekend.
What to do? That’s what I’ll be thinking about for the next blog post.