**Note: Update below**
The very title of this Daily Caller article is maddening. “Maryland school district outlaws hugging, homemade food, pushing kids on swings.” As a mother, my head is seriously about to explode. It’s bad enough a child was traumatized after an inquisition into his pop-tart art. The poor child was making a mountain for God’s sake! Now this??
The public education system in Maryland has officially gone off the deep end.
The Old Line State — where kids have been suspended for making guns with their fingers and with toaster pastries — now boasts a school district that prohibits hugging and homemade food in public elementary schools for anyone except a parent’s own children.
Parents must also register to enter the playground and they can’t push anyone except their own kids on the swings.
Read the whole thing at The Daily Caller. My God, gone off the deep end indeed. So grateful my youngest child is a senior in September and only has one more year in the public school system.
Update #1: A Facebook friend, who happens to be a parent of a child at this same school wrote the superintendent and received this response from him. It seems there has been some exaggeration by the media, go figure. Here in the blogosphere, we don’t let others define our narrative, we report the truth, so here you go.
At the March 13, 2013 Board of Education Meeting, our Executive Director of Elementary Schools and Title I, Mrs. Kelly Hall and our Director of School Safety and Security, Mr. Michael Wyant, delivered an informational report to Board Members about the results of a parent, principal and staff member study group for ways to improve our school visitation policy and regulations. During the presentation to the Board, many examples of concerns were cited and shared that were discussed in the study group. Some of the examples that were stated ranged from concerns with homemade treats and snacks to concerns about appropriate and proper interactions with children (specifically a stated parent concern was voiced regarding visitors, volunteers or strangers interacting or hugging their child). Unfortunately, these examples were sensationalized by the local, Washington and Baltimore, national, on-line media and social networks. Let me assure you, that the St. Mary’s County Public Schools is not banning hugging or homemade treats. However, we are raising the awareness of safety issues and the need to provide more guidance and training to our parents and volunteers. We want to ensure that our parents and volunteers are held to the same high standard as our staff by communicating clear guidance and expectations for working and volunteering with children.
Also, we need to raise the awareness of concerns with all food provided to our children in a school setting. In this day and age, many of our children have food allergies. We want to ensure that we are aware of the ingredients contained in all food items distributed to our children so we can prevent any health concerns for students with food allergies. What this all boils down to is providing clear, consistent and common sense guidance and training designed to further keep our young people safe.
During the next several months, the information from the study group will be shared with parents in our schools. The feedback from these groups will guide the development of the policy that the Board of Education will consider, the regulations that support the implementation of the policy for the 2013-2014 school year and the additional training and communications to our parents and volunteers about this topic.
I am sorry and disappointed that the original public message was distorted and caused any concern or confusion for our parents and community. You can trust that a practical, realistic and common sense approach will occur that raises the awareness of ways to keep our children safe and secure while balancing out a positive school environment and experience that nurtures and cares for all of our children.
Michael J. Martirano, Ed.D.