If you are a student in school who refuses to complete homework, you might indeed anticipate that this would become an issue. Initially you might face questions from your teacher. If that does not resolve it then a visit to the principles office, perhaps with parents, to discuss the matter might be next.
What happens if there is a wholly appropriate reason?
“Why did you not hand in your assignment?“
“I pulled a muscle during practise, here is a doctors note confirming it, I can’t use my hand to write“
Wholly reasonable stuff.
What happens when the school sets homework this is deeply problematic?
That’s what this is about.
This is different
The word “different” does not even begin to describe it. It is mind-numbingly jaw-droopingly utterly boggling that the school would do this.
Victory Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida set a homework assignment that involved taking a picture of doing reading homework in the bathtub.
You are perhaps thinking, “This must be misunderstanding“.
Nope, here is the actual assignment …
When the parents of one 8 year old girl saw this assignment their immediate reaction was to think, “this is really not an appropriate homework assignment“.
They reached out to the teacher …
“I emailed the teacher ‘Hey, you may want to explain that. Send something out to the parents. Let them know what the intentions are.’ This just does not sound OK,” Misty Dunham said. “She did send out a message saying, ‘you should be in pajamas, be in your uniform, have fun with it.’ But, it didn’t sit right.”
That went nowhere, so they ramped things up and expressed their concern to the school administration
When that did not resolve it they took it to the next level a few days later and filed a report with Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The guidance from the police was wholly reasonable and sensible. Basically “don’t take the picture”.
Next comes the expulsion
The response from the school regarding a wholly reasonable concern was way over the top.
The school called up the parents. No discussion, no dialog, just this …
“(He said) ‘I think you guys should do a parental withdrawal for the child.’ I said, ‘I can’t. I can’t do that. We refuse to withdraw her,’” Misty Dunham said. “He said, ‘OK thank you for saying that,’ and continued on saying that, ‘Well, we’re going to proceed with an administration withdraw.’”
… and so that was it, she was booted out.
The “crime” was concern about a deeply dubious assignment, and the response was that.
Action News Jax ran the story
The fact-checked and verified it all.
They also asked the school for a statement. Pastor Jesse Latta sent Action News Jax this …
“There was an assignment given, as I understand you have received a copy. It was taken out of an online teacher resource and has been used in many schools. There were certainly no bad intentions with this assignment. When a parent contacted our teacher with a complaint, our teacher immediately sent out correspondence to all parents in the class to assure them that there were no bad intentions with this assignment and to clarify the guidelines. No additional concerns were presented to the teacher. While the assignment was completely innocent, out of an abundance of caution and for there to be no misunderstandings, our administration has removed this particular assignment for any future use. We value our children and their safety is our top priority. We will continue to serve the children and families in which the Lord has graciously allowed us to have a part in their lives.”
Action Jax News also pressed the school to explain why the 8 year old had been expelled, but the school refused to comment on that.
That silence is in itself rather revealing.
A few Further Thoughts
If the goal was to simply have a bit of fun, and give an assignment a twist to make it interesting, then they should have been a bit more specific up front … “Sit in the bathtub, clothes on, no water, and take a fun picture doing reading homework“. They would have been just fine.
When the concern was raised, they could have at that stage clarified the intent and explained something like that.
The fact that the school has now removed this homework assignment does confirm that the parents did indeed have a very valid concern.
It’s an old and rather sadly familiar pattern. A young girl, aged 8, faces a deeply creepy assignment, and when there is pushback, those in authority punish the victim.
I do also have to wonder what the actual goal of this assignment was, what on earth was going on inside their heads that motivated them to think that this was appropriate?