Knox Schools Parent Notification Policy, “..not specifically spelled out in policy”


Knox County Schools Parent Mr. Sam Lee has discovered through months and years of deliberate due diligence that the “policy” regarding the parent notification in fact does not exist. This was confirmed to Mr. Lee by Knox County Schools Chief of Staff Russ Oaks.

Mr. Lee said that many parents have expressed concern over the last three years about not being notified of content in advance.

Examples include:

In 2010, Planned Parenthood was allowed to come into our schools without notifying parents in advance regarding content or requesting parental consent.

March 2012, Looking for Alaska, which contains sexually graphic material (including graphic description of oral sex), had been required as a reading assignment without notifying parents in advance regarding content or requesting parental consent.

August 2012, Robopocalypse, a required summer reading assignment which contained pervasively vulgar and profane language, including 93 uses of the F-words, the C-word, GD, Bast’rd, references to a love doll, etc., had been assigned for minor students without up-front, written parental consent and advisory of book content. Mr. Lee filed a Complaint to the school administration in which he expressed great concern about this assignment.

RESPONSE:

After the matter was brought to the attention of the media, a letter was sent to parents promoting Robopocalypse as a New York Times best selling science fiction book, with no mention of 93 uses of the F-word, the C-word, GD, Bast’rd, mutilation of a child, references to a love doll, etc. The letter stated, “There is objectionable language contained in the book…” This letter requested parental consent, without detailed notification of content. Next, the book was taught to minor students. Mr. Lee says that had he merely received this very none-specific letter, he most likely would have given permission for his child to read the book, as he would have been uninformed in detail of the contents. He said, this vagueness is unacceptable. He asked, How many parents have been deceived?

Mr. Lee received an email stating that the book went in through “a different process, other than the one prescribed by the district…” There was no mention of a policy to notify parents regarding details of content. He asked Why? He believes because evidently, no such policy exists!

In an email to Dr. Elizabeth Alves, November 2012, Mr. Lee requested information in writing: “How are parents being informed of these reading assignments and the contents contained in them?” “Is there a policy or procedure in place to notify parents upfront of material being considered for inclusion into the curriculum?” A copy was sent to the School Board members and the Superintendent. Mr. Lee also asked, “Can someone, anyone, forward a copy of this information to me?” NO RESPONSE has been received to this email as of this date.

In November 2012, Mr. Lee said that many concerned parents took time to inform our elected School Board members of our concern over these multiple failures to notify parents in advance in detail of the content in novels, films, and materials being presented to our children by guest speakers, along with alternate assignments offered at the same time. The School Board had a meeting where the subject of selection of instructional materials and parental notice were discussed. Board members and the community were led to believe there was a “good policy” in place and that the problem was not the policy, but a failure to follow the policy. After all the letters of concern by parents and unanswered requests for a copy of the policy, there has beenNO RESOLUTION!

At the December 13, 2012, Community Forum, Mr. Lee personally asked Dr. McIntyre if a policy is in place to insure parents know in detail what is in novels, films, and being spoken to our children by guest speakers. Dr. McIntyre answered affirmatively, “… There is a policy … I think the policy is very specific and very clear.” After the forum, he talked with Dr. McIntyre and Russ Oaks and was referred to a policy which has nothing to do with parental notification of content.

A School Board member stated in an email to Mr. Leee, “There has been a policy in place about parental notification for a while now, but unfortunately it has been violated a couple of times.” Mr. Lee ask, have Board members been misinformed?

March 26, 2013, in an email to Russ Oaks, Mr. Lee asked, “Is there a parent notification policy pertaining to books, films, and guest speakers?” Oaks’ response: “This requirement is not specifically spelled out in policy.”

Mr. Lee asked the nine school board members in an email, have you seen a written policy?

Mr. Lee requested this issue be added to the February School Board agenda. He indicated that Dr. McIntyre responded with a letter putting it off until spring. Again, Mr. Lee requested it be added to the April agenda. No one has seen where it has been added to the agenda. Mr. Lee says there have been YEARS of failures to notify parents in advance.

He checked several personnel files and has not found even a single written reprimand, he says that he can only conclude that violating parental authority has no consequences! He said our trust has been broken!

Board Chairperson Karen Carson has stated, “The board sets policy and the administration’s job is to set procedure that makes policy happen.”

Where is the policy that Carson says she and her colleagues set over the last 9 years?