Whitewater Middle School enacts "No Touch" policy

Thu, 10/09/2008 - 7:06am
By: Mindilouu1

My 8th grader came home yesterday and told us that the children of Whitewater Middle School were pulled into an assembly, separated by gender, and advised that they were no longer allowed to physically touch other students. This included "high-fives", shaking of hands, pats on back, and hugging. They were then informed that they could be charged with sexual harrasment and/or assault if they violated this direction. When my daughter made the statement "this is ridiculous" the student were advised (at least the females were) that the Administration was not open for discussion or comment on this subject. Now, apparently this is the result of a few incidents of innappropriate touching between boyfriend/girlfriends (which - in the 8th grade - I dont believe there should be boyfriends/girlfriends- but that is just me) and instead of simply dealing with the incidents as they arrise they have decided to ues fear tactics and inact yet another "no tollerance" type policy without clear forethought. I contacted the principal at the school this morning and she confirmed what we were told and when I asked if she supported the action, she said yes. When I asked if she had sought counsel or guidance from the District she said NO.

I ask you, Fayette County Citizens, is there noone out there who sees the potential damage that is being caused? Is there noone who will stand up for our children- and parental- rights? Or are we simply to stand by and let the schools impose whatever restrictions- regardless of how ridiculous- on our children?

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Submitted by Mindilouu1 on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:08am.

This is the final upadate - as the situation has been resolved, and in response to the previous "Are we done yet" post. My husband and I spoke at length with WMS Administration. The subject that was supposed to be dicussed was sexual harrasment/assault and the kids were supposed to be reminded of the definition and the possible consequences. The reason they decided to separate the kids by gender was to facilitate an open discussion without the added distraction of girls being in the room or boys being in the room. All this makes sense... This is where it went wrong.....

The administrator that spoke to the girls was "not a people person" and, "although she contributes to the school in many other ways - may have not been the best choice for this task." There was no discussion and the sexual harrasment policy morphed into a no touching at all statement. I think we are all in agreement that everyone brings different assets to the table.

The administration was VERY clear that a no touching policy did NOT exist and were working on a strategy to clear up the misunderstanding with the girls. As for the concern of discipline of students who were beginning to protest - they stated they had not disciplined anyone but did ask that they remove the signs/lables until the situation was resolved. That is also fine by us.....

Now in response to the previous blogger... Unfortunately, this was NOT an overreaction and required all of us to get involved for the situation to be resolved. Remember, I called the school PRIOR to initiating the forum - see my first post. As a result of this situation, several things have happened. 1. The kids have taken an interest and active role in what is happening at the schools. 2. Parents were made aware of this situation and it stimulated additional conversation between them and their children. 3. The Administration looked closely at the issue, identified the problem, and are taking action to correct the confusion. 4. This instance will be in everyones mind when the next restriction comes up - and if makes everyone think twice and really look at both the rule itself and the presentation then its worth it.

We all were needed and will probably be needed again. I too am a reasonable person and have respect for the administration of schools (and like many of them too). But I am a parent first, and my responsibility is to my children and my community. When I see a problem and it is not up for discussion by the school, then you bet I will be back on the blog. I KNOW the positive results were a product of all of the bloggers and the parents who contacted the school. Administration is sometimes to close to the situation to see the impact or where things went wrong-even though most times they act in the best interest of students. I hope that you will consider these things and continue to respond in future events.

Much Respect for All,

Mindi K. Lewis aka Mindilouu1

Submitted by Arf on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:06am.

I don't think that this was an overreaction at all. One of the main reasons that Fayette County schools continue to excel is because of the involvement of interested and concerned parents. I once lived in in Fulton, where few parents paid attention to what happened in the schools...and parents were blatlantly discouraged from even visiting the schools. I was the PTO president and fought against this for years. You would not believe some of the things that continued to happen behind closed school doors because of the lack of accountability.

alittlebirdietoldme's picture
Submitted by alittlebirdietoldme on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:14am.

maybe you should be another write-in for another FCBOE post next time!

Submitted by t pain on Tue, 10/14/2008 - 8:26pm.

It seems to me by reading the blog posts here that we parents of WWMS students have made a bigger deal of this so called policy than the administrators, teachers, or even students have. My daughter and her friends say students still give high fives and hugs... age appropriate behavior and NO ONE has been sent to the office or suspended. I feel that the admin at WWMS had the best interest of the students in mind, however, true to form, we bloggers took it to the extreme as we do in EVERY situation which we feel threatens our little innocent darlings. I'm embarassed as a parent to have reacted in the way that I did. I've had three children matriculate through WWMS and I should have known that the admin had the best interest of our children in mind and that this ridiculous policy was exagerated by this wonderful anonymous whiners' blog. If we actually had to sign our names to the postings, I'd bet that most of you and certainly myself would be too cowardly to post. Perhaps that would be the best thing that could happen to this great county of ours. Then maybe the little things that don't really mean that much in the great scheme of life wouldn't distract us from the real dangers that threaten our children and our community.

Submitted by cailin on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 1:15pm.

Oh..ok..so theyre not really enforcing this rule to its full silly extent. Well they did that at Booth too.

Submitted by always interest... on Sun, 10/19/2008 - 3:02pm.

the amount of harmless touching that went on at the pep rally last week, then it doesn't look like it!

Submitted by tennfan1 on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 3:57pm.

Why would administrators go so far as to officially ban touching?

A lack of personal responsibility. It would seem that the leadership doesn't want to step up and address problems as they arise. This is a foolish, stupid, and totally pointless policy that begs to be disobeyed. In fact, I would certainly subvert it were I still in middle school. Isolating people from each other has already wrecked our manners, morals, and general civility. Creating another layer (at an earlier age, no less) will certainly wreak havoc in an already malformed world.

Also, the courts here are busy enough without a needless stream of "offenders" coming from our middle and high schools. The sheriff, d.a., public defender, and local courts are already under strain. Best not to push the system with needless punishments.

I had a lot of respect for the administration while I was at WMS. I am disappointed in this situation and beg the powers-that-be to rescind this policy and come back to our state's motto: wisdom, justice, and moderation.

Submitted by The Truth Will ... on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 9:50am.

My suggestion is for you and others to "volunteer" in the schools for one month, and then come back and let us know what you think about the youth that are being produced in this great nation. You will most likly report back to us that you witnessed a lack of proper boundaries, guidelines, discipline and character not being instilled in some of our youth from their homes. Educators cannot magically correct years of poor parenting skills. This is most likely the best way to handle this "touchy" situation.

Submitted by cailin on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 2:03pm.

Yes, many kids coming through the school systems have not learned respective boundaries as far as touching goes. Ok, so why can't administrators just watch for inappropriate touching? Seeing two kids give eachother high fives isn't exactly pornographic or even in any way offensive. It's completely normal. Furthermore, just because a rule is instated doesnt mean everyone follows it. Especially rules which kids KNOW are over the top. Kids (especially middle school aged kids) are going to go out of their way to break this rule.

And look out whose parenting you criticize. You do not know what is going on behind closed doors, separate from parenting in these kids homes. Often times, childrens behavior will have less to do with their parents and more to do with the cliques they end up falling into at school. Furthermore, sexual images are all over todays society. It is easier for younger kids to become curious earlier. That's tragic, but true. I wouldn't necessarily blame parents in all situations. So be careful about that. Just because a boy high fives a girl in the hallway, doesn't mean his parents are pumping sexual images into his head; hes just being a kid.

Submitted by sneakers on Sun, 10/12/2008 - 11:54am.

I cannot believe what is happening at WMS. PDA? What is wrong with the administrators? This is what is wrong with our country. We use repression to prevent a behavior and what we are getting is promoting that behavior. I am very disgusted by this new rule and I am calling parents out to protest againts this stupid rule. We have children, human beings, not robots. Let's the administrators or who ever is responsible for this to hear us out. This PDA goes againts the behavior and morals that it has taken me 13 years to teach my daughter and i am not going to let a bunch of "thinking they know it all" people, ruin this for my daughter and for my family. Who do they think they are? Please, parents, let's get together in this. If my daughter gets in trouble for hugging a friend a school, maybe this will be the first lawsuit againts Fayette County because I will stay behind my daughter's behavior.

Submitted by wildcat on Sun, 10/12/2008 - 5:36pm.

Ha ha ha....I just fell out of my seat from laughing!! That's too funny!! I think the number of lawsuits filed against FC probably falls in the hundreds! When I was in high school (Spring, Texas -late 70s) boys and girls weren't allowed to hold hands while on school property, a boy's hair could not touch his shoulder (cut it or OSS for you) and the girl's dress code was strictly enforced (and it was a most ridiculous code) but hey...we did have a smoking area for students!! This will pass because it will be impossible to enforce. Don't you think?

alittlebirdietoldme's picture
Submitted by alittlebirdietoldme on Sat, 10/11/2008 - 1:10pm.

I heard this is making big news...and that FOX was at the school on Friday.
Did anyone else hear that?
FCBOE is in a tail-spin.

Submitted by The Truth Will ... on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 10:06am.

FCBOE is too busy providing the best education and safe environments for our children. This is one of the best BOE in the state. If in doubt, visit a few of the other counties to compare. Poor test scores, improper funding, lack of funding, lack of accreditation, etc. It doesn't get any better than this! I missed the "big news" you mentioned must not be newsworthy? Volunteer in these great schools to enrich our youth!! OR you can always "move" to a county of your choice?

Submitted by Okie on Sat, 10/11/2008 - 1:46pm.

We saw the FOX News van sitting in the parking lot of the gas station across the street from the school on Friday. Didn't know if it had to do with the school or the Fayette County Fair. Probably not the fair.

Submitted by Mindilouu1 on Fri, 10/10/2008 - 5:50pm.

Fox 5 aired this story. The school said it was simply enforcing the policy already in place. What they didnt say is that they are talking about the sexual harrassment policy - because a no contact policy doesnt exist. Again, the original issue is still there... High fives, shaking hands, pats on the back, etc.. is NOT sexual harrassment. They said that since the children arent 16 and cant give consent (for WHAT????) and as a result of some inappropriate touching with the 8th graders (the whole class??? Dont think so!) they just wanted to explain the policy again to the students. Fine, if thats what they would have done.... But instead, they imposed a no touch rule.

Today, several student printed "against no touching, hugs = love" slips, paid the 75cents for the library to print them out and then distributed them. Way to quietly demonstrate, right? NOPE. Several were demanded to remove them, and others- like my daughter- were told that she could be suspended for defiance. WHAT???? Fortunately, they didnt take my daughters-instead they said they would let the VP handle it(Never did get that call). Some of the students are talking about doing a sit in and holding hands.

I think its great - and the District should support the students-that the kids care enough to demonstrate. Isnt this one of the key elements of democracy?

I am nervous though - because if they start suspending these kids or giving them discipline - the kids suffer....

Thoughts or suggestions?

Submitted by cailin on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 1:55pm.

I am in no way surprised about the actions of the school against your daughters demonstrations (although I do say go her :]). You'd be surprised how limited the student voice is in public schools. The fact that I'm sitting in a public school right now typing this could actually potentially get me into trouble. The administration does not like its students to question the rules set in place by them...even if we have completely VALID reasons for doing so. Democracy might be allowed in our country but it isn't really practiced in our schools. To some extent this is a necessary evil. Yes, kids need instruction so we can grow to know the difference between right and wrong. But at a point we already have an idea of right and wrong..when our rights are violated we want to speak out. But we can't; not without suffering for it. Maybe it's time for a change?

Submitted by sneakers on Sun, 10/12/2008 - 11:59am.

If we stick together as parents, Fayette County won't have a chance. After all, don't we all pay taxas? Don't we all pay theis salaries?
My daughter had the same sticker and i was very proud of her. They need to stand out for their believes ( and this is one worth to support)If my daughter gets in trouble for this ( or any other child) I hope that we, as parents, together can help to resolve these issues.

Submitted by cailin on Fri, 10/10/2008 - 2:08pm.

As if middle school weren't an awkward enough time let's go and add a policy to make the peers even more out of reach. Come on, can't teachers watch out for touching which may be inappropriate? It is pretty obvious the difference between innocent hugging and high fiving and more involved contact. Eliminating all contact is stupid. Being a high school student, I don't go a day without hugging my friends. It's a simple acceptable greeting among young people. Sexual scandals as young as 8th grade are indeed alarming not to mention disturbing, but imposing such strict rules against all forms of physical contact is only going to make intimate contact more rebellious and "cool" seeming. Students are going to respect teachers less for this; they're going to become more prematurally curious about sex than ever.
I know from experience these scare tactics don't work. I recall similar rules enforced, though not as strongly, in Booth Middle School a few years ago. I remember trying to hold hands with my "boyfriend" (it was an innocent relationship, more like friends than anything) and being made to feel like I was doing something explicit in the hallways by the teacher. That's wrong. I'm sorry. It just is.
Adults, especially those involved in administration, need to stop taking such extreme actions against these extreme, yet isolated cases. Otherwise kids aren't everrrr going to learn.

Submitted by heatjam on Fri, 10/10/2008 - 1:34pm.

slackermom10 would like to "talk" with you about your posting, but for some reason she is unable to post on these blogs. Please email her at slackermom10@yahoo.com.

Submitted by Mindilouu1 on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 4:40pm.

Okay - apparently the 8th grade class was selected for this new policy. Which means that the 7th and 6th graders can still touch.....(huh?) I put a call into the District office this afternoon and referred them to this forum - hoping they will jump to action.

Another parent who has a child that attends WMS advised me that they (WMS) were holding a community forum on some other issues (not surprising) Tuesday night at Whitewater High. Bottom line - this whole thing is nuts. How is it that people with this kind of judgement are responsible for our childrens education?

I will close with this:
When my husband and I asked for a complaint/greivance form regarding inappropriate staff behavior on a separate incident, we were told that there was never a need for one. Our response, of course, was "how do you know?". We were given the impression that parents/community must not care about what is going on at the schools - but based on these responses, we can see that is simply not true.

I am proud to be a part of Fayetteville and this community....Thanks for speaking out.

Submitted by heatjam on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 2:59pm.

Just spoke with my 7th grader at WMS. They (at least the 7th graders) did not have any assembly nor were they informed of such a stupid policy.

Submitted by snoopy19 on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 2:58pm.

Are you kidding me? Give me a break. I'm sure Mr. Decotis has had an earful, today. You know they didn't run it by them. This is ALL they need. This is sooo ridiculous, that I wouldn't doubt it if ABC, nightly news didn't pick it up, to add a little smile to their news. My daughter starts 6th grade, next year. She's not even there, and I already have an impretion of the staff. When she was is 1st grade, the principal thought that it was a good idea to seperate the boys from the girls at lunch. What another insane idea. When I would visit her, she was scared to death to talk to the boys. They weren't aloud to talk from 1 table to the next. So, at recess, guess what...they had trouble playing with each other. I'm sure, there must've been a couple of kids who probably had their hands in the wrong places and the staff just got tired of saying no kissing and no touching there. But, talk about going overboard. Just ridiculous!

Submitted by t pain on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 5:10pm.

I don't think you need to worry about ALL the staff at WMS. From what my daughter told me (and some of her friends) the girls seemed to have gotten a much harsher speech than the boys. My daughter was very upset by the way one of the assistant principals talked to the girls. I'm not surprised because of the particuler administrator who talked to the girls. I encourage eveyone not to assume the worst of this great school based on the threats of one person to the students Common Sense does exist at WMS.

Submitted by Okie on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 2:18pm.

Let me think back to when I was in school.........it was called "NO PDA" meaning no public displays of affection. That was just between boys and girls though. No hand holding, hugging, kissing, stuff like that. When my sister was teaching in Kansas, she had grade schoolers who ocassionally could use a hug when they are crying or something. Well, she wasn't allowed to touch them. This was because of the fear of a lawsuit against the school or teacher. You know, the old, you hugged my kid....what are you a pedofile!

Submitted by aztec1 on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 12:34pm.

Oh wait a minute, Hugs are illegal now, well then it's NO HUGS, NO DRUGS....what a silly childish decision this was....I hope someone at the main FCBOE office comes to their senses and overrules this silliness...my 8th grader has better things to do than worry about whether he is going to detention if he gives someone a high five or a hug....silly silly...

DragNet's picture
Submitted by DragNet on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 10:22am.

What comes next? maybe a policy to separate classes by gender? I remember my old Catholic boys-only school in Europe. Problem then will be where will they allocate the gay students...oh wait! yeah! let them create another policy.
This type of thinking in our schools only contributes to reinforce the social disfunctionality I observe in these new generations.

Making you think twice......

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 10:16am.

When our School Board abdicates its traditional policy making role in favor of playing amateur land developer, our school principals are bravely trying to step up and handle this "leadership vacuum", often with mixed results.

The result is, sometimes we get some pretty half-baked school "policies", like this silly "no-touch" rule. This is easily the most ridiculous local school policy since then-McIntosh principal Greg Stillions decided to ban golf carts from McIntosh on a whim several years back. (It's worth noting that the ensuing outcry got the policy reversed in short order and Stillions subsequently banished to Whitewater).

Submitted by always interest... on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 9:52am.

Are they going to buy new buses that have single seating and aisles wide enough to walk down without bumping someone or is the county going to lay off the bus drivers and the school mandate all WMS students be car riders?

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 8:47am.

From what I've read of this new pronouncement, it's only heterosexual contact that has been outlawed at WWMS.

Obviously this is a plot to advance the Gay Agenda to take over our schools!

Submitted by sneakers on Sun, 10/12/2008 - 12:04pm.

My husband gave me the idea and it was a good one. Maybe, I will go to WWMS and give all the administrators a big hugh and tell them ..."shshs everything is ok...you only need a big hugh and a lot of love because that is probably what you are missing"

Submitted by duluth on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 8:34am.

What YOU need to do is go to WWMS and learn how to spell HUG!

Submitted by sneakers on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 8:44am.

Do you know that is incorrect to capitalize "you" in the middle of a sentence? Maybe more than one person needs to go back to school.

Submitted by duluth on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 9:13am.

Actually, genius, while it is improper for formal writing it is perfectly acceptable for communicating in electronic media to capitalize words one wishes to place emphasis on. Also acceptable would be the use of italics.

On a side note, all of you complaining about the "no touch rule" would be the first ones up at the school complaining if one of your kids were touched inappropriately. The administrators enact a policy in an attempt to protect your kids and you act like its the end of the world. On top of that half of you are advising your children to defy the authority of the administration. What a wonderful lesson - if you don't like a rule, don't abide by it.

zoes's picture
Submitted by zoes on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 9:46am.

What can be done to make WMS UNDO this no-touching stupidity? Tony F was so right about socializing and friendship and those things that make going to school more bearable for many kids. How do we give this back to them? How can we fix this?


"Never love anything that can't love you back."

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 9:37am.

this really seems like overkill. No hand shaking or high-fives either? What about the sporting events when players bump heads and high-five each other? Is that off limits too? This really is ridiculous and the school seems to be punishing the entire student body for something a few kids did.

Don't our kids have enough stress right now in school with testing, homework and grades without piling one more distraction on them - the fear of punishment for social interaction.

"You can lead a Republican to the truth, but you can't make him think."

Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 9:32am.

Nothing else to say...except what in the Wide Wide World of Sports is the World is going on here?

Submitted by always interest... on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 9:22am.

How do they suppose to enforce this in PE, at dances, and the hallway or cafeteria? Single file, one-way traffic? What about locker time with top/bottom lockers - will it go to the odd/even system like our watering bans? There goes their sports programs, because oops, that football player touched me during the tackle or oops, that basketball player had a person foul on me, stop-don't touch me when we wrestle during a match, and no more cheerleader stacking formations which will END competitions.

TonyF's picture
Submitted by TonyF on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 9:09am.

Arms don't hug people, people hug people.

You can take my hug when you pry my arms from their body.

If you outlaw hugging, only outlaws will hug.

(as for kissing, you, WMS, can kiss my posterior.)

How do you expect these kids to develop real social skills?

"Your, yore, you're all idiots." (T.Floyd)

Submitted by kreedham on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 7:53am.

Seems like the principal would have contacted the super and discussed the issue. They could have then written a policy that made sense. It would be funny if all the kids one morning gathered inside their homeroom and when the bell sounded they would all high five then quietly sit down while awaiting a total school suspension.

Submitted by hi grover on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 10:06am.

Who is running this ship off course? This is just another example of the school system acting like the captain of the Titanic.

I've been reading the paper,I think it is time to set a new course for Fayette County.
Even where I live, people are talking about writing in Nicole File for the school board.

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