Kids pulled from school over anti-bullying exercise
By DALE VINCENT New Hampshire Union Leader
MANCHESTER — The father of a Hallsville School fourth-grader wants the principal reprimanded, or fired, for allowing an anti-bullying exercise that asked students to curse in class. Keith Katsikis said he and his wife have pulled their three Hallsville students out of the school after they found out about the exercise he believes is inappropriate for children.
Katsikas has started a petition calling for the firing of Hallsville principal Christi Michaud. He also sent copies of his letter to the school superintendent, school board members, the mayor, aldermen and the woman who presented the exercise.
“I wanted to make sure everybody saw it,” he said. School district officials said they are investigating. Katsikas said he found out about the exercise when he and his wife picked their children up from school Wednesday, as they do every day, and his son told them: “Something really weird happened.”
Katsikas said his son told him that a woman entered the classroom to teach a lesson on bullying. She taped a life-size paper man on the wall and passed out small pieces of paper for students to write vulgarities like several four-letter words and derogatory terms towards certain groups. The word or phrase had to be something that someone has said to them in the past. She collected the papers and mixed them up in a basket and then had children read the word or phrase, so the class could hear them.
Katsikas said the words were vulgarities and his son recalled Evans saying: “Say it like you mean it.” Katsikas said many children protested reading the words, so she allowed them to pick a different word, but they had to participate. She also had them rip a piece off the figure.
When all the children had finished, and only the head of the figure remained, the children had to tape their piece of the figure back in place and apologize. Katsikas’ son told him Evans said the moral was:
“When you swear at someone, that person can never be put back together again.”
Katsikas said his wife went online and found an exercise on the Education World website, addressing the issue of a new classmate trying to fit in that calls for children to say something “mean” before tearing off a piece of the figure. After the children apologize and tape the pieces back in place, the website says: “But it doesn’t look the same and the message is that ‘scars remain ... chances are they will never go away.’”
Katsikas said: “Even if the lesson was given as described in this plan, it is awful.” After hearing what had happened in his son’s class, Katsikas said he entered the school and wanted to speak with Michaud. She was busy, so he spoke with assistant principal Patricia Auger and when he explained what had happened, he said: “She was physically sickened.”
Katsikas and his wife have been invited to meet Monday morning with School Superintendent Debra Livingston, Michaud and other parties involved, as well as Ward 7 school board member Ross Terrio. Katsikas said he wants to make sure principals “are mandated to send home notices when something like this happens.”
Since he’s planning on home schooling his children, he said he’s pursuing the parental notification issue for the benefit of the children who remain in the public schools. His philosophy is: “Let them live and learn at a child’s pace.” Katsikis said his opinion is that the Manchester schools are: “A little too risky for my children.”
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