Saturday, January 12, 2002

Principal's new rules meet hostility

By Sarah Buehrle
Enquirer Contributor

        MASON — After a heated Mason High School forum capped a series of feedback sessions, the principal said he'll continue to seek more input before deciding whether to move ahead with his sweeping set of proposed rules.

        More than 300 parents and students, many of them critical of the proposals, turned out Thursday night.

        Principal Gerald Cox said that overall, the meetings were beneficial.

        He said he does not intend to go to the school board for approval until he receives more input, and he invites the public to e-mail, call or send him letters.

        He said there is no target date for the changes.

        Mr. Cox released the list — which he said he compiled based on student, staff and parent comments — to teachers in an e-mail in December.

        The 16-item list includes proposals to restrict student locker access and snacks, to change hallway traffic to one way, make the dress code stricter, and to require that students know the school song.

        Mr. Cox has held three meetings with students and two parent forums since December.

        The majority of parents' comments were negative at the Thursday forum.

        They objected to individual proposals, criticized the proposal process and questioned the need for change.

        Parents used phrases such as “student panic” and “this is outrageous.”

        “I don't want to see anything changed,” Tracy Holtz, mother of two Mason students, said.

        “They can make it a little better by enforcing what you already have, but like one parent said, "If it isn't broken don't fix it.' ”

        “My son is a very good student and a good kid and he has expressed rebellious thoughts if the dress code were to be enforced,” said Joan Grant, an attorney and mother of two Mason High School students.

        “That concerns me,” Ms. Grant said. “What I'm interested in knowing is why. That might help me if I understood what motivated it.”

        However, another mother of two high school students took a different view.

        “Not all Mason parents are this outspoken in such an angry way,” said Susan Graves. “There are a lot of parents who appreciate the true focus and intentions for our students.”

        Some questioned whether Mr. Cox had intended to include input before he instituted the rules.

        After the first proposal Mr. Cox sent to teachers, he sent a second one cautioning teachers not to share the list with students.

        “I don't think it's unusual for institutions to have internal discussions before going to the public,” said Mr. Cox, who explained that he intended to approach parents and students later.

        Student Sarah Davis, 17, proposed a compromise, suggesting that Mr. Cox allow a student panel to help refine the changes.


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