KDKA.com is reporting on outraged parents of students in the West Allegheny School District who are threatening to sue over the Kindness Workshop, which was hosted by West Allegheny Middle School on January 15. The workshop made 8th grade students answer certain questions, then grouped them based on their answers.
They were told to “move to the middle of the circle if . . .” they answered “yes” to more than two dozen questions which included whether or not they had been impacted by drugs or alcohol, been called fat or made fun of, if they or anyone close to them identifies as being same-sex attracted or transgendered, if they were being raised by a single parent or if they or someone close to them had ever been in prison.
Parents say the questions not only made students feel very uncomfortable, but because of the public grouping, actually exposed them to bullying in the future by giving their potential bullies even more “ammunition.”
“There is now so much damage done to these children and there is no way to go back and make this better for them,” said one parent named Diane Kolesar.
Another parent, Pam Brosovic, said she asked administrators to do the same thing they made the children do – “Stand in a circle, put a mask on and step in the circle and say all your problems,” Brosovic said.
The school refused to comment on the uproar.
Even though the school board wasn’t involved in facilitating the workshop, board president Debbie Mirich, school board president, issued a statement in which she said the board stands behind the intentions of the workshop and that they “look forward (to) continuing our work with parents to address this very serious issue of bullying and the unintentional acts that continue to marginalize different groups of students.”
The School district responded in an open letter to parents, saying, in part, that ”the program was supposed to promote acceptance, it was not intended to offend students..”
Parents are demanding to now why they weren't told about the nature of the questions beforehand.
Because of the damage done to their children, parents have retained the services of a Pittsburgh attorney to pursue a possible class action lawsuit, claiming that administrators infringed on students’ rights.
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