By Ryan Miner
The Washington County Teachers Association responded to my report on an alleged teacher bullying incident reported at Smithsburg High School.
The Association released the following statement Friday on its Facebook page:
Neil Becker is the president of WCTA; I responded to Mr. Becker’s Facebook posting via email and CC’d members of the Washington County Board of Education, Dr. Clayton Wilcox and three Herald-Mail employees.
Dear Mr. Becker –
I hope we can take an opportunity to have a conversation about how the community can collaborate to put a stop to any bullying occurring within Washington County Public Schools.
Your response to the vast public outcry to the article I wrote two days ago seems rather dismissive of the seriousness of the allegations presented.
And by the incredible amount of comments left on my blog and in response to the article – especially from IP addresses traceable to the WCTA office – I can only assume you would not outright dismiss the concerns from Smithsburg High School parents.
What are you going to do to work with Washington County Public Schools and the Administration to ensure the safety of students?
Your unmeasured Facebook response shows a clear lack of professionalism and an obvious political agenda. The organization you represent has a duty and responsibility not only to teachers but to the nearly 24,000 students who attend WCPS.
Do you dismiss the allegations just because of the author? Parents have contacted me because they fear a WCPS teacher may be involved in a bullying incident. Yet your organization takes to Facebook to dismiss parental concerns. Have you no respect for the parents who brought forth this serious claim? Have you no respect for the process?
I hope you invest equal or greater effort to protecting WCPS students rather than expending your energy to write sour Facebook postings with an urgency to diminish the source of an article that uncovers serious allegations.
Ryan R. Miner
Mr. Becker’s Facebook response is profoundly troubling. I reported allegations passed along to me by multiple individuals with the intent of opening a community conversation. I am working diligently to gather all the facts and piece together an accurate account of the facts. I am unquenchably resolute in protecting my sources. I will never mention any names – for obvious reasons
Like WCTA, I wholeheartedly and passionately believe in due process, and I believe that any incident reported involving a possible teacher incident should be thoroughly investigated and taken seriously, notwithstanding the source of the initial report (me).
My concern is that WCTA may be ignoring the seriousness of the allegations presented.
Mr. Becker’s ill-measured Facebook response to my original article ignores the possibility that a serious incident took place at Smithsburg High School involving a teacher and a student. It is my hope that Mr. Becker will work to protect Washington County Public Schools students with equal fervor.
The following response was issued to me by Richard Wright regarding my MPIA request surrounding this alleged teacher incident:
In response to your e-mail, as you might imagine the school system is not at liberty to discuss personnel matters publicly. Therefore, no specific information can be shared about the situation you referenced.
However, I can tell you that WCPS will not tolerate bullying, intimidation, or harassment of any type among students or staff.
Board of Education Policies GBGA and JFH, along with Regulations GBGA-R and JFH-R address this important topic in great detail. Further, while there are no policies that address the discipline of employees, WCPS follows a specific protocol that ensures both a thorough investigation and appropriate disciplinary action, if necessary.
Please contact me directly if I can be of further help.