In response to the article of Jan. 15 front page, I would like to share with you a different perspective. Our school takes great pride in the recent School Satisfaction Survey, which was completed in November by a private company hired by our superintendent. Parents were randomly selected for a phone interview and asked a series of questions. Without going into long detail of the survey, the following questions and results are most noteworthy and apply to this particular situation.
Do parents feel their child is safe at school? 98 percent of parents responded "yes."
Are there clear/fair expectations for student conduct? 100 percent said, "yes."
Is cultural/diversity respected- 98 percent again said, "yes."
Is the school climate positive- 97 percent again said, "yes."
Our overall average on the entire parent survey was 96.7 percent positive. As you can see, our school provides a very safe environment for our students.
This was an isolated event that was not accurately reported. The bus in question was equipped with video equipment and I've viewed the video of that particular event numerous times. In no way is it justified to report that a "near-riot" occurred. What did take place was an argument between several elementary school children and others were only spectators. There were no racial slurs, but several disrespectful comments made, regarding cultural differences.
As our community is well aware, JRE this year received an "excelling" label from the Arizona Department of Education. One of the paramount criterion for receiving said label is that a school must have a safe and orderly environment. Our office discipline referrals are low. I speak with students on a daily basis regarding acceptable behaviors, respect for others, among other things without parents' permission. When a situation dictates communication, I do so without hesitation.
Our parents are tremendous supporters of our school. We have a very active Parent/Teacher Organization and a great teaching staff. Our schools are building positive futures for our children and we are trying to make Payson an attractive place to live for our families. Articles like this one hurt not only our schools, but the community as well.
There are a lot of good and positive things happening at all of our schools. Let's keep things in perspective.
Rob Varner, Principal
Julia Randall Elementary School