FHS Students Show Up At School Board Meeting, Told Disputed Policies Could Change


Dozens of FHS students and parents showed up at the Sept. 22 Board of Education meeting to vent over aggressive enforcement of existing and new policies.

Dozens of Franklin High School students and some parents showed up at the Sept. 22 Board of Education meeting to express their anger over the aggressive enforcement of existing and new policies by the school’s new principal.

At the end of the long night, they were told by the board president that the policies to which they objected could be changed, but that any changes would have to come first from a new committee formed to study them.

The target of the students’ anger was Cheryl Clark, the new FHS principal. Students charged that she started aggressively enforcing bans on electronic devices and outside food in the school on the new year’s first day.

Clark did not attend the meeting.

Students and parents were also angry over the dress code – which bans ripped jeans, among other things – a ban on after-school food sales by student organizations, a rule limiting three students at a time in bathrooms and a new entrance and exit route for lunch periods.

Most of the policies were existing, but had not been enforced in prior years, Clark has said.

Students are banned from using cell phones during the entire course of the day. Many told the board that they should be able to use them during lunch periods, which is the only time they have to relax.

Brandon Heimberg, an FHS junior, said that the cell phone ban has “impaired” teachers’ ability to teach.

“Cell phones are used for completing class work, working on group projects, taking quizzes, studying, completing math problems, etc.” he told the board.

Heimberg also said the ban on after-school food sales by student organizations will, for example, hurt the Latin Club’s effort to raise money to attend a national competition.

“This is a huge loss to the club, leaving them in need of funding, in addition to other clubs,” he said.

FHS senior Rebecca Holowinskyj told the board that she created an online petition about the issue which has garnered more than 1,300 signatures.

Holowinskyj said she was called out of class one day to the administration office, and told to take down the petition. When she refused, she said, she was told that her parents would be notified.

“We as students want to be respected so that we can reciprocate that respect to administration in the schools,” she said.

Board members did not address her allegation.

Junior Taylor Gravesande told the board that Clark was trying to do too much in too short a period of time.

“You cannot expect change in a month,” she said.

Some students complained about the “one way in and out” policy to the cafeteria for lunch. The students said that there are hundreds of students in the stairwells at one time, which could cause a safety concern.

“There are about 700 people who have lunch at one time,” sophomore Brandy Johnson said. “How are they supposed to get their lunches? It’s just impossible.”

Cheryl Bethea, who said she has a daughter in the high school, wondered if Clark was “trying to dodge” parents.

“It’s all at once,” she said of the policies and enforcement, “and you’re not talking to them.”

One FHS junior complained that Clark “has come to our school and tried to change things, without getting to know us.”

Karen Trautmann, a former district teacher, told the board that “teaching is about relationships. No student was going to respect me if I walked into the classroom on the first day and said, this is how it’s going to be.”

“It is about the approach, and having those conversations and getting to know one another,” she said.

Board president Ed Potosnak said there is a chance the policies could be changed, but that any change would have to start with the newly formed Warrior Pride Committee. The committee is comprised of high school staff, administration, students and parents.

“The process of how they get changed, if they get changed, is the same as how they came to be,” he said.

“There were a lot of great comments, and they will be looked at,” Potosnak said.

Some of the policies may be found to be out of date, he said, and there may be a need for new policies.

“It’s really great to hear from so many students and parents so we can make our school more perfect,” he said. “We hear you, and (schools Superintendent) Ravally is going to be working with the principal and administration at the high school to work with parents and students,” he said. “We’re going to have a better school because of it.”


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