Sunday, November 1, 2009

No Parents at Homecoming

As many might have guessed, there were NO parents at the Richmond Homecoming. What a sad state of affairs and quite possibly it is what strikes at the heart of the issue in Richmond overall. Where I am, teachers have to have random drawings to choose parents to attend trips and assemblies as "too many" ask to attend.

From the Contra Costa Times article: "Richmond High struggles perennially to engage its families, most of them residents of diverse but poor flatland neighborhoods in San Pablo, unincorporated North Richmond and parts of Central Richmond. Three years ago, a principal even tried a doorbell campaign. It remains difficult to sustain parental commitment, Franco admitted."

Knowing the above, and knowing what was further stated in the Times article about parents and their problems with younger children at home, why doesn't the school play a more active role in TRYING to get parents out. For example, why not stagger the homecomings in the same town for different nights and ask for older student volunteers of the "other school" to babysit for parents (with adult supervision), so that they can volunteer - perhaps an onsite classroom can be set up with movies , popcorn and other activities for children. That is just one of many solutions I could see being offered. Provide solutions to the "excuses" and MAYBE you'll get more involvement. (Of course, I could be completely underestimating this community and perhaps even with solutions, they'll choose not to participate.)

So thinking of everything that went wrong in Richmond (no parents, minimal supervision, police not patrolling perimeters, no checks on non students, and seemingly no hard and fast rules about coming and going), with what happened in Pleasant Hill at College Park's Homecoming:

(again from the Times) "Such high schools as Concord and College Park call the parents of students who don't show up for a dance for which they purchased tickets. No students may leave until the dance ends without calling their parents. Those who walk to their cars in the parking lot are escorted."

So perhaps, the easiest solution for now in Richmond, is that without parent commitment and involvement in a safe school environment, dances and events like this must cease - if only for student safety. What a sad state of affairs, don't you think? I hope this was a wake up call for parents everywhere. The schools can't do it all. Though I do still place some blame on the school for this one. If they had inadequate supervision, and had no intention of monitoring students coming and going, and didn't communicate with security their expectations of perimeter patrols - then just stop until you get your act together.

What happened in Richmond should never have happened, may never have happened, if the proper safety protocol was in place. And no I don't blame the behavior of those guilty parties on the school - but it was a perfect storm of opportunity that night. An opportunity that could've been lessened or eliminated had a few more safety measures been taken. El Cerrito seems to be on the right track:

"Cameras and gates will not solve the problem. You've got to have a parent presence. You can't expect a bankrupt district to have the people to send. We have to be the people," said Michele Jawad, a longtime parent volunteer in El Cerrito schools and a member of the school district's safety committee."

"We just have to have more parents, grandparents, retired people, neighbors involved. They have to step up for the kids. There's no excuse. If kids don't have parents (available), then others should be willing to step in," Jawad said. "The days of sending kids to school and forgetting about them are gone."

It seems that Richmond needs a Michele Jawad to step up, I hope from this tragedy, Richmond gets many just like her.



  1. Ygnacio Valley High School has the policy in place as Concord and College Park. YV also has parent chaperones.

  2. Sherry, thank you. I do hope that MDUSD continues in that direction. Is there any directive or policy in place stating 'safety rules' for school events like this?