Survey given to Clark County students shocks parents

A Clark County middle school principal gave students a survey some parents said included shocking and inappropriate language and should lead the district to take further disciplinary action against the administrator.

The survey was given to a group of about 20 middle school students at Northridge Middle School on Nov. 6 during an investigation into reports of alleged bullying, Northeastern Local Schools Superintendent Lou Kramer said.

The school principal, Gary Miller Jr., administered the survey, which was as attempt to determine who might have been victims or responsible for the alleged bullying, according to personnel records obtained by the Springfield News-Sun.

Some of the questions in the survey asked students if they heard classmates using terms that included graphic sexual language and curse words.

"The district in no way condones the language in the survey," Kramer said. "Quite frankly we do not approve of the language of the survey."

As school principal, Miller had the right to look into the validity of the reported bullying and doesn’t have to report his actions to district administration, Kramer said. The superintendent didn’t know about the survey or the language it contained until he was approached by a concerned parent.

The district has taken what Kramer called appropriate disciplinary action against Miller.

Once the district heard of the survey, Miller was removed from the middle school and ordered to work in the district office on Nov. 10. On Nov. 14, Kramer held a disciplinary hearing with Miller and the principal was placed on three days of unpaid leave, ordered to write an apology to families affected by the survey and tell them how he will support their children through this issue, according to the personnel records.

Miller is back at his role as middle school principal.

But some parents have said Miller should be removed and some students are “creeped out” by Miller after the survey and scared to be around him, said Joy Espinosa, who has a daughter at the school.

“I have heard parents say they don’t want their children going to that school if that principal is still there,” she said.

The school board discussed the issue and will continue to listen to parents, Kramer said, but no further disciplinary action against Miller has been planned.

Letters that included students’ completed surveys were mailed to their parents with an apology letter from Kramer that said neither he nor the district condoned the survey.

Parents who have students that didn’t complete the survey weren’t directly told about the incident, Espinosa said, but word has spread quickly in the community.

Some additional parents who talked to the News-Sun but didn’t want to be identified said they are unsatisfied with the way the district responded and alerted families about the existence of the survey.

“In any situation, the resolution to a situation will not make all parties happy,” Kramer said. “But in this situation the board and the district did what was thought to be appropriate.”

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