NATURAL BRIDGE, Va. (WDBJ7) “Asking personal questions about home: that’s just not acceptable,” says James Comer.
He is among parents at Natural Bridge Elementary that were upset when this survey was distributed among the children last Tuesday. It asks, among other things for example, if the child’s parents are in jail.
“I’ve seen a lot on it," Comer says. "And a lot of them are very mad and very aggravated at the principal and the school.”
“She wanted to get some specific needs that may be out there," explains Dr. Phillip Thompson, Rockbridge County's School Superintendent. "You know, the survey may have revealed none that she didn’t already know about, but it was a way to determine whether there was a large need across the student population.”
The survey was anonymous – meant to gather general data on the students as a whole. But it was also given without telling parents, and with questions that offended some.
“When I started reading the questions, the main questions that caught my eye was: Is your family in jail? Is either of your parents in jail? Who do you live with?" says Comer. "You know, those type of questions, what kid is going to be able to answer it?”
“I understand certainly through some of the phone calls I’ve received there were some parents that were offended by some of the wording," the Superintendent says. "And in reading the survey, I understand that, I get that.”
A letter of apology went out to families that Friday, explaining what the intent was as well as apologizing for the problems with the survey.
“Somebody needs to know that, for future reference, don’t ask children those type of questions, ‘cause they don’t know,” says Comer.
Thompson says, “Obviously, this is one of those things that we’re going to use this as a learning tool. We’re going to take this as a teachable moment and get all our administrators together and do a little training on surveys and how they should be implemented and that sort of thing.”