Tahlequah Daily Press

October 15, 2013

Dad concerned about oversight at Hulbert

Staff Writer

HULBERT — Following a behavioral incident involving his child, a parent has expressed concern about oversight of students at Hulbert Elementary School.

A.J. Robinson, parent of an 11-year-old boy awaiting a possible diagnosis of ADHD, contacted the Tahlequah Daily Press last week, saying his son was able to roam the building for an hour on Sept. 30 and steal $400 from another student’s backpack.

“I’m not trying to make excuses for the kid,” Robinson said. “What he did was wrong. I’m wondering how he was gone for an hour and the school didn’t realize he was gone.”

The student is in an individualized education program. Robinson said the school was unaware of the theft until the child was seen giving the money away at the end of class.

“He has impulse problems, for sure,” Robinson said. “But the school knows about that. They have cameras in the halls, but I was told the cameras weren’t working. I haven’t gotten an explanation of how this happened.”

Hulbert Superintendent Marilyn Dewoody said it is illegal for a district to comment directly about an individual student or any disciplinary action, but did discuss school policy in general.

“We check attendance each hour, but students are allowed to go to the restroom and things like that,” she said.

“It might be possible for a student to step out of class for a period of time.”

Dewoody said a teacher who is busy might not be able to leave the classroom to look for a child.

“It also may be that the teacher is trying to be lenient,” she said. “An example is that a stomach virus has gone around the school recently. In that situation, a student often wants to use the restroom when nobody else is in there. The teacher can let the child have the extra time.”

However, lenience doesn’t give a student license to roam the halls, Dewoody added.

“We take attendance very seriously,” she said. “We follow our school handbook when dealing with inappropriate behaviors. In the case of truancy, a student usually enters in-school suspension for a few days. We don’t like them to be out of school, so we don’t use out-of-school suspensions except in cases of very severe behavior.”

Robinson said his child “cut class,” but did not specify whether it was before or after the class session started. He expressed frustration that his son is facing a Wednesday date in juvenile court, which he believes might have been prevented if the boy’s absence had been detected.

“I feel like the school doesn’t want to take responsibility,” he said. “Everything is fine if the kids behave, but as soon as a kid acts up, they don’t want to deal with it. I just want a true explanation of how my kid got out of class for an hour.”