MANCHESTER, N.H. – An intense lesson on bullying left fourth grade children scared and parent furious.
According to parent Keith Katsikas, Hallsville Elementary School Principal Christi Michaud arranged for a bullying lesson to be conducted by Laurie Evans, a guidance counselor at Webster Elementary, also in the Manchester, New Hampshire school district.
The father explains it this way:
The woman proceeded to setup her display: a life-size paper man that she taped to the wall, a small blue basket, and a handful of paper clippings.
The woman passed out the small pieces of paper to the class and told the young children that they had to write down a swear word (or phrase). It had to be a swear word and it had to be something that someone has said to them in the past. She then collected the pieces of paper from the students into her blue basket and mixed them up.
“Now, I’m going to pick one of you, and when I pick you, you will have to come take a slip of paper from the basket,” Katsikas says Evans told the children that they had to read whatever was written on the paper out loud, so the entire class could hear.
“Say it like you mean it,” she declared, according to the parent.
The children were to yell the vulgarities at the paper man, then tear a piece off the figure.
Katsikas says many children objected to the lesson and did not want to do it, but were told they “had to.”
The fourth graders shouted things like “F#@K YOU!,” “You Gay Whore!” and “You [email protected]#KER!” according to the parent.
He says the children were allowed to pick a different piece of paper, but eventually had to read it out loud and do the exercise.
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“They were not given the option to just sit down and not participate,” according to Katsikas.
When that part of the lesson was complete, the children then had to go back to the paper man and tape their portion back on and “apologize for what they had said.”
“I did speak with Mr. Ryder (the 4th grade teacher) and he confirmed everything that my son was saying was correct. When I asked him how he could let that take place in his classroom, he replayed that the activity was set up by Principal Christi Michaud and therefore was out of his hands,” the parent tells EAGnews.
We attempted to contact Michaud but she did not respond.
Katsikas says the principal contacted him and “wants to set up a meeting.”
According to the parent, the lesson left Assistant Principal Patricia Auger “cold with dread and a sincere disbelief that this could happen in her school.”
“I think the thing that upsets me the most,” Katsikas says, “is that we were not told ahead of time that this type of lesson was going to be taught to our kids. I would have kept my son home that day.”
He hopes the principal is reprimanded for her actions and “that these types of activities will not be allowed to take place without notices going home to parents first.”
Katsikas will be appearing on the Girardi at Large radio show Tuesday morning.
A signature-gathering campaign was launched at iPetition to “send a crystal clear message to the Superintendent of Schools for Manchester, NH that this type of behavior on the part of the school system and its affiliates is unacceptable.”
UPDATE 1:30 p.m.:
Debra Livingston of the Manchester school district sent EAGnews this statement:
We are investigating the parents concerns. The investigation is not yet complete. When it is, we will meet with the parent first.