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Parents, students share concerns over curriculum with Preston Board of Education

KINGWOOD — A delegation of parents and students met with members of the Preston Board of Education Monday evening to discuss an issue regarding the curriculum being taught in a classroom.

Board President Jack Keim called for an executive session to hear the complaints.  He allowed each person 4 minutes, one of the two families 8 minutes, and the other one 12 minutes.

“We’ll take 45 minutes to hear from you,” he said. “Then, we’ll discuss the problem with the superintendent and assistant superintendents. When we come out, we will tell you what’s going on, because this is on a public agenda.”

When executive session ended, a discussion about teaching character education ensued. Character education is defined as the process by which humans learn to interact with society through core values. Officials did not share the specific classroom, teacher or school that was the focus of parents’ and students’ concerns.  

“We’ll work with the principal to make sure the curriculum is followed,” Keim said.

Preston School Superintendent Steve Wotring said the state required the schools to teach character education. However, the schools have received no guidelines at this time.

“The lines have become very blurred, so we’re going to get them defined. Every teacher is to be a teacher of character education,” he said. “Knowing what happened here, we are on the exact same page. But I have to have a leg to stand on.”

“I want to have the option of whether I want my child to learn that,” someone from the audience said.

“We understand what you are saying,” Wotring said. “ Our hands are tied in a lot of situations. The state board has to give us some guidance.”

Wotring said as soon as the meeting was over, he was going to contact the state for guidance.

“Everyone keeps adding to the plate, and no one takes anything off of it,” he said about character education.

“We’re in a position where our hands are tied,” Keim said, regarding the lack of guidelines for the curriculum. “We can’t take a specific action, but we don’t know what that action is. We’ve talked about things that happened in the past year that’s going to change things. When you talk about old school — old school is gone.”

A question arose about bullying in the classroom.

“We have to see what bullying is and have bullying prevention,” Wotring said.

Chapter 18 article 18-2C-3 prohibits harassment, intimidation or bullying.  It states each county board shall establish a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying. 

Keim thanked the parents and students for their input. No further action was taken.

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