Dear Prospect Parents and Families:
Many of you are aware of the Mail Tribune articles which have inappropriately targeted Principal Purnell, and the Board’s continued support of Mr. Purnell at the Prospect Charter School District. The Board is concerned about the continuing impact of these media reports, and the clear bias these reports have against Mr. Purnell and the District which are being communicated to the students, families, employees of the District, and to our Prospect community.
The media reported concerns regarding reports of sexting of a Prospect student by another student. These concerns were not initially reported to Principal Purnell, but were reported to another staff person. Immediately upon learning of this incident, Mr. Purnell contacted the parents of the students involved and partnered with them to remedy the situation. The issue was resolved, the students each learned from the incident, and the parents were satisfied with the way it was handled. The parents also felt appreciated for being a part of the restorative process.
In a separate incident that was reported in the newspaper, Mr. Purnell again partnered with all of the parents involved. Disciplinary action was taken. Superintendent Jantzi and I fully support Mr. Purnell and his handling of these incidents. No District complaints were filed by any student or parent against Mr. Purnell or any other staff regarding these student issues. As of this date, there have been no further incidents of sexting reported.
The persons who addressed these incidents went directly to the media, with no attempts to go through any school process, such as a complaint. Media reporters were also attempting to access students for additional information and interviews during school and on school property. This required the District to address the issues of campus security and some disruptions to the school environment.
The District, based on the federal and state laws for education, is prohibited from sharing a Student’s education information in a situation like this without a release from a parent.
The District Board did review and address these issues of concern that were raised in the media during a public Board meeting, which was appropriately posted and conducted in executive session under state law. Media were made aware of the Board meeting and the posted agenda. State laws permit media to attend executive sessions; the media did not attend. Although media cannot directly report on executive sessions, they are by law allowed to be present and informed about matters in a manner that could allow them to further investigate any issues independently. Ms. Tornay of the Mail Tribune was aware of the executive session, and she declined because she said the hour drive to Prospect was too far. However, this drive did not stop her or her photographer from making two separate visits to Prospect unannounced in an attempt to meet with students.
Days following the Board meeting, the media wanted to talk to school personnel about these issues, but the District does not have the authority under state law to share specific Student information without a release from a parent.
Our Board has addressed these District and community concerns appropriately under state law and District policy, and we are committed to the best interests of the Prospect Charter School community, and providing a safe educational environment for students and staff.
Prospect Charter School