What led to problems at John Hopkins Middle?
Melissa Stanton was the PTSA president at John Hopkins Middle until she decided enough was enough and transferred her son in November to Meadowlawn Middle. But she's not blaming the school: "It's not the school and it's not the administration," Stanton told the Gradebook. "I feel like the school is being blamed for something that is more a community issue."
Stanton was quoted briefly in last weekend's St. Petersburg Times story, which looked at how discipline problems at Hopkins are turning a successful magnet school into a repellent. The story raised questions about whether the district planned well enough for the changing demographics at Hopkins (more low-income and learning disabled kids, more kids from rival neighborhoods) and whether it delivered on promises to shift more resources to it and other re-segregating schools.
Stanton put responsibility onto parents and the community, as did other parents who called or e-mailed the Gradebook in recent days. "I think overall that whole neighborhood is the one part of St. Petersburg that needs help," she said. "And unfortunately, those neighborhood kids are bringing down that school."
She pointed to parents, too, but with a softer touch than many: "Does St. Petersburg take a stand on parenting? Do the parents of those kids somehow get held accountable? I don't know. Most likely, if they knew what to do, they'd be doing it. ... I wanted to get with our mayor and say, 'What can we as a city do to start helping?' Not 'You're a bad parent, here's what good parents do.' But things like workshops. Some people just don't know."
So, who's right? Is it the parents' fault? The district's fault? Everybody's fault?