As a high school principal, I read with interest the reports coming out of McKinney North High School in Texas about five teenage girls on the cheerleading squad and their bad behavior in and out of school.
If interested, please read the full report. This poll on AOL was what amazed me, not the story. Readers could answer the question “Who do you blame most for the cheerleaders’ behavior?” As I write this post, 375,524 people have voted. Of those 48% blame the parents, 36% blame the cheerleaders, 15% blame the school, and 1% blame other.
Who do we blame? According to the reports, this was ongoing and flagrant bad behavior. We could blame the parents, which also means blaming the school because the principal is also the mother of one of the girls. We could just blame the school, all of the adults working there who came into contact with them and didn’t stand up to stop it either personally, by going to the Superintendent and the School Board, or by calling every parent involved. We could blame the girls, who are obviously old enough to be held responsible for their choices.
Who do we blame? Kids make mistakes every single day. We work hard to have a consistent reaction, with consequences that follow our code of conduct. Every case has different circumstances, but we do follow through. Every time. We investigate and we listen and we hold students accountable. Often times in dealing with discipline issues, it seems no one is satisfied with our results. But at the end of the day, I know we’ve done our due diligence and made the best decision possible for all involved. When we notify parents, 90% of the time we work with families who support us and I know the student is receiving consequences at home too. There are those students who have little to no support at home and those parental reactions, if we even get them, are different.
But at McKinney North, who’s to blame? Everything that happens in G-Town is ultimately my responsibility. Every action taken by every employee and every student. It’s my responsibility to pay attention, to listen, to correct behavior, and to hold people accountable. It’s my responsibility to make G-Town the best place it can be for every person who walks through our doors.
Who to blame? Everyone holds a piece of this, first the girls for their actions, then the parents if they knew of the behavior and failed to correct it. But the principal who resigned? She holds the ultimate responsibility. The fact that she’s a mom too just makes it that much more disappointing. She needed to stand up and say “not in my school, not on my watch.”