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Superintendent says choir field trip to church concerns remedied

A situation in which students were required to sing in a churchfor a grade in a class at Alexander Junior High School has beenremedied, said Brookhaven School District Superintendent LeaBarrett.

Barrett said she got a call from a parent last Thursday about achoral teacher who required children to perform at a church on aSunday morning. She said the students who attended the performancewere given a good grade, while children who did not attend weregiven a bad grade.

“The principal has investigated, and he corrected the gradesituation,” Barrett said. “What happened is that the teacher hadtotally ignored the procedure for field trips.”

Barrett said the trip to the church had not been approved by she orPrincipal Rod Henderson. However the teacher, whom districtofficials declined to name citing personnel confidentiality issues,now understands what the proper procedures are.

“We want to make sure our teachers are taking children appropriateplaces for appropriate reasons, and the principal has talked withher and explained what should have happened,” Barrett said.

School choirs have performed in churches before on many occasions,Barrett said, when the auditorium is tied up with anotherengagement or when it was under renovation.

“Churches have been gracious to let them use their sanctuaries forchoral performances,” she said. “But we try to be sensitive topeople’s beliefs, and try to make sure it’s a neutral situation,and we make sure parents understand it’s not a church service perse.”

Barrett said as far as she knew there was only one complaint aboutthe church service performance. She said the district alwayswelcomes feedback from parents, but that early feedback would havebeen a great help in the matter.

“We have it corrected, and we always encourage parents to let usknow if they have a concern, because we want to be responsive toparents and the community,” she said. “But I do wish the parentwould have called ahead of time, and we could have preventedit.”

The teacher has not been with the district for very long, Barrettsaid, and simply didn’t seem to understand the correct way tohandle the arrangements for the trip.

“This is the teacher’s second year in district, and she probablywas not aware of how seriously we take those procedures, but Ithink she is now,” she said. “This just got by us because theprincipal didn’t know and I didn’t know, and we certainly wouldhave tried to intervene ahead of time to keep that fromhappening.”