Amy Frogge, Nashville Board of Education member (boldface mine):
Here, precisely, is why I have become very upset and frustrated about Nashville Prep:
Nearly two years ago, a parent approached me after a board meeting, crying. She had come to our board meeting as a last-ditch effort, because she had been unable to help her daughter, who was a 10-year-old student at Nashville Prep. She told me her child had become depressed and anxious because of the extreme no-excuses disciplinary procedures at the school, and she needed help removing her child from the school. She had tried to bring her concerns to the attention of the Office of Innovation (which oversees charter schools), but she said her concerns were ignored. She maintained that she had trouble navigating the withdrawal/enrollment process because no one seemed to be in charge of process for charter schools.
Shortly thereafter, three additional parents stepped forward to raise more disturbing complaints about Nashville Prep. The complaints, which were all very similar in nature, primarily centered on extreme, militaristic disciplinary policies, which parents contended affected students’ well-being.
Complaints from the parents included the following:
–Students at Nashville Prep are not allowed to use the restroom when needed (even young girls just starting their menstrual cycles). They are punished for simply asking to go the restroom off-schedule, for spending more than 2-4 minutes in the restroom, or for looking at themselves in the mirror.
–Lunch is taken away from students as punishment.
–Students are punished for even mentioning being too cold in the classroom in winter.
-Students are “inspected” when they enter the school each morning, and students have been forced to wait in line in the pouring rain while teachers stand under the front school awning to “inspect” them.
-Students are punished for not “eye-tracking” the teacher (keeping their eyes on the teacher at all times).
-Students are taken off school grounds without parental consent.
-Administration of the school is poor. Students are marked absent when present, and report cards often contain incorrect grades.
–One student received a demerit for saying, “bless you” when a classmate sneezed. He also received detention (1) for saying “excuse me” while stepping over another child’s backpack and (2) for picking up a pencil for a classmate.
-Another student was punished for “egregious” behavior, and when the parent inquired about the behavior, the teacher said the student “laughed out loud” during class.
-Students are told not to talk to students on in-school suspension because administrators want “student[s] to feel like they are in jail.”
-Students are punished for expressing any emotion at all when they receive demerits. Even when they don’t understand why they are being punished, they cannot inquire about the punishment. If students are not completely submissive and unquestioning, they receive a second demerit. One parent compared this treatment of children to a “slave code.”
–When students are allowed to go outside during lunch, they are not allowed to sit and talk. They must move around, as one parent put it, “like what one would see in a prison yard.”
-Nashville Prep has refused to allow some students to withdraw.
–Nashville Prep uses shaming measures to control students: Children who receive a certain number of demerits are required to wear tags on their clothing as a shaming measure so that other children will laugh at them.
-According to one parent, demerits are so common that on one day, about 100 of the approximately 300 students were on some type of suspension. Also, appeals of demerits are no longer allowed, so students who are corrected inappropriately are not allowed to voice their concerns.
-Students are not allowed to participate in enrichment activities, such as art or music, unless their standardized test scores are high enough.
-Parents have claimed their children have undergone personality changes as a result of the “no excuses” discipline. One parent claimed that her child, who typically was outgoing and outspoken, became very withdrawn and stopped communicating or expressing herself, even at home, for fear of being punished. The parent complained that “kids don’t have a voice” and “kids can’t be kids” at Nashville Prep.
Another parent went so far as to claim that some students at Nashville Prep are “suicidal.”
This school, a charter, needs to be shut down, not by the Board of Education, but Child Services.