Can parents believe anything Dr. Schuster says?
Yesterday, in the email Dr. Schuster sent to D181 parents, she said that HMS would be shuttered on Friday due to the discovery of possible mold and then said test results would be back late Friday.
Interestingly, her email did not say when or even if she would provide parents with the results as soon as they were in. However, considering the serious nature of this situation, and the fact that HMS students were forced to miss a third day of school in two weeks, with very short notice for households with 2 working parents to arrange child care arrangements, we naturally assumed that the test results would be shared with D181 parents immediately.
Well, it is now Saturday morning, and no test results have been released to parents. All parents received on Friday was a 9:15 p.m. email from Principal Pena -- not Dr. Schuster (although her name is added to the end of his email) -- saying that the results were not back yet.
We find that difficult to believe.
Why would Dr. Schuster tell parents the results would be in "late" Friday if they weren't going to be? We doubt very much that late meant after 9 p.m., rather that it meant around the close of business. If the results were not in by 5 p.m., why didn't Dr. Schuster personally send parents an update from her email address, not just pointing out the delay but providing an explanation of why the results were delayed?
If the results had come back as negative for mold, it is hard to believe that Dr. Schuster or her communications director Ms. McGuiggan would not have been shouting the results from the rooftop at HMS. Could it be that the test results came back, and now more tests are required? Could it be the results were delayed by the company because the results are not good, and they are running more tests to confirm the results?
We can only speculate. We should not have to.
Dr. Schuster should have provided parents with more information on Friday afternoon before 5 p.m.. Now parents have no idea when we will actually learn the results. Mr. Pena's email stated only that once the results are received, they will be provided to parents in a "timely manner." What exactly does that mean? Immediately or not until Monday, in order that parents will know if school will be open on Tuesday?
Both Dr. Schuster's and Mr. Pena's emails over the last two days have thanked parents for their patience. Well, what choice have we had, but to be patient? But that does not mean that we approve of the way Dr. Schuster is handling this situation. In fact, in our minds the question of the day isn't just what the test results will ultimately show, but whether or not she is even in town right now. This entire situation is very serious. Our students are losing valuable instructional time. They have missed three full days of school in the last two weeks. HMS students also lost valuable instructional time last week in order to take winter MAP tests. They can ill afford to miss any more. We need to trust that the leader of D181 is taking every step necessary to reopen the school and ensure that it is safe for everyone. The only way to do this is for Dr. Schuster to have been on site at HMS Friday supervising the cleanup and repair work. We expect that she be there today, Sunday and Monday. We expect the Board of Education to expect this of her. We also believe that Board President Turek should be there right along side her to make sure she is doing her job. But since this is, after all, a holiday weekend, how do we know that either or both of them are not off on another vacation?
The trust has been broken. We will probably never know if either Dr. Schuster or Mr. Turek were on site monitoring the work being done. If either of them is reading this blog, perhaps they will let us know, and if they weren't there Friday, perhaps they can roll up their sleeves and get over to HMS Saturday morning. And if they are out of town, perhaps they can return and deal with this situation directly. Then, perhaps one or both of them will send all D181 parents a meaningful and detailed email providing the mold test results or explaining why the results have been delayed. Perhaps one or both of them will schedule a public meeting for Monday night at which parents, teachers and HMS staff can ask questions and receive answers BEFORE school starts on Tuesday.
For now, all parents can do is continue to wait. And wait. And wait.