Friday, January 9, 2015

UPDATE on Sprinkler Incident at HMS -- Disappointing Effort by Administration to Inform the Entire D181 Community

This afternoon the Hinsdale Middle School principal sent a second email, to HMS parents only, addressing the Sprinkler Head malfunction in Room 215. It stated:

"Dear Parents,
I would like to provide an update of the facilities at HMS.  
I want to reiterate that the amount of water released this year is far less than what we experienced last year.  All of the water has been cleaned up and all of the affected classrooms have been used throughout the day.  We are currently missing a small portion of ceiling tiles in two rooms, some baseboards have been removed and a small portion of drywall has been removed in two rooms.
Dehumidifiers and fans will be turned on at the end of the school day.  District staff will continue round the clock monitoring of HMS.
 In regard to whether or not this is a repeat of the issues from January 2014, there are several important differences to note:
•    This issue was caused by the release of water from a sprinkler head, not a burst pipe.
•    This issue took place on the 2nd floor, not the 3rd floor.
•    We proactively had assigned staff to monitor HMS 24/7 on cold weather days.
•    We have worked to ensure that classrooms, offices, hallways, and other areas such as storage and maintenance rooms are properly heated.
Thank you again for your patience as we work to resolve these issues.
Have a great weekend,
This email was sent to HMS parents only. It was not until 4 p.m. that a communication, of sorts, was sent to all D181 parents and key communicators in the D181 Newsletter. This newsletter which is copied in its entirety below, in our opinion borders on the same type of "needle in a haystack" cover that the Schuster administration used to deploy to avoid dealing with an issue directly and UP FRONT!  As we can all recall, Schuster's administration used to bury the facts deep within documents and newsletters they published. This newsletter seems like more of the same.
You will note that rather than front load the newsletter with the CURRENT incident that occurred last night, an incident that of course everyone should know and care about since after all, $2 million of taxpayer money was spent last winter to remediate the flood/mold fiasco at HMS, only a brief mention of the sprinkler incident is included as the 7th of 8 items discussed in the newsletter.  
Really?  And let's look carefully at what the newsletter says, or rather, fails to say about the incident. Unlike the first email that was only sent to HMS parents at 6 a.m. this morning, there is no mention that FIVE rooms sustained water damage.  Only 1 room is mentioned in the community wide newsletter. And the incident is described as a "minor" incident.  The phrase "the amount of water released was far less than last year" is smoke and mirrors. How much water was actually released in the 15 minutes the sprinkler head went off?  One gallon, two, fifty, one hundred?  What kind of damage was sustained, to books, papers, supplies, dry wall, and any other property that was in the 5 classrooms?  
But more importantly, why is there no explanation of why a sprinkler head would mysteriously go off, one year to the day that the second pipe burst at HMS due to cold weather, which of course the entire district was once again experiencing this week leading to the closure of all our schools for 2 days.  Did the cold weather cause the sprinkler head to trigger?  And if so, how?  If not, what caused it to go off?  Sure the newsletter says the district is "working to determine the cause," but it is quite troubling that a full day after the incident, the cause is not known.  What if the sprinkler head had deployed during school hours?  What if it had soaked students?  How do we know this sprinkler head, or others, won't deploy again?  Finally, the newsletter mentions that FOUR fire departments were involved in the "minor incident."  When we read this we laughed since a four alarm incident could hardly be classified as "minor!"  
Come on White administration -- you can do better than try and bury or minimize this incident!  Don't repeat the mistakes of the Schuster administration!

D181 Newsletter (we have highlighted in RED the sprinkler incident):
D181 E-Newsletter for Families
  • Jan. 12: Illinois 5Essentials Survey Opens 
  • Jan. 12: Board of Education Meeting 
  • Jan. 13: CHMS vs. HMS Basketball Game
  • Jan. 22-23: “Money Matters” Parent Presentation (Flier Attached)
  • Jan. 31: Robert Crown Center Substance Abuse Prevention Event (Flier Attached)
  • Feb. 16: DuPage ROE STEM Open House (Flier Attached)
  • HMS Facility News
  • News from SELAS: Behaving as if Kids are Watching
Jan. 12: Illinois 5Essentials Survey Opens
We are joining districts throughout the state in administering the Illinois 5Essentials Survey starting this Monday, January 12 and continuing through March 13. District 181 teachers, middle school students, and parents are being invited to take the 15-minute survey to help identify strengths and areas for improvement in our schools’ climate and learning conditions. We greatly value the opportunity to hear your feedback. Please note that at least 20% of parents in a school must complete the survey for the school to receive a report on the data, so it is important that we have strong participation. Your identity and survey responses will be kept completely confidential and will never be connected to you or your child. The direct link to access the survey online starting Monday is You can read more about the five essentials, access the survey link, and download past results on our website: > Resources > IL 5Essentials

Jan. 12: Board of Education Meeting 
Our next Board of Education meeting is on Monday, January 12 at Monroe School (7pm). The agenda includes a presentation on math resources, discussion on the 2015-16 and 2016-17 (tentative) school calendars, and Dr. White's Superintendent Report. The meeting will also include the first presentation of information related to the Digital Learning Initiative, a collaborative partnership between the District and the District 181 Foundation to develop a comprehensive technology plan supported by all stakeholders.

Jan. 13: CHMS vs. HMS Basketball Game
On Tuesday, January 13, all community members are encouraged to cheer on the CHMS and HMS boys basketball teams as they compete against one another at Hinsdale Central High School. The 7th grade game begins at 6pm; the 8th grade game begins at 7pm.

Jan. 22 and 23: “Money Matters” Parent Presentation 
The next event in the Family Education Series is “Money Matters” with The Economic Council. Parent presentations will be held Thursday, January 22 (7pm) and Friday, January 23 (9am), both at Elm School. Tracy Frizzell will lead the discussion on helping children become money-smart. This interactive workshop will give parents an opportunity to set a framework for working cooperatively with children on money issues. Click here to register for the Thursday, January 22 session. Click here to register for the Friday, January 23 session.

Jan. 31: Robert Crown Center Substance Abuse Prevention Event 
The Robert Crown Center for Health Education is hosting a substance abuse prevention event on Saturday, January 31 (10am-2pm) as part of National Drug Facts Week. The program will include art installations, video screenings, and a variety of informative presentations. View the attached flier for more information. 

Feb. 16: DuPage ROE STEM Open House
The DuPage Regional Office of Education is inviting 5th-8th grade students and their parents to the Presidents’ Day STEM Open House on Monday, February 16 (10am-12pm) at the Technology Center of DuPage. Guests will engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related activities and browse exhibits. The event is free; registration is required. View the attached flier for more information.

HMS Facility Update
As Hinsdale Middle School families and staff are aware, we experienced a minor facility situation at HMS yesterday evening. A sprinkler head released water in a second floor classroom. Our partners in the Hinsdale Fire Department responded to the sprinkler alarm and shut the water off within 15 minutes. Fortunately the amount of water released was far less than last year. The damage was minimal thanks to the quick work of the Fire Department and our building staff. (We have had 24/7 custodial coverage in HMS during these cold days.) All affected areas were addressed and classes were held as usual. We are working to determine the specific cause of the issue and District staff are taking every reasonable precaution to address these challenges, including partnering with outside experts. We are grateful to the Hinsdale Fire Department for their quick response, and the collaborative efforts of additional area fire departments, including Clarendon Hills, Western Springs and LaGrange Park. 

News on SELAS: Behaving as if the Kids are Watching
When it comes to helping children develop their social and emotional skills, adults’ skills are of top importance, whether in the context of school or home. Our social and emotional skills are at the heart of our connections with our children. When we express how we feel and show how we manage our feelings, have empathy for others, value relationships, and make positive decisions, our actions support our relationships as well as our children’s development. As the year starts anew, think about the examples you set for your children and the ways you help them become socially and emotionally aware, articulate, and capable. A checklist in the Parent Toolkit, a new resource for parents of children pre-K-12th grade, offers good ideas for parents’ self-reflection. Consider choosing one or two ideas to focus on at a time. The District’s website provides ideas about how adults at home can use the specific skills that are addressed by the Illinois Social and Emotional Learning Standards and taught in our schools. See SEL@Home for ways you can mentor, model, and monitor your children with the framework of these goals in mind. When families intentionally model personal and social skills, children receive a more consistent and easily understood message. It’s not about having the “SEL Talk”, but rather about developing and using the skills ourselves as we interact with our children. Remember - the kids ARE watching! 

Wishing your family a safe and happy weekend!

Bridget McGuiggan, APR
Director of Communications


Anonymous said...

Same director of communications. What did you expect!

Anonymous said...

I find it fascinating that the message about SELAS was far longer and more detailed than that about the sprinkler leak. That comparison aside, I also find it interesting (and ridiculous) that the administration is now advising us how to be better parents and providing us with opportunities for "self-reflection." REALLY D181? Where are they coming up with this stuff and is this really what our admin. is spending its time on these days? Who is responsible for the content as, last I checked, there are a number of admin. employees who are not even parents themselves. I get that they probably view this as a community service of some sort and, sure, we can all use tips about how to improve our parenting, but is this really the role of our school district and is this how they should be spending their time given all of the issues we are facing and how behind we are on areas such as common core, foreign languages and science? Our kids are already spending a lot of time on SELAS in the classroom, and, yes, anti-bullying and kindness messages are important, but when is enough enough? In my opinion this post is indicative of a desire in the administration to deflect from the real and more important issue at hand - decreased academic performance and learning by our students. It is merely busywork.

Anonymous said...

I think everything is one sided. Parents are blamed for everything. They don't address issues with staff members making fun of students in front of their peers, disciplining kids inappropriately in public so that other kids tell their parents and friends. Some things are meant to be done to set an example but it needs to be done the right way, in a selas way. Maybe everyone needs to do a little self reflection. Recess monitors tend to stand around talking to each other mostly. Selas and parent education seem to be the way to allow Kurt Schneider to bring more of his outside contacts into the district and promote his inclusive message.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the above statement in that parents are always blamed for their children's academic struggles. Why? We are not in charge of creating the curriculum, assessments and homework, D181 is. Our schools have no safeguards to catch children who are falling through their cracks.