Accountability may be the single most important lesson someone learns in school.

For every math, science and English assignment accomplished, students are actually learning how to deal with responsibilities, something that only increases as they grow older.

Teachers and school administration set goals for students and judge performance through pre-determined grading systems. Students who achieve move on to the next grade. Those who don’t are offered summer school options or must repeat the grade the following year. Through each encounter at school, students learn they need to be held accountable for their time.

Accountability is a wonderful lesson that can be applied to parenting, household budgeting or just about any adult pursuit. We are always held accountable for the decisions we make. It’s a lesson ingrained throughout school.

Unfortunately, the leadership at KIPP Gaston College Preparatory failed the lesson this week.

As many have undoubtedly already heard, 10 KIPP football players have been suspended for Friday’s game for their role in a fight last week on the campus of Northwest Halifax High School.

Northwest Halifax staff, the school resource officer and deputies from the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene last week to break up the fight. Once it subsided — authorities say with little in the way of actual injury — the fallout was significant.

Seven students (one from Northwest Halifax, six from KIPP were arrested), last week’s KIPP football game against the Central Virginia Disciples was canceled and the Roanoke Valley was left buzzing with questions of how students from the area’s highly-regarded charter school could be part of such an ambush-style attack.

On the surface this appears not to be a one-on-one fight but a coordinated effort by nearly a dozen students to leave one school’s campus and drive to another for the purpose of singling out a student for a brawl.

Without comment or explanation from KIPP staff, the community was left with rumor and innuendo.

In the days since the fight took place, The Daily Herald made numerous phone calls to KIPP’s main office, principal Tammi Sutton’s cell phone and the school’s board of directors chairman Ron Smith. No one has answered. No one has spoken up.

The newspaper’s goal is not to vilify the students, the school’s leadership or the charter school in general. If nothing more, our community deserves to hear publicly from the very leadership that asks for the community’s trust in stewarding their children.

Why hasn’t someone from KIPP taken the opportunity to defend the students? It only makes sense to say  something like “The fight was an isolated incident undertaken by good kids who made poor decisions. Steps are being taken to make sure it never happens again.”

Instead the public has received nothing. No accountability.

What kind of lesson is that for the students involved and their classmates? Surely the student body is watching school leaders even more intently than the general public.

To this day, seven days after the fight, no one from KIPP has either defended those involved or offered comfort to the families of the vast majority of non-trouble-making KIPP students that the necessary steps have been taken so this negative element does not spread throughout a campus that has been a source of community pride since it opened.

Everyone in the Roanoke Valley succeeds when KIPP succeeds. We all suffer when it suffers.

It is in times like these when we all need school leaders to stand up and be accountable.

KIPP leaders, where are you?

(42) comments

anonymous
anonymous

I'm sure you have done your homework and know that this did not happen on school time.I know you did your homework and know that school dismisses @2 o'clock!! How can KIPP be responsible for students that are not at school or on school time??? Very unfair column. Why should KIPP respond?? This is between parents, the authorities, and KIPP administration....NOT RR SPIN, RR Daily Herald or the Charlie Beaver show!!!

anonymous
anonymous

Maybe KIPP doesn't like airing dirty laundry to the public like Roanke Rapids. How many things has RRHS swept under the rug? I bet it is more than any other school in the area.

anonymous
anonymous

Why should there be a need for airing or giving excuses for this behavior? There cannot be any valid excuse for what happened. The young men involved were punished. End of story. Neither the administration or the students owe anything to this paper or to the public. Go out and find a real story.

anonymous
anonymous

As a current KIPP student,I can answer your question, "KIPP leaders, where are you?" Our leaders are here and in the right place. We don't have to verbally respond to any question the daily herald may ask. We handle things differently at KIPP. We refuse to allow lie to continue to circulate and drama to be stirred up, therefore its at our best interest to refrain from negativity. Schools in the area fight occasionally, so why blow up this whole situation. ITS OVER. Its clear to see that grudges will be held but at the end of the year, WE WILL make AYP..WE WILL have 100% college acceptance and WE WILL stand strong as a Pride and override negativity and stupidity.

anonymous
anonymous

Why is the Daily Herald so pushy on this situation?.You'll never mention the fights of Roanoke Rapids High School and out of control administration at Northwest Halifax. You'll are harming the kids and you want to blame KIPP..that is SELFISH!..Daily Herald, you'll are wrong!

anonymous
anonymous

"Attitude reflects leadership," a great person said. Our children obviously suffer when leaders do not effectively lead. I've heard it said that "our children are the fruit, what has happened to the tree?"--our leaders? KIPP is truely better than what our local KIPP school has become. Let's get back to the foundation of what it means to be a KIPP school. Otherwise, our school is just another building on an old peanut field.

anonymous
anonymous

I can provide insight as to why no one is interested in explaining this; this was an independent action. KIPP students cannot be represented by the bad choices of a handful of students. If you really want the reasoning behind this then ask the students. They are the only ones at this point who can explain their actions. Ms. Sutton does not want this to affect us in the way that many people are thinking that this will, so she has informed us to live our lives in the same way as we have been for the past number of years; as students looking forward to a successful life where we can prosper and be wise enough to not permanently ruin our lives.And there is your response to all this.

anonymous
anonymous

I find it very interesting that you attack the leaders of KIPP, and accuse them of not being models for the young people in this community, when you are writing information for these same young people to see that is libel. You say that "the community was left with rumor and innuendo," and yet you have done absolutely nothing to help the situation. The "rumor and innuendo" of which you speak was catalyzed right here by this very website. What are YOU teaching the community, Daily Herald?If you are so concerned about the leaders from KIPP offering comfort to "the families of the vast majority of non-trouble-making KIPP students that the necessary steps have been taken so this negative element does not spread throughout a campus that has been a source of community pride since it opened," do not worry. The students that have been handling their business are still handling their business, and these students refuse to let articles like this one define who they are. The students are not deliquents like you seem to imply, and they're in great shape. If anything proves that KIPP leaders are handling their business, it is that they are not busy talking about the past; they are proactively fixing the problem by themselves. They don't need your help.

anonymous
anonymous

Really? Why should the school be held accountability for the actions of these individuals. Are the parents not held accountable for not instilling in their children the important values and discipline? I'm not understanding how the school can be downed and looked at negatively because of an incident that happens everyday. I think this opinion is greatly over the top and disappointing that someone would write such things about a SCHOOL because I'm pretty sure if it was any other school this would not have be wrote so please let's place the focus else where because I'm pretty sure the school did not want this to happen and does not want to get involved other than simply ensuring the students are disciplined at school but are they are at? Probably not and this is where the focus and accountabiliy should be placed.

anonymous
anonymous

Some people fail to realize that at KIPP, it is a since of Pride. At the same time, you cannot take the mistake made by a few and make a sweeping generalization about the whole school. Kipp is and always will be extraordinary in it's own way. No matter how much the media tries to tear the reputation down. Kipp has worked too hard for all their accomplishments and anyone who actually thinks they can just take that away...you must me daft.

anonymous
anonymous

I hope the people responding in defense of the KIPP leadership are greatful for their right to speak out in this forum. But they have to respect the right as belonging to those of us who want answers and accountability of the KIPP leadership. This school takes tax payer dollars just like the other schools. We taxpayers deserve answers from KIPP leaders. This incident could have been more tragic if it had not been stopped so quickly.

anonymous
anonymous

Comments in this discussion have furthered the illusion of KIPP having 100% college acceptance of their students. Truthfully they only allow the students who were accepted by a college to graduate. Therefore they are guaranteed the 100%, but there are many KIPP students who have to return to their community schools to continue their graduation. Many also go to HCC and take the GED route.

anonymous
anonymous

This article is garbage and speaks immensely about the kind of newspaper that the RRDH is.

anonymous
anonymous

The staff at KIPP especially teachers may claim that they care about each and every student when they don't. As a previous student of KIPP, you see the true colors of these teachers who claim to care. Parents who think KIPP is a great school, in some sense it is but in others it is not.(earth to people,earth to people- KIPP SUCKS....!!!!!)

anonymous
anonymous

In order to move on from this situation does not mean that KIPP has to tell the media or anybody what we are doing. We responded to the situation as a school and as a family. We know what we are going to do, but you don't need to know. The things we accomplish after this will prove everything you say wrong. I really don't appreciate all the things you are saying, but instead of bringing my school down, you are helping us go higher than we have before. Everything you say is our motivation to do what we have to do and you don't have to know what that is. Responding to this situation is our own responsibility, not yours!

anonymous
anonymous

Why haven't any of the students, their parents, or school officials issued any appologies to the security staff who were manipulated, the students who were assaulted, or the parents of the victims, or anyone else? That would be a great place for people to start the healing process that would help "get this behind us" as so many people want to hurry up and do.

anonymous
anonymous

The RRDH does not directly understand KIPP or GCP. As a KIPP student and senior, the community must understand that each grade is represented as a Pride. You stand with your pride, you help your pride, but you also let a member or members of your pride know when they have made a mistake. To say that the leadership of KIPP is absence is a FALSE statement.All of the Prides realize the mistake the other students made but that mistake does NOT define them. Although we are Prides, we are individuals, as well. The school will bounce back. The boys will bounce back. Just because this incident happened does not mean the vision of our school has changed. We have grown stronger and we will all change the world.

anonymous
anonymous

How many of you know that me and my pride call our school KIPP "Kipp Is a Prison Program"? That is because of how we are treated and how many thugs are here. I was put here because I had too many suspensions at my other school and I know lots of my pride had the same issues. Kipp has concentrated the problem students who are worse than me into this one school from the surrounding areas.

anonymous
anonymous

I was very upset when I read the article that the RRDH was asking"KIPP leaders, where are you?". As someone stated in a post above, they are where they need to be, leading and teaching the students. True, we do hold KIPP students to a certain level, but NO ONE IS PERFECT, especially the writers of the RRDH, yes, they have even made errors. KIPP leaders do not owe the public any explanation. They handled the students that caused the problem and I am sure it was done with the their parents being aware. We all hate that it happened, but it did not happen on KIPP's property or during KIPP's school time. Since day one, people have been running the name of GCP and KIPP in the ground, but their EOG scores, AYP, and graduation rate speaks for themselves. As I stated before, Tammi Sutton and the rest of KIPP leader owes the RRDH...nothing!!!!!! Keep doing what you do Ms. SuttonThe strength of the pride is the lion.The strength of lion is the pride.

anonymous
anonymous

Why do you attack us? Why? When another school has a fight, there is not a word spoken about them. But when we come out and make a mistake, OH! that is such a big deal. And what you fail to realize is that we are people and we make mistakes. We have the same people in our school just as the other schools do. So what makes us different? Because we have had two years of grauduating seniors that have went to college? WE MAKE MISTAKES. And I bet if you made a mistake you wouldn't want ANYONE to dwell on it.

anonymous
anonymous

Again we have an assumption that something has not happened because it has not been publicized. I hate to break the news to you, but this process has already taken place for some of the parents and students. As someone said earlier, we have uninformed and uninvolved people making comments in this forum. Comments that are not true.

anonymous
anonymous

I am the parent of a KIPP graduate and current students;also a close friend of some of the students involved. What people need to be more concerned with is not whether or not the public feels like they know all the happenings or whether or not they receive an apology. They need to be more concerned with the effects of what this will do to the students involved and their peers and how we can prevent other incidents like this from occurring again. This is not an opportunity to take "cheap shots" at an institution because of others jealousy and anger at their accomplishments. KIPP is trying to teach their students to reach for the moon,but that does not mean we all will not at some time fall short, but we will still be among the stars. KIPP does not owe anything to the public and if people would be more concerned about making things better and not trying to find reasons to ridicule, this situation would not still be in the paper. Find something more important to focus on people.

anonymous
anonymous

What is explanation is everyone wanting to hear? Haven't you heard enough. No one owes the public nor the media any explanation. Again this just shows that RRDH is a non supporter of KIPP/GCP Schools. It's obvious that RRDH's goal is to bash and publish negative publicity about KIPP/GCP. A small close-minded town with a small closeminded daily hearld.

anonymous
anonymous

Personal attack is exactly what these articles are doing. I bet this wouldn't have anything to do with the case KIPP has against RRHS.Tax payers have a right to know only when it's certain schools. Tax payers don't have anything to say for years things happen at RRHS never hit the paper. This was kids making silly choices just like at every school. I bet you could get answers better if it was your business

anonymous
anonymous

I agree with the comments that KIPP owe no excuse to the Daily Herald or to Northwest Halifax High, nor Northaampton County, nor Halifax County. If the students have been arrested and are waiting for their day in court, the issue has been resolved and waiting to be decided on by a judge. Where does RRDH come off attacking the reputation of an entire school by the action of a few. You are implying that the teachers are not doing what they should be doing, and nothing could be further from the truth. I also agree with that parent who suuested that you find a real story to write about. Students will be rival for years to come. What exempt this from being a case of simple schools or sounty rivals. Get a life herald

anonymous
anonymous

How is it that some of those who did not like the column feel KIPP didn't owe the public or the newspaper any need for a public statement yet they all feel the need to respond to the column.Hmm, don't respond to phone call, will respond on the internet. Which is it, response or no response.Also, the newspaper column never once said anything negative about the students, and in fact, to this day, the positive comments in it about KIPP have been the only someone has said in favor of KIPP on the record.

anonymous
anonymous

KIPP pride as a taxpayer funded institution owes every taxpayer an explanation for their inexcuable behavior

anonymous
anonymous

I feel as if people are making a 'big deal' out of this situation because it was about KIPP. I know it wasn't the entire student body but its just kind of amusing it was someone from KIPP starting an altercation with a Northwest student, usually people would think it would have been vice versa. i guess that shows you KIPP isn't any better than any other school because in all reality all schools have troublemakers and "wannabe" thugs!

anonymous
anonymous

Being in the first graduating class and having been a founding member and the president of the Honor Council for the four years I attended KIPP, I know for a fact that when a situation arises where kids fight (yes, we are a school so they will arise or try to arise because we are all HUMAN) or any other honor code is broken then the situation is handled. Parents are contacted and a onsequence is given. These kids made a mistake, yes, and they realized it. The school does not owe the readers of the daily herald or the daily herald an explanation of what is being done to punish the kids. If this incident happened with another school it would not be broadcasted and their school would not have been ran down in the ground for what they have done. I know this because there are plenty of things that happen behind schools door of the other schools that aren't broadcasted. If there was a need for an explanation for every incident that has happened dealing with school violence of any kind then there would be a whole newpaper dedicated to it. There is no reason for this childish behavior. It's in the past so leave it there. The situation has been handled and the only ones who need to be informed of it are the school, the parents of the students involved and the students. This mudslinging needs to stop.

anonymous
anonymous

People really need to understand that KIPP is not the same school since Mr. Dolan left. It has truly decreased in value as to a quality education and thinking out of the box. No they don't need to answer any questions, but just know that they do not respond to parents calls or emails either.

anonymous
anonymous

This has been said several times, but I guess needs repeating. School was out for the day/weekend. The people responsible for the actions of these kids are their parents, not the school. Yes they are teammates on the football team, & yes they all go to KIPP, but they were not in school, or there on school business or functions. The football game was not w/Northwest.In other words, there were there on their OWN time, not KIPP time. I am not blaming the parents. I know that no matter how much you try to guide your kids, sometimes they do not always make the best choices (we all make mistakes). Also you cannot have your eyes on your teen children 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They have to have the freedom to make choices & than answer for those choices. I think that these kids are going to be answering for their choices.As for the accountability of the school, well the correct people who needed to know how the discipline was handled were notified-the parents. The media/community did not need to be notified, & were not owed an explanation. They only other people that had any "dog in this fight" were the other school & the law enforcement officers that responded. Other than that it was really not anyone else's business.

anonymous
anonymous

Stephen, Enough poisoning for our town. Where was the scrutiny during the financial frivolities of our town leaders? In fact, if the daily herald had been this scathing from the first business deal our previous "wise" leadership, we'd not be saddled with the ill conceived, unneeded chamber building or the I-95 elephant we're all having to carry.The facts are all in from those ordeals and you have yet to find the intestinal fortitude to put an investigative lead in your pencil. Your gutless railings about Kipp will not force anyone at Kipp into an interview with you. All you're doing is damaging your ability to be effective in the future. I'd say "pick on somebody your own size" but the more you do this, the more you shrink your credibility. If the leadership at Kipp does not see you as an equal that deserves their time, perhaps you should examine your strategy.I advise you to stop while you still have some credibility left.

anonymous
anonymous

Dan, the new editor has been with the newspaper for less than two months. The change in product is extremely obvious from an increased quality standpoint, however to hold the current editorial leadership accountable for something you did not like that took place months or years before they took over is unfair and unwise.In fact to back up the KIPP coverage, The Daily Herald had a detailed story in Sunday's paper about the arrest of a middle school teacher that included just as many "no comments" from Halifax school officials as KIPP officials.

anonymous
anonymous

I hear you all trying to uphold the wrong doing of the kids at Kipp, but you need to face reality. Your kids are not any different than the rest of this young generation thats causing problems in society. Those students went to another school and caused problems wearing Kipp Pride football jerseys. They do belong to the school. Those students going to Northwest and causing problems is the same as a student from Kipp getting in trouble at a game or any other extra curricular activity. In the past if a student walked wrong at Kipp, they were put out of school and told to go to the school in the district in which they lived. Why are these students treated different? Athletics over academics. Welcome to the new Kipp Pride High.

anonymous
anonymous

Please forgive my seemingly unfriendliness. I really am a nice ole boy."new editor" is not an excuse. That's like saying Coca Cola was not responsible for the "New Coke" fiasco. The Daily Herald represented is an entity that's already in place.Back to the issue, "10 KIPP football players were suspended". To expect more story out of the Kipp issue is to ride the horse to death.

anonymous
anonymous

I guess that it no longer matters if our tax dollars pay the school's bills, apparently we don't deserve to know how those school leaders are handling thier jobs which are paid for by our tax dollars. America is on a very slippery slope, so sad.

anonymous
anonymous

Geez Stephen !!! Do I need to come by there and personally take you to Kipp and just simply walk in and ask to speak to Tammi Sutton for you? A phone call? It's only 3 miles from your doorstep. I bet you'll find her Kind, Intelligent, Personable and Proud (of her students). A total acronym of representation."accountable"? They didn't make NC's top 10 list but they did make the top 20 this year. That's according to Newsweek. How's that for accountability?Shall we ranking newspapers next? "Why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends....."

anonymous
anonymous

Do you think that just because tax dollars help support a school system, the general public has the right to know every single detail that takes place? That's not even practical! Are other area school systems responsible for reporting to the media and nosey public every detail of every infraction? Of course they aren't! So why is it different for KIPP? Double-standard?

anonymous
anonymous

Do anybody see a trend here? We are not in the top 10 anymore. We have moved to the top 20. Constantly declining like our reputation. Tammi Sutton is a wonderful person, but her leadership skills along with Barfords are not.

anonymous
anonymous

"declined from top 10 to top 20"? Now compare a # 20 ranking with schools in this neck of the woods.I don't know Tammi Sutton. I don't have kids that go to Kipp. My opinions are completely objective on this issue. I'm not motivated by Kipp. Nor do I have any personal issues with Kipp. Perhaps personal issues with KIPP should cause one to honestly recluse themselves from comment. I can however read so long as the pictures are colorful. And compared to the government's constraints placed on public schools particularly with ON-CAMPUS behavior issues, opportunity at Kipp paints a real purdy picture. Also, top 20 still speaks volumes about accountability.

anonymous
anonymous

Mr. Stephen Hemelt, why does KIPP owe anyone an apology? These types of incidents happen across the country everyday. This is not news. It seems as though you want bash KIPP and ruffle a few feathers. The leaders at KIPP have every right to keep quiet about the situation. Instead making this a negative story, why don't you make a positive contribution to the community. You could become a mediator between the two schools to help resolve their issues with one another. You could find out the real reason why this situation occured. You can be accountable for being a positive force in the community instead of shedding a negative light on both schools. Now that would be a wonderful story. I am quite sure that KIPP and RRHS have reprimanded the students for their actions as they should. End of story.I understand that KIPP is held as at a higher standard in the community. This incident does not show that the leaders nor the students in this school are not taught ethics and responsibility. I can say the same for the students at RRHS. A few bad apples do not always ruin the bunch. You can not judge a group of people because of the foolish actions of one or two.

anonymous
anonymous

As a person who had a child to attend KIPP, I can truly say accountability is NOT a strong force in that school. Many times I would receive emails of student misconduct, but when it came time for disciplinary actions, the results were poor. IF this school is to prepare children for college, how is it that children are allowed to show poor behavior with little consequence.

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