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?