School Board member’s response to parental consent concerns for student surveys

To the Editor:

Recently Diane Pauer, member of the Hollis Brookline Budget Committee, parent and taxpayer, wrote a perfectly respectable email to members of the Brookline School Board regarding something every parent should be aware of and concerned about.

The response she received from one board member was disgraceful. It was disrespectful to Diane (and all parents for that matter). It was arrogant, dismissive and provocative to say the least.

For context, I’ve copied Diane’s letter followed by the response she received. I left the school board member’s name off the response.

All Brookline School Board Members,

Earlier this year I had discussed with Tom Solon, chair of the COOP school board, the need for a COOP School Board policy requiring active parental consent for any and all student surveys administered by the district and/or third parties. This need came out of the NH Youth Risk Behavioral Survey administered by the high school utilizing passive parental consent, coupled with extremely poor communication on the part of the high school Principal Ms. Matte. I recommend that the Brookline School Board adopt without delay a school board policy pertaining to active parental consent for such surveys.

Additionally, I urge the Brookline School Board to immediately adopt a similar policy requiring active parental consent before any psychological testing or services are offered or administered to Brookline students. This is in response to the NH Board of Education’s proposed rules to establish comprehensive school psychological services.

Moreover, there must also be a penalty in both policies if active consent from a parent/guardian is NOT obtained by the administration.

Thank you for in advance for your response.

Respectfully,

Diane Pauer

Brookline, NH

The response to Diane:

Wow,… A PENALTY…

Can we also put in place a PENALTY to parents who don’t follow our policies? If you agree to a “Quid Pro Quo” I MIGHT consider your recommendation.

Regards, xxxxxx

As I read it this was not only disrespectful and arrogant but it seems this board member is quite put out that anyone would suggest that the schools can do whatever they please with little to no accountability or permission and that he MIGHT consider such a ridiculous request if parents are also penalized for not following their policies. I ask, just whose interests are paramount here.

I’d think in a school setting it would be the students and parents, but really, this should not be an issue at all. Parents have the absolute right to know about, and the option to approve or not, such surveys and information gathering of their children. The schools should know this and accept it without question.

I believe Diane is owed a personal apology and that more respect be given for our students and tax paying parents who are, after all, the true guardians of their own children.

NANCY DULAC

Brookline