Archive for December, 2017


Two tragic events involving Pearland ISD students occurred within the past two weeks, both of which have been widely covered on social and traditional media. In addition, a TV station reported incredibly inaccurately on still another unrelated matter at an elementary campus. While the school district was able to give out limited information, there was much that could not be said in all three events – for reasons I will explain.

All the events sparked an avalanche of social media among students, parents, and in some cases, comments from far flung places across the nation, eager to join in.

Some social media comments are accurate and supportive. But there are many other comments/critiques that run the gamut from criticism to gossip to blatantly false portrayals of what has happened in each case.

Obviously this causes confusion – and people naturally want the school district to comment on what is true and what is not. It’s not that simple. For example, a question many might think can be answered accurately is: “Was this an attempted suicide by a student?”

Sometimes the police make that determination; other times it remains uncertain; and in most cases, the family of the student involved requests privacy. Thus, the school district’s primary obligation is to respect their privacy in accordance with law by avoiding the release of confidential or unconfirmed information.

Unfortunately, most TV and print journalists have a different standard. We can predict with 100% certainty that the minute any tragedy occurs, they will arrive on our campuses, try to get permission to interview individual students and staff – and when told to respect our boundaries, will go looking for any passer-by to comment. The media will generally dress up their report as expressing the grief of students or the concern for those affected. But most folks realize that it is primarily done to attract eyeballs to their media content. Concern for others is NOT paramount.

So while the media defends its “journalism” as the “people’s right to know,” the school district must obey the law, good conscience, and the privacy of those affected.

Unfortunately from that one sided beginning, the initial TV/print stories then mushroom on social media – with the school district still unable to correct or comment. Some of the comments made on social media are absolutely outrageous and inaccurate. For example,  a parent in our district recently repeated and reinforced teenage social media speculation containing horrific and untrue depictions of one of these events. The parent ended by saying that “heads should roll,” presumably meaning campus personnel. While others were alerted to the post and it was removed by those governing it, the damage had already circulated among many.

Unrelated to the incidents mentioned above, I’m being briefed today on a media story repeating a required health department warning sent out to the parents at one of our schools regarding an unconfirmed measles case. As usual, only AFTER the media sensationalized it, we’re told that there is NOT a confirmed measles case at that school!  But as usual, we have social media critics telling the Principal what she should have done, asking about the name of the student, etc.

There is one saving grace I should mention. When school personnel are educated on social media perils, they are told that “Parents are often our best defense.”  We have noticed that when outrageous, inaccurate or premature things are said, there is usually a response from parents that is more accurate, reasonable and supportive. Thank God!

Tragedy brings out both the best and worst in human nature. I’d like to finish this posting by dwelling on the best. A teacher praised the Principal of one of our schools, who recently dealt with one of the tragedies:

“I know you are aware how blessed we are to have [her]as our principal, but I felt compelled to just reach out to each of you to let you know just how appreciative our entire campus is for her leadership.  This past week was incredibly difficult on top of an already emotionally tough year. Her strength and wisdom truly lead us through. When we needed a plan, she developed one. When we needed each other, she brought us together. When we needed to be honest with our students, she found the words.  Most importantly when we needed hope, she led us back to our faith. I know this all took a toll on her as well but she made sure her staff and our students were cared for first. I know she doesn’t like public praise, but [she] epitomizes the strength and compassion that every leader should encompass and we feel she deserves a moment of praise. My deepest appreciation for all of the support that was sent to our campus from all over the district. We are Pearland ISD Strong and a strong [campus] Family!”

Though the district has limitations on information that can be shared, our teachers, administrators, staff, and the vast majority of parents perform heroically in the midst of tragedies. They deserve our praise.