The principal of Thompson Elementary School in Bethel walked back threats he made Thursday evening in an email to parents.
Upset by attendance at a 3rd-grade parent night, Ralph Wisner said students who didn’t provide a written note on Friday explaining why their parent didn’t attend would be punished.
“In the note, please explain why you were not here and let me know that you will be at the Parent Night on Monday. If your child comes to school tomorrow with no note, they will serve a double detention (recess and lunch). If they do not come on Monday with the note, they will again have a double detention (recess and lunch),” Wisner wrote in the letter.
Wisner said only 18 families showed up to parent night – representing 19 percent of all 3rd-grade parents at the school.
He said the school would redo the parent night on Monday, and if parents didn’t show and their student didn’t provide a written note as to why students would serve double detention all next week.
“We are a team, and unfortunately, too many of you let down our kids, and your child tonight. I do recognize that your child is being punished for you not coming to the parent night, but if we do not work together now and in the future, then your child will be the one who pays the price when they do not have the sklls (sic) required to graduate from high school or college. Then, they will suffer much more than a few lost recesses in elementary school.”
According to the Bethel School District, after hearing of the email sent to parents, the principal was contact and a second email was sent out walking back the threats.
“In writing his email, the principal’s passion for parent involvement got the better of him, and the email should not have been sent. As soon as the district became aware of the situation, we were in contact with the principal. He drafted a second email, apologizing to parents, that was also sent last night. The new email states that no students are receiving detention because of parents’ absence at the open house,” read a statement from the district.
A spokesperson for the district said Wisner would contact every parent who reached out to the district and school about the original email.
In the second email sent to parents, Wisner apologized to parents.
“I want to apologize if I have offended any of you. Please know that was not my intent. My intent was to convey to you the importance of us working as a team in education of your child.
“As you can imagine, it was very frustrating when we had poor attendance at our parent night this evening. The teachers work very hard to ensure that you have the best information in order to help your child be successful. I know we are all busy and certain family circumstances may preclude us from participating in these types of events. In the future we will work with staff and parents to try and offer more options or a more convenient time so that you are able to attend.”
He also said students of parents that didn’t attend Monday’s make-up parent night would not be punished.
Jessica Weger, a parent who received both emails, said she met with Wisner on Friday morning and he apologized in person.
The mother of four said she was unable to attend the original parent night because her husband has been working away from home for two weeks.
"I was completely shocked," Weger said. "My child should ever be in detention or anything because I cannot get out of work."
Weger said she didn’t appreciate the tone of Wisner’s email and talked to multiple parents who were upset despite the second email.
"I just want him to see, just like we teach our children, there’s repercussions for the words that we say to other people," Weger said.