Bryan Independent School District Superintendent, Mike Cargill is putting a stop to SFA Middle School students being sent to "The Attic" as a form of punishment. The decision comes the day after a report ran on News 3.
On Wednesday Cargill said, " the loft storage area in the SFA industrial technology shop will no longer be used as a time-out area."
News 3 first learned about "The Attic" after Bryan resident Tammy Brown became upset when her son Clay told her he had been disciplined in his SFA Middle School shop class by being sent to the "Attic." When she checked out the place herself, she was
"I actually went up on top of the platform and it was pretty dangerous to get up there," she said. "At the top of one set of ladders that I went up on, it looked like it had been cut with a cutting torch. It was ragged."
What Brown saw was a storage space in the school workshop that is used for a timeout location for students. The elevated area is more than 10 feet off the shop's concrete floor and is only accessible by ladders. Chairs are available for students to sit in, but the space also contains material used by shop students.
When Brown saw where her 13-year old son had been placed, she objected. "I told the principal and shop teacher that absolutely no way should a child be put up in that attic or into that crawl space because it's way too dangerous not to mention the filth and the clutter that was up there."
The school listened to Brown's argument, but didn't agree with her point. "In this case, this is an Industrial Arts shop and so the logical area is, what's called, just a storage area," said Bryan ISD Communications Director Sandy Farris. "It's an area where the teacher can keep an eye on the student and have some visibility that way."
District officials say school policy allows for parents to choose a different location for their child's timeout. "If the parent objects to this particular timeout area, they are certainly welcomed to use the office as an alternative location," Farris said.
But Brown said the offer made to her was accompanied by a not-so-veiled threat. "She said, 'You do realize that will mean that your son will get a permanent mark on his permanent disciplinary mark on his school record which will affect him for college.' And I feel that is truly unfair."
Bryan ISD officials said they've never had any past complaints about the crawl space. They say even the Bryan Fire Marshal's Office gave its approval.
But that does little to aleve Brown's outrage. "I'm surprised they put a kid in a crawl space," Brown said. "I mean that's something you might expect in a juvenile facility at the turn of the century, not in a school today."
As for Clay, although he's endured some teasing from friends, he's confident he's doing the right thing. "Ever since I knew what could happen, I've felt very good about taking a stand on this because I don't want anyone to get hurt because I will feel bad for it for the rest of my life."