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Photo Kerfuffle from Darien High Ruffles Parental Feathers

There'll be some 'splainin' to do when Darien High School students return to school after the February break, Principal Ellen Dunn says.

This photo from the Neirad website shows rude comments written on a student's car -- perhaps staged to illustrate an article.
This photo from the Neirad website shows rude comments written on a student's car -- perhaps staged to illustrate an article.
A picture with rude comments published by Neirad, the Darien High School newspaper, has perturbed some adults, and Principal Ellen Dunn says she'll be talking to students about it.

The photo (attached to this article) reportedly illustrated a Neirad article about student parking, possibly including complaints from seniors that juniors were parking in places reserved for seniors. (While the photo can be seen on the Neirad website, the article wasn't available when I checked on Tuesday.)

The photo shows rude comments written on the windows of a car: "ticket goes here," "Junior stop driving" and "Pig." The picture may have been staged by Neirad staff to illustrate complaints about where juniors park their cars.

One mother (of children not yet in high school) was disturbed enough by the photo to post a statement in the Darien Patch "Boards" announcements section. She wrote (in part):

"I felt compelled to write regarding a recent incident where an under classman's car was vandalized in the high school parking lot by (assumable) upper classmen. Then it was displayed and advertised in the school newspaper as a goof? 

"What are parents teaching their children?  If the boy parked in the wrong spot why not ask administration to handle the situation. These students took it upon themselves to harass, bully and vandalize private property?"

(The writer apparently later removed the statement from the Darien Patch website. Before it was removed, I copied the statement but didn't copy the writer's name. Some comments from other Patch readers posted under the statement agreed with it, some didn't.)

Darien Patch sent Principal Ellen Dunn a copy of the statement and also asked Dunn for information about the photo and whether or not she thought it was appropriate. She wrote back (in part):

"The photograph was associated with an article in the Neirad distributed on Friday. It came to my attention at the end of the school day. Since this week is February Recess, students and faculty are not in school. We will be investigating fully when school reopens on Monday.

"I was disappointed to see the photo and it is not what I expect from our students. It appears that the intent was not vandalism but certainly there are better ways for our students to communicate their concerns about underclassmen parking. We will be meeting with students and our campus monitors to make certain that this does not happen again and we will handle any disciplinary issues that may arise."

(I haven't seen the article that the photo illustrated -- school's closed, Darien Library doesn't have copies, Dunn didn't respond to a request for a copy and I wasn't able to find one. The controversy is about the photo, not the article, but if any reader would be so kind, please use a smartphone to snap a photo of the article [good enough for the article to be readable] and email it to Darien@Patch.com -- much obliged!)

Statement Posted on Patch


Here's the full statement from the concerned parent as it was posted late Tuesday morning on Darien Patch (the headline, now gone, either said or asked whether Darien High School promotes bullying):

As a new resident to Connecticut and a mother of children quickly approaching the high school, I felt compelled to write regarding a recent incident where an under classmans car was vandalized in the high school parking lot by (assumable) upper classmen.

Then it was displayed and advertised in the school newspaper as a goof?  What are parents teaching their children?  If the boy parked in the wrong spot why not ask administration to handle the situation.

These students took it upon themselves to harass, bully and vandalize private property? I am seriously considering private school if this is the type of peers my children will associate with.

Does administration have the final edit in the newspaper. I cant imagine an adult letting that slip by...and if they did approve it, shame on them. Makes me miss the West Coast.......

DHS Principal's Response


Dunn responded to an email from Darien Patch asking for information and her reaction. This is her entire response:

Answering the question posed on the Patch earlier, I must first assure you that we do not promote bullying at DHS. The photograph was associated with an article in the Neirad distributed on Friday.

It came to my attention at the end of the school day. Since this week is February Recess, students and faculty are not in school. We will be investigating fully when school reopens on Monday.

I was disappointed to see the photo and it is not what I expect from our students. It appears that the intent was not vandalism but certainly there are better ways for our students to communicate their concerns about underclassmen parking.

We will be meeting with students and our campus monitors to make certain that this does not happen again and we will handle any disciplinary issues that may arise. I regret that this photograph leaves the wrong impression about our students because they are wonderful young people and I am proud of them.

Some do make choices that disappoint us occasionally, and it is our responsibility to educate them and provide consequences for behavior that is unacceptable.
Albert Campbell February 27, 2014 at 11:36 PM
Really Deborah. Calling the concerned parent ignorant was a perfectly valid statement. She said, "If the boy parked in the wrong spot why not ask administration to handle the situation". That statement is ignorant because she did not know that this problem has been raised to administration time and time again -- a prime example of "lacking knowledge or awareness in general" (direct definition). Also, I hate to knock you off your high horse, but you are not the end all be all judge of what is right and wrong. I am allowed to have my own opinion (whether you agree with it or not), and I think that the car painting is not a big deal. If a high school student cannot handle having his or her car painted in response to breaking a longstanding rule, then he or she should grow up. If the painted statements really are too much for the affected student to handle, then he or she should go back under their mother's wing and take a nap in the cradle. High school should serve as a microcosm of the real world. And in the real world, there won't be parents or administrators to shelter you from the consequences of your actions. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.
Albert Campbell February 27, 2014 at 11:41 PM
In MY opinion, students and parents in today's world are overly sensitive. A high school student being called a "pig" is not the end of the world. If that statement really hurts a 16-18 year old that severely, then he or she should go back to the elementary school playground where he or she belongs.
momindarien February 28, 2014 at 06:49 AM
I love our little sociopaths in the making! And guess what? Adults who are fully functioning do not go around begrudging parking spaces to others, labeling each other pigs, and defacing each other's property. I have a word you can look up: maturity.
Albert Campbell February 28, 2014 at 06:02 PM
Momindarien, why don't you step out of the bubble that is this town. Your precious child will eventually have to step into the real world -- one that is replete with people who engage in stealing, cheating, and other forms pernicious activity (in business, social circles, and all other realms). Also, those parking spaces are not "begrudged" from the juniors. It is illegal for them to park at DHS and they are lucky that their vehicles were not towed. Properly functioning adults refrain from breaking the law -- it looks like the affected student is a "sociopath in the making" as well.

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