UNDER no circumstances should vandalism to school property be tolerated.
So it is understandable that Sharon School District officials would want to react – strongly – to a situation where there was severe damage to school restrooms.
The action should have been decisive and impactful. That behavior is inexcusable, especially from students who are in middle and high school.
But the decision to close all restrooms but one in Sharon Middle High School – and then not engage with the community about why the decision was made – was just short-sighted and wrong.
This was a bad decision. No two ways about it.
Limiting accessibility to bathrooms during the school day is a scary proposition for students who might have to use the restroom urgently.
It caused stress for many young teens – a majority of whom had nothing to do with the vandalism – and their parents.
But what is even more concerning is that no one seems to have really weighed the potential problems before deciding to move forward.
We get it. School officials – including Principal Mike Fitzgerald and Superintendent Michael Calla – were probably angry at the disrespect the students showed their school.
And the community should be angry, too. We paid for that building.
This community wants to provide the best facilities it can for its children, but we have every right to expect gratitude and respect in return.
There is no excuse for that bad behavior, none. It is likely that the parents of the students involved feel the same way.
The students who are responsible for the damage should be held accountable.
But this is not just about the vandalism. It is about those who are really paying for the actions of a few bad actors.
Calla says the restrooms were closed for 30 hours. Parents say the closures were across several school days.
Either way, the result was bad blood between the school district and the community.
People make mistakes. But bad decisions can be undone – and a different take on the issue, like talking to parents and the community about why this decision was being made and possibly considering alternative solutions, might have been a better idea.
There also is plenty of time after the students leave each day to work on items that need repairing in the school. Why couldn’t a few restrooms have remained open and the work done in one closed restroom until it was finished, then staff could have moved to the next repair on the list?
This is all discussion that should have and could have been held. And why not be more open about what happened and why the decision was made? Or when there was a social media firestorm, why not speak up and address parents and students’ concerns?
One has to wonder whether the school board knew about the decision before it was made.
We bet they know now.