Controversial writing assignment sparks concern

Director of school addresses issue with teacher and principal


During White County government’s committee meetings, on Aug. 7, Shelly Daniels, wife of District 7 county commissioner Larry Daniels, addressed committee members about her son’s writing assignment given by his eighth grade English teacher.

The assignment was to complete a story that began, “I never meant to kill her. I only wanted to hurt her, but now her ghost follows me everywhere.”

At that meeting, Shelly Daniels said she had yet to attempt to talk to the teacher, the school, or the director of schools. Several County commissioners in attendance agreed that the assignment was inappropriate.

On Aug. 8, at the White County High School alumni soccer game, director of schools Kurt Dronebarger spoke with this reporter and said he was aware of some objections to the assignment and that the matter had been addressed.

At the White County School Board meeting, on Aug. 10, Shelly Daniels again voiced her objections to the assignment and her dissatisfaction at what she described as “the matter being swept under the rug.” She claimed that she had yet to be informed about what actions were being taken to correct the matter. Dronebarger said the parents had been contacted previously about the matter. Larry Daniels, White County commissioner, replied that only one of the parents had been contacted.

Dronebarger explained the school district cannot publicly discuss disciplinary matters. Dronebarger and the entire school board apologized to Shelly Daniels and her son. Before any parent brought the matter to his attention, Dronebarger had already contacted the principal, curriculum director, board members, and the board attorney. Dronebarger stated he never tried to “sweep the matter under the rug.” He also noted the teacher would be offering an apology.

When asked to further comment, Dronebarger, through communications director Candice Allen, stated, “Once I was made aware of the situation, I reached out to the building principal. The principal acted quickly and effectively to address the situation. In the end, the principal, the teacher, and myself are in agreement–the prompt was not classroom appropriate and did not follow best classroom practices. The teacher sent an apology letter to students and their parents/guardians. The teacher will be working closely with our curriculum supervisor to create assignments that align with the standards and expectations of our district. At any time that parents have questions or concerns, they should reach out to their teachers or principal. All contact information is available on the respective school website. Parents can also reach out to me at any time. My email and phone number are available on the district website.”


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