Disney world prank angers parents
Teachers' elaborate joke 'really stupid judgment'
Doug Schmidt, The Windsor StarPublished: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Parents at a South Windsor school are expressing outrage after teachers led graduating students to believe they were heading to Disney World for a year-end trip - only to reveal the next day that the kids were the butt of an elaborate joke.
One of the teachers recorded the scene on an iPad and it was later shown to another class so they too could join in the teachers' merriment.
"I have a lot of respect for teachers and what they do, but this was really stupid judgment," said parent Peter To-polovec.
Roseland public school's graduating students were told last Thursday that they were in for a spectacular year-end field trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
On Friday, both Grade 8 classes were shepherded into a room, shown a video of their Disney dream vacation and given a PowerPoint presentation showing a palm tree-lined resort.
Travel brochures and hotel information were passed around. The flights are super cheap, a teacher said after one student expressed concern over cost.
The kids, ecstatic by now in anticipation, were urged by the teachers to yell out where they were going: "We're going to Disney!" That's when they were told to look at the last slide, which announced their 2013 field trip wasn't to a fabulous Florida funland, but to a Windsor bowling alley.
The reaction apparently caught even some of the pranksters by surprise, with one student-teacher who was in on the joke nearly coming to tears by the looks of dejection that followed.
"It was a huge error in judgment," Warren Kennedy, director of education of the Greater Essex County District School Board, told The Star Wednesday.
Bonnie Stewart, mother of twins who attend Grade 8 at Roseland, came home at 5 p.m. Friday to find both her kids already in their beds. She woke her son, who told her everything.
"I went into my daughter's room, and I told her I was so sorry - she just looked so sad," said Stewart. "They felt they were made fools of - it was humiliating," she added.
"When my son told me, it blew me away," said Topolovec. To humiliate the children and then compound it by recording it and showing it to their peers, he added, "that's bullying, and there should be zero tolerance."
Stewart suggested if the Grade 8s had pulled off a similar prank at the expense of the Grade 2s, there would be suspensions at the least and possibly expulsions.
"We would not have tolerated it," public school board spokesman Scott Scantlebury told The Star when asked about just such a scenario.
"This is something we're working through with everyone at the school," Roseland principal Laura Bates said Wednesday. She referred further questions to board director Kennedy.
"I don't think anyone is happy about this," said Kennedy. He said he wasn't able to "go into personnel matters" but that apologies had gone out and that those involved "realize their error ... they're owning the problem."
While neither parent is calling for suspensions or worse, both Stewart and Topolovec feel the students and parents are owed a meeting with the school's principal and the teachers involved, so that, according to Stewart, "the teachers can hear how this has made the kids feel."
The rest of the article is at the source