"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’
“I have a lot of respect for teachers and what they do, but this was really stupid judgment,” said parent Peter Topolovec.
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 power-point
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
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
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
“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
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
“I don’t believe they intended to be cruel,” said Stewart. “There’s some incredible, really fantastic teachers there.”
Topolovec said he wondered whether he was being overly sensitive as a
parent. But he said there was quite a bit of effort put into the prank
and that the two teachers and three student teachers in on it allowed it
to “brew” over several days.
It wasn’t until details of the incident were posted on Facebook and
people began commenting on them that the apologies from the principal
and the teachers began going out, the parents said.
Topolovec said it was explained to him that the prank was designed to
stop one of the students from snooping on a teacher’s desk, with fake
Disney trip information laid out on the Thursday.
“To teach one student a lesson, they humiliated 60 students,” said Topolovec.
He said part of his weekend was spent convincing his three children
that “this is not the norm” and that teachers, as authority figures,
should continue to be respected and trusted."
http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2013/02/20/teachers-cruel-prank-triggers-humiliation-tears/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2013/02/20/teachers-cruel-prank-triggers-humiliation-tears/
and this from Vice Principal Bruno Pallotto in 2011. Very ironic.
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