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Today in America, parents have many concerns when they send their
children to school. They are concerned that other students may try to
get their children involved in drugs or violence. They worry that their
sons or daughters may be victims of sexual harassment. But the last
thing they should worry about is that a teacher will somehow put their
children at risk. After all every teacher signs a contract that
specifically includes ensuring the child’s physical and mental welfare.
Yet, it happened in Multnomah Country, Ore.

Over the weekend there were rumors of a science experiment that
included human blood, but few parents paid any attention. Then the sixth
grade daughter of David and Samantha Rush brought home a letter from
Damascus Middle School Principal Jim Schlachter. When her parents opened
the letter and began to read they became very, very upset. The letter
read:

 

    June 7, 1999

    Dear Parents,

    On Friday, June 4th, your son/daughter participated in a science
    activity at Damascus Middle School. This experiment was designed to
    provide each student with the opportunity to observe items under the
    high-power magnification of a microscope. During the activity blood was
    collected from a few students for observation. The collection of blood
    should not have been a part of the activity.

    Our investigation has not identified your son/daughter as a
    person involved in the blood collection activity
    . However, it is
    important that you know that as a result of this event, the following
    actions are in process.

    1) A complete investigation of this matter is under way and should be
    completed by Tuesday, June 8th.

    2) The parents of the students involved in the blood collection are
    being notified. We will be working with these students and parents,
    under the guidance of the Multnomah Education Service District Health
    Division to take necessary health related action.

    3) The teacher is not in the classroom while the investigation
    continues.

    We will continue to work with all involved with this unfortunate
    situation. Should you believe that your son/daughter participated in the
    blood collection, please call Jim Schlachter at 658-3171.

    Sincerely,

    (SIGNED)

    Jim Schlachter

     

According to the school, the science project was designed to
examine students’ hair and fingernails under the microscope. Viewing the
students’ own blood was not on the agenda, but two different classes
with approximately 30 students participated in the microscope project.
In the second class, one child who was unable to prick her own finger,
alleges that the teacher pricked the child’s finger 4 times before
getting blood. And, on one of those attempts the teacher missed and
pricked her own finger, drawing blood. Yet, after class was over none of
the students were concerned enough to discuss the experiment with other
teachers or their parents.

It was only by chance that a few students saw the assistant principal
in the hall after class and told him what they had done in science. His
concern led to placing the teacher, Marcia Meyers, on administrative
leave and sending the June 7th letter informing all parents of her sixth
grade science class.

Thursday, June 10, 1999 the Damacus Middle School held a meeting for
concerned parents, especially those parents of the 14 children that
shared a thumbtack to prick their finger. The concern of school
administrators and health officials is that all those children could
have been exposed to AIDS, Hepatitis, staph infections, flu and any
other blood borne diseases. According to Sara Perkins, a health expert
at the Multnomah Education Service District, parents should take any
children who were exposed to blood to their family physician for a check
up.

David Rush’s concern for the welfare of his daughter and her
classmates has prompted him to express his displeasure at the “low-key”
response of the school administration. In a letter to the Gresham Barlow
School District he said, “I am totally appalled at what has happened in
my daughter’s class and even more so at the fact that the teacher is on
‘paid administrated leave’ … I hate the way you people are running,
excuse me did I say running? I meant ‘RUINING’ our schools, and I am
about ready to yank both my kids out for home schooling. You people are
way over paid for what little you do!! How can our children even think
of feeling safe in school when teachers do stunts like this and get away
with it?”

Well, David, most schools require parents to sign permission slips
before the children can participate in activities where there is a
potential for harm. In most schools the teachers don’t hug or touch
students, let alone stab their finger for fear of being accused of
physical or sexual harassment. So it seems strange that any school
system would keep a teacher who doesn’t understand the basic concept of
cleanliness and disease prevention. If it were my kids or grandkids, I
wouldn’t want them in that teacher’s class

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