The following letter was sent from Del. Rick Impallaria to Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Tomback. A copy was provided to The Dagger:
Robert M. Tomback, Ph.D., Superintendent
Harford County Public Schools
102 South Hickory Avenue
Bel Air, Maryland 21014
Dear Dr. Tomback:
I have reviewed the Havre de Grace HS drama therapy tape, and I find very little positive to say about it. It is even difficult to talk about what occurred on stage without using language which is both offensive and improper in any setting, school or otherwise.
In addition to viewing what was on stage, I also paid attention to the reaction of the students both to the skits being acted and to explanations of what they were about to see.
I found nothing improper in the short restaurant scenes between the longer skits, and my comments do not refer to them.
In one skit, two girls read a book on how to treat men. To me this had no educational value. It portrayed women as manipulators of men. No explanation was attempted of what benefits were to be gained from watching this skit.
Another skit had two characters, a young girl upset because her boyfriend would not have sex with her. She complained that his old girlfriend got sex whenever she wanted and was nothing but a tramp. The boy was portrayed as a confused dope who couldn’t make up his mind whether to have sex or not. The girl said she should just dump him for the many guys out there who would have sex with her. Where is the educational value in this? This is portraying women derogatorily as nothing more that [sic] demanding sex toys. The negative character in this, the girl, was shown in a positive light. The positive character, the boy, was represented in a negative light. And who knows what kind of discussions occurred during the writing and rehearsing of this scene? If it were my children who were acting this out, I would be suing the school system, the teachers, and the administrators involved in this.
Another skit, the dying young man and his three friends, actually portrayed something that does happen in real life. However, the profuse bad language employed was not necessary, and once again I must say that at no time did anyone explain the educational value.
In another skit, two male and two female friends in a Starbucks, I had a big question mark as to what it was supposed to be all about. I thought that perhaps this one would not be derogatory, but, true to form, the two nerdy kids, again portrayed in a bad light, walked off to get to know each other better in what I would consider a normal date. The two “cool” kids, within moments of meeting each other and knowing nothing about each other, began making out like two horny sex machines. As I said, I don’t know how you talk about this in acceptable language. Once again, the kids who showed controlled, positive behavior were portrayed negatively, while the two “cool” kids, who acted inappropriately, were again shown positively.
In a skit I call the “Truth or Dare” game, though they used some other name, women were once again portrayed very negatively – as drunk, slutty, irrational, unable to use good judgment. I see no educational value in this, and I don’t believe this accurately portrays the way our children really behave.
The suicide skit was disrespectful to women and disrespectful to the handicapped. Anyone who acted as that girl did toward a handicapped sister would in real life be herself receiving psychiatric help.
I want to know who authorized bringing the gun to school. From the reaction of the students to seeing the gun, it was fortunate that a full-scale panic did not occur. As far as the students knew, the gun was not just a prop, it may have been real. Judging from their reaction, they thought it could have been the beginning of a Columbine incident.
Also, it is quite obvious that the tape was cut and edited at the end of the suicide scene. It was the only editing I saw in the entire tape, which leads me to believe that there is something to hide.
The final skit was just stupid and had absolutely no educational value, other than being slightly comical and satirical.
After viewing the tape, I do believe the children who participated in the skits, as well as the students who were forced to watch them, were abused.
I believe the teachers who put the program on should be removed from teaching children.
Action should be taken against the administrators at Havre de Grace High School who neglected to adequately monitor their staff.
Having participated in theater, I thoroughly understand that what we saw on stage was only a small part of the drama therapy program. 90% of it takes place behind the scenes, and so it is impossible to know what further negative behaviors were being taught to our children.
Delegate, District 7
cc: Mark M. Wolkow, Board Pres.
Leonard D. Wheeler, Ed.D., Board VP
Ruth R. Rich
John L. Smilko
Alysson L. Krchnavy
Don R. Osman
Thomas P. Evans
Porter G says
“It is even difficult to talk about what occurred on stage without using language which is both offensive and improper in any setting, school or otherwise.” – Del. Impallaria
Never stopped you from using it before, Rick.
Tim Coale says
While I cannot comment on the content of the skits (I have not seen them), I can say that providing a copy of the letter to the press is uncalled for. Lets act like professionals and not call each other out in public. If he wants those that he represents to know what he has done, simply state that he is addressing it with the superintendent. Publishing it does nothing but to sensationalize the issue and “stir the pot.”
It’s public information: Better to send it here than have it leak out later. It puts “the feet to the fire” or whatever.
Kim McCarthy says
Couldn’t have said it better! Thank you Porter G. I was thinking the same thing as I read the delegate’s rant. I don’t think I’ve been in his presence when he didn’t use foul language.
Having not seen it myself and only reading this rant, I find it hard to believe that Del Impallaria has teenage children, but I believe he does. All of these scenarios he discussed seem to be quite plausible in a teen’s life. I heard many similar stories in my own house. To ignore these unfortunate situations does not mean that they don’t happen – all too often.
Teacher in Harford County says
To the two people who commented above, shame on you! As a teacher in Harford County, I am appalled at what went on at Havre de Grace high school and I am thankful to Rick for sending the letter to the Superintendent. We should be aware of what went on at that school and action should be taken immediately. The least that should have happened is the students should have been counseled immediately following the skits and not just sent home on a Friday afternoon. Parents should have signed a form saying they allow their students to attend this “assembly” after knowing the content involved. And the principal should have watched the skits beforehand and approved them. Obviously, these should not have been approved. I believe that Rick was acting professionally in his letter and once again, I thank him for writing it.
HHS Parent says
Del. Impallaria, have you met or spoken with the teacher, administrator or students involved with Drama Therapy? My guess is no. If you had, I wouldn’t think you would be so quick to pass judgement on these indiviudals. You might have gained real insight from students involved and what they are trying to accomplish. I on the other hand have never spoken or met with you but because of your comments I think I’ll jump to the conclusion (just as you have done) that maybe you should be removed from your job!
HHS Parent also says
Well said HHS parent..well said! Walk a day in their shoes Del. Impallaria;then maybe you can give your opinion. You are picking on people who you don’t know, and who have done wonderful things for the school. Are you running for office sir? Because I am confused as to why you are even butting into this subject at all;unless you are trying to obtain some votes. Maybe you should take a lesson from Senator Nancy Jacobs and “butt out”…this does not concern you.All you have done;is tortured teachers at a great school and kept this ongoing in the newspapers for months. Get back to your job sir! Isn’t our economy,teachers pay cuts and taxes more on your job description? Good luck getting votes;you lost mine.
I had to take a shirt to my son in school because his said “Winchester repeating arms” I was informed of their 0 tolerence policy on guns. But it’s ok to take a gun prop to school?
a HS teacher says
The Key word is “prop”…we don’t allow students to promote real weapons or bring a knife to school, but sometimes Macbeth really needs a dagger. I’ve even heard that Tony doesn’t marry Maria because he gets shot. We ask that students not bring booze or raunchy t-shirts promoting drinking and irresponsible behavior to school, but sometimes we read books (like Catcher in the Rye, or Huck Finn,or The Odyssey)where characters drink. I don’t know if the “educational value” the Rep. kept looking for was there or not, and I think it is unfortunate that the situation with your son’s shirt was so inconvenient, but props are just props.
Realistic Thinker says
If ever there was an incident of grandstanding, this is it. Impallaria seems to have taken a leaf from Andy Harris’ “Porno Flick Headline Grab” (remember that? A cynical and cold-hearted appeal to an election base by a very clever politician who pretends to be ‘just plain folks’) and has stretched w a a a a a a a y outside his district to try to beat up on folks he doesn’t know, in a district he doesn’t represent (and whose politics he doesn’t like). I don’t know if the program was a piece of trash or worthy of a Tony Award, but either way it’s the concern of the community of HdG HS, the people of HdG and their representatives — not of a headline-seeking interloper from Baltimore County. If Rick the Imp truly cared about children, there are many deserving and needy ones IN HIS DISTRICT.
Interesting because another loetter published on here sent to the BOE and some delegates was not sent to any of the local delagtes? why was that? hmmmm?
Realistic Thinker says
Presumably because when you’re grandstanding, you don’t want solutions or channels to appropriate authorities to take over — you simply want headlines and knee-jerk reactions and as much frou-frou as possible. Some work inside the system; some work outside the system; some work to create a better system — and some simply jump up and down and shout, “ME ME ME ME ME ME!”
This letter is neither professional nor educated and does not accurately give a representation of the production. As a former student at Havre de Grace high school, I have been present in these assemblies and know what goes on. The so called “abuse” that Impallaria speaks of behind the scenes is non-existent and I am interested in what compelled him to state this without an actual proof which demonstrates that this is more of a childish rant than an intelligent appeal. The skits are written and acted out in a manner that reaches out to teenagers in different situations, allowing them to see that those who are experiencing such things, are not alone. Rick Impallaria clearly does not have the understanding of theater as he claims, or else he would have seen the benefit or at least the true meanings to the plays, which he misses completely. His accusation of “hiding” scenes from one of the plays is absolutely false. If it was true, then why would the plays be put on in front of other adults? All of his claims against the skits are ignorant of what is truly being accomplished from this production and his comparisons show even further the lack of intelligence in this article. Comparing a prop gun to a potential repeat of Columbine is only one of the outrageous claims he makes, saying “Judging from their reaction, they thought it could have been the beginning of a Columbine incident.” That is ridiculous and completely false, I have spoken to some of the students that were present in the assembly and that did not even occur to them. Impallaria is making a number of false claims against the program and its advisors having no real evidence behind his platform and should either back down from his argument or get some facts.
All I will say to this is that my child has participated in all of the DramaTherapy presentations, including this one. Furthermore I was there for the live performance.
My child was NOT abused. And the teachers involved are among the best I have known in my long experience with HCPS.
I think any assessment of abuse of the participants would be best judged and raised by the parents of those children. They are teenagers, some nearing adulthood. If this were grade school or even middleschool, I would be concerned, but we are talking about a group of students that are much older and to have made the large commitment of time, dedication and hard work that went into the production, obviously have a good degree of maturity.
This witch hunt is only harming and dividing students and the HDG high school community in my opinion.
The administration has already outlined plans to adjust the development and viewing process for the shows in the future. Why not give a chance to see how that goes before calling for extreme action against caring, invested excellent teachers?
I have had my share of issues with the HCPS system in general over the years, but this issue is absolutely not where time and energy should be focused on for improvement.
If these topics depicted in these skits are so alarming, I think some people should take a day and hang out in the halls and cafeteria of the school. Believe me these kids are being exposed to much worse language, sexual content, etc. in their day to day interactions with each other.
Well, if students are exposed to much worse in the hallways during the school day, the principal should be fired for not doing her job at keeping such language and activities out of the hall- schools are not supposed to be a free-for-all- there is supposed to be an acceptable level of what’s appropriate and everything else is off limits…teachers are obviously not doing their jobs of policing the hallways if this is what is going on- sounds like the school promotes such language and activities- and, this is an outrageous reflection of both public schools and the so-called “professionals” working in them! I don’t care how old a student is, he/she is supposed to act in accord to the rules of a school, and if they don’t, they should face the consequences of those actions. The parents who comment here about how wonderful everything is at their local high school obviously don’t have a clue about what proper moral values and upbringing means, in the lives of their children- if you wish for your children to do whatever they want, then you should be the ones homeschooling, and allow other children access to public education with true values, and enforcement of rules and regulations to show them that in the real world, people have set mores (how many reading this know what this word refers to?)and standards to keep society working in at least a certain level of sanity.
Chai tea Party Member says
You need to get into a school building if this is truly how you feel. Your Naivety to how teenagers act is shown in this post. I highly doubt that the language and behavior in schools is learned in the 1260 educational hours they are in the building a year.
Then perhaps the behavior is a reflection of how their parent is raising them? You can not force a teen to behave!
HDGHS parent also says
I welcome you to volunteer and/or work at a high school of your choice! Why is it that no one blames the parents? By the time they get to high school;you think we are going to be able to make the kids respectful? Do you think that we can make them understand consequences by the time they get to high school? Its not the teachers or the Principals fault….blame the parents for not teaching respect, honesty,and the value of hard work without any reward-such as a dinner, money or flippin happy face sticker. We call parents;no one’s home,phone is disconnected,they are too busy etc etc. So don’t blame the staff for what goes on the schools…they come to us already with some of these behaviors. We are there to teach;thats the last thing we do anymore. We are parents,guidance counselors, manners coach, and behavior modification experts.We work hard everyday;just trying to keep things going smoothly. Before you criticize us-take a week off your job and volunteer at a high school. Let me know.
Joseph Caruso says
HDGHS parent also –
Are you a teacher?
Joe I think HDGHS parent also said tht somewhere hence the also.
From what I’ve seen on the Board of Elections web page I looks like 3 members will be elected in 2010 for a 4 year term, and then all but the 3 appointed members will be up for election in 2014. I don’t see anyone registered as of now.
It also seems like you will only be able to vote on the member from your Councilmatic area. If I’m reading this correctly, only a very few of us will have the chance to vote. I thought it was supposed to be county wide and overlaping terms. Am I wrong?
Karl, yes they decided on in district elections. It was a compromise, we would have lost any chance to vote otherwise.
Soon to be school board voter says
I take exception to your remarks. Year after year I see policies that DISCOURAGE parental involvement. It’s all very clever and legalistic but very obviously deliberate.
Be truthful to yourself and this conversation. It’s insulting generalizations like yours that incite well intentioned bystanders and force them to agree with unlikely bedfellows like Mr. Imp. Perhaps someone with such a bad outlook as yours should find another line of work. You’ve obviously given up and are waiting for retirement. For your sake and the children’s, let’s all hope it comes soon.
Soon to be….. I agree. The schools talk and talk about parental involvement. They want parents to come in and do their busy work for them. Make this sign, cut this out, bind these books, etc. When it comes to real involvement, they want nothing to do with it. They do NOT want parental involvement, they want to do things their own way and be left alone!
psssst. why don’t you run and then you relly get to be involved? so far I think only one candidate has filed to run. we won’t be voting on much if people do not run.
Realistic Thinker says
It’s almost impossible for an honest, open-minded person to run. To run, you have to be willing to compromise on every matter and conceal your true thoughts so that you can raise money and appeal to the few. That’s why our elected public officials so frequently are demagogues or downright liars — it makes it easier to run if you don’t really have any principles to begin with.
Soon to be school board voter says
Please post where I can go to keep track of who has filed.
Realistic….that is a big reason I did not like an elected school board. I think that you are not totally correct. A school board can be made of civic minded people who simply wish to serve the community. They are non-partisan elections and generally require little money to run a successful campaign. The type of candidate I fear is one who develops a love of power and aspires to hire office. THat is the candidate who uses it to step up to county council and so on. They Pander to the few and are not honest IMHO. Either way if you want to be involved….run and you can be very involved.
Soon to be school board voter…I called the Board of Elections. That was a month ago so it may have changed since then. But essentially if people don’t step up we wont have choices it will be a volunteer job.
Realistic Thinker says
Actually I must accept your correction, Cdev, on this. I was not thinking clearly. I was thinking about “big job” elected officials on the state level. You are right that on School Boards one can frequently find honest, sincere folks just trying to do the right thing. One can also find (of course) bigots, fools and narrow-minded short-sighted busybodies, but that’s the roll of the dice in life (sorry about the mixed metaphor). I’ve voted in every single election in Harford County since we moved here in 1984 — is this the first time a school board is elected, or have I been blind? I cannot remember ever voting for a school board — just shows you how little we note those things that may be of the utmost importance!
Realistic not sure if this is the first elected board in Harford I have not lived here as long as you but I lived through the disfunctional elected PG board and that is a prime example of what happens when people use a school board job to start a political career and how it can go awry.
Just a Parent says
CDEV: Watch the BOE meetings and see how they operate. There are only a few members discussing anything and the rest just sit there. The people on the Board now have connections to the Governor or someone else who represents the political party in power. I don’t know how that serves the public either. Most other school systems operate with elected boards and seem to fair just fine.
I am not saying the current board is good either. I agree their are issues but elected boards can be bad too. Particularly if people don’t run which is appearing to be the case!
Realistic Thinker, yes this is the first time we are electing school board members in Harford County. Over 96% of school boards in the country are elected. I think there are only about 6 counties left in MD that are not elected. We had a huge movement here over the past few years to get at least a majority elected school board. Up until now they have been appointed by the governor. It is not a partisan matter, we started fighting under gov. Ehrlich and continued under gov. O’Malley. The problem is that an appointed school board doesn’t have to answer to anyone. You can appeal to the state school board, which is a waste of time. I haven’t found a single case where the local school board, in MD, was overturned. If you have an ethics complaint, you can make a complaint to the ethics panel. The ethics panel is appointed by the school board. Even if the ethics panel rules in your favor, the school board then votes on whether or not to accept the ruling. So, the school board has no oversite.
We will start this year with electing school board members, on a gradual basis. Some will still be appointed, but the majority will be elected. This is positive in my opinion because now the school board will have to answer to someone, they will be accountable for the first time. If we ask a question now, we don’t get an answer. If that were to happen in the future, they will not get reelected. Neither is a perfect system, but we have to do what we think is best.
Realistic Thinker says
Well, that explains why I don’t remember ever voting for one before. It hasn’t gotten a lot of press (or maybe I haven’t been reading what it’s gotten). I agree that an elected school board makes some sense — let the people decide on this matter, that is so close to all of us. It is different, say, from choosing a Circuit Court Judge — there, specialized knowledge of “who might be good” is critical, and the Governor chooses from a slate of candidates submitted by the local Bar, I believe. Not that THAT isn’t also subject to politics (it is), but each judge THEN has to run in an open election (the next one) for a term. So that is a good blend of appointment and public confirmation. Perhaps something like that might have been appropriate as well for the School Board, but since the elections are, I guess, per term, and overlapping, the same thing is effectively done. It will be interesting to see how much an “elected” school board differs from its predecessors in terms of policy or responsiveness or openness. The cynic will say, “not likely to be much.”
Realistic Thinker…I get your point but things are so badly broken now that we needed to do something. There will still be some members elected by the governor, and one by the county exe. But the majority will be elected. At the very least, when they make a decision they will have to either explain it or get voted out. That was really all we were asking for is WHY’s. What is better about their decision than what we, the people, wanted. No one would even give us an answer. It’s bad enough they go against what most parents want, worse that they won’t even give a reason! I can’t wait to vote for my first elected BOE member.
Henry Holloway says
Rick Impallaria proves once again he is a lunatic that needs to be removed from office. As a parent of a student that participated in the Havre de Grace High School dramatherapy program, I can say that the teachers and administrators responsible for supporting this production are first class and professional educators. The events portrayed in dramatherapy are those in which teens must deal with in everyday life. Once again our elected officials are clueless. I would hope that the voters in District 7 choose to vote Delegate Impallaria out of office.
Realistic Thinker says
The worst thing about all this is that the most likely explanation for Imp’s conduct is cynical pandering to his base. He is willing to disrupt what (as you and others point out) is a valuable, well-constructed and meaningful program — NOT because he cares one whit about the students and community of HdG — but because he can use this as PART of his re-election bid in District 7 or even as a foundation for a run for promotion to State Senator.
It is safe for him to do this, you see — the people he is damaging and angering and wronging aren’t his constituents — and, frankly, they live in a district that elects the ONLY non-Republican delegates in Harford County (something that undoubtedly enhances Imp’s glee in stirring things up). As I said in an earlier post, Andy Harris did the same thing when he, a District 7 State Senator, objected to a movie being shown down in College Park (in PG County).
Joseph Goebbels posited that there are FIVE tried and true elements to successful propaganda: Waving the Bloody Shirt; Just Plain Folks; Glittering Generalities; Reasoning from a False Premise; and the Big Lie. Imp regularly practices all 5, and all 5 are present and accounted for in his letter. It’s no accident, and it’s no small thing, either.
Billy Jack says
Delegate Impallaria owes a big apology to every child in this state who actually has been abused. His casual and inappropriate use of the term shows a distinct lack of understanding of what constitutes abuse. He is using this situation to meet his own need for attention. Simply woeful.
Teacher in Harford County says
Regardless of whether or not teens deal with these issues in every day life, the parents of all HdG students should have been informed of the content of these skits. I know first hand that a student in the audience flipped out after seeing the skit about the student who shot themselves. This student had to be taken out and shown that the actor was still alive. That is uncalled for!! I am heavily involved in theater and can appreciate all that it does for people, but this was going too far. I have a child AND I’m a high school teacher AND I’m involved in drama, and I think these skits are taking it way too far. I would like to talk to my child about these issues, not have her exposed to it at school without my knowledge.
Joseph Caruso says
Teacher in Harford County –
Thank you for focusing the discussion on the issue of appropriate content for students and school policy.
Harford teacher you are correct the schools error in judgement is correct they should have done permission slips or opt out forms etc. That said Joe the issue some of us have with this letter is the pandering and use for political motives by this delegate.
He thinks you should be allowed to say what you want in a 4th of July parade. Why not in school? Not that I think the content was appropriate as a stand alone.
Chai Tea Party Member says
The Issue addressed should Only be school policy, from the original complaint, Content was never the Issue. And then it was. And now it is.
Maryland Mom says
Thank you, Teacher in Harford County, my sentiments precisely.
Just because some teens are exposed to situations presented in the play doesn’t mean all teens are or need to be. All high school teens are not the same, a 14yr old ninth grader is very different from a 17yr old senior.
HHS parent also says
Teacher in Harford County,
Were you at the performance that day? or is what you are saying hearsay? The child that flipped out; maybe he has other issues also? Just asking. Since I also work in Harford County and for the schools;I have seen kids flip out in the hallway over a door slamming,loud noises,another kid walking on their side of the hallway, etc. If they were showing a musical of some kind;would the same kid have flipped out…probably.
Just a Parent says
The most disturbing thing about this issue is that so many people who are supporting Drama Therapy are attacking the parents and people in the community who brought up inherent problems with the process and policies being ignored. I am not saying I agree with everything that is being said by Delegate Impallaria, but once again the Drama Therapy supporters want to make it about the people protesting not the program itself. Where is Mary Dulaney James on this issue. If it is her district than let her speak for her constituents.
I saw in a prior post that Tom Barnes said the intent wasn’t to do therapy and that it was in name only but everyone else, including the teachers, said it was about that and getting people to seek help. They claimed they had a list of kids who want to guidance after seeing this. Was it about this or something else?
Also to the people who claim that these Drama Therapy skits are issues that kids deal with in everyday life, does sanctioning that behavior make it right? I don’t think most parents would deny that teenagers curse, talk about sex, drink or engage in some of the other activities presented in those skits. On the other hand, to say they talk about this all of the time, is insulting to the many kids who don’t and whose parents don’t want this shoved in their kids’ face. It’s bad enough already according to many of the posters on here.
I don’t understand so many supporters of this program insensitivty and/or intolerance to people who are offended by this. A professor from Towson just got fired for using the “N word” in his class and people on here are defending foul language and talk of sexual escapades in front of a group of teenagers.
I would say it is therapy in that the intent is to get people to open up a dialouge. Tjhe problem is for a meaningful dialouge to occur at home parents need to be ready to have the dialouge.
HHS parent also says
Oh jees Just a Parent,
The Towson professor;you are comparing apples and oranges.Lets stay on subject. What did you think of the actual performance? Did you see it?Are your kids going to Havre de grace High?
Some of us, parents, are not hypocrites;who allow our kids to be on facebook,watch Rated R movies, text etc…then get mad at the school for a slightly uncomfortable lesson in life. Life is uncomfortable sometimes. Some of us choose not to shield our children from everything ugly;it will be a shock to their system when they graduate and realise they are not living in “fantasy land”.
This subject has gone on too long and too far. There are sexual predators that havent had this much press! Let it rest.
Just a Parent says
I was referring to the fact that the Professor had a lapse of judgement and from what I have heard him say, it doesn’t sound like he deserves to be fired. This situation also involved bad judgement on the part of adults – never said it was intentional but the parents who are upset by it are being demonized by people who think it is okay. That isn’t right either…
Joseph Caruso says
Just a Parent
Realistic Thinker says
I believe that there are genuinely people in the HdG community who believe in this program, and there are also people who are troubled by it or even who honestly and sincerely don’t want it to exist.
We are not a homogeneous society. We need to guard against not only the tyranny of the majority — but also the tyranny of the minority. “PC” cuts both ways.
However, the phrase that seems to come to mind is “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”
I find it hard to reconcile the image that STUDENTS performing skits are so “realistic” in front of their peers, who know them, as to make anyone “believe” that what they were seeing was “real.”
I cannot believe that our students are THAT unsophisticated.
I have attended about 20 performances of high school plays and musicals over the past 3 years as a parent and fan (although never at HdG HS) and at every one I noticed student (peer) members of the audience obviously appreciating the fact that these kids were ACTING — calling out encouragement, for instance, or reacting to what the actor was doing NOT as the character but as the student.
IOW the audiences understood that these were their friends, acting.
Now that doesn’t mean the message isn’t communicated, or that the subject isn’t serious, or that the thing isn’t worthwhile. That is up to the HdG H S community, which must face and reflect its societal values (which may be different from those of Perryville across the river, for instance) and make a consensus decision. “Consensus” does NOT mean “unanimous.”
Joseph Caruso says
Realistic Thinker –
It’s about the content and the conduct.
Was the Drama Therapy content in compliance with HCPS policies and any laws?
Was the conduct of HCPS teachers, staff and administration in compliance with HCPS policies and any laws?
Value opinions about Drama Therapy are irrelevant. It all turns on compliance vs. non-compliance with HCPS policies and any laws at this point.
Realistic Thinker says
That is true. As far as the program itself is concerned, it is indeed a matter for application of the process. My interest from the sidelines (strictly from the sidelines, I assure you) was to try to separate the wheat from the chaff.
one more former student says
As someone who has seen Drama Therapy for the past 2 years. I can say that the skits are done well and that every actor and actress involved is someone who has a great care for their craft and how it is presented. They did an outstanding job at presenting difficult subjects in ways that casue discussion and thinking. Young adults in school now have so many things that are difficult for anyone over the age of 45 to understand. The skits bring them out in manners to let the students know it is ok to talk to someone if they are having problems. THe only thing that was an issue was the school admin should have snet home a playbill and a permission slip before the assembly. That is an easily corrected issue. The Delegate owes a public apology to not only anyone who has suffered personally from any topic that was discussed in the skits; but also to the students and former students who were involved with the program. This should be his final act before he resigns. A final note , as a former student of HHS ; we take seriously our moto, ” Enter to learn..Leave to serve” if the delegate cannot find something productive to do, maybe he should enrole in HHS and be re-educated.
Joseph Caruso says
one more former student –
The issues are content and conduct with regard to school policy and any laws.
And for you to be dismissive of Delegate Impallaria’s reasonable and legitimate concerns requires people to suspend logic and reason in favor of emotion and irrationality.
Rick Impallaria has suspended logic and reason for most of his public career–he is an embarassment to the county, as are his colleagues from his district in the House of Delegates (Jennings and McDonough). I am a Republican, but hell will freeze over before I vote for any of them.
People need to move on–the concerns have been shared. Either sue somebody over this or shut up.
one more former student says
It seems that Delegate Impallaria has already suspended logic, And as for your comment on irrationality; he has done enough of that on this subject as well. If it is agreed that the issues are school policy and law; then everyone needs to drop it nad let the school board and school work on the policy and the HCPS to have it’s laywers go over the notifications that will go out and the content. After that , everyone who does not understand needs to look up Drama and Theater and get an understanding of it before they judge a production. Finally; the only good to be dismissive about would be the delegate, right out of office and back to whatever rock he came out from.
One more former student, It would be a big mistake, no matter what side of this issue you are on, to drop it and let the school board and school handle it. If no one were talking about it here, this issue would be hidden away, swept under a rug somewhere. Unfortunately, it takes public outrage to get the BOE to do anything. Their policy is to hide whatever is controversial until they can’t any longer. It’s good to have everyone talking about it, that’s the only way to get them to review the program properly. And even then, you can only believe about 10% of what they tell you.
Phil Dirt says
One more former student, while you are looking up words, you seem to have skipped ‘therapy’. Of course, I would do the same if I wanted to steer the discussion away from the controversial topic and towards the obviously acceptable.
Shame on these people! Who could be against Drama and Theater?
You also conveniently omitted that there are existing school policies that may have been violated. How does this fit into “If it is agreed that the issues are school policy and law; then everyone needs to drop it and let the school board and school work on the policy”? If I break an existing law, should the solution be to drop it and “work on the law”? Nice deal if you can get it.
You said, “THe only thing that was an issue was the school admin should have snet home a playbill and a permission slip before the assembly. That is an easily corrected issue.” How do you the students who attended without permission ‘unsee’ and ‘unhear’ what they saw and heard? That is easily corrected in the future, but the past is a little more difficult. The next time you are caught speeding, tell the trooper that it is easily corrected by going slower in the future, and I’m sure he’ll let you go. Come on, everyone should just drop it and let the legislators and the police work on the law!
Sure looks like just another case of “Disagree with a man’s politics, so attack his character.”
Phil obviously you can never unring the bell. Fixing for the future is always a goal but even though that was suggested in the letter sent in January it does not appear to be enough for some people!
This gentleman however has a history of ignoring havre de Grace and hiding behind the fact they are not in his district and then now being outraged about this. The letter he was sent (also posted on the dagger) was convienently sent to the delgates of district 7 and NONE of the ones in the Havre de Grace district. Why is that?
Jay Davis says
I saw the video of the December drama therapy presentation. In the lobby of the auditorium was a warning as to the content of the video. The video presented had been edited, so I cannot say that what I saw was what the students saw. But if the video required a warning, why weren’t parents notified before the assembly as to the content?
And as to the title “drama therapy”, I saw nothing in the video that could be construed as “therapy”. It would be therapy if, before the controversial skits, a real professional counselor, such as a psychologist, explained the purpose of the skit, and after the skit the professional explained the issues involved and how to go about getting help to resolve them. However, at the close of this production, there was only a perfunctory “if this happened/is happening to you get help” statement by the drama teacher. That was it.
It appears to me that this drama therapy production was done in the spirit of “it’s easier to get forgiveness than to get permission”. And it is appears to me that the people who produced this presentation either didn’t care about parental reaction, or were unaware that some parents (and students) would be offended by the contents. No matter what, IF the rules HAD been followed, none of this would be happening!
HDG Reader says
I definitely believe that Impallaria is nothing but a big mouth who chooses what battles to get involved in for his own personal gain. The fact that he doesn’t even represent HDG but is getting angry over this is laughable. He doesn’t care about HDG or the students, just how he can benefit politically.
However, as an HDG High graduate and someone who participated in the drama program (Drama Therapy started years after I left though) I understand why the department thinks reaching out to their teenagers by acting out issues a lot of them face is something positive.
But all of this controversy could have been avoided if the school simply sent home a letter or posted on the website that the content may not be suitable for everyone, and given parents the option to not let their kids see it. When I was in school, we had an assembly about AIDS and safe sex back in the 90’s. The school notified parents beforehand and allowed them to pull their children out of watching. The assembly went on, most of the students were there to see it and there was no fallout afterward. Is it that difficult to tell parents what’s going on in their schools and give them the power to decide if it’s appropriate for their child? Is it also that difficult to ask students whether they feel a program like this would be beneficial for them?
Realistic Thinker says
Dear HDG Reader — you should call yourself “the voice of reason” because that’s what you are. You correctly have separated the “issue” of Impallaria’s grandstanding (as if he cares about the students of HdG!) and the issue of the performance itself.
Taking the second issue first — your points are exactly right. I have no idea why this wasn’t done but possibly it’s because it WAS done in the past, and had no real effect (meaning, everyone came) and so the Drama Department and the HdG HS Administration simply loosened up, so to speak, over the years. Error in judgment; no more.
Back to the first point — no one is saying that there is anything wrong with anyone being concerned about students and impressions and a “teaching moment.” But Impallaria’s attitude and tone are simply out of line, especially since this is not his district and not his constituency and since he has shown stony indifference to HdG’s problems and challenges for all the rest of his time in office (after all, he’s from Baltimore County).
He will not, however, listen to reason — he is not interested in debating the actual pros and cons or finding out what really was the effect on students (probably, beneficial) — he just is trying to earn points with a very small but radical base by blasting off on a “safe” topic. That’s why he used such inflammatory language! It doesn’t matter what the topic is, or who gets hurt, or whether any damage is done (or if, heaven forbid, a perfectly decent and useful program is axed; or if, worse yet, decent and well-meaning people are muzzled or themselves axes) — all Impallaria wants is to STIR THINGS UP for effect.
Sure, it is possible that some of the things he is saying might even be legitimate, stripped of the bluster and bullying rant. But, where I come from, we have the phrase — even a blind pig sometimes can find a truffle. It doesn’t mean that the pig can see.
I don’t live in Havre de Grace and I know nothing about the drama therapy program there. But I would feel bad if I did not give some facts about Del. Impallaria. I do believe he cares and I do believe he was outraged at the content of the skits.
I regularly have issues with our BOE,I think they do a terrible job and I can’t wait for elections. I think most would agree if they attended BOE meetings. I sent Del. Impallaria, along with most of our elected officials, an email about an issue that I felt very strongly about. Del. Impallaria called me within 5 minutes of me sending that email to explain his position and why he felt that way. He was the only one to take the time to call me. He didn’t pander to me, he told me exactly why he disagreed, and explained the bill in clearer terms. This was the elected school board bill. As things went on he also was honest enough to publicly say he changed his mind and why.
I don’t think it is fair for anyone to say he is just pandering to his base and assume he in insincere. He was honest enough to tell me why I was wrong, that doesn’t sound like someone who is only out to get more votes. I think we should all take him at his word unless he proves himself unworthy of it.
And for Del. Impallaria-I told you so, lol. Thanks for making the right decision for our students!
Funny I sent him a letter about that and called his office and he did not reply and he is in my district…..until next election if I nd some other ignored constituents have anything to do with it!
I dont know what to tell you, I have never had a local elected politician not answer me. Maybe your letter contained your usual sarcasm and accusations and he figure it was a waste of time?
actually it contained my point of view based on anecdotal experience. I do not use sarcasam when writing formal letter as it is improper and comes across poorly. I also didn’t accuse him of anything simply told him what I thought. Other delegates replied in one form or another, some not in my district. Even though I disagree bout Del. McDonough about alot af things he has been the only one in my district who has replied to every corespondance I sent.
HHS parent also says
Sandy, you should stop at your first sentence;you don’t live here,you dont have a kid that goes to HDGHS-but you still feel the need to comment? Wow;what you have to say is very valid then!
HHS parent, and that would be the difference between you and me. I have been involved in school system politics for many years and I do not just get involved when something involves my children. I try to look at what would make HCPS a better school system. Even after my children are no longer in school, I will still be advocating for what is best for two reasons. More than half of my county taxes pay for that school system and I have every right to voice my opinion when it is my money they are spending. I have also found that not all kids have parents to advocate for them, they either won’t or can’t. I’m not saying that is the case with this issue, but it is with many others.
I have never given an opinion on the Drama Therapy program because I don’t know much about it, but I did feel it was important to say that Del. Impallaria has been fair to me, as everyone was trashing him. I felt that was the fair thing to do. If you disagree then you can skip my posts. Why do you have a problem with anyone posting an opinion here? Did it harm something?
Cares? He has a lot to say – until people go and look at his court record. Go type in his name and take a GOOD hard look. He certainly has a lot to say considering, doesn’t he?
Just to let everyone know, Mr. Impallaria was just one of many delegates and senators who actually met with Mr. Tomback and another of his “friends” in a scheduled meeting in Annapolis. I attended this meeting, and it was NOT just Mr. Impallaria who was incensed at this issue- actually, every single one of the law-makers speaking with the BOE reps that day were! And, this was BEFORE they got to see the DVD of the performances. They couldn’t believe the totally arrogant attitude used, even towards themselves, with regards to how the whole issue was being handled by the BOE. This set the tone, as they could see for themselves how inept the BOE was in dealing with the parents who had complained. Now, as those same law-makers gain access to watching the DVD, they are becoming even more angry about the issue, with good reasons! Just thought everyone here needed to know that all state and local law-makers were in attendance in Annapolis that day, and witnessed first-hand how the BOE deals with controversial issues- deny everything and lie!
Why would you lie and say it was “Scheduled?” There was NOTHING scheduled about it and you are stating a falsehood.
Freaks out in the country says
What is the educational purpose of this ghastly freakshow?
To help kids deal with serious issues! They see stuff like this all the time! (If they see it all the time why do you freak-teachers have to put on this horrible pantomime using public funds?)
Grotesque. I don’t think you could find children acting out anything like Mr. Cummin’s stumbling, sexual fantasies, even on the internet.
Just tell me what it’s supposed to teach.
Well, that’s a sueable slanderous remark. Best hope they don’t figure out who you are.
Joseph Caruso says
It is libel not slander and while you or I may not like what he wrote it probably is not defamatory.
When it damage a persons reputation and financial future, yes it is. You should learn the law. You right to free speech is a right – just like a persons right to sue for liable and defamation is a right.
Joseph Caruso says
I doubt Freaks’ comments of a public school performance rise to defamation.
What are Mr. Cummins’ damages?
William Gamble says
I find it amazing that almost everyone has a lot to say until it comes time to put your name at the bottom. It is easy to run your mouth while hiding behind a keyboard.
Realistic Thinker says
This is certainly true, and it is a sad comment that people only feel free to express themselves anonymously. Alas, the even sadder truth is that ad-hominem attacks and personal insults, plus extensions beyond the blog world, will most definitely occur if people use real names. “Trolls,” as the attackers are sometimes called, want nothing more than to bully and vex people. One of my best friends has a top-drawer, very well known professional blog (global in subject matter) that he writes anonymously because the “matter” is so incendiary that for his own protection he must use an alias. What ever happened to “I will defend to the death your right to say it”?
Mr. Biscuits says
Yes, you are right! But do you know what else makes me sad? Paying taxes so your school can force kids to watch a play that celebrates teen sexuality, with some “edgy” physical and srunken abuse plus special needs kids on the sidelines! That makes me sad!!
The funny thing is there are plenty of good plays for this clown to have given the drama class to practice their “skills”. But do you know what they all have in common? They weren’t written by him.
If you thought it was a “celebration” of any of that then you are an idiot.
This issue has arisen before and as I stated then, free speech may guarantee our right to speak as we feel, but the ramifications of doing so can be severe. I am employed in a position that could cause me great difficulty if I speak out publicly in any forum that would bring negative attention to my employers. I signed an agreement agreeing not to do so. Thus, I post under a pseudonym.
I was looking to see if a lawsuit had actually been filed against the school or the teacher. I found none. But you can research and draw your own conclusions regarding this. Suffice it to say, I know that I won’t be investing my money with anyone around HdeG any time soon.
Look at cases:
12C98032895…. (Grown man with a name change? Well, that gave me a reason to pause and look further because somehow I felt like I was missing something so I followed the original name. Interesting reading).
When you are done playing with that fun feature, take a look at the newest cases under Chad and Mary R Tate – along with the dates. Enough said. Drayour own conclusions.
I was looking to see if a lawsuit had actually been filed against the school or the teacher. I found none. But you can research and draw your own conclusions regarding this other information I stumbled upon.
Look at cases:
12C98032895 (Name change from John H Tate to Chad Tate. Look at prior cases).
Take a look at the newest cases under Chad and Mary R Tate – along with the dates and dollar amounts.
Enough said. I don’t think I need to ever post a single thing regarding this matter after seeing that information. Draw your own conclusions.
Harford county Mom says
hate much? Unless any of these court cases have something to do with the abuse or corruption of a minor they have absolutely no bearing on this conversation. I have to say the hate tate camp has reached a new low.
“Hate Tate camp?” They managed to have a ditty made for them. That’s quite funny. No, I do not believe anyone hates them, in fact, I don’t even know them except for the name they have made for themselves. I think most people just feel sorry for them for a number of reasons, most of which they have more or less created on their own.
Harford county Mom says
Sorry, I’m not aware of any ditty, just the practice of a few drama therapy supporters to attack ANYTHING about Rachel and her children in an effort to discourage discussion about the real issues.
Joseph Caruso says
Truth is The Tates have reasonable and legitimate concerns about Drama Therapy that deserve resolution.
There has been a resolution just without blood shed as some seem to want!
Joseph Caruso says
If the reasonable and legitimate concerns have not been addressed along with HCPS policies and any laws; then there has been no resolution.
Joe there is an action plan in place of things that are going to be done to insure it is remedied in the future. That is resolution. You can not unring the bell and unless someone is claiming to be actually damaged then that is resolution. If you want a head on a platter that is not resolution!
No, they don’t have any kind of legitimacy at all at this point. Perhaps in the beginning they may have had a smidge or legitimacy. An error was made and the error is being corrected (rightly so). They should be happy with that outcome.
What is very odd is that I don’t think anyone has really heard any Tate say anything recently about this situation. They’re probably wishing the entire thing would go away, or at the very least they should be, but they have people in their “camp” that keep grandstanding on blogs like Dagger and reporters that won’t let it go. The only (soon to be EX) delegate they got to really back them up isn’t even from the district that includes Havre de Grace. A reasonable person would agree that it speaks volumes.
I’m guessing we will see shortly if this is for “blood or money.” Let’s hope it’s not. I certainly have been left with my doubts about the entire purpose of the complaint at this point. I suppose when you investigate things and you find ‘dirt’ that you become cynical and jaded by perceived ulterior motives. But I’m sure many others have their doubts. So, I guess we will see what the next move is or if they will let time and corrective action take it’s course.
Phil Dirt says
This guy calling himself ‘Truth’ is like the 6’5″ 350 lb. guy who calls himself ‘Tiny’.
Interestingly the only argument you poor folks have in the “hate Cummins camp” is whatever ridiculous off the cuff comment you can make. Someone posts the truth and/or something that can HONESTLY question the motives of this group and you start your insults. There is a certain political party that does that constantly to try and stear away from the truth or a point. I need not say any more.
You are an idiot. These cases are against Mr. Tate & business associates, they were not filed by him. They have absolutley nothing to do with this issue. Get a grip and move on. Stop bashing people that just had concerns for what their children were doing at school. Everyone one of us parents a little differently than the other, we have no right to judge them.
Idiot? Too funny. You’re the one that doesn’t get it. It’s ok. Anyone that would be “in bed” with Impie Boy pretty much gets a sign anyway.
Lisa Barber says
No they were filed against him. He made an error in his judgement call regarding his business. Sounds like HCPS made an error in judgement as well and then put in a plan to make sure this does not happen again.