MHS Students Segregated for Star Test

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By: 
Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–A Middleton High School (MHS) employee was placed on leave last week after allegations that students had been segregated by race to take the standardized Star Literacy and Math Test, which is administered Oct. 14-24.

Middleton Cross Palins Area School District (MCPASD) Director of Communications Perry Hibner said, “STAR testing takes place between Oct. 14-25. MHS was trying to get some of the students who have poor attendance during advisory when STAR-testing can be administered to come to all-school resource on Wednesday afternoon from 2:15 to 3:40 to take the testing. That was the intent.”

Initially only 10-15 students were scheduled to take the test during this time, but a larger number was added. Students were informed of the change through the district’s online scheduling program. Not all students went to the library.

Hibner went on to say that all of the students asked to come to all-school resource were black, Latino and mixed race. 

Parents whose children were in the room learned of the incident through an email that was sent out by the district on Oct. 17, the day after the incident occurred. Both MCPASD Superintendent Dana Monogue and MHS Principal Peg Shoemaker signed the email, which read:

“We were informed today that an incident occurred on October 16 at Middleton High School.   A decision was made by a staff member to bring students, based on their ethnicity or race, into the library to complete the STAR Literacy and Math test.  Your child was one of the students asked to come to the library. This is wholly unacceptable and we sincerely apologize that this happened at our school. This staff member has been placed on leave while a full investigation is underway. We are working on a plan to repair the harm done with our students. Our Student Services staff are aware of the situation and are ready and available to support students.    

These actions are intolerable and do not represent our beliefs or who we want to be as a school or as a district.  If you would like to talk to either of us about this situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please expect a communication from us next week on a more comprehensive plan regarding our work with students and staff.”

Monogue reiterated those sentiments in both a statement to the press and in a video produced and sent out the parents in the district. 

Middleton board of Education President Bob Green stated, “"The role of our School Board is to support our students and staff, while also giving a voice to residents in the District. We expect our District leaders to be responsive in all situations and keep us informed.''

Hibner said he could not find a policy on singling out or segregating students based on race. A Times-Tribunesearch of administrative policy posted on the school’s website also turned up no guidelines on segregation by race. 

The district was made aware of this incident by parents who emailed the school the night of the incident. The staff member was put on leave the next day. 

A statement released by the school board read: "The Board of Education continues to actively monitor the situation and supports the District and Middleton High School administration in their efforts. We are encouraged by the response of the Middleton High School and District administration. The Board remains committed to doing whatever it can to help every student feel safe and supported in our schools." 

When asked how these incidents could be prevented in the future, Hibner responded, “I wish we had an answer. It is one we are grappling with now. It is important that swift action was taken, but our families want more and they deserve better. We are dealing with human beings and mistakes will, unfortunately, sometimes happen. But for our students and families of color this has been an all-too-unfortunate reality over the years.”

See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=E47j5RcAalY

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