New band director at Lassiter spurs ire from parents, pupils
by Hannah Morgan
December 10, 2013 11:24 PM | 171852 views | 554 554 comments | 68 68 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lassiter band member Sarah Gwaltney plays the marimba during a halftime show in September. <br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Lassiter band member Sarah Gwaltney plays the marimba during a halftime show in September.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
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Parents and students involved in the nationally recognized band program at Lassiter High School are upset with their new band director and say the district hasn’t been responsive to their complaints.

Parents claim they were kept in the dark during the hiring process of the school’s new band director, Ginny Markham, and students complain their new director is unwilling to work with them to address their concerns.

A group of about 20 Lassiter band parents met Monday night at a home near the high school, northeast of Marietta, to discuss their options for moving forward with their complaints.

“She’s a bad teacher,” said parent Bruce Bonsall.

Parents huddled around a dining room table ate bowls of chili and swapped horror stories of their children’s recent band experiences.

Complaints to the principal and central office employees had gone nowhere, and parents felt stuck.

Now, they are planning on making an appearance at the Board of Education meeting today, after meeting Monday to work out what they were going to tell the board.

What they’re upset about

Parents said Markham just didn’t have enough experience to take on such a prestigious ensemble.

The Lassiter band recently won first place at the Bands of America Regional Championship in October at a competition in Towson, Md., a victory parents say does not reflect their faith in the band’s director.

They have been petitioning the school principal, Chris Richie, who hired Markham in late spring 2013, for an explanation as to her hiring, to no avail.

“He hired her and absolutely doesn’t want to hear it,” said Bruce Boone, parent of a senior trumpet player.

He and his wife, Trish, said the integrity of the band was at stake, and they were worried about its future.

“This is the Lassiter band. This is the best band in the entire Southeast. Somebody needs to help us,” he said.

A proud tradition at Lassiter

Former Director of Bands Alfred Watkins took over Lassiter’s music program in 1982, building it into a nationally recognized program before he retired last spring, much to the dismay of the school’s band community.

They remember Watkins as an emblematic leader of the band program, a teacher both in the classroom and on the marching band field. The band community had high expectations for his successor, as the Lassiter band has twice won the national band championship at the Bands of America Grand National Championships in 1998 and 2002.

When Watkins announced his retirement, band parents, booster club members and students involved in the roughly 300-person ensemble said they wanted to pitch in to help find the perfect replacement, but their attempts to provide input were ignored by the district.

“Dr. Hinojosa is not meeting our needs,” said Donnell Willequer, a parent at Monday’s meeting.

Markham came from Allatoona

Before coming to Lassiter, Markham served as director of bands at Allatoona High School, the assistant director of bands at Kell High and at Lassiter when Lassiter won the Bands of America Grand National Championship in 2002.

While at Kell, she worked with Richie, who was then the assistant principal of the school, and parents suspected the two had been friends.

Markham graduated with a bachelors degree in music education from the University of Georgia in 1998, and was drum major of the Redcoat Marching Band at the school for two years.

She received a masters in music education from the University of Illinois in 2004, according to the school district website.

Not up to Lassiter’s standards?

Students said Markham didn’t know how to manage such an elite group of musicians.

Brittany Pietsch, a senior flute player, was a drum major this year, and was optimistic when Markham arrived.

Pietsch said she hoped Markham, a former drum major at UGA, would share that experience with the Lassiter drum majors, and was disappointed when it never happened.

Pietsch said she had watched Markham all semester, and felt she was unable to work with every section of the band.

While Markham had some band experience, Pietsch said it wasn’t enough for the Lassiter band.

“I’m sure she would be a good director for a band that doesn’t want to be that good, but that’s not the case at Lassiter,” she said.

Suspected nepotism

Parents said they were concerned that Markham’s husband, Gary Markham, who retired as the supervisor of music for the district last spring, may have been involved in the hiring of his wife, and that the district hadn’t done much to convince them otherwise.

“She was hired under suspicious circumstances,” Bruce Boone said.

Band parents said they were confused about how the hiring process for the new director played out, and have gone so far as to submit open records requests to get more information from the school district.

“Parents feel there has to be some wrongdoing in the hiring in some way,” said Barbara Sobel, a concerned mother of a sophomore tenor saxophone player.

Students upset with changes

Students said they brought a list of concerns to Markham in September, but their teacher had not yet responded to their input.

Jacob Greifinger, a senior trumpet player, said he felt Markham was unable to provide useful information to the young musicians. He was concerned with what he said was a lack of warm-up time spent during rehearsal, misguided directions from Markham on tone quality and an imbalance of sound throughout the band’s sections.

“It’s like having a calculus teacher that doesn’t know half of the curriculum teaching us for the Advanced Placement test,” Greifinger said.

She was perfectly nice, the students stressed, but not knowledgeable enough for their needs.

“She can’t help us because she doesn’t know,” said Tyler Boone, senior first-chair trumpet player.

The students said they joined the Lassiter band because of the wonderful things they had heard about the program, and were worried the future of the band would not hold its stellar reputation.

One of the pillars of the band program was Spirit Plus System Equals Success.

Boone said he felt both the system and the spirit were broken.

Response from district

Markham and Richie were unable to comment Tuesday. When the MDJ called the school, school staff forwarded reporters to the district’s communication desk. Doug Goodwin, a spokesman for the district, said the district did not make comments on personnel matters, and did not return subsequent phone calls.

Board of Education Member David Banks, whose post includes Lassiter, said the school community was going through a rough transition period between band directors.

He had heard complaints from some of the parents at the beginning of the school year, but believed the conflict had been smoothed out.

Banks stood behind the decision of the district, and the school’s principal. He said Markham’s previous band at Allatoona was very successful, and he had faith in the future of Lassiter’s bands.

The board was powerless to making changes with personnel matters, he said.

What parents would like to see

Parents and students said they wanted a new band director.

“She needs to be removed,” Bruce Boone said.

They planned to send personal letters to board members and to present a list of their complaints during public comments at Wednesday’s board meeting.

“We need a new director ASAP. I know I speak for a lot of the kids in the bands. A lot of people would refuse to sit in her class for another semester,” Pietsch said.

Comments
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LHS Band Member
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April 27, 2014
I was a member of LHS marching band from 1989-1993. Mr. Watkins was more than a great music teacher. He was a master politician who built and controlled a little band empire in the most unlikely of areas (cultureless Cobb county) with the most unlikely people (white suburbanites).

I remember the zealous "band parents" from 20 years ago. They were (and are) truly one of the worst by-products of Mr. Watkins vision.

I have no idea if the new director is a quality hire, but I doubt seriously that she deserves the blowback from a group of local adults who view a public school music program as an entitlement for themselves.
4mer AHS Band Parent
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January 10, 2014
How dare a few parents and about 5% of the band try to ruin not only Mrs. Markham's impeccable reputation, but also her career!! Shame on you! I am appalled! This could have been handled in another format. This is ridiculous! How dare you put her bread and butter in jeaopardy! This is hateful! This comes from so-called christians? Christians=followers of Christ. Would Jesus do this? SMDH...
blacknblue
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December 31, 2013
I applaud the parents at Lassiter & speaking from experience with Ms. Markham at AHS your concerns are 100% JUSTIFIED. Many talented young dedicated musicians chose to leave AHS and pursue their passion at other high schools during her tenure. She was unorganized and was continually on opposing sides to the parents booster club. She was there to put a notch on her belt and climb a little further up the ladder. I guess she figured she had job security considering her marital status!!!!! Karma will get you every time!!
4mer AHS Parent
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January 10, 2014
Sounds personal to me. This article does not speak of Ginny Markham's knowledge, expertise, experience, loyalty, and committment to AHS band. Don't you dare try to include AHS in this crazy mess. AHS loved Ginny and would never do anything like this to her. She loved them and led them to many victories. People just have to move on and it's unfortunate she is not appreciated. Shame on you!
texasbanddirector
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December 18, 2013
I can't believe this article is still up.
LetsBeSeruious
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December 18, 2013
Why wouldn't it still be up? It's a legitimate story (though I expect the "full story" behind the hiring will one day be reported) based on legitimate concerns. Please stop blaming the messenger.
expectingquality
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December 18, 2013
Is there a reason why it should be taken down, other than the fact that you don't like its contents (for one reason or another)?

I'm pleased to see that these concerned students and parents have taken a stand for quality education. Sadly, too few do nowadays.
concerned person
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December 16, 2013
i disagree with this, the only reason they won is due to Mr.Watkins prior teachings. The lessons and skills that they were shown by him carried on to when there was a new band director. However, i can not make a final dicision until later when there are less uperclassman and the "lessons" that Mrs.Markham teaches affects half the band. I agree that there are always going to be some people who will say no to a new idea but i know many of students( particularly brass) who dont learn anything in class do to her lack of useful information for the essential elements of there instrument. I hope that next year will be better what ever what happens
a writer
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December 16, 2013
As a freelance writer, I can tell you that there's always much more to a story than is published. For my last article, I had gathered more than 10,000 words in interviews and research and that had to be boiled down to only a 1,000-word article.

Everyone that is commenting here is making a judgement based on probably 10% of the information.

I would be wondering what is the rest of the story and I would suspect that where there's smoke, there's fire. Why would these parents and students risk this kind of public ridicule unless they had a good reason? I think further investigation is warranted.
Pro tuba
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December 16, 2013
This story is truly disturbing. As a school, you are lucky to even have an program devoted to music, much less a FULL TIME music teacher. Many schools across the country have completely disbanded their music and art programs. Be happy that your students have the ability to learn any art form. And if competitions are so important to you, then go into athletics. Music is art first, and anything else second. If you really have the tenacity to forgo that, then your student should not be in music.

Next off, how can any band parents have the credentials to choose a new band director. If any of the parents in this program had a degree in music, then you would know how horrible this story is. Music education is a highly specialized area of education and can only be taught by people in music. There is no right way to teach music, but there are many methods to do so. No two directors use the same methods, and if they do there is a huge problem. The kids must learn that the new director will be different, and with that they are not going to like that. They must take the time to get used to the new director.

Finally, this news sight should retract this story. This is fueling a hate towards a suffering art form, music and arts, in public schools. Now this can be used to completely kill programs. TAKE THIS ARTICLE DOWN NOW!!!!!!
Craig Young
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December 15, 2013
The only real option is to disband the Parent Boosters, or at least forbid those causing the problems to ever be involved in the Band Boosters. This is ridiculous, and the administration should be chastised if they do anything but ignore their complaints and deal with the problem parents.
Jonnn
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December 15, 2013
I think that it is absolutely wrong that this article has been published. It is full of valid concerns that people seemed to have solve in all the wrong ways. I can't believe that any journalist would quote a bunch of emotional high school students and misguided and misinformed parents that think they know more than a well educated professional music educator, which is just not realistically feasible.

Regardless of who's wrong and who's right, I sincerely hope that Mrs Markham will be able to recover and keep her career going. I am hopeful that people will just realize that this is a badly composed article that was published out of bad judgement and form. Judging by all the subjective judgement called and personal attacks, it seems like it was simply written to get an emotional outbreak by its readers. I personally would never choose a side based only on what is read here.
Lassiter Parent
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December 15, 2013
One final comment from me.

I hope everyone notices that this was all generated by about 20 parents (@ 2 parents per child, that's 10) so somewhere between 10 and 20 kids.

In the article it says there are "roughly 300 participants". If things are so bad, and the parents so passionate, where are the representatives of the other 280 participants?

So we have somewhere between 1.6% and 3.2% of the parents who are saying they speak all Lassiter band parents. Wrong.

In customer satisfaction terms, if she only has 1.6% - 3.2% who are unsatisfied, She must be doing pretty good!
Greg Schuckman
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December 15, 2013
This is comment #532 coming from a 1986 alumnus of the Marching Trojan Band. I've only read through 20 or so comments so I may not have anything new to share. I can only say that my experience serving under the direction of Alfred Watkins for the 2 seasons that I was part of the band was a life-changing experience for me. I know that for many of my friends in the band, they would say the same thing. My sense is that the person who would be tasked with trying to fill Alfred's shoes would be given an impossible task. Heck, that person would be teaching in a building NAMED for his/her predecessor! If that person was going to try and escape Alfred's shadow, it could only be done if Alfred remained involved in the band and gradually transitioned out as the new person rose from within. I know that he is gracious with his time and has given his 'blessing' to the new director, but the fact remains that no one involved with this program -- past, present, or future -- could ever be prepared to think of life at Lassiter without him. It was HIS band and we were all the more fortunate because of that.
Saltimbanco
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December 14, 2013
There is so much more to life than high school marching band. You are all, each and every one of you, pathetic and weak.
Thanks For the Show!
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December 14, 2013
This is incredible! You people, both band parents and students alike, have successfully put a black eye on your program and your community! And now I would like to add, Nationwide! Yep,you're arrogant rants against an obviously qualified educator has made it to the west coast via ridiculous entries and shares from Facebook! People are laughing at you now daily from this romper room attempt to correctly and carefully word your complaint to the world! Unbelievable. A program as storied as Lassiter, respected and looked up to by admiring fans,educators,band kids from around the nation are watching you tear down your program! You silly people have absolutely no clue what you have done here. Your school district, so secretive and misguided, located a completely qualified instructor who has the obvious amount of qualifications needed to work any program INCLUDING the mighty Lassiter Band! Really? We now see your program is in many ways similar to most programs who have the niche clique band parents who RUN THE SHOW. You've proven that Lassiter in all its' greatness is merely the same as all of the bands across this great country who can only dream of having a program such as the one at LHS. Spoiled! The only thing in appearance that is wrong is that Mrs. Markum came in as the replacement of the fantastic and legendary Alfred Watkins. She was doomed before she even got there. It's hard to replace any educator who has such a long committed tenure with one school. Lassiter is no different than any other school in that respect! I am positive with the attitude, the very way you've put such a negative light on your school and community is NOT what Alfred Watkins would want, or expected. And I am convinced that the new director there is absolutely undeserving of this disrespect you've brought to her position, the school, the band program, or the community. She is NOT Alfred Watkins! Her view,methods, and so oon are NOT Alfred Watkins! And they aren't supposed to be! You people need to grow up! Enjoy your program! Revel in the thought that students and educators look up to you and aspire to be like you! Frankly, I think the thought of getting rid of anyone, or putting band business out on a world wide media should fall back on the booster club. The funny part is in part of an article I read, the poster actually named names!! How STUPID! As I see it, those are the names I would go after first! Your new band director, with the assistance of the district administration, SHOULD closely consider the disbandment of your booster club! And then re-organize and start over AFTER the remainder of the current school year. You should all be ashamed of yourselves, APOLOGIZE to your band director, and then SHUT UP for heavens sake and NEVER consider ever doing something this stupid again!Peace and Merry Christmas! Idiots
Brad Hayashi
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December 14, 2013
I will speak to this topic from experience. I am a choir teacher. (Yes, in high school, I was in band all four years, but that is irrelevant.) I have personally been in Mrs. Markham's situation three times--all pure living Hell. I have taught high school choir now for 18 years, have my Masters, getting my Doctorate, done church choir for 36 years.

First the bottom line, then I will elaborate. The bottom line is that the band parents and the students know squat. Period. You know nothing (unless some of you are music teachers) about hiring a new teacher. You know nothing about what it takes to create a musical ensemble. You have very limited aspects about it, but that is it--limited aspects.

Now for the elaboration...

I am willing to bet that most of the whiners--for that is what they are--are, in decreasing number, seniors and their parents, juniors and their parents, and then sophomores and their parents. I am also willing to bet hard money that in spite of the article and what the band parents claim, the number of whiners are probably not more than 10% to 30% of the band, with the overwhelming majority being the seniors and their parents.

As others have ridiculed you and your students for--and rightfully so--high school students DO NOT KNOW SQUAT about music. Period. Oh, yes, definitely, there are those teenagers who THINK they do, BUT THEY DON'T. (One reason of many that I no longer want to teach high schoolers. So tired of prima dona's. And their parents.) Particularly when measured against an ADULT who has a Bachelors AND a Masters degree AND experience, the reality is, you know nothing what it takes to run a program. (No, degrees do not guarantee success, but her résumé seems really strong to me.)

Mrs. Markham's only fault is that she is the new teacher. That was my only fault, being the new teacher. I left successful programs where the parents and students loved me to take over a strong program where they vilified and slandered me. It takes four to five years before the whiners get weeded out. Then it finally becomes your program. The students and parents of the strong program of today were not around for the beginning years of their beloved superstar teacher that didn't enjoy that kind of success. They blindly think that stuff happens overnight.

(Here's advice to any music teacher: It is better to be god than to follow god. IOW, take over a struggling program.)

I would also be willing to place serious money that allegations of "lying," even if they say it is "documented," were either misunderstandings or the parents'/students' total misconstruing of reality. In the three Hells that I experienced, that was true. I often asked myself, "How in the world did they think that?" "How in the world did they think I said/did that?" "Why in the world did they think that I meant that?" So weird. In this highly charged emotional state they are in, they become totally irrational where reality is skewed and what actually what happened or what actually was said was heard or seen through their warped ears and eyes and changed. I also was accused of lying and even with misuse of funds. Rumors were rampant. Members of my own church, who profess to be Christians, were some of the worst back-stabbing guilty parties. There were people who hated me who I never even met nor even had a conversation with. I'm sure that Mrs. Markham can say the same thing. Most, if not all of her accusers probably never approached her to get her side of the story and just believed everything their teenaged child tells them.

Isn't that insane in and of itself? Any parent that believes everything their teenager says should have their parental head examined. But then, we are talking about immature, irrational parents themselves.

Good for the administrators who are serving as interference for this poor lady. They do not owe the parents an explanation for anything. And if you want to be throwing out accusations about how she was hired or throwing out crap about how she is not qualified, you had better be prepared to give good, strong, concrete evidence for what you say. Or guess what? It is YOU that is lying.

My advice for Mrs. Markham: In my third Hell, I learned to not to try to change a thing even though it kills you. Keep things as much the same as you can for the next four years. In those four years, little by ever so little introduce new things. You will need to be tough, but in the end, you can wear the "I am a survivor!" T-shirt. Sounds like your administrator will support you.

There are three types of people in the world when it comes to change. (Three TYPES, not necessarily in equal numbers.) Those that say "It is OK with me, I will give it a try." Those that say, "I think I'll see what everybody else does. And those that say "Over my dead body." Believe it or not, there are actually more of the first kind than you think, Mrs. Markham. But unfortunately the Type 3's are who lead the Type 2's into the charge against you. Stay strong. For four years. Then it will be yours, even with the students that had siblings under your predecessor. In about four to five years, the name of your predecessor will not even come to their minds.

My final advice for you, Mrs. Markham (which I'm sure you already know): Make the program all about the students, not you. If you do so, like I did, then after YOU have built an incredible program in six, eight years down the road, and if they need to replace you, then there's a good chance that your students will NOT treat the new teacher as they are now treating you. I successfully did that in my last school. (I'm sure that my replacement, a greenie, does not even comprehend let alone appreciate that.) But make that your goal.

Now some advice for the band students:

Hey you seniors, you are in charge of how happy you will be in your senior year. You can continue to be vain and childish and make it a miserable year for EVERYONE. Or you can take the lead, be mature, recognize that Mrs. Markham looks, acts, thinks, operates differently than your former teacher,(duh) and give it your best. YOU are in the driver's seat, not Mrs. Markham. Sound to me like you are sinking the ship at this point.

And lastly to both the students and the parents (who should know better): Life is not about winning band championships. Life is about how you treat people. Every sin and weakness can be defined within that realm. Every virtue and strength is also defined within that realm. Even if Mrs. Markham is "unqualified" or "a minor league coach" or a "liar," would you please look at yourselves in the mirror and evaluate what you see? Even if she is "wrong," is this the way you treat someone? Personally, I not only think, but rather know you are engaged in a losing battle in trying to get rid of her. But in the big picture of what is important in life, you are failing. Parents, I would be careful in what you are teaching your children.

Best wishes, Mrs. Markham.

Lassiter Band Studen
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December 15, 2013
I am a member of the Symphonic I band at Lassiter, and I truly appreciate your comment. I wish some of my fellow students could understand what you are saying, but unfortunately, many of them are too hard-headed to see anything other than their own opinions (and what they know to be facts).
Brad Hayashi
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December 16, 2013
@Lassiter Band Studen Yes, I believe, unfortunately, that you are correct in your assessment of them being hard headed. That's what I saw all three times. There were those like you who had a clear head, but it was the hard-headedness that prevailed. Misery for everyone. So sad.
Former Student
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December 16, 2013
I understand what you are saying, but she already had her own program at Allatoona which was a brand new program and was "hers." It did not really go anywhere. To my knowledge, a lot of the kids that went there had a fair amount of concerns as to how she ran rehearsals. Anywho, I think the article failed to point out why the parents and other members of the community who choose not to speak out are angry. It's because she had her own program and then suddenly decided to jump ship and try to fill Watkins' shoes. Same thing also happened when Kell High School opened up and she got the assistant position there when it was only open for half a day on the county website. Same thing happened with her Allatoona post, but there was not a program already in place for anyone to compare it to. This new position is a little different... Honestly, if I really had time to tell this entire story it would take a few days. I will agree on one thing, no one should have their name slammed around in public like this.
Try To Be Decent
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December 14, 2013
Even if you have a problem with the opinions expressed about this director's musical or teaching capabilities, you are in no way justified to verbally abuse people mentioned in the article. Unless you have experienced this program firsthand this year, you cannot determine whether or not the expressed opinions are in fact true, or misleading.

We do not have the power or the right to determine who should be right or wrong. Take the article for what it is; This is one side of a story by a young writer.
ThatoneInc
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December 13, 2013
http://www.tonedeafcomics.com/comic/new-band-director/

Enough said.
StopBlamingTeachers
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December 13, 2013
Having been through this situation myself with overzealous parents thinking they know it all, I can completely sympathize with Mrs. Markham. I would think there are some serious lawsuit implications for some of the statements that people have attached their name to....

They (the disgruntled parents) had better pray on both knees that she decides to stay as nobody with any experience (read, tenured) will be willing to give up their job security to come there now. You will be forced to take a chance on somebody straight out of college...not to say that can't work, but for a program as seasoned as this, I'd think you'd want somebody experienced. Mrs. Markham sounds very qualified educationally and the fact that she was the Asst. Band Director there under Mr. Watkins is a HUGE check in the 'pro' column as to reasons to hire her.

Can you imagine what would have been done to somebody that came in cold, not knowing the culture at all?

There is a horrible state of parent entitlement in this country right now where many parents think they know better as to how children should be taught simply because they have the biological capability to bear children...

(on average 1-3 maybe?) when experienced teachers have taught thousands!!!

I have found stay-at-home-moms to be a big problem as well; too much time, to little to do.... (to be fair, some of my BEST moms have been SAHM as well...seems to rock to the extremes)

Would you go into a fire station and tell them how to put out a fire because you doused a campfire last Summer on vacation? Would you tell cops how to break up a gang fight because you put two toddlers into time-out last night? Would you tell a brain surgeon how to remove a tumor because you cut a skin-tag off your arm last week?

Parents need to go back about 6 decades and start supporting the teacher and stop having the attitude that their precious child can do no wrong.

Support your teacher. Yes there are bad ones, just like there are bad parents, doctors, trash men, plumbers, etc. x 1000 professions. The entire PROFESSION is under attack now and YOU (entitled parents) are the biggest part of the problem.

Each year, when my two boys start school, I go straight to the teacher and tell them "I'm a teacher too. If my boys EVER give you any crap, don't hesitate to call me. I'll set them straight" That teacher knows they have an ally in me and that it's a TEAM EFFORT.

End of rant.
Bruce Boone
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December 13, 2013
There has been a lot of public outcry for the MDJ article that my son and I were quoted in. Taken at face value, that outrage is perfectly justifiable. It makes it sound like a bunch of high maintenance band parents prodded their spoiled East Cobb children into saying mean things because their new teacher was different than their last one. I get that. If that’s all I had to go on, I would certainly feel the same. I can say with conviction that this is not the case at all.

A movement started a while back when students came home with valid concerns. A vast majority of students were having issues with teacher absenteeism, no teaching in class, blatant documentable lying, and other issues not to be named here. As time went on more grievous issues started coming up concerning safety and county policy. Students reached out to their leaders and their superiors, who didn’t want to hear the problems. The principal for months refused to meet with students until recently, when he added the condition that the leader in question was to be present in any meeting. With the students having no advocate in the school and having reached out to their superiors, we felt we had no other option than bring the concerns before the Board of Education. The board did meet with us in a private session where our grievances were heard. It took a lot of courage to be able to do that. We have a lot of associates that feel the way we do, but are too reserved to speak out.

Airing our cause in a public paper was deemed the nuclear option, and we knew with that last option was a big risk that they might skew the story. I had a very wise personal mentor warn me that might happen. Well, that is exactly what happened. None of the stacks of documentation were used, and it came out sounding a lot different than what we had in mind. I do apologize to the band, Mr. Watkins, and Ms. Markham for the damage done. We screwed up. We’ve had people with a combined 45 years or so of Lassiter experience leave the program that felt as our group did, and certainly thought the problem was worthy of the risk at the time. We were trying to fight for them and the program.

We said our piece, and I am good with what the board decides. If they decide the grievances have no merit, I’ll be a little wiser for having done the exercise, but will agree with what they say. I have no personal issue with Ms. Markham, except the lying. Please don’t do it. She does try hard, and needs to appreciate that the others that work with her are on her team with the common goal of making the band better. So many issues we had could be made better with these adjustments. If nothing else, I hope she will toe the line on the policy issues. There is a right way and a wrong way to do specific things, and with a few more eyes and a little more help, maybe some of those details won’t get missed next season.

Many of us were served with papers for “False and Defamatory Statements” in private email grievances to our representatives. We didn’t have any intention of them becoming public whatsoever. This is the process we were told to use. I hereby retract the statements “unqualified” and “incompetent” as those are judgment calls, and I regret having stated my concerns that way. I witnessed the concert last night with an open mind and found it to be very well done. I would also like to revise my statement of “hiring was not done in an ethical manner” to “Wow! What a coincidence that a national search of the most competent replacement for Mr. Watkins (a top 5 placement in the country) was a friend of the principal hiring her and wife of the man working for Cobb County to do the searching and recommending.” With hindsight, I hope this brings more openness to the hiring process for other schools in the district in the future. Please do it the way you promised to do it beforehand.

I’m done with my fight. If the rest want to continue, they can do it without me. At least I tried to stand up for what I believed to be the correct course of action. As was our intention the whole time, we hope the Lassiter Band will continue their Tradition of Excellence that they have done for years. It’s all about the band and the students. There were various opinions on what is the best long term answer for the program, and we gave ours. We know plenty of people that hold different views, and have certainly heard from a lot of them by now. The public response has humbled us and made us step back and reevaluate. I thank everyone that is passionate enough to care, even if it was in anger directed toward us. I know how close the music fraternity is. It’s a tough situation that I hope can work itself out.

JoeBobby
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December 13, 2013
So now that a teacher's career has been potentially ruined because of the way individual's and a group chose to make their case, an apology comes. Seems a little late for that.
Former LHS Parent
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December 14, 2013
As a former LHS Band Parent and Board Member I lived through the LHS Band Experience. Then, as now, there were band zealots that couldn't keep things in prospective.

Without getting into a long dissertation here are some points to reflect on.

1. Alfred had many years to improve his skills and produce excellent results. No Person, not Ginny or anyone else is going to come in be perfect day one.

2. The Band Director does not know every instrument and can't tutor students in every discipline. That is why you have assistant directors and others to support the effort.

3. Many parents put Alfred on a pedestal and treated him as if he was a ruler, king, diety. In reality Alfred, like all of us, had his ideosyncrasies and quirks. Those parents lost their prospective.

4. This group of parents has lost sight of the goal. The goal of the band is to build a team, to work together and to practice to achieve a result. Winning competitions isn't the purpose, winning competitions is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the process, the students are the ones that ultimately are responsible for that, not the directors or parents. Without the student's hard work, there is no chance.

Ginny is not perfect but I watched her put as much effort in as any other person. Not all students like her.....not all students liked Alfred either. Regardless of the circumstances of how she got the job, she did. The least the band parents can do is support her and make her and their children successful.

By the way....to all of you young people that are posting to this website using the "f-bomb" it is time that you grew up and learned a little respect. Clearly you are spoiled little brats that haven't learned common courtesy and don't have high standards or values.
brave and wise man
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December 14, 2013
Mr. Boone, you are a brave and wise man. I hope that those who didn't speak out, but had you do it for them will appreciate what you and others were trying to do. Too bad that the MDJ perpetuated the problems here and that the principal and administrators at Lassiter couldn't head this off.
couldve warned u too
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December 14, 2013
I could've warned you too that the MDJ would skew your words, misquote misinform.. Happens all the time and they never take responsibility for it.
lhsparentofthree
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December 14, 2013
I applaud these parents for speaking out and think its a shame that this teacher hired an attorney to bully these parents into retracting the issues they had. No teacher hires an attorney without some warrant, (perhaps she was worried that her behavior was finally being called out). Nevertheless, these parents did what good parents do, they advocate for their children when a teacher is less than truthful and behaves irresponsibly. Funny how the comments say that these parents harmed a teachers reputation, but the bloggers did worse by defaming these parents who were courageous in speaking out.
Despicable
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December 13, 2013
As a parent you should have set a better example for your son and the other band students. Now that this program and teacher's reputation has been through the mud, you write a small response to wipe your hands clean. Kharma is a witch.... Did I say witch??
anonymous
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December 13, 2013
La la la

.... she's a baaddd teacher

What, she has a lawyer.....

Never mind .....

I'm done with my fight

Classless

BandStudent
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December 13, 2013
Ever heard the saying "think before you act"?

It would have saved your group lots of trouble. Not only did you make a somewhat private issue public, but it got almost 150,000 people saw it. You said that the MDJ didn't show any of the documentation, well you could have asked to see the article before it was posted. Also if the documentation was so important, why didn't your group post any of it anywhere. Instead of relying on the media you could have posted the documents. Another thing, how is this an apology when you still accuse Ms. Markham of lying. Apologies are suppose to settle things not add fuel to the fire. Your group's sloppiness cost your school's reputation to be destroyed.
Retired Band Parent
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December 13, 2013
Your comments are as arrogant as Watkins himself. If you think changing the semantics of your statements will work legally, you are mistaken. Doesn't sound to me like you've learned humility at all. I hope for the sake of your children, you will back off and let them learn for themselves.
Abandfan
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December 13, 2013
Mr. Boone, May you and your group get what you deserve. It' s hard to retract statements after you put them out there. May Mrs. Markham and her team continue with their full legal rights to correct the wrong you and others have done.
anonymous
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December 14, 2013
"A vast majority of students were having issues with teacher absenteeism, no teaching in class, blatant documentable lying, and other issues not to be named here"

- exactly how vast was the majority?

With 300 students, was it 200 students? How did you count them?

Some people don't know when to shut up.
SAXMAN85
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December 13, 2013
It seems like you have two choices. Learn to work together as a community of musicians or see the program suffer. Change is difficult and being the "new guy" following in the shadow of a very talented band director is even more difficult.

There is always more to learn. As musicians we are always students striving to learn more about our craft. We should always strive to play better, sing better, march better etc. If we close our minds to change we can never improve. I know from personal experience that given the opportunity there is much that can be learned from someone new. I also know from personal experience that being that director following in the footsteps of another is difficult but if the students AND parents will trust the director anything can be accomplished.

Parents, it is your job to SUPPORT the music program. It is NOT your job to question the director. Right now what your program needs is SUPPORT. Otherwise you won't have anything to worry about supporting because although music programs are difficult to build they are easy to dismantle and you are on the road to dismantling the excellence you seek to keep.

Students, she is your director and you need to give her an opportunity to see what you can learn. YOU ARE NOT MORE EDUCATED THAN SHE IS AND YOU DO NOT KNOW MORE THAN SHE DOES!!! I'm sorry, you probably feel like you do. YOU'RE WRONG! Give her a chance, there is ALWAYS something you can learn.

Something else to think about...

Do you harass any other educators the way you do the band director? Why aren't you complaining about the math teacher, or english teacher. Do you question others who are hired to do a job? Do you harass your garbage collectors that you don't feel they do as good of a job as you think they should. What about your local police officers? I would suspect you would answer "no" to all of the above. Is it that you are not educated/trained in any of the other areas? If that is the case why do you feel that you know more about music education than someone that has been through at least 6 years education in her area of specialty.
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