Group compiles list of concerns about Ramstein school
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Parents fed up with a growing number of problems at Ramstein American Middle School have come up with a long list of concerns they want Defense Department school officials to fix.
A small but vocal group of about a dozen parents met at the base’s Northside Chapel on Wednesday night and will send several of its most important issues to a review board this week.
Defense Department school officials formed a special panel last month to look into how administrators handled allegations of assault and standardized test irregularities this past year along with some other issues. The panel is meeting this week in Wiesbaden behind closed doors and will offer recommendations in several weeks.
The board’s findings will not be made public, but parents said they should know what the panel reports.
“There should be a town hall-type meeting for parents,” said Gwen Allen, who has two children attending the middle school and serves as the president of the school’s Parent, Teacher and Student Association “We should be able to bring out our concerns. We should know what decisions are made.”
The middle school — the Department of Defense Dependents Schools’ largest in Europe with more than 700 pupils — has been the center of controversy the last four months after allegations of wrongdoing emerged through anonymous e-mails.
Parents at the informal meeting criticized administrators for not telling parents the extent of some of the problems, which many teachers and parents learned about in greater detail through the e-mails.
School officials invalidated 106 test scores in March after an internal investigation found an eighth- grade science teacher broke the rules. The investigation found that teacher Jack Marlow gave answers to his pupils after they had completed that portion of the test but before other pupils had completed the exam. He received a letter of reprimand.
Defense Department schools are also investigating whether a male teacher assaulted a female teacher in front of pupils.
School administrators did not attend the meeting Wednesday, but Assistant Principal Raynard Eddings said Thursday that the person e-mailing parents and faculty is on a mission to “discredit” administrators and the past few months have been “very difficult.”
At the beginning of the three-hour meeting, parents put their concerns on white poster board tacked up. It didn’t take long for parents to fill them with a laundry list of concerns in marker and purple sticky notes.
One parent blasted school officials for having a “lock-down mentality” in the hallway. Another said officials did not hold poor teachers accountable. Most agreed that an unprofessional and negative attitude had spread throughout the schools like a virus.
“We firmly believe [that] a positive atmosphere is most conducive to learning. … We try to present a positive atmosphere as much as possible,” Eddings said by telephone.
“I want parents to come in and express their concerns,” he said.
But some parents said they did not go to administrators individually because they were afraid of reprisals against their children.
Deborah Morris, whose son is in the eighth grade at the school, said the problems at the school have put a tremendous amount of stress on military families strained from the constant deployments and a heavy workload.
“You shouldn’t be sitting down in Iraq and getting phone calls about this happening or reading about it in Stars and Stripes,” Morris said.