Ramstein school creates 'road map' for new year
Stars and Stripes October 4, 2005
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Ramstein American Middle School administrators have created a “road map” for school improvement in hopes of avoiding a repeat of last year’s tumultuous academic year.
In a letter to parents sent Friday, Principal Nancy Hammack explained some of the changes being made.
Highlights of the four-page plan include a greater emphasis on health and safety, a tighter control on personal e-mails and addresses, and a strict adherence to standardized testing guidelines. In an attempt to improve communication, the school will have monthly “Principal Chats,” in which parents can ask administrators anything they want.
“I think the bottom line is we want to create a really rich learning environment and in that rich learning environment we need to make sure that communication is viewed as going both ways,” Hammack said.
Ramstein Air Base hosts the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system’s largest middle school in Europe with more than 800 pupils this fall.
Last year, a series of e-mails — some of them sent anonymously to teachers and parents — blasted administrators for how they handled accusations of wrongdoing, from standardized testing irregularities to assault allegations.
In March, administrators threw out 106 science test scores because an investigation found an eighth-grade teacher violated testing procedures.
Then, a teacher accused a colleague of assaulting her in April. A base police investigation resulted in no criminal charges in the incident, but a school investigation deemed the incident inappropriate and punished the teacher.
Some parents heard about the testing breach and assault allegation for the first time through anonymous e-mails sent to their personal accounts.
A small group of parents met in July to voice some of their concerns, and Defense Department school officials created a special panel to review how administrators handled the allegations.
The review board met behind closed doors in Wiesbaden and will not release its findings to the public. But the school’s changes are partly the result of the panel’s recommendations, said David Ruderman, a spokesman for Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.
One of the top priorities for the school will be to improve communication among administrators, teachers and parents, Hammack said. The “Principal Chats” is just one of the changes in that regard. The first forum will be Oct. 24, and parents can come in for a morning or evening session, she said.
Administrators and school officials want to move on from last year and are focused on trying to create a positive environment in the school this year, Ruderman said.
“I think the action plan is a positive outcome of this whole unfortunate series of events and our internal review and our response to them,” Ruderman said. “[We’re] trying to stay focused on our main mission, which is delivering quality education to our kids.”