A Dallas elementary school principal reportedly threatened to discipline students if they talked about dating or relationships in school.
Holiday Heights Elementary Principal Michael Wamsley sent parents an unusual letter in late February, WFAA reported.
In the letter, Wamsley stated that the school had issues with “distractions resulting from the students allowing themselves to get caught up in romantic issues and the drama that follows.”
He listed bullet points as to what interactions would result in Friday detention. They included:
- Going steady/dating another student
- Discussion of others dating (boyfriend/girlfriend talk)
- Spreading rumors or messages of "who likes who"
- Showing public displays of affection (holding hands, passing love notes, bringing gifts, etc.)
- Any other romantic gesture that distracts from learning in the class
"I know you share our belief that elementary school is no place for boyfriend-girlfriend relationships," Wamsley wrote. "Children between the ages of five and thirteen have more appropriate and important areas on which to focus their energies and attention."
But not everyone agreed with Wamsley's letter.
"My first thought was, that was really harsh," Krystal Hurst told WFAA. "As parents, we should be talking to our children about what those feelings mean, when it's appropriate to shows those in a public setting, when it's OK to have those feelings, and that those feelings aren't wrong."
Hurst is a former teacher who taught fourth grade for several years. She is also the owner of Dallas Moms Blog, a parenting website that features articles by mothers.
Birdville Independent School District spokesperson Mark Thomas said there will not be any punishment for said behaviors and added that the first-year principal sent the letter out without receiving district approval.
"[Wamsley] is going to do a follow-up letter that the school will not be discipline a child for saying they are going steady or dating, because as you know, children at that age don't truly understand what those words mean," Thomas said.
Wamsley sent the follow-up letter on March 2.
As parents, I am asking for your assistance in talking with your child(ren) about the appropriate way to address talking about relationships and displaying those feelings while at school. I can assure you that the student’s teacher [or an administrator] will personally contact individual parents when, or if, this becomes an issue concerning the student’s disruption of the education process.
In 2013, 60 percent of eighth-grade students reported never dating and only 5 percent of eighth grade students went on dates more than once a week, according to Child Trends.