If a guidance counselor screws up and tells a kid to drop a class, and then that kid is no longer eligible to play sports because a vindictive principal won’t sign a waiver, then how can anyone say that this school is working in the best interest of the kids?
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People who rise in the education world love to say “it’s about the kids” because it sounds good. But 99% of them don’t actually mean that. Because it’s always about their careers first, and the kids second. The latest story about gutless administrators trying to screw over kids comes from Aaron Hernandez’ former town of North Attleborough, where a high school principal is not letting a kid play hockey because his guidance counselor/coach gave him some bad advice. Of course it’s hardly surprising that a story like this would come out of this school. After all, just two months ago they forced their girl’s soccer coach to resign because he made them do bear crawls and some of them started crying.
Anyway, Paul Baker is a senior at NAHS, and was looking forward to playing his final season of hockey as a defenseman. Last year the Rocketeers had a very successful season, finishing with a winning record before losing to Canton in the playoffs. Paul Baker was named an All-Star by the Sun Chronicle.
Paul is also a really good kid who has overcome a lot. A couple years ago he was diagnosed with diabetes, and requires insulin shots and constant monitoring of his blood sugar level. But he’s overcome it, along with a series of injuries to make first line defenseman as a junior. Because of his experience with this Paul volunteers at a diabetes camp to counsel kids who face similar obstacles. He also volunteers to mentor younger kids with diabetes throughout the year. By all accounts he’s a really good kid, from a good family, who was looking forward to his final year of high school hockey.
Paul has taken three years of Spanish, and was encouraged to sign up for Spanish 4 by his Guidance Counselor Steve Snizek, who is also North Attleborough’s hockey coach.
He was told that it would look good on his resume and would improve his chances of getting into the college of his choice. However, Paul wasn’t doing very well in the class and got a bad grade on the first quarter progress reports. He reportedly was advised by his counselor/coach to drop Spanish, because a bad grade would hurt his GPA. So he did.
As it turns out this meant that Paul was only taking three classes this semester. And since the semester was already well underway he couldn’t pick up a new elective that period. However, next semester he is slated to have seven classes in order to make up for it.
Naturally this violates some sort of rule buried in the MIAA handbook. The same organization that spent thousands of dollars on lawyers to keep Kevin Mensah from playing football at HIS high school, Shepherd Hill. Here’s the specific rule that he is allegedly in violation of:
“A student must secure during the last marking period preceding the contest (first quarter grades in this case) a passing grade, and full credit, in the equivalent of four traditional year-long major English courses.”
In other words, by dropping a class he wasn’t doing well in, Paul made himself ineligible.
Here’s the catch though – the MIAA is willing to give him a pass. I know, it sounds crazy. But for once they’re not the bad guys. They’ve explained to Paul’s family that this rule exists in order to prevent kids who skip classes or are only enrolled in one or two classes from basically staying enrolled in school for the sole purpose of playing sports. Since Paul Baker clearly is NOT doing that, and is set to take seven classes next semester, they are more than willing to allow him to play.
So why isn’t he playing? Because of this guy:
That’s Craig Juelis, who is in his second year as principal of North Attleborough High School. He has the ability to sign a simple waiver which both the MIAA and Superintendent approve of. And he’s not doing it. Because rules are rules and some high school administrators LIVE to screw over kids.
My question is, why isn’t the Superintendent overruling him? Who works for who in this district? It’s not like this guy has been the principal there since the beginning of time. It’s his second year on the job and he wasn’t even working at this school before that. According to Mr. Juelis, “our goal is to help students succeed.” So…..how is keeping a kid from playing his senior year of hockey helping him succeed? According to several independent studies, “participation in high school sports helps youngsters develop a host of crucial skills which give them a leg up as they enter the work world and achieve success for decades afterward.”
And this is what these self-absorbed administrators always seem to forget – it’s not about you. It’s about the kids. Your job is to help these kids succeed. By all accounts Paul Baker is a good kid who keeps his nose clean and never gets in trouble. Only a rigid narcissist would go out of his way to deny a student of this opportunity, despite the fact that the governing body AND his boss don’t have a problem with it.
Granted, part of the blame rests on the kid himself for dropping the class. However, let’s think about it for a second. The kid was taking Spanish 4 in a Level 1 (Honor’s) class. Anyone who’s ever taken foreign language knows that it only gets harder as you go along. It’s not like History where you can just start fresh with the next chapter, or English, where you can just do well on the next book. Foreign language is a building process, and if you struggled with it in the earlier years (like Paul did) then it only becomes more difficult as you advance. You couple that with the fact that Paul did not take Spanish as a junior, and he hasn’t touched the language in over 15 months, and you had a recipe for disaster.
So then why did he sign up for this class? Well, that’s what guidance counselors are for. Paul Baker was advised by his guidance counselor, Steve Snizek, to take this class. When he started doing poorly in it he was advised by this same counselor to drop it. Oh yea, and the guidance counselor is also his hockey coach.
So…..how did he not see that one coming? Why is the kid being punished for bad advice that he got from an adult that he trusted? It’s the job of the guidance counselor to provide guidance. Plus, everyone knows that guidance counselors have the sweetest gig in the school after gym teachers. Their job is to sit in their office and give good advice to kids. Coach Snizek screwed up, which happens. No big deal. But it’s incumbent upon him to fix this mistake.
Unfortunately that’s not happening. Coach Snizek has recused himself because as his coach he believes this is a conflict of interest. Now the kid is on his own against a principal who won’t budge. But why is the principal, who is well aware of this, disciplining the child when it’s the adult under his employ who screwed up?
So what’s this guy’s problem?
Well, as it turns out he may or may not be quite butthurt from this online petition that one of Paul’s teammates started. Mr. Juelis called the student down and asked him to take the petition down. The student refused. Now here we are.
Would he have let Paul Baker play if he took the petition down? Probably not. He’s clearly one of those “rules are rules” guys. And since he’s knew he wants to establish himself as the alpha male at the school. He can’t let a bunch of kids dictate his actions. So obviously it was a smart move on the part of his teammate, Zack McGowan, to keep it up. There’s nothing to gain by taking it down.
Anyway, this one is a really simple fix. Unlike the Kevin Mensah saga, the MIAA is not gonna take North Attleborough to court if the principal signs the waiver. They’re cool with. All he has to do is sign the document. Turtleboy and this kid’s teammates should not be the ones leading the charge on this. That should be the coach/guidance counselor who created this nightmare in the first place.
The bottom line is, this principal just needs to swallow his pride and sign the stupid form. Get it done and we’ll leave you alone. Keep screwing over the kid and we’re gonna have to keep your name in the headlines. Your choice.
Feel free to email Principal Juelis or Superintendent Holcomb at:
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