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Opinion: Yes, Gainesville Middle School is safe
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Gainesville Middle School students walk the dark sections of the flooring Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, as they move to their next class. The school staggers class changes so the almost 2,000 students don't flood the halls at the same time. - photo by Scott Rogers

As the father of an eighth grade daughter at Gainesville Middle School, I was disappointed in The Times article from Sunday, Feb. 9 titled, “Is Gainesville Middle School safe?

I’ll start by answering what a lot of parents thought was an inciteful headline with an enthusiastic “yes, it is safe.” I could introduce you to a hundred GMS parents that would tell of their positive experience.

The entire article seemed to be based on a few out of context stats and comments from anonymous sources. The article referenced 167 fights, but most of these incidents are minor occurrences common among adolescents, the large number simply a factor of GMS being a large school.  Suggesting that this is indicative of systematic issues is inconsistent with the experiences of my family and most of the families I know.

A few paragraphs after citing the troubling number of reported incidents at GMS, the article then proceeds to accuse GMS of not reporting incidents.  This inconsistency suggests that the direction of the story was pre-decided and then “evidence” sought that would hopefully lead readers to that pre-determined narrative.

Fights and bullying occur at GMS, just like fights and bullying occur at every middle school.  We need to continue to improve, but I think the suggestion of systematic issues that don’t exist at other schools is inaccurate.  I do know that the increased number of reported incidents in recent years that was cited is due to the school being much more aggressive in reporting even minor incidents in an effort to make the school better.

It was also disappointing that much of the article was based on comments from a few anonymous teachers at a school with a couple hundred faculty members.  Most of my daughter’s teachers have been great, and I know it is hard to work with middle schoolers all day. But if there are problems to be solved, we need everyone to work together to deal with them head on.  People making anonymous and hard to substantiate accusations to the newspaper seems to fall under the category of “do you want to be part of the solution or just part of the problem?”

In our experience, GMS administrators have always been responsive and willing to do whatever it takes to serve students and teachers.  I look forward to continuing to work with our parents, teachers and administrators to keep GMS a fantastic place for our young people to learn and grow.

Proud Gainesville Middle School parent,

Doug Terry