Case Study #2

Posted: November 24, 2008 in Daily Blog

Two weeks ago the 9th grade went on a field trip for gym. They were hiking the “incline” of Pikes Peak, a popular trail that takes you up to the summit, but it is narrow, steep, and at times difficult. We signed the permission slips and prepared our twins for the journey. One was sick that morning and did not go. The other sometimes struggles with hyperglycemia so we made sure she had plenty of healthy snacks for the trip. About half way into the expedition she began feeling light headed and like she was going to pass out. The gym teacher decided that the best coarse of action was to leave her with another girl where she was until the rest of the group finished the climb. They left her and the other girl a radio and headed off. Our daughter was frightened and uncomfortable not only from feeling poorly, but also because several other hikers (most of them were male) stopped to ask if these two young girls needed help. She had a radio that kept her in contact with the group, but for over an hour these two girls waited on the side of the mountain, and we knew all about it because she had her cell phone with her and was calling us (sobbing and distraught) giving us updates, and we had now way to get to her in a reasonable time.

Needless to say we were upset by these events, but what made it worse was that when we talked to the teachers involved they made excuse after excuse for why it was our daughters fault for not being “healthy” enough for the climb; or how they were only 5-10 minutes away at all times, or how it was a “safe” spot that they were left in, or that she was in constant radio contact with the group. Come to find out that the gym teacher is not only on the Colorado Search and Rescue team, but she FREQUENTLY leaves her students on the side of the mountain unattended in situations like this. The mountains of Colorado are unpredictable enough that I believe it should never happen… especially when the subject is a teenage girl! Had the teacher outlined the plan to leave kids behind in the letter home to the parents or on the permission slip that may have changed our thought process of sending either twin on the hike! Instead of the school and the teachers listening I feel like they have made my wife and I out to be those crazy overprotective parents. I resent that – all I ask of my public school is that they protect my kids to the best of their ability, this was certainly not the case in this situation… So my question to you today… Am I crazy? Is this too much to ask? Am I being an overprotective dad?

  1. yes, you’re crazy. but i’m not basing my answer on this situation. in this situation i’m pretty sure you’re right. i don’t think i would have been too happy had my child been left behind in the care of another kid her same age. i’m assuming the teacher knew the hyperglycemia thing. and it’s not like you didn’t send her prepared.

    thankfully nothing happened, i can’t even imagine what the school’s liability would have been… and i can’t believe they aren’t imagining that, too!

    You are right, I should have clarified the crazy part. Maybe “do you think I am crazier than normal?” would have been better. I also believe it would have been a whole different scenario had even one of the passers by hinted at any threatening comment or action, or had she actually passed out. Too many stories come out of the Colorado mountains of altitude sickness, wandering off accidentally, or animal encounters, (even for experienced locals going up for the day,) for this situation to have been taken this lightly.

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