Hudson’s Fivay High School hasn't even graduated two senior classes, and it is already showing signs of imploding.
The Tampa Bay Times reported Monday, Mar. 19, that a student was arrested Friday after having two folding knives and a straight knife discovered on his person, which he claimed was for protection. Later on Monday, officials were called back to the school after two students were caught filming other students performing sex acts in the media center. According to some students there, this is nothing unusual. One parent, who did not wish to be identified for fear of retaliation on her child, did not mince words.
“It’s out of control. I don’t know what else to say. What I would like to say would not be appropriate!”
Claims of administrative incompetence, stonewalling of parental inquires, and student reports of bullying, violence and teacher apathy has Principal Angela Stone and her staff in the crosshairs of newly elected Superintendent Kurt Browning. Many believe that Browning's 2012 victory over Heather Fiorentino was the result of parental disgust over the appearance of favoritism towards schools in the more affluent areas of River Ridge, Trinity and Wiregrass Ranch. Some believe Browning, Pasco's former Supervisor of Elections, has inherited Fiorentino's most critical mistakes, and is now under pressure to gain control of several high schools considered failing by the state.
Adding fuel to the fire are two unrelated incidents which now have parents wondering who’s running the ship at the school, opened in 2010 to relieve overcrowding at Hudson, River Ridge, and Ridgewood High Schools.
Senior Josh Paredez told WTSP-TV Friday, following an incident involving the taping of two students having sex in the school’s media center, "Nobody cares about learning here."
Paredez is not alone. Multiple students and parents have accused Stone and her administration of failing to keep control over students, and reports of bullying, campus violence, and drug usage in plain sight of teachers has created a tinder box that many say is waiting to explode. In December, a female student committed suicide after a reported Facebook row, prompting students to hold memorials in her honor. The faculty's handling of this incident sparked outrage among the student body, so much so that several students came to school wearing pink tape over their mouths in protest of how the administration handled the situation. Fivay officials countered that they were following school policy.
While a Unity Rally is being organized to bring the student body together, at least one student appears to be disgusted with what has become of the school.
"It's sad. We grew up in a generation that has grown to be like this in high school." – Sophomore Kaylyn Edward, speaking to WTSP.
Tammy Clark, a parent whose daughter is enrolled at the school, stated in October 2012 that the school suffered from near-systemic problems. According to Clark, when her daughter was given an In-School Suspension for an incident involving use of an Ipod in class, information was hard to come by from administrators, and that the District office even disagreed with how it was handled.
“I had to call district office to get a response from the high school and even Mr. Bell, Head of Athletics at the school district even said they should have handled it differently.” - Clark, speaking in October 2012.
Clark’s concerns echo the feeling that certain students, especially athletes and popular students, are being given favorable treatment. While one report has surfaced indicating the reason that the Senior Class is being made to graduate at the Sun Dome on the campus of the University of South Florida as a matter of district policy, other rumors have swirled that it was being done to prevent damage to the school’s prized football field. After learning of the Monday incidents, Clark was dismayed, but not surprised.
“The sad thing is they focus on sports...and when the teachers bully and don't care why should the students.”
In addition, reports have surfaced of male athletes being given a slap on the wrist for such offenses as vandalizing vending machines, while other students are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. When Principal Stone was contacted about Clark’s situation, she refused comment, directing queries to the District Office.
Numerous messages in 2012 were sent to Kurt Browning via his Facebook page. While they were all marked as read, there was no return comment.