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Letter: Article hurtful to Trigg students

By Amy Swain

The Daily Advance

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I’m writing to express my deep disappointment with the article regarding the newly appointed school resource officer at H.L. Trigg Community School. I’m also inviting you to consider the students who are affected by reading they have been labeled “behaviorally handicapped” on the front-page of our newspaper. This article could have been written with much more care and deliberation, and I believe a responsible journalist would have been aware of this.

The information provided is skewed and highly inflammatory. It suggests that a resource officer for H.L. Trigg is a burden on city and county taxpayers, and a burden on the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education. What of the other four resource officers serving schools in Pasquotank County — two of whom are placed at a middle school?

When your staff writer, Reggie Ponder, chose to include Commissioner Gary White’s critique of Trigg students — that it “doesn’t speak highly for our society” when a school needs a resource officer — we might also wonder at a society that requires SROs at middle schools which serve students aged 11-14. We might also consider a society which pushes students (like those at Trigg) out of schools each year at alarming rates.

Why not consider what it says of our society that students at Trigg are not being served equitably under the law? That they are considered as less than deserving by not one but two of our county commissioners? An education should be provided for these children, and is required by state and federal mandates. Although it is true that some of Trigg’s students cannot find success at their home schools, it also bears mentioning that Trigg does an excellent job of helping these students graduate each year.

Trigg serves this community in more ways than one, and the work of the faculty and staff is denigrated when an article is published that suggests this school is no more than a holding cell for delinquent youth. How dare you, Mr. Ponder. These students are already stigmatized as trouble-makers without further damage inflicted by careless media personnel.

To comment on the number of “incidents” at Trigg this year — without also attending to the reported incidents at Pasquotank County High School, Northeastern High School, River Road Middle School and Elizabeth City Middle School — is just poor journalism. Mr. Ponder has also failed to note that it has taken over a month for county officials and administrators to place an SRO at Trigg, while other schools had an officer appointed on the first day.

But maybe Mr. Ponder needs reminding: These students are not throwaways. They are not second-class citizens. They deserve an education — a good education — and they are receiving that at Trigg.

You could do more, Mr. Ponder.

AMY SWAIN

Elizabeth City

Editor’s note: Our reporter, Reggie Ponder, reported the facts as they were presented at a Pasquotank commissioners meeting. The story accurately quoted both school, county and law enforcement officials about the need and consequences of placing a school resource officer at H.L. Trigg Community School. If the way those officials described that need or those consequences lacked sensitivity, the complaint should be directed at them, not Ponder who was doing his job reporting their comments.