Dear Parents and Caregivers:
You may be following the recent media reports that a very controversial survey was disseminated to some of our 5th and 6th graders at the Windsor School. The survey was part of a research project conducted by the University of New Hampshire. It was created to evaluate the work WISE, as an agency, does in our schools. WISE is dedicated to the prevention of gender-based violence across the Upper Valley and over the last several years has partnered with all schools in our SU around child sexual safety. Our schools are required by state law to have a curriculum that addresses this issue. WISE has historically done good work helping us to comply with this law. The University of New Hampshire survey was not part of the curriculum work that WISE does in our schools. Unfortunately, with respect to the survey, the administration was caught completely off-guard. The contents of the survey was never shared with the administration. Knowing Ms. Cassano the way I do, had she been notified, she would have have been far more critical of both the survey and the original permission letter that was sent home.
The permission letter was far too vague and did not include the specific content of the survey. It also required only "opt-out" permission, which in this case, was totally unacceptable. Several questions on the survey were not appropriate for 5th and 6th graders. I say this as both father and superintendent. Parents should have been informed about the content and given the opportunity to "opt-in". Fortunately, we discovered the issue before it was more widely distributed. But sadly, some of our children did get the survey. We have since instructed WISE to cease and desist in the dissemination of this survey. We will be working to ensure something like this never happens again.
Across the SU, we take our responsibility to serve your children very seriously. To any family involved in this survey, we sincerely apologize. Sometimes, in an effort to do good, people go too far, too fast. This is precisely why we have a procedure in place to vet any survey that is distributed on a wide scale, especially by an outside agency. We will be working with any and all of our outside agencies to ensure compliance with our protocols. In addition, the administrative team, including all principals, will be meeting with the WISE agency to re-evaluate their work in our schools. We will be suspending all work with this agency until that meeting occurs. Sadly, this situation has caused distrust in our Windsor School community and very well may damage any good work they have done in the past across the SU.
We appreciate any understanding in this matter and we will take the necessary steps to ensure that it never happens again.
Dr. David Baker
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union