Sunday, January 15, 2012

Texas High school removes doors from bathrooms to 'prevent students from having sex in them'

One high school in McKinney, Texas has removed the doors to bathrooms, invoking an outcry from both parents and students.

McKinney North High School says removing the doors to the bathroom entrances are a preventative measure to ‘keep kids safe.’ But rumours have been circulating among students that the doors were removed because of illicit sexual behaviour in the loos.

One high school student said she’s seen some questionable activities in the women’s restroom. ‘I’ve walked into the bathroom and seen girls in the bathroom with guys,’ Sarah O’Kerke told KDAF-TV. Another student agreed. ‘I heard the reason they took (the doors) off was because they caught a freshman couple having sex in the bathroom,’ Avniel Guerra said.

But the high school disagrees. McKinney High School spokesperson Cody Cunningham said in this instance, the measure was carried for student’s safety and is because of reports of students fighting.

‘The students felt like the reason we were removing them was because of some inappropriate sexual behaviour in the restrooms, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,’ Mr Cunningham told He told CBS Local in Dallas-Fort Worth that it’s a common practice in newer schools. ‘Often times…they do take off or omit the exterior doors to the restroom and really it’s just a supervision issue.’

Parents are upset that it’s an invasion of their children’s privacy, but Mr Cunningham argues that many changes have been made in the last 50 years to protect their student’s safety.

The restrooms, the schools say, still allow privacy, as there is no line of sight from the hallway into the restrooms, thanks to a half-wall.

However, Texas has consistently been a state with alarmingly high teen pregnancy rates. According to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, Texas ranks fourth in the nation for the number of teen pregnancies, with 88 pregnancies per 1,000 women, aged 15-19. The report ranked pregnancy trends from 1986 to 2006.

It is first in the country for teen birth rates, according to study. While the state - along with Florida and New York - has received considerable abstinence-education funding in recent years, the numbers are alarming.

This isn’t the first disruption to mar the high school. In 2006, the McKinney high school made national news for a band of cheerleaders, dubbed ‘the Fab Five,’ who acted out by skipping class, terrorising their cheer-leading coach, and posting sexually suggestive pictures of themselves on MySpace. The then-principal ended up resigning as part of a settlement.


You're asking for trouble: Parents' anger after British school builds unisex toilets for its pupils

Parents have accused a Hartlepool school of 'asking for trouble,' after it built unisex toilets for secondary school pupils.

The toilet block at Dyke House Sports and Technology College was rebuilt as part of a £12.4m revamp and features three floor-to-ceiling cubicles, each for males and females.

The new design, unveiled after the school was remodelled under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, sees both sexes walk out from the cubicles to the same room and use communal sinks.

Mother-of-two Lynsey Smith, 32, who has a son at the school and lives in nearby Avondale Gardens, Hartlepool, said: 'If I had a daughter I wouldn't like to think you have got boys there giving it 'howay', carrying on while the girls are going through periods and all that sort of stuff. 'And if people are dating they might end up in the toilets. 'It's asking for trouble really.'

One mum, who took to Facebook to express her anger, wrote: '[My daughter] said she's refusing to go to the toilet for the next 4 and a half years.' She said she has contacted Hartlepool Borough Council and her local councillor over the issue.

School bosses have defended the new facilities, claiming the toilets are 'the way forward in 21st Century schools.' They say the block will always be monitored by a staff member, and will combat the problem of 'smokers' corners'.

Andrew Jordon, headteacher at the 1,050-pupil school, said two parents had raised concerns about the toilets, but had changed their minds once they had been invited to see the lavatories.

He added: 'What we had at the old Dyke House was girls' and boys' toilets in the same block, but with a rat-run of places where people could smoke. 'We have got them contained within the same block, but it's much more of a pleasant experience. 'The toilets are very separate - they all have individual cubicles which have floor-to-ceiling doors.

'There will be a set of toilets for each individual year group that have three individual cubicles for boys and three for girls.'

Mr Jordon said the school had spent 18 months working on the design with contractors Balfour Beatty and that the open-plan format was a 'stock-design' for the national construction firm.

He added that the toilets are supervised by a member of staff - either by a progress leader during lessons, whose office is beside the toilets, or by a member of supervisory staff during breaks and lunchtimes.

He acknowledged that the issue of girls' periods had come up in a lengthy consultation involving the school, architects and pupils, and it was felt the floor-to-ceiling design addressed this matter.

Peter McIntosh, head of schools transformation with Hartlepool Borough Council, said: 'The layout of the toilets at Dyke House School is an increasingly accepted practice in modern schools. 'Indeed, the same concept already exists and works well at the town's Space to Learn facility. 'When we were in the planning stages for Dyke House we looked at several new schools elsewhere which had adopted this design and the feedback was very positive.

'There are still dedicated toilets for girls and boys with floor to ceiling privacy and it is very much the way forward in 21st Century schools.'


Australia: Federal government aid to private schools to continue

Even under a Leftist government. With 39% of Australian teenagers going to non-government schools, anything else would consign the Left to years in the political wilderness. "Biffo" Latham's threat to private schools was a major factor in his undoing. His party lost that election and they have obviously not forgotten

PETER GARRETT has predicted a shake-up of school funding will not reignite class divisions, declaring the nation has moved on from debates about funding private schools.

The panel charged with reviewing funding, chaired by the businessman David Gonski, handed its report to Mr Garrett, the School Education Minister, shortly before Christmas.

Mr Garrett is developing the government's response, which will be released with the report early in the new school year.

The opposition's education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, has predicted the government will cut funding to private schools, forcing them to increase fees or sack staff.

But Mr Garrett said despite Mr Pyne's "mischievous" contributions, the debate on funding schools had been "mature."

"I would certainly caution against the opposition thinking that there is some window of opportunity once a report of this kind is released to reignite those stale old ideological warfare exercises," Mr Garrett said. "We're in a different place as a country now. We recognise that we have a government system and non-government systems of education and we need to have an approach that applies to all systems, and that's what we're aiming for."

Mr Pyne said the opposition was taking its cues from Mr Garrett's refusal to rule out cuts to school funding indexation.

"Millions of parents with children in non-government schools are waiting to see how much their school fees will be going up because of the Gillard government's changes to school funding," Mr Pyne said.

Labor went to the 2007 election promising to preserve the Howard government's system for four years, and in the 2010 campaign sought to neutralise the issue by promising to extend those arrangements until the end of next year. Mr Garrett said Labor had boosted funding while the Coalition had promised cuts.


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