In a video he uploaded on Thursday, Superintendent Casey Chambley said some parents were having issues with a new Sonday curriculum Chambers County elementary schools are using. He said it was obvious from ACAP test scores from last spring that the school system needed to do something differently.
“We could have eased off into this and done a little bit here and done a little bit there and not done very much at all,” he said. “However, that’s not the way we’re going to operate. We’re going to rip the Band Aid off and go right into it. We don’t need to waste any more time.”
Chambley said that the Sonday program is rigorous.
“We need rigor,” he said. “We need it to be difficult. We need to be teaching to the top. We have watered things down for so long in our education system that what we’re getting now is kids that are not reading on grade level, and their math scores are not comparable to other kids in the state and around the country and around the world. We have to stop that.”
He stressed that if the school system continued to do what it’s been doing, it would have the same results.
Chambley also said there had been a lot of talk about hoodies in schools.
“I get that parents have bought these things … My kids wear them,” he said. “I understand. However, we’ve got to make changes at times, and this deals with one of those changes. We have to address our dress code issues and issues surrounding dress code and issues surrounding discipline in a lot of different ways.”
Chambley said the school system has a “pandemic” of vaping, to which he linked the wearing of hoodies. He said vaping was even happening in elementary schools.
“We have had some fifth graders and caught some fifth graders with vapes,” he said. “Ya’ll, that is scary. That is frightening. Nicotine is bad enough. THC is terrible. And those things are in those vapes. But God forbid something happen and some of our kids get a hold of a vape that may have fentanyl in it and we have dead students because of that terrible drug.”
Chambley also linked hoodies to other forms of misconduct.
“We’ve had situations at both of our high schools over the past year where we have had students last year… where we had students that were involved in altercations, thefts, and other situations of vandalism, and we could not tell who they were,” he said. “You know why? Because they had a hood on and a mask on.”
He stated that the school system would amend policies and procedures that weren’t working and that the school system’s number one goal is to have students succeed academically and socially.
“We are here for you,” he said. “This is your school system. We want you to feel welcome, and we want your kids to feel welcome. And we are working hard for you and for our kids.”
The Chambers County School Board approved the 2021-22 Code of Conduct, which had several key changes from previous codes of conduct, in July. They prohibited wearing hooded sweatshirts in CCSD schools during school hours, although they permitted students to wear them to sporting events and on buses.
Chambley explained in July that students were using hoodies to conceal earbuds, talk on their phones, and vape.
“They’re able to vape the electric cigarette and able to blow it into the sweatshirt, and it absorbs the vaper,” he said in July. “We have kids in 90-degree weather that are wearing hooded sweatshirts. Who in the world, around here in this humidity would want to wear a hooded sweatshirt in 90-degree weather?”