Principal: bathroom graffiti not new to kids

| 29 Sep 2011 | 10:16

    Westfall - “If it’s been written on the walls, it’s already been introduced. They’ve seen it and discussed it,” said Delaware Valley Elementary Principal Sonya Cole. Cole was talking about threatening and sexually explicit graffiti that has repeatedly appeared on the walls in an elementary boys’ toilet stall. Some parents have been critical of her response. When the mother of a girl, who was the subject of the threats complained to Westfall Police, Chief Mark Moglia investigated. During his investigation at the school, Cole directed him to address an assembly of fourth, fifth and sixth graders and detail the consequences of crime, including rape. Moglia said he was uncertain about Cole’s decision at the time. Several parents, including Brian J. Paulison (see letter on page 10), have complained to the Courier that they should have been notified before graphic information was discussed. Cole, who has been an educator for 43 years and Delaware Valley principal for 21 years, said, “There are times you can’t tell (parents). I decided, based on my own experience,” she said. “I thought about it all night,” she admitted. Cole said she would not have involved police, but took advantage of Moglia’s presence, since he was there. No charges were pressed and the matter continues to be handled internally, she said. Cole also collected writing samples from students, which she said is a process she has used successfully in past. The other issue involved was Cole’s decision to ration bathroom trips following the incident. Students are allowed one trip each morning and afternoon. Additional trips require a preliminary trip to the nurse’s office, Cole said. There has been no outright denial of bathroom privileges, she said. However, the rationing system will continue until there is an uninterrupted seven-day period without new graffiti. Cole said she knew of no reason for Paulison’s concerns about administrators’ repercussions against his children, based on his complaint. “I’ve spoken to him since then, and he had some valid points to make,” she said.