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Buckley grade inflation
School head James Busby was accused of changing grades of board of trustees’ children, sparking ?an investigation in ?February. After independent investigators concluded that five students had their grades inflated ?in the past five years — adding that ?Busby did not violate school policies — students held a sit-?in and about 170 signed a petition ?to protest the lack of transparency. Busby resigned; Andrew Wooden serves as interim head.
Social media abuse
“Topless photos are popular in middle and high school,” says ?a private-education expert. Lori Getz, who teaches responsible technology use to kids starting in third grade, says students circulate nude pictures of classmates taken in locker rooms and bathrooms — a federal offense. Cyber impersonation is ?an issue, Getz adds: ?”I see kids creating accounts as other kids to harass them.”
One industry mom says Harvard-Westlake expertly handled a case of an eighth-grade boy selling pictures of seventh-grade girls: “They sent proper emails out and the boy got reprimanded. It was a well-run machine.” A rep for Harvard-Westlake, unaware of any recent incidents, tells THR, “HW has a strong Technology Responsible Use Policy and has taken a firm stand against any sort of online conduct that would constitute cyberbullying”
Guns on campus?
Typically, celebrity children’s “bodyguards wait outside all day,” says a consultant. “But these ?are former LAPD and ex-military — some are armed. A few schools have said yes ?to escorting the child to the door and therefore carrying guns on to campus.” But it’s controversial.
“We have seen an increase in inquiries from clients with kids in school,” says Jeffrey Marquart, partner at security firm Gavin de Becker and Associates, declining to answer whether employees are armed. “Some parents have hired us to transport, or even accompany, their children at school.”
Last August’s arrest of biology teacher Aimee Palmitessa, then 45, was followed by a grand-jury indictment on 12 felony counts, including unlawful sex ?with a then-17-year-old student; she pled not guilty. This month the student, now 18, sued, alleging that the school allowed Palmitessa ?to target him for sex. On Aug. 6, head ?of school Mike Riera — who had launched an internal inquiry, with Palmitessa not ?returning from suspension — posted on the school site: “We are in the process of evaluating [the lawsuit].”
“Vaping is happening at every school — it’s so easy because [the electronic cigarettes, often of the brand Juul, are] so small and there’s no smoke. This is what they’re going to do to rebel,” says education consultant Priya Nambiar. School expert Christina Simon agrees that vaping is a big issue, adding, “Every single administration in middle school, even elementary school, is terrified.” Parents suggested three schools in particular had issues. A rep for Viewpoint School responded to THR, saying, “In the interest of our families’ privacy, the school does not comment on disciplinary matters, including whether they indeed existed.” Consultant Betsy Brown Braun counters: “It’s raising kids today. Show me a school that doesn’t have those problems and I’ll show you a liar.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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