Important Information 

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** Good morning all,

As some of you may know, the 5th grade teachers were recently alerted to inappropriate behavior that has been occurring among our 5th grade students. 6th grade parents- we are including you on this email in case any of you are aware of similar behaviors happening in your child's grade. We immediately began to investigate the situation in fifth grade and separated the girls and boys so students would feel comfortable discussing what has been happening between boys and girls during and after school. During our discussions, students opened up and reported that students have been making sexually explicit jokes, sounds, and gestures, as well as tickling each other in ways that has made many students feel uncomfortable. While teachers have been working to understand the scope of the problem, Ms. Miller also came to discuss with all 5th graders the severity of the situation.

One unfortunate reality we have discovered here is that the majority of our students consider this to be typical, normal behavior, which is why it has not been widely shared with adults. Part of our conversations with students has centered around why this behavior is inappropriate and how all people, including students, should be able to expect to be treated with respect. Please take a moment to speak with your children to learn if they have been made to feel uncomfortable by behavior that has been directed their way or they have witnessed among their peer group. Please let us know if your child has been involved or targeted in any way, so we can offer them support at school.

It has become clear from our initial investigation that students are hearing jokes through YouTube and other social media accounts that are inappropriate, but widespread. Many of these YouTube channels and videos are not developmentally appropriate for this age and consequently, students are repeating things they might not understand. We realize that the internet is a challenging forum to control, but this is one area to focus on to make sure that our students are benefitting from technology while staying safe as well. Please remember that the use of platforms such as NetNanny, MyMoblleWatchdog, TeenSage or MobileSpy can help parents keep an eye on what types of sites students are accessing on their devices.

Here are a few initial steps we will be taking to support students at this time:
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** Provide counseling to students who may need help understanding this situation and how it may affect them
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** Have an expert come in to speak to the students about appropriate adolescent interactions.
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** Start a social-emotional curriculum called Second Step. This curriculum will include home-links so that you know exactly what is being covered in class and you can support these conversations at home. Examples of lessons are on empathy and speaking assertively.
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** Ensure that all students have an opportunity to voice their concerns with adults in the building, possibly through lunch groups with the teacher team.
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** Given the sensitive nature of what has been said, it was not our intention to keep any of you out of the loop. It was important that we understood the severity and specifics of the situation before partnering with you to avoid any misinformation being shared. We look forward to your partnership so that we can ensure that school continues to be a safe learning environment for all of our LaSalle families.

Thank you for your support and attention to this matter,

The 5th/6th Grade Team
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