Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Woodside Wolves, Stay Strong!

I do not usually deal with a whole lot here on the blog other than our...well, planks, fartleks, and family adventures. The purpose of the blog was and will continue to be where we share our adventures, struggles, workouts, and fun with you. It may at times seem that our life centers around those things...but what I share here is but a mere small peak into our lives. There is a lot to us that never makes it here. Real life stuff.  Stuff I just dont' feel the need to share, or that would most likely be of little interest.  From time to time I have, however, mentioned where my kids attend elementary school. Woodside Elementary.  I have even recently raved a time or two about the school, and that we have had an amazing 6 years there. I have raved about the amazing teachers and office staff, and have said they really are like family to us.

Due to the recent events, and our school (despite moving on next year, Woodside will always be "our" school) being all over the news and papers and multiple online news sites, I thought I would say a few things. 

If any of you are wondering, yes, my 3 kids went to "that" school. I have had at least one kid there for the last 6 years. Mr. Martin was/has been there for the entire 6 years, except for the last few months (April, May, part of June) of this past school year.  NONE of my kids had Mr. Martin, and none of my kids ever took any of his after school classes.  Of course, over 6 years of being at the school on nearly a daily basis, we did interact with him from time to time. Nothing worth mentioning. It really is of no comfort to me that my kids did not have him as a teacher.  Regardless of whether or not he was their teacher, he had daily opportunities to have contact with my kids. And many other kids, kids that I have seen grow up since kindergarten, kids I've played countless games of wall ball, kick ball, tether ball with, kids I've chaperoned for 6 years worth of field trips, kids who I've cooked countless pancake breakfasts for, kids I've had year after year of end-o-year water balloon fights with,  kids who's parents I've become friend with over all those year....many of those kids did have Mr. Martin. Kids and parents who are now hurting.  Families who have had to take their sons in to be interviewed, questioned, and video taped.  Unfortunately, it is not just this past years 5th grade class. In all honesty, we will most likely never know how far back this goes, or even how many kids it has involved.

As of today, there are 91 felony counts of lewd acts, involving 12 kids, both current and former students, all acts taking place at the school and/or his home.  Due to special circumstances, he is eligible for life in prison. His bail is set at an astounding $10 million.

I have known something was going on since April. I was in the pick up line to get the kids after school, and just as the bell was about to ring letting school out, police cars started to show up. There were 4 or 5 by the time we left. My kids had no idea what was going on, said nothing had happened at the school that they knew of.  Of course, being a parent.....I kept my eyes and ears opened. The next day Mr. Martin had a sub. Em  came home with a story about Mr. Martin being threatened by a student and that he couldn't come back to school for a while.  Obviously that did not sound right to me.  After about a week I started asking other parents where he was. Nobody knew.  I kept asking, and eventually was told there was some sort of family emergency.  A few more weeks go by and I finally say something to Sophie's teacher, who said "she couldn't say anything about it." So then I asked a mom who's husband is a police officer. She, too, said that yes, she knew why he was gone, but it involved the police, and she could not comment. She did say that the families with boys in his class know why he's gone, and most likely would tell me if I asked.  So I did.  On 5th grade field day, when all 3 5th grade classes spent the day together having a blast.  Remember how much fun I had that day helping out??  Yeah, well.....the other part of that day was very difficult.  I asked a mom who had a boy in Mr. Martin's class if she knew where he was, and she said that on his last day he got a phone call. He then sat down with his class and told them there was a family emergency with his wife who was back east visiting her family, and that he had to leave right then and go back east.  And then he left.  I said something along the lines of "I think there may be a lot more going on here than what we realize".  She was sure I was mistaken because it was a family emergency, and he couldnt' possibly be in trouble for anything, not Mr. Martin. She said she hoped his wife and babies were ok.

Not satisfied yet, I asked another mom who had a son Mr. Martin's class if she knew why he was gone.  She said that yeah, she knew.  She had been contacted by Concord Police asking her to bring her son into a special child victim building (where everyone is plain clothed, less scary) to be interviewed and give a recorded statement.  She said there have been several complaints of him having inappropriate contact with his male students, and that this was not the first time, but that the current family making the complaint is not going to let it get swept under the carpet. (We now know there was a previous complaint 6 years ago).  She did indeed take her son in and talked with the police both in person and several times on the phone, yet she had not heard a word from anyone at the school, or from anyone in the district office about the matter.  I asked her to go talk to the other mom, who currently had a son in his class, and had no idea about what was going on, which she did.
I think by the end of 5th grade field day, every parent who was volunteering knew what was going on, and we all had the same question -"why dont' we know about this??" Mr. Martin held numerous after school classes in his room, that kids in other grades could sign up for. He had open access to, not just his class, but the entire school. The parents that day, myself included, were extremely upset.  Even just seeing the principal and teachers and knowing that they knew what was happening, but we parents did not...while I understand the legal was hard to swallow. It was harder still for all of us to put on a happy face and make it a special day for these 5th graders....some of who we now knew had had a terrible, life altering experience at the hands of their teacher.
And...try to wrap your head around this....he went to camp with these kids. Camp where no parent chaperone's were allowed, just high school kids as chaperone's.  He had direct access to these kids, day and night, for a week, going on hikes in the woods, night time nature walks, etc.  And not just our 3 classes of 5th graders from Woodside, there was another school there, too.
Of course we know that legally, the school, teachers, and school district could not comment at the time because it was only an investigation at that point in time.

However, NOW,  he has been formally charged with 91 felony counts of lewd acts!! He entered a plea of not guilty this morning.  It's out in the open now, it's all over the news, in the papers, all over we, the families who went to the school, the parents of the kids that he had access to.....we have heard NOTHING from either the school, or MDUSD (the school district).  No "here's a hotline to call if you need to talk to someone", no "contact Concord PD if you think your child has been involved", no "we cannot comment but rest assured the matter is being handled"......NOTHING.  Why? That is ridiculous to me.

You have to understand...if someone has pink eye, a school wide letter is sent home. If there has been any suspicious activity, like a car trying to pick up a kid, a robo call goes out district wide letting us parents know so we are aware of the danger.  But this....this going our school.....and we hear nothing?? And continue to hear nothing? 

I am not a political person at all. I do not get involved with "creating change for the better" or protesting or that sort of stuff.  That said, I am livid at the lack of communication between the district and the families that attend the school this monster picked his prey at.  We should not be having to go to the local online news site for the latest update...not when our kids are involved.
The families who are involved directly, and the families who had to take their kids in to  be interviewed, they deserve a little respect. Acknowledge what is going on. Acknowledge that it is being handled and you can't comment.  In this case, silence is not golden.

I obviously have strong feelings about this whole situation, and could go on, but I will not.
I just wanted to take one post and address this whole mess. Yes, our kids went to Woodside where Mr. Martin was.  Yes, it's extremely troubling, on many levels, for many reasons.

When you are seeing this story on the news, spend as little time possible thinking about Mr. Martin. Instead, please take a second to think about the families involved.  The kids involved.  That is where all the concern should be right now.
Update -
MDUSD has just issued this statement.
We just received a robo call that is word for word the same as the statement linked to above.

MDUSD......too little, too late.

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