Thursday, January 12, 2012
McKinney North High school removes restroom doors
The move was made to curb fights, not sexual behavior.
McKinney North High School on Friday removed the doors that lead from the hallways into the restrooms, but McKinney ISD officials say it is not related to rumored sexual behavior and drug abuse in those areas.
McKinney North students and parents in recent days claimed that the number of pregnant students at McKinney North provoked school administrators to remove the doors in an attempt to curb any sexual behavior in the restrooms.
Cody Cunningham, McKinney ISD chief communications officer, said that the decision to take off the doors was made weeks ago, and that McKinney North Principal Jimmy Spann told him they were removed so that teachers and staff could better prevent fights and other disturbances from occurring in the restrooms.
"The doors were removed at McKinney North High School as a preventative measure, rather than a response to some inappropriate behavior as rumored by some students following the recent change," Cunningham said.
He added that the restrooms at many new high schools are actually designed without doors. School staff can more easily hear such disturbances before they get out of hand, officials say.
"The topic of removing the doors had been in discussion for a couple of years," Cunningham said. "From a design standpoint, it's very common for schools to omit exterior doors to the restrooms, and it's quite common in the design of newer schools."
Parents of McKinney North students heard other reasons for the removal, though, and have said that school officials told students Friday that the action was at least partially related to an increase in pregnancies at the school.
Heather Holder, whose daughter Victoria is a freshman at McKinney North, said Victoria told her after school Friday that Spann had spoken to each McKinney North class, separated by gender, about the increase in public displays of affection between students on campus.
Spann told at least some of the girls that there are 13 pregnant students at the school, Victoria said. This information has caused a bit of a stir among other parents, Holder said, particularly on Facebook and other social networking sites.
Some are more upset by the school's decision to remove the main doors than by the pregnancies, she said.
"A lot of the parents are outraged, but I don't really think it's a big deal," Holder said. "The bathrooms wind around, so you can't see anything from the doorway."
The restrooms have an entrance that bars any invasive vision from the outer hallways, thus maintaining occupants' privacy.
"It's common to not have exterior doors to restrooms, as long as it does not impact the sight line into the facility or the overall privacy of the individual," Cunningham stated.
When asked about officials' claims that removing the doors allows staff to more easily catch students while they're fighting and take disciplinary action, Holder said it seemed a futile measure given how fights typically occur.
"As soon as one breaks out, every kid comes running and immediately surrounds it," she said. "They're going to have to get through the crowd, anyway."
Holder added that kids will "just go deeper into the bathroom" to fight or participate in prohibited behavior, and that removing the doors is "just going to spur kids on to be more rebellious."
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