Message from the Principal & Superintendent

  • April 14, 2022

     

    Echols Families,

    You may be aware of posts on social media, referencing a survey that was recently given to a group of students at our school. We wanted to share with you the full context of the situation, and our response to it.

    The survey, which was a resource made available to us through the Alabama State Department of Education, was a 16-page document that measures independent living skills, in areas such as money management, career and education, housing, relationship skills, communication, and more. The purpose of the survey was to gather information from special education students, related to employment and life after high school, so that we can begin preparing them as they enter high school.

    This survey also included questions about gender identification, sexual orientation, and sexual activity. The document was lengthy, and it was an oversight that we selected a survey that included questions of this nature. We regret this oversight, as the content was not appropriate for middle school, and it was not the intent of the teacher or Echols administration to gather this information. There are also posts on social media that indicate it was the intention of Echols staff for students not to discuss the content of the survey with their parents or guardians. That is incorrect.  

    Once we were aware of the nature of the questions in the survey, TCSS contacted the Alabama State Department of Education. The survey, which was created by an outside organization, had recently been updated from its previous version to include the additional questions. We have instructed our teachers to use another survey tool, and the ALSDE has removed this resource from its recommended list. This was all done prior to social media posts that began circulating yesterday (April 13), regarding this concern.

    As educators, this is an important reminder that we must always be diligent in reviewing any material we provide to our students. We take this very seriously. We are also thankful to those who reached out directly to administration about your concerns over this issue, to get accurate information about the situation and help us address the concern. We appreciate your communication and investment in your students’ education.

    Sincerely,

    Jason Stapp - Principal, Echols Middle School

    Keri C. Johnson, Ed.D. - Superintendent, Tuscaloosa County School System