AT BARCLAY SCHOOL, and in the community which it serves, we do not mind laughing at ourselves when the joke is on us. But we have no tolerance for misrepresentation. "Bugged out by classroom critters" (Other Voices, March 26) is a blatant example of misrepresentation. Although attributed to an eighth grader at our school, the essay was so distorted in the editing process that only The Evening Sun can accept responsibility for it.
This article called into question the performance of Barclay's custodians and, by implication, the management skills of both school-based and central office administrators who supervise them. The writer portrayed an aura of slovenliness about the school that insulted students, teachers, staff and neighbors. Readers must have wondered how the city Health Department could allow such deplorable conditions to exist.
The health inspector, who gave the school a high rating in January, was a bit puzzled himself. He came back April 9 to make a thorough investigation -- mandated because of the "report" in your article. His findings will be on file at the school for anyone who cares to read them: no sign of insects, dead, alive or waiting to be born (i.e., no bugs, eggs or evidence thereof).
The health inspector's visit, by the way, added an interesting dimension to the jointly sponsored Parent Teacher Organization and Barclay Community Council open house for new and prospective parents, which was underway when he arrived. We are always forthcoming about the real struggles which face public schools these days. But we resent having to respond to problems fabricated in a newspaper office.
In short, "Bugged out" was not amusing. The Barclay community does not understand why this cheap shot was fired, but we have dealt with it. The custodians received immediate and strong affirmation from all who know and value their work. The student whose name was associated with "Bugged" faced up honorably to the fact that he had unwittingly placed the school in a bad light. He offered an apology which his schoolmates, teachers, other school staff and the community respect and appreciate.
Still several questions have yet to be answered:
1. By what standards of verification was "Bugged out" cleared for publication?
2. Does The Evening Sun employee who instigated this affair understand why we at Barclay are not amused?
3. Is Barclay not entitled to a formal and public apology?
4. Will the real author of "Bugged out" please stand up?
Instead of publicizing non-existent vermin, we'd rather tell Baltimore about the Barclay-Calvert program, which provides students with a firm foundation in reading, writing mathematics, social science and science; about "Close Encounters," which operates in conjunction with the Baltimore Museum of Art, giving fourth graders in-depth, direct experience with great works of art; and about any number of other excellent programs at our school.
We guarantee that your readers will find any one of these programs more interesting than a brouhaha about imaginary bugs!
This letter was filed by the faculty and staff of Barclay School.