A letter from the front

Exasperated Gibbs teachers send an unsigned letter to Pinellas schools' superintendent detailing students' vile and destructive behavior and verbal abuse.

Published February 11, 2007

Editor's note: This anonymous letter was sent to Clayton Wilcox, superintendent of Pinellas County schools. Gibbs Principal Antelia Campbell doesn't dispute many of the problems cited, but says most high schools in Pinellas are in the same boat. "We're dealing with 2,300 kids every day," she says. "The issues here are no different than at other schools."

Dec. 15, 2006

Dear Dr. Wilcox:


This is being written by a group of teachers at Gibbs High School. Some of us are new and some of us have been here for 30 years and we have had enough. Gibbs is out of control and we have an Administration that does nothing. Here is a list of some of the outrageous things going on:

Students defecating on the floors and in the sinks in the bathrooms. Students having such terrible fights everywhere that their food was taken away. Students setting aerosol cans on fire as they shoot spray out of the can. Students have wrecked the bathrooms with awful graffiti. Every other word is f..., s... we women are called b.... all the time and the latest is black students calling white teachers racists if the teacher asks them to do something they do not want to do.

Now our principal is insisting that teachers babysit all the kids who have earned the right to exempt their exams. She refuses to put them in the cafeteria as has been done every year since exam exemptions have begun. She said that if they go to the cafeteria then the teachers can give up their planning periods and go babysit them. What are the administrators and guidance counselors doing? And what happens when these kids make noise during the exams and the kids taking the exams can't concentrate? What happens when they complain to their parents about this? Our principal could care less. She does not include teachers in her decisions.

The back of the school fence now has a huge hole cut into it because the gate is kept locked so now the kids can get in and get out when they want. They tore off a metal part of the staircase. And we have heard the principal checks up on the teachers by calling kids into her office to inquire about the teacher. Communist Russia is alive and well, isn't it? She puts out a roster with a few teachers on it demanding they monitor the halls. Well, the halls are dangerous. Why aren't all the teachers on this list? She refuses to give comp time. And when we do our hall duty we are verbally abused the entire time.

Why aren't all the cameras working? Why aren't they watching the cameras and grabbing these horrible kids who need to be permanently removed?

These kids do anything they want and there is no punishment. Sometimes we wait a month for action to be taken. Jade Moore was told a lot of this at a meeting on November 27 and teachers are constantly telling him about the outrages on this campus. All of us teachers are in danger and we are ready to go to every TV station and the newspapers and soon. Some of us want to go to CNN and FOX because this is so bad it needs to be aired everywhere. You were in the paper in August talking about how we will have discipline.

You talked about a kid's hat and his earphones. Those are nothing. We have kids walking around with falling-off pants, holding their privates; girls walking around in skin tight clothes, skirts so short everything shows, breasts hanging out, 4 inch heels and everyone of these kids have cell phones, I Pods, headphones and if teachers dare to tell them they are in violation of the so-called dress code they are told in no uncertain terms to f... off. We are afraid of these kids.

It is a daily battle just to teach our classes. If you and the principal think we are going to put ourselves in harm's way by telling kids in the halls we don't know to obey the rules, then you are all operating under a delusion. Even our administrators say nothing to these kids. This is why they do exactly as they please. Instead of announcing you were coming to Gibbs you should have appeared with a camera and photographed them all hanging out everywhere on campus during classes. And then we are told we can't give F's because we are doing something wrong. Yeah, right. How about them skipping every day and doing no work at all! Hello? Is anyone listening out there?

Very disgusted teachers (We cannot sign our names. We would be dead.)