School board, parents address poster flap

 By Kay Braddock

Posters – made and sold by several high school football parents to local businesses as a fundraiser project – were at the heart of a nearly 45-minute discussion during last week’s school board meeting. 
Intended to promote the Terry High School football team and provide funds for snacks and drinks, the sales of the 16-by-20 inch glossy posters, a week earlier, met with critical reaction from school officials - ultimately leading to their recall just days after being sold and distributed.
“I don’t think the poster was an appropriate representation of the school,” Terry Schools Superintendent Charles Deisher told board members and several mothers in attendance who helped with the project. 
With the headline, “Badboys of the Badlands,” the posters portrayed the 15-member high school football team, using the area’s badlands as a backdrop. Four of the players in the picture were not wearing shirts, while two others were wearing tank tops.
Describing the image as “nice” Deisher went further on to explain.
“I think they should have been wearing full game-day uniforms,” adding, “that would have been a better representation of the school.”
Reading from existing school policy, Deisher explained that the use of the school’s name or logo is prohibited without written consent of the school administration. 
Former athletic director Julie Paschke addressed concerns regarding compliance of Montana High School Association’s Title IX policy, which enforces equality between sports. Funds raised must be distributed equally by the school to the varying sport programs, Paschke explained, noting that once parents begin fundraising efforts to benefit a sport program, a booster club must be formed, with by-laws abiding policies of the MHSA.  
Paschke brought up another concern the school had regarding a do-not-release list, that prohibits the school from releasing the names and pictures of students on the list. With the poster including a list of player names, Paschke noted that two of the players were on the do-not-release list when the posters were first distributed.
“It was really done out of love and pride for our children and wanting to do something for them,” Stephanie Eayrs said of the motive behind the project. 
“I realize that you were trying to do something good for the team,” Deisher said to the parents.
All of the football parents agreed to the project, according to the attending parents, who noted discussion on the project began during a football meeting earlier in the season. 
Although athletics director Casey Klasna was the only school official to see the image before they were distributed, he said he was unaware that they were going to be sold.
“I was under the assumption that it was going to be a picture distributed amongst the team and parents for memorabilia purposes,” Klasna said. 
“Originally it wasn’t intended to be done as a fundraiser,” Robbyn Huber said.
Parents are often “nickled and dimed to death” Eayrs said, explaining proceeds were going to be used not only to help feed their own players but possibly provide snacks for visiting opposing teams.
About 50 posters were sold, Kirstin Mack said, noting she didn’t hear any negative feedback from any of the businesses when showing the posters.
The issue first arose after Klasna received complaints from staff, who heard complaints from some parents, Klasna said. Deisher, who didn’t know about the posters until after they had already been sold and distributed, said he contacted Mack. When Mack asked him what should be done now, Deisher responded “undue it.” 
Shortly after the call, parents began gathering the posters and refunding money to businesses who had purchased the posters. Several businesses declined to return the posters.
“I don’t think this little thing needed to blow up into what it blew up into,” board member Sherry Strasheim said, noting better communication between parents and school officials could alleviate future situations.
“I don’t want to stay mad about this,” Mack said. “It’s over, lets get over it.”

Published Sept. 30, 2009

Article Type: 
School Issues


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