The Biggest of All Parental Mistakes.


I’m about to do all parents a favor.Never Make a Wish.

I’m going to share a lesson most of us had to learn the hard way.

Please take notes (or just refer back to this blog … it’s good for traffic).

Never.

Ever.

Wish.

Against.

Your.

Kids.

The mere thought of wishing against your children will infuriate the God of your choice.

Karma will smack you upside the head like a tired angry mom with 7 year old triplets in Wal-mart (I’ve seen her slap them into next week… and I was scared).

Examples follow.

Your kid is playing in his or her 100th baseball/softball game of the summer.  Every one of them took place in tempatures of at least 1,000 degrees.

You just want an evening off.  You spot what looks like a raincloud in the distance.

You quietly, without bringing any attention to yourself, wish it would rain just enough to cancel the game so you can go home and read a book.

This may seem like a simple harmless wish, but you know what will happen?

No rain for 18 months.  A drought of epic proportions.  Your kid’s game not only won’t be rained out, but it will go extra innings.

Farmers will hate you.

And if you’re lucky, you might get home by 2:00 am.

Another example.  Wish your child’s graduation program will be over in less than an hour.

You’ve just guaranteed you will be in a hot gymnasium without air conditioning sitting between smelly people for the next four days.

Wish the coach will put your kid in the big game.

It happens.  Only to have the very same kid do something so horrific the team loses by 97 points and the other parents won’t speak to you in the grocery store ever again (this last part could be a good thing).

Wish your child’s teacher would announce your kid as a mortal lock for a full scholarhsip to an Ivy League college. 

Not going to happen.  There’s a better chance the teacher says in her 47 years of education she’s never been more sure a child is guaranteed to be convicted of a felony before their 14th birthday.

Wish your kids gets a college degree so they can support themselves.

They do.

And they move back home for the next four decades.  With their spouse.

And four kids.  And two dogs.  And massive debt.

Get it?

Never wish. 

It angers the God of I Just Want Some Peace and Quiet.

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Off the Grid.


I’ve been a little lax in my blogging.  The reason… we’re on vacation.

The View From Every Window in Our Cabin.

Well, kind of.

I’m not sure if you can technically call it a vacation when you drive over 19,000 miles with the Evil Spawn and Buddy the Dog in the backseat snoring (if that isn’t bad enough, they both drool while they sleep… and neither one can figure out why the truck seat is wet).

I must admit this obnoxious snoring is better than hearing “Are we there yet?”

To get from our house to the North Shore in Minnesota took approximately 87 hours.

Or at least it seemed like 87 hours (it may have been longer because at one point I passed out).

The trip was so long that I could have sworn we were going in circles.

I kept thinking… I know I’ve seen this “Welcome to Wisconsin” sign at least a dozen times.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is I’ve been able to drop off “The Grid”.

For educators “The Grid” is a triangle.  It goes from your home to school to Wal-mart (feel free to substitute another large mega-billion shopping store of your choice).

It’s a law.  Every teacher and administrator must spend 90% of their time inside their grid (unless school is in session… then it’s 98.5%).

I think there might be some fine print in NCLB that requires us to stay inside this restricted area.

Rumor has it educators who venture outside the “Grid” too often are never heard from again.

It’s the opposite of tenure.

So it’s a fine line between leaving your grid and going insane (and not a little insane… I’m talking Jack Nicholson in The Shining insane).

Because I don’t see the need in chasing the Tech Queen with an ax, we like to go on vacation at least once a year (unfortunately these never take place during school).

This year we headed for the woods.

A cabin in northern Minnesota.

Frighteningly close to my sworn enemies… the Canadians.

People ask me what I have against the good people of Canada.

Nothing.

I just don’t trust them.

Sooner or later they are going to get sick of the cold and storm our borders with the intent of taking Florida just so they can sit on a beach.

Mark my word, it’s coming.

As I sit here and type this blog, I’m within miles of the US-Canadian border (rest easy, I will keep an eye on them and if I can’t chase them back… Buddy the Dog can… unless of course, he’s napping).

So for the next several days I’m officially off “The Grid”.

No ESPN.  No internet.  No email.  No phone calls. No meetings.

No contact with any other human beings (unless it’s on a golf course… and I do apologize for almost hitting you with my drive off #7).

I’m unreachable.

I’m a ghost.

I don’t exist.

At least that’s what I told everyone at school.

Do you think they will believe I pre-wrote this blog and uploaded it before I left?

I guess I’ll never know since I’m not getting their emails.

Or at least I’m not answering them.

It’s good to be off “The Grid”.

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Good Parenting?


One of the things you learn as a school administrator is all parents believe they are doing a good job.

Everyone thinks they’re raising their child(ren) to be productive and useful members of society.

Nobody gets up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and says “I am a horrible parent (and very likely a despicable human being).”

Personally, I can’t say this.  Because if I wasn’t an excellent parent I wouldn’t be the proud owner of a “#1 Dad” mug (and I don’t even drink coffee).They Don't Give These Mugs to Just Anybody.

When things go terribly wrong with kids (see:  The Evil Spawn about 2017), all parents rationalize their role in the situation.

By rationalize, I mean blame someone else.

It’s never the parents’ fault because they didn’t raise their kids to act in whatever bad way they are acting (crime spree, 57 tattoos, 114 earrings, money laundering, etc.)

So it becomes the schools’ fault.

Or the coaches’.

Or the teachers’.

Or the principals’.

Or the school boards’.

Later in life it can even be the State Policemen’s, probation officers’, or the judges’ fault (I’ve encouraged The Evil Spawn to start saving for a good lawyer).

It’s never bad parenting (which is nice because it takes me off the hook for what is surely to be a rather tragic and sad year in 2017).

While we all think we’re good parents, some are obviously better than others.

If you work in a school you’ve probably accrued the 6th sense necessary to spot some of the less than great parents.

If you’re really good, you can spot them from a distance (which means several aisles over).

They turn up in the school office.  At the movie theater.  Or in the easiest place on earth to see a bad parent in captivity… Wal-mart.

There is just something in the way they carry themselves or a certain tone in their voices as they yell empty threats toward disrespectful children.

I like to think I have this skill.

I also think I may have spotted the worst case of bad parenting in recent memory.

It’s so bad, I didn’t feel comfortable posting a picture.

If you want to see it and have a strong stomach CLICK HERE (scroll down for picture).

I could be wrong (it happens frequently), but time will tell.

We will know if these young ladies (12 and 14) have been affected by bad parenting by the time they go to college.

Or rehab.

Or wherever reality TV stars go once fame has left them.

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That Was Awkward.


I’m sure everyone has moments where they do something so incredibly stupid they are immediately horrified and fear someone they know has seen them.

No?The Men's Room is On the Right.  Not Left.

Just me?

Alrightly then.

Then as far as you know, the following story probably did not happen.

Since Tiger Woods’s plan was to keep totally quiet about his “situation”, I’m going the other way.

I don’t want a Swedish nanny mad at me.  And trashing my new Escalade (or 2000 Ford Taurus… whatever).

A few days ago (or never as far as you know), I had to go into that den of commercialization, Wal-mart.

I also had to use the restroom.

Lucky for me, at some point Wal-mart figured out they should place the public restrooms in the front of the store.  For that they have my undying gratitude.  No more walking hurriedly or running down the aisles to reach the bathroom in back (which is like 7 miles from where you park).

Now you walk in the front of the store, greet the greeter, try not to comment on their oxygen tank, hang a left, and hit the bathroom.  All before you go and spend hundreds of dollars on things you really don’t need.

On this particular day (or not), that was my plan

So I said hello to the 85 year old greeter and headed right for the restroom.

Pushed the door open like I owned the place.  And why wouldn’t I?  I was dressed in my official school administrator uniform (suit and tie) and I looked like a million bucks (or so I thought).

There I was standing in the restroom all by myself (thankfully).

Then I noticed something wasn’t quite right.

What was it?

Was the restroom not clean?  No.

What was it?

I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Something was wrong.

It looked like a restroom.  It smelled like a restroom.

Then I noticed there weren’t any urinals.

Odd.

I wondered to myself why Wal-mart had a Men’s Room without urinals.

Weird.

So I thought, I’ll just use the stall. 

Bad idea.

As I went to push open the first stall door, it occurred to me.

Oh, crap!!!  I yelled to myself inside my head (probably not the best choice of words in a restroom situation).

This wasn’t the Men’s Room.

It was the Ladies Room.

My second thought was… so this is how my career in school administration ends.

I knew it would happen eventually, but much to my surprise it was coming to a close in of all places… the Ladies Room at Wal-mart.

I had to get out of this situation and quick.

So I backtracked like no one has ever backtracked.

I immediately threw the door of the ladies room open just in time to bump into a gentlemen who was headed to the correct bathroom.

He said, “What are you doing in there?”

I said “Not using a urinal”

Thankfully, he laughed.  And didn’t call security.

I have never been so relieved (another bad choice of words) to be in the right restroom.

And unlike Tiger Woods I’m getting out ahead of my awkward situation.

 

Note from Editor and Chief “AKA Wife”.  As I was proofreading this post (and NO I didn’t know of this “incident”) it brought to mind the men’s restroom in our school’s office.  We have a separate single women’s restroom and men’s restroom available for faculty use.  The women’s restroom is usually occupied since our staff is 95% female.  Sadly, the women on our staff do not think twice about using the men’s “available” restroom when the women’s is unavailable.  My guess is that our 5% male staffers probably do not appreciate this and would NEVER EVER be caught dead walking out of the women’s bathroom… unless it happens to be a certain male writer of this blog. ;)

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I’m Old. And Evidently, Fat.


In the last few days it has come to my attention that being old has nothing to do with age.

At least that’s what I want to believe as I shuffle towards another birthday (I can hardly wait for the day when I can drive a Rascal Scooter through the aisles of Wal-mart).

How old am I?I Might Be Old and Fat, but I Could Cover Some Ground on a Rascal Scooter.

I almost hate to say it out loud. I will soon be having my second 21st birthday.

When I was a kid someone celebrating (or in my case barely acknowledging) their 42nd birthday was old. And near death. That’s if they weren’t already dead.

At the very least, they were a sad pathetic drooling shell of their former youthful self.

But how things change.

Now a 50th, 60th, or even an 80th birthday doesn’t seem that bad to me. In fact if I’m lucky enough to make it that far, I will feel like I’ve beat the system.

Life is like playing cards. High card wins. Which means another birthday always trumps death.

When you work at a school, I’ve found that students think everyone is old. To them there are young teachers (under 25 and not married) and the old teachers (the rest of us).

I like children. I really do. Except the ones who ask “How old are you?” and as soon as I answer, they scream…

“You’re OLD!”

My first thought is quiet down, people can hear you. At least the younger teachers can hear you… the older ones are mostly deaf.

Then I curse them (but as a good administrator, always under my breath… let that be a lesson to the brand new administrators… never curse out loud).

Students think they have their whole lives ahead of them.

And they do (again, I curse the ones who are soon to replace me)

In their minds the only thing I have ahead of me is a nursing home, a bedpan, and the sweet relief of death (no more Sunday nights!!!… wait, that might be a bad thing).

I’m not here to badmouth nursing homes, but I’m not a big fan. The only thing worse to me than living (?) my remaining years in a home is sporting an adult diaper while I’m there.

I don’t care how much money you have, or your life’s status… an oversized diaper is not a good look.

Even with the impending pressure of living out my few good remaining years in a home, I have taken the time to come up with a theory (yes, another one… bare with me, I’m old).

I don’t think age has anything to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.

I think it has more to do with how current you stay.

To back up my theory, I have enlisted Dr. Oz (if he’s good enough for Oprah… he’s good enough for me).

I took the Real Age test. And found out I’m not 42, I’m 30.8.

Bad news is I could have snuck back into my 20’s if I weren’t so fat. They say it’s hard to lose weight once you’re 30.8 years old and I’m starting to believe them.

But that is a small fat little bump in the road.

The nice part is you don’t have to be your chronological age.

I think this is equally true for teachers and administrators.

If you stay current, I think you have a chance to be younger at school than you really are.

This is wonderful for both you and your students. While you may still be old in their eyes, you may not be as old.

So get out there and don’t be afraid of the email machines, the mysterious internet, those crazy blogs, and other technology advances.

You are only as old as you feel and act.

Although, if you are like me you will probably stay just as fat.

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Teacher vs. Principal’s Evaluations. They’re Just Different.


Back to School.  Some are Happy.  Some are Sad.School is about to start.

This means a variety of things. The first thing it means is I’m already way behind schedule.

And secondly, I am getting grumpy. Or grumpier (see I’m falling hopelessly behind… how is it possible for this to be happening and school hasn’t even started???).

Even worse… stores all across America are putting school supplies on SALE.

This is code for: they would rather get rid of these pencils than count them.

Everything must go.

Paper, binders, book bags, erasers, glue sticks, and a bunch of other stuff that will eventually be lost or thrown away (don’t parents wonder where all the stuff they paid for goes??)

If you don’t believe me visit your local school’s lost and found… it has more merchandise than a Wal-mart.

Things are changing. School starts in a month (for every worried school administrator there are 400 moms filled with joy).

How is all of this possible?

Stores need to make room for the Christmas items. This my friends is a sad commentary on our society.

Before I can focus on the impending holiday season (only 5 shopping months left!), I need to get school started.

This is a complicated process.

Hiring teachers, assigning students to classes, buying some new ties… the list goes on and on.

Once the students arrive, there are certain things that have to be done.

This includes the E word.

I am almost hesitant to type it because it’s so heinous.

If you are easily offended this might be the time to look away… or at least send the kids out of the room.

Here it goes. You’ve been warned.

Evaluations.

There I said it (or typed it…).

It’s amazing how many people dread the thought of being evaluated.

And it’s not just teachers. Bus drivers, custodians, coaches, and even principals dread them.

You would think principals wouldn’t mind. Especially since they spend their days evaluating others (and chasing down that kid who stopped up the sink in the bathroom with paper towels).

The others I refer to are mostly teachers.

Some teachers don’t exactly enjoy evaluations. That’s understandable because it’s strange to have someone in your classroom that normally is not there.

Especially when they are taking notes as the teacher is trying to teach a room full of students who know the principal is taking notes.

It’s just not natural (much like expecting a junior high boy not to talk when there’s a sub).

Evaluations must be done, but they are still a little odd.

Most teachers view evaluations as a necessary evil they must experience once a year or even every couple of years.

The good news is teachers are usually evaluated under the best possible circumstances.

They have the opportunity to prepare and make a special lesson.

If all goes well the principal sees them under the best conditions. They are evaluated when they should be at their best.

Principal’s evaluations are different.

And this is something all new principals should know.

They won’t be evaluated when they are at their best. They will be evaluated starting the day they are hired.

And they won’t be evaluated by just one person. They will be evaluated by an entire community.

More importantly, this happens when they aren’t at their best. They will be evaluated when they are at their worst.

Like when they are nervous, mispronounce a name, forget a meeting, wear brown shoes with black trousers, dribble food all over their shirt, or even when they walk down the hall with their dress shirt caught in their fly (I can assure you none of these have ever happened to me… as far as you know).

Principal’s evaluations never formally start and they certainly never end.

So good luck.

But don’t worry. You should be fine.

Just remember to check your fly before you walk down the hallway (and yes, I learned this the hard way).

If you need me I will be doing all of my Christmas shopping this year out of Lost and Found. I have my eye on 12 jackets, 27 t-shirts, 3 pairs of glasses, some tube socks, and a pair of Pittsburgh Steelers sweat bands. Some of them don’t even smell… that bad.

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School is Right Around the Corner. I Can Feel It.


If You Dread the Start of School... Don't Go Around This Corner.It is happening.

And it can’t be stopped.

The first day of school is coming. I feel like the teenager in the middle of a horror movie who starts to hear strange noises from five different directions while walking through the woods all alone in the middle of the night (always a good idea… and by the way, if you are sitting behind me at the theater… the movie character who is about to take a blunt instrument upside the head can’t hear you when you yell “look out” at the movie screen).

My powers (if I had any) are useless against the beginning of the school year.

It is my kryptonite.

Each summer, starting on about July 4th, I begin to sense it hanging around.

I feel like I am being watched… and mocked… and more than normal.

It shows up like clockwork, but I don’t need a calendar to confirm that school is about to start.

There are unmistakable changes in the universe that give it away.

I can’t put my finger on a specific event because it is more of a series of things.

My vacation is over, kids have stopped going to the pool, it feels more like fall than summer at 5:00 a.m. each morning, my wife is spending more and more time talking about needing good bulletin board ideas, Wal-mart is selling notebook paper for 12 cents for a 1000 sheets (how do they do it?), I have survived (barely) my doctor/dentist/optometrist appointments, and my neck has begun to swell up because it realizes I have to start wearing a dress shirt and tie once again.

On top of all that, teachers have begun to hang around the office at school. More people come out of the woodwork as the first day of school gets closer. They are like moths around a light bulb.

Summer is over.

Not on the calendar, but it’s over.

All of those things on my leisurely to do list have now become priorities.

I don’t mean to complain, because so many people don’t get summers off like those of us in education. But it is still sad to see another one come and go so quickly.

People used to tell me how fast time flies as you get older. I thought they were mistaken (or deranged). Or just old and angry (I think I just described myself in 20 years… or more likely… now).

They couldn’t have been more right.

At least there will be another summer next year. If all goes well.

All I have to do is avoid the big white guy in the woods wearing a hockey mask. This may be easier than the approaching troubles an average school administrator faces in the next 10 months.

Why do I feel like I should take off running… but not through the woods. That never works out.

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School Administrators Shouldn’t Leave the Office. Ever.


Wal-mart... You Can Never Find One When You Need One.I just spent a month in Wisconsin this past weekend.

The trip started off poorly and then went downhill (skiing reference). We should have gone to the beach, or better yet, just stayed home and I could have worked 18 hour days at school (not really, I am just being dramatic… I hate the beach).

On Friday afternoon, we left on time (3:30 pm for a 5 hour trip). Our punctuality turned out to be one of the highlights of the entire weekend.

My in-laws went with us. Many of you are probably thinking this is where the trip went horribly awry, but you would be sadly mistaken (on occasion the in-laws read this blog and I don’t want to jeopardize my 1/128th of the will, so I will steer clear of insulting them in print).

We drove separately from them and the trip went smoothly for us. Things did not go quite as well for the in-laws.

About an hour into the trip, my unemployed daughter called her grandparents on the cell phone to see how things were going (she is 6, so she prefers texting if you need to get in touch with her). About a minute into the call her grandmother hung up on her.

Everyone loves their grandma, kindergarten teacher, and best friend’s mom, so getting hung up on was a shock to my daughter.

The conversation was so short, we immediately asked what happened.

My daughter said she could barely hear grandma, but she did say something about the tailgate not being latched.

This couldn’t be good.

You see, their luggage was in the back of the truck. And by was, I mean was.

Turns out grandpa didn’t put the tailgate up which resulted in their luggage flying out along the side of the road. This is what we call “bad news”.

On a positive note, they recognized this little fun fact about the luggage not being secure. Unfortunately, they realized it about 50 miles too late. This is what we call “more bad news”.

If you see a suitcase in a ditch, please send me an email (or text my work-avoiding spawn).

If you are married, you know that at this point they had only two choices.

One, a quickie divorce, preferably in Mexico where it is warmer and the matrimony laws are a little looser. Or two, find a Wal-mart ASAP to replace everything in their luggage (if you live in the 1% of the country that doesn’t have Wal-marts, I pity you and please substitute your gigantic retail store here).

As we continued on our drive, we passed a minimum of 27 Wal-marts, 14 K-marts, 11 Wal-greens, and 7 malls.

The in-laws, traveling the very same road, noticed exactly zero stores of any kind.

That’s right; they traveled 300 miles on a major interstate through roughly a bazillion towns and cities and didn’t notice any of these stores which were all located within 200 feet of the highway (I could also mention that these stores had big neon signs on top of them, but I don’t want to rub salt in their wounds… see inheritance comment earlier).

This led me to believe that they may be legally blind, or one of them desperately wants to go to Mexico.

This lack of vision concerns me because we allow them to babysit. If they can’t locate a Wal-mart, would they notice if my daughter sticks her head into the microwave and hits defrost?

Agh…who am I kidding, cheap babysitters are worth the risk (if this kid breaks, we can always go buy another one).

The in-laws did finally arrive at the ski resort after getting lost in the mountains for a couple of hours (a little travel tip… if you own a GPS, make sure you take it with you when you travel… that is what they are for).

There was some good news. After they arrived, it didn’t take long for them to unpack. They certainly didn’t have to bother the baggage handler.

Actually, my wife told me this because by 1:30 in the morning I was fast asleep.

So the trip was off to a rousing start. I haven’t even got to the part where we all got caught in the blizzard.

I really should have just stayed in the safety of the office.

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If Your Dad Says, “This is Going to Hurt Me More Than You”, It’s Not True.


Discipline is Good.  In Moderation.Has our educational system taken a step backwards due to a lack of discipline? We are certainly a kinder and gentler society than a couple of generations ago, but is that a good thing?

Growing up I never feared for my safety (a pain free behind to sit on- yes, safety-no), but I did have a certain amount of fear that my dad could take away my ability to sit pain free if I gave him a reason.

In the last twenty-five years we have made real progress in how we treat others and how we discipline our kids.

I wonder though, have we gotten to be so nice and so politically correct that while we are more humane in our treatment of kids, we have gone too far the other way and become too passive?

Life has a way of swinging back and forth like a pendulum. You can make the argument that while we were once too harsh, we may now be too easy on our kids. We need to realize that we are not doing our young people any favors by being so easy on them.

There is no doubt that some adults went too far in their discipline techniques with their children (I still have a sore butt from 1974). I don’t think there is ever a good reason to beat your kids, but in my mind there is a big difference between beating and spanking.

There is something to be said for the improved behavior of a 7 year-old boy when he realizes that the authoritative figure he is dealing with actually means business (by business, I mean stop misbehaving- NOW).

There is a reason that the saying “talk is cheap” is actually a phrase that we all recognize. It should be a felony for parents to threaten their kids without following through.

Kids should be frightened of their parents (re: 1974). Not that they should be afraid to speak, or laugh, or share their opinion, but they should know that there is always a possibility that someone is going to put them back in line when they need it.

A problem that is getting more difficult for children to recognize: Who is in charge? Is it Dad? Mom? Stepdad? Stepmom? Grandpa? Grandma? Dad’s friend? Mom’s friend? Some kids don’t know to whom they answer and that isn’t a good thing for them, our schools, or society in general. If kids can’t clearly tell who is in charge, they begin to think it is them (which reflects every bad family sitcom on TV). Never good.

Someday, I am going to compile statistics proving the link between the majority of teenage boys who get in trouble at school in relation to having no authority figure in their lives.

Everyone needs rules. Discipline isn’t what you do to a child; it is what you do for them. Although on a side note – if you spank your child with a yardstick, (not recommended) it isn’t the kid’s butt’s fault if the yardstick breaks in half.

It is only fair that every kid goes to bed with the knowledge that a loving authority figure would spank their behind until it looks like a monkey’s butt if the need presented itself. (cha ching- I have been dying to use the phrase- monkey’s butt for weeks).

Actually, the secret is not spanking your kids every two minutes, but putting the fear into them that you just might spank them in the next two minutes. This is why the wait is far worse than the spanking when you are sent to your room until your dad gets home.

We are cheating our kids of discipline and wasting too much time in schools when undisciplined students waste other students’ and teachers’ time.

In my estimation, it is quite simple; children should know that their parents brought them into this world, and if need be, they can take them out.

If every kid grew up knowing this one sentence was true, they would be a lot better off.

And the next time you see a parent in Wal-Mart swat their child’s behind, you may want to consider; isn’t that kid lucky to have a parent who loves them?

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.