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Open-stall policy halts Marion school graffiti

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Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 2:00 am

When several attempts to deter graffiti artists in the girls’ restroom at Marion School failed, the principal tried a new tactic: removing the stall doors.

The strategy has seemed to work; the bathroom has been graffiti-free for two weeks. But some parents say the move violated their children’s right to privacy.

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          Welcome to the discussion.


          • hello7 posted at 10:20 pm on Fri, Apr 29, 2011.

            hello7 Posts: 1

            I do not consider this as a very bad punishment. Coach B (Mr. Barns) lectured the students about it, warned them, and it still continued. Coach B. told them if it continued, the doors would be removed. If it still proceeded, the entire stall would be removed. Many believed he was lying. The day after the lecture, several seventh and eighth grade girls found writing on the stalls when they went to the restroom after eating lunch. They told Coach B. immediately, although they knew the punishment. The punishment would be for the main building, as well as the middle school building. This is not illegal, although it is against several people's personal ethics. School is a place to learn, and if you disrespect the property or the staff, there are consequences. Vandalism is a dire issue. They didn't know who was doing it, and it's not like someone was going to confess. A few days ago, there was more Vandalism found on the stalls. I don't know if Coach B. is aware of this, but there could be even worse punishments if it continues.

          • tkaad posted at 1:49 am on Mon, Mar 21, 2011.

            tkaad Posts: 8

            Patrick, I think you may have missed the point. The restrooms are public as they serve a public building with public functions… The school when originally built was designed with fixtures for each sex, the law states that each of the toilets or (Water Closet Compartments) must have a stall surrounding it with a door (each one) not a door to the main bathroom… Yes this is a building code issue and a personal rights issue. If you can justify the behavior by the principal, then why do we not just take the doors off of the restrooms in Wal-Mart, roadside rest- areas and all other places that we frequent? Why not take the doors off of your household bathroom? The answer is privacy. Are you going to let your child use a restroom that is open for viewing? I would think not as this is the way our society has been raised.
            You make a point that I cannot understand. It is that the principal can tear apart a bathroom then claim to need money to fix it. This makes no sense. Why not take the wheels off the bus to justify purchasing a new one? Why not throw rocks though the window to justify purchasing energy efficient ones? New stall doors are relatively cheap, if it is a wood door they can attach a piece of stainless to the inward facing side and there will be a lot less damage done as it is a tougher surface. Easy fix for a few hundred dollars. I would also put more emphasis on stopping the vandalism then degrading the others.
            I can tell you that if this was my hometown there would already be lawsuits in action and I would strongly recommend when or if someone does file a lawsuit to include the State of Montana Building Codes for inactions on their part and the U.S. Department of Justice in regards to the ADA requirements where probably not followed and then the addition of the privacy issues. Good Luck… sometimes a knee jerk decision can be painful.

          • use it or lose it posted at 5:33 pm on Sun, Mar 20, 2011.

            use it or lose it Posts: 2

            As a fellow Montanan and believer in the Constitution at both the federal and state levels I am very curious as to why you feel that the removal of stall doors in the girls then boys bathrooms was not a violation of state constitutional privacy rights. The issue of the Constitution, is not open to interpretation - it is very clear. And remember the bathroom serves K-8, is used as a locker room, is used by those using the public library and by visitors at school games. Do you have children? Oh and by the way, you do waive your rights when you enter the military, perhaps you should read the manual. Oh, and just one more point - I am the one that showed Trina the State Constitution Article I; sections 10 and 15. No issue is too small brother, it was written to offer us protection - if you choose to waive it - fine, but you may want to rethink suggesting that others do. The Constitution, state or federal is to be used on a daily basis, not just for "major" issues - you can not wear it out. Our rights as stated in both documents are unalienable, not inalienable.

          • Patrick Marin posted at 1:36 pm on Thu, Mar 17, 2011.

            Patrick Marin Posts: 2

            As a Lifelong Montanan longtime resident of the Flathead and as a land owner in Marion who swore to Defend the Consitution it floors me that the Montana Consistution would be brought up in this argurement in attempt to use our most important rights for our most petty of desires, as a resonable person I cannot in anyway shape or form anytime soon see how anyones rights to privacy were infinged upon...its a bathoom completely surrounded by doors ways, ceiling and floor....that is reasonable amount of privacy, this was good enough for me at Russell elementry (would doors been nice yes, were they a right no)
            @vagabond- in regards to the rights the of Military has, stick with things you know about, we do NOT waive our rights in the military.
            @59602- Amen
            @tkaad- I would have say the fixtures are surrounded by walls doors etc are meeting Montana (ARM) Title 24, Chapter 301 and if they dont( I am not an expert in all things) these sounds more of a building code violation the same bathroom violation at the heart of the request for a bond to fix the school (and if the principal is going to take these efforts to take care of the 'broken' faucilities, he has giving me confidence that he will steward any money coming the schools way in the future.
            @Trina Huffman shame on you for trying use the state constitution for something like doors on a bathroom
            @Trina Huffman Thank you for using the system, airing your voice, trying to make change but please be part of the wave of people who want things changed just because they need to. not because the think they can hijack the law to be on there side.

          • tkaad posted at 11:35 am on Tue, Mar 15, 2011.

            tkaad Posts: 8

            I do not know the logistics and the layout of the school, but there would seem to be many ways to curb or even to identify the culprit. Since vandalism is also illegal there should also be a suitable punishment.
            My suggestions would be 1. Bathroom Monitor. 2. Sign a sheet before or after using the bathrooms. 3. Assign specific grades or classes to use a specific bathroom.

            There can be many constructive ways to complete this. Maybe the principal could initiate a student rewards program instead of a punishment program. Reward the grades or classes that can keep the cleanest bathroom with stickers or pencils. Keep in mind the age group that you are dealing with...

          • redhawk posted at 10:15 am on Tue, Mar 15, 2011.

            redhawk Posts: 150

            Okay, if removing the stall doors is illegal...what solutions do you propose? Knee jerk 'no' is not a solution. Vandalism is a serious problem and it costs the school money that could be better spent elsewhere.

          • tkaad posted at 7:23 pm on Mon, Mar 14, 2011.

            tkaad Posts: 8

            This is an illegal action!!! This building is considered an E Occupancy and not a Group I-4, Day care facilities or a Child care facility, which in some cases can have one stall with door in place. Whoever told them that they could remove the doors is wrong!!! Since this is an E Occupancy and is constructed and maintained by public funds, based upon state law that would make this a public building. Therefore all building code requirements should be enforced.

            Montana (ARM) Title 24, Chapter 301. The 2009 International Building Code (TOILET ROOM
            REQUIREMENTS) 2903.1 Water closet compartment. Each water closet utilized by the public or
            employees shall occupy a separate compartment with walls or partitions and a door enclosing the
            fixtures to ensure privacy.

            This is a public building that had doors installed on the toilet compartments before; therefore they are
            required to keep them on. Regardless of the elementary school principals beliefs they under
            jurisdiction of the State of Montana Building Codes Bureau and also must comply with the Americans
            with Disabilities Act both of which will require doors installed. Seriously one childish act does not
            deserve another…

          • occlusian posted at 5:38 pm on Mon, Mar 14, 2011.

            occlusian Posts: 1

            You know what's gonna happen, don't you? With all this publicity, theres no *way* that the vandal(s) won't do it at least once more. When I was a wee sprat -- uhh, or rather, a little sh1t, I remember the lure of vandalizing or otherwise pissing off the Man....and a situation like this, with a newspaper article, a parents meeting...and then the stall doors being put back on? Talk about temptation. Betcha dollars to donuts there's another vandalism incident.

            As far as realistic solutions to this: I'm amazed that they haven't been able to nab the culprit through simple ol' detective work. These are young kids -- if the principal or some of the teachers asked that any student with info drop an anonymous note in a mailbox, you'd be able to very quickly narrow it down. From there, well, use your gut. Once you're fairly certain that you know who it is, you make it clear to them that they're suspected, and see if it happens again. Oh, and I'm also wondering about the whole "carved" angle -- you've got someone with a knife going in there? Stall doors are usually aluminum, right? Or is this wood? Huh.

          • MissBergstrom posted at 12:54 pm on Mon, Mar 14, 2011.

            MissBergstrom Posts: 1

            Because someone asked . . . There is not a staff bathroom at Marion School. My children told me that many of the teachers at the school used the stalls without doors, even though they could have used the stall with a door.

            Because someone said, "Also, the boys stall doors were removed when there was no graffiti." . . . There was graffti on the walls in the boys' stalls. My children told me this too.

          • IMHERE posted at 11:04 am on Sat, Mar 12, 2011.

            IMHERE Posts: 63

            I guess the "extreme right wing Constitutionalist" will need to find a different issue to imflame The Valley with.
            Looking at the comments, this one didn't fly.

          • Charlie46 posted at 10:34 am on Sat, Mar 12, 2011.

            Charlie46 Posts: 58

            The Baldwins should have stayed in Pensacola.

          • vagabond posted at 10:29 am on Sat, Mar 12, 2011.

            vagabond Posts: 1

            @59602 As a member of our Armed forces, your should know better then to make a claim like that. You signed away your constitutional rights when you signed up for the military. Also in a private school, such as a catholic school, your right were also waived when your were signed up. Perhaps they didn't have law, as a standard class in your school.

          • monkwoodered posted at 10:08 am on Sat, Mar 12, 2011.

            monkwoodered Posts: 2

            If that would have happened when I was in school there would have been an a-- whipping at school @ another one when I got home. Parents teach your kids right from wrong--problem solved. Good job Justin Barnes.

          • 59602 posted at 9:37 am on Sat, Mar 12, 2011.

            59602 Posts: 9

            Wow, Rights Violated? Who gave Baldwin his "Law Degree"? I remember as a member of our armed forces having to drop a deuce on the open latrines without any walls and doors. I didn't realize my Constitutional Rights were violated. I may have PTSD as a result of having to deficate in front of everyone in my platoon. I, for sure am traumatized by the bathroom checks conducted by the nuns when I attended Catholic School in Missoula as a young lad. Next these wackos will want individual showering stall for their precious kids in PE and extra-curricular activities.

          • misterb posted at 5:36 am on Sat, Mar 12, 2011.

            misterb Posts: 52

            quick note to the professor dude.....blame this on liberals? You are a fool and an idiot lady.

          • misterb posted at 5:29 am on Sat, Mar 12, 2011.

            misterb Posts: 52

            use it or lose it...too bad you are a sorry individual and also a good thing you are not in education. Do you really want a bunch of dumb butt parents making the decisions in the school? Parents don't vote on stuff like this. You hire a principal and let him do his job and if he doesn't, don't rehire him.

            If a missing stall is the toughest thing these little darlings have to endure, we've made life too easy.

          • micmren posted at 3:04 am on Sat, Mar 12, 2011.

            micmren Posts: 182

            Love this discussion, Love the principal.

            This was truly a learning moment. Most children learned that there are consequences to actions. Then there are the children who will learn to feel as if they are being picked on and that they must find a way to get revenge. EVERYBODY IS PICKING ON ME :(

          • DaProfessor posted at 10:19 pm on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            DaProfessor Posts: 169

            The stall doors in both my Junior High and High School were removed for this very reason (this was in Spokane from about 1987-1993) and I know that while I was kind of embarrassed to have to do 'number 2' in partial view of other students or the random teacher/principal doing bathroom checks, I never felt I was having my privacy invaded, nor did I know of any other students who did either. And I think back then, most parents at the time, if they had known the stall doors had been removed and why, would have approved of it. All you liberal wackos need to STFU and go back to Seattle or California if you are so touchy about this. No one can reasonably expect total privacy in a public restroom, and anyone who says they can and should needs their head examined.

          • miapea posted at 9:57 pm on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            miapea Posts: 135

            @ use it or lose it.... Arent the doors back on the stalls in the bathrooms? And since they have been put back on the writing on the walls has stopped right? Stop me if i'm wrong.... looks like Justin Barnes plan work. What he did wasnt illegal right? He is the principal of the school correct? So he does have the say to change things to keep what these so called kids were doing to HIS bathroom. Would you rather have had camera put in to video tape these kids and you taking a dump?.. BTW is there any other bathrooms to use instead of these? Do the teachers of this school use the kids' bathrooms also or do they have their own teacher bathroom...

          • Mntgal posted at 9:48 pm on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            Mntgal Posts: 145

            How about a video camera outside the bathroom door. Then you can see who has gone in and gone out in a certain amound of time. if they are really checked every fifteen minutes you should have a suspect in no time. I dont think it would be very expensive But it does really come down to the parents. A lot of kids do not have respect and that is sad. That needs to be taught at home.

          • use it or lose it posted at 8:34 pm on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            use it or lose it Posts: 2

            I am amazed by the posts that I have just read, and greatly saddened by them as well. This is the first time that I have participated in a blog. The reason that I have not done so before is that it often seems like a way for cowardly bloggers to pretend that they are brave by hiding behind a hidden identity; by the way, my name is Rose Sweeney, I am a Marion resident of 17 years, and I was at the meeting Wednesday night (in support of Trina Huffman and the children). There are several issues that I would like to address:
            1). No one that was there slammed the principal, only his action. A PTO member falsely (I will not give her name but she knows I am addressing her) told the publisher of the Marion Mirror, our local newsletter, that there were about 10 parents in attendance supporting this disciplinary action - if they were there they never spoke up. There was not one comment from the audience that was in favor of the action taken; Ann Glimm of the board, fairly facilitated the meeting and made SURE that everyone who wanted to comment had their chance to do so - so where were these parents? A PTO member with grandchildren in the school stood up and stated that she was against Justin's action but that she felt he was the best principal that the school has had so far.
            2). The Interlake reporter did a fair job of presenting both sides but failed to give some of the necessary details since she most likely did not have them: the restroom is extremely small, it serves grades K - 8, it is a locker room, and is used by the public who are at the school to access the public library.
            3). Punishments should fit the crime. Removing stall doors due to graffiti may stop the graffiti but it grossly violates the right of privacy. Think about it - if you are a 5th grader using the rest room when an older student walks in and makes fun of you, how would you feel? Now let me ask you this - when in the security of your own home do you close the bathroom door when you have to take a smelly dump (sorry to be so graphic, but I think I need to to make my point)? I will bet you do.
            4). Her name is not Tina, it is Trina; she is the mother of two beautiful children who are respectful of their elders. Trina does not leave the raising of her children to others, she is a parent who loves, guides, teaches, and participates ACTIVELY in her children's lives. We need more like her!
            5). To 'firebeam' - maybe you should consider a ticket for yourself - how long have you been here? If not a native where are you from - ?
            6). To 'I See it Now' - yes we do have to accept the consequences of our actions but this was a form of corporal punishment. Also, the boys stall doors were removed when there was no graffiti.
            7). To 'MFGMan', you are not even worth responding to.
            8). To 'Been There Done That'. Study your American history and the constitutions of both your country and your state. Such a silly comment about stall doors not being mentioned in the constitution, lol!
            9, 10, 11...). None of you seem to have anything original or thoughtful to say.
            Good Night.

          • firebeam posted at 5:46 pm on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            firebeam Posts: 106

            If Huffman and Baldwin will agree to never return, I'll glady provide them with first-class tickets outta here! I'm sure I'd have no problem finding lots of others to contribute to them living anywhere but HERE.

          • Jess64 posted at 1:06 pm on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            Jess64 Posts: 6

            "Justin Barnes is the best thing that happened to the Marion School for years. The kids respect and like him. So do the teachers. "
            Agree, 100%.

          • IMHERE posted at 12:06 pm on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            IMHERE Posts: 63

            Justin Barnes is the best thing that happened to the Marion School for years. The kids respect and like him. So do the teachers.

          • ISeeItNow posted at 10:51 am on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            ISeeItNow Posts: 4

            I'm sorry that a few of you can't see the lesson here. It's a plain case of taking the consequences for your actions. Every action has a consequence. Something that many of us learned the hard way as a child. It didn't hurt us, but made us better, more respectful citizens. When you don't teach that you end up with a Justine Winter case in the worst case or having to clean up your own mess in your own home because you threw something. When I moved to the valley 13 years ago there was a lot more respect shown by the children of the valley for adults, authority and for each other.

          • MfgMan posted at 10:04 am on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            MfgMan Posts: 345

            I'm with the majority of the posters...If you are a parent who is complaining about this, you are either completely worthless, or so misguided as to have the identical effect. No one likes taking a dump in plain view, I get that. So quit writing on the walls and you can dump in private! Way to go principal!

            It reminds me of when I was kid going to school at the old Lincoln Elementary in Libby. It had those old hot water style radiant heaters in the bathroom, and we had this one kid who, at least a couple times a winter, would pee all over the thing. I gotta tell you, you have NO IDEA how bad that would smell. I swear he popped 5 multivitamins and ate asparagus or something, because the entire top floor of the school would have to be evacuated and every window and door opened for about 30 minutes before we could come back in. Our principal was a good dude, but enough was enough. He said if it happened again, there would be no heat in the bathrooms. It did and he followed thru. Let me tell you, sitting on a toilet seat at about 35 degrees was NOT pleasant. It worked, problem solved.

          • Been there done that posted at 8:46 am on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            Been there done that Posts: 101

            Mr. Balwin states: "school officials should be thinking about the constitutional rights of everybody,” he said. Otherwise, “children learn that the Constitution really doesn’t matter.” Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember reading anywhere in the Constitution where our forefathers wrote about bathroom stall doors being a "right".......in this case it is a privilege. The privilege was removed, when it was abused. I really don't see this supposed right as a case that will be heard by our State or US Supreme Court.

          • Partyer posted at 8:44 am on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            Partyer Posts: 685

            I get to work with lots of kids myself and I feel they are seriously lacking in respect for just about everything but their own little selves. I think the parental reactions to Mr. Barnes' methods are the perfect explanation as to why.
            Mr. Barnes, please just leave the doors alone, let the kids write all they want, and hold a working party every evening to repair the damage. Each family that attends the school should be required to send a worker to the party, and bring the materials needed.
            I think the problem would go away instantly if your subjects were to experience a more "hands-on" solution to it.

          • miapea posted at 8:24 am on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            miapea Posts: 135

            Some parents really amaze me. Trina...Your so worried about these doors in the bathroom and students privacy..HELLO what about the locker rooms?? students get dressed and undressed/shower in front of each other etc. Also i like the idea of students not having privacy on school grounds. Number one it protects my kids from other kids with parents like you. If the students just stopped writing on the dam walls then the doors would have never came down. They were ALL warned!!! One community member suggested putting a whiteboard in the restroom to give students an acceptable space to write on. ARE YOU KIDDING???? Thats just plain stupid. THE KIDS SHOULDNT BE WRITING IN THE BATHROOM.. Last time i checked the bathroom was to go to the bathroom in, not write on the walls like a dam 2 year old!!!

          • kalispelldude posted at 8:12 am on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            kalispelldude Posts: 220

            WOW, spewing such hatred, Not Really! I thought you liberals were all kind and loving and anti-hate! LOL

            If this happened at a predominately minority school, you would be up in arms about how racist this was.

            Bottom line is there are probably better ways to deal with this...put cheap curtains up for instance (maybe sheets of cheap plastic) that can easily and cheaply be changed. Be more creative than that. They probably would have been smart to talk to an attorney the parents before moving forward.

          • l2186s posted at 7:45 am on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            l2186s Posts: 57

            Tina Huffman and all like her are the reason this Country is having the problems its having,, ITS CALLED CAUSE AND EFFECT.... When are these moron parents and kids gonna understand this.. Every cause has an effect.. You warn them like they did It has to stop or else.. It didnt stop so the removal of the doors (all but one)was the effect... GOT IT..Its the whole problem with the country no one is held accountable,, Not the banks, not the govt. (in theis case) not the parents , not the kids NONOE.... And the guy left holding the bag is the only one who took action --Justin Barnes hes the one that said the buck stopped here.. Good job..Sometimes the actions of a few affect many,, Case in point.. The doors were removed,, the graffiti stopped, the doors were replaced.. If it starts again they will be removed again,, Good job principal Barnes-- The parents HAVE TO DEAL with it or perhaps they can mpove to another town another school, thats OK too.....

          • rdhinbfge posted at 5:33 am on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            rdhinbfge Posts: 20

            And what of the rights of others perhaps Huffman and Baldwin would like to fill in the rest of us as to the cost associated with removing graffitti repetedly verses removing doors, I belive we all still have to EARN our rights by not takeing the rights of others for your own amusment. Parents like Huffman are the problem here, they teach their children that they have unalienable rights yet forget to teach them RESPECT!!! Cudoes to the principal !!!

          • misterb posted at 5:16 am on Fri, Mar 11, 2011.

            misterb Posts: 52

            Gross infringement of student's rights? Seriously? Get lost Trina as I'm pretty sure you are a humongous pain in the rear around that school!


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