My Response to the Pickett Washer and Dryer

I have not responded to the bombardment of posts concerning the deplorable situation at Pickett not because I am guilty of anything and I stand by any statement or e-mail that I wrote concerning Pickett Elementary.

Let me explain how I was informed of this unpleasant situation. On February 27, 2008, I received a telephone call asking me did I hear that the teachers at Pickett Elementary had a washer and dryer and were washing the student's clothing. I was told that, during a Public Forum relating to the anticipated Parental Responsibility Law a teacher stood up and said that they (teachers) had to wash students' clothes at Pickett because the parents were too poor to keep their children clean and that they (the children) stink.

A poor decision was made by a teacher to denigrate the parents at Pickett by reporting in a public forum that teachers had to wash student's clothes because the parents were negligently shirking their responsibilities to their children.

I called the school to verify that this was actually taking place. I spoke to the Assistant Principal Ms. Herneika Johnson. She told me that yes they did have a washer and dryer and that occasionally if a child came to school with a dirty coat that the coat would be washed. At no time did she say that the children's clothing was being removed nor that any clothing other than coats were being washed. There is a big difference between what I was told by the assistant principal and what was said by the volunteers in the article. It seems to me that the assistant principal attempted to minimize the use of the washer and dryer either because she knew that it was wrong or because she still has some empathy for her students and knew that washing their clothes was really a bad choice. Maybe the assistant principal can explain her falsification of the facts to me.

In Response To Keep Your Hands Off Our Washers.

Pickett Elementary is a school in crisis and has been in Academic Emergency for 8 years. According to NCLB there are interventions that should have taken place years ago. Not one of those interventions includes the washing and drying of student's clothes nor does it include maintaining a clothes closet.

In August of 2007 the AAPA filed a complaint with Governor Ted Strickland because of blatant violations of laws governing the humane treatment of Pickett students and violations of NCLB.The horrific test scores compiled by the Ohio Department of Education for the 2006-2007 school year show that 10.7% of Pickett's 5th graders were proficient in Math, 10.7% were proficient in Social Studies, 32.1% were proficient in Reading and 14% were proficient in Science. This complaint currently is in the hands of the U. S. Department of Education.
Each school in need of improvement is required to file and implement an Improvement Plan. This plan is to be developed by a team that includes parents, community, teachers and the principal. Pickett's Improvement Plan was devised without parent or community involvement thus leaving out a vital element deemed necessary to initiate and sustain improvement.
In school year 2004-2005 Pickett students lost 1179 days of school due to out of school suspensions. Because this is an elementary school it is believed that the majority of the suspensions were due to "Failure to Follow Directions or dress code violations. Ironically this is the same year that the washer /dryer combination was donated to the school by Toledo Edison for the purpose of keeping students in school. Being that there are 180 days in a school year, on any given day at Pickett almost seven students missed school because of suspensions. Yet there was nothing in place to address these days of lost education and to keep these student in the classroom.
The question was asked, had I been to the school or did I know the neighborhood. Yes, I have been to the school, yes I do know the neighborhood and I have friends who live in the neighborhood. This neighborhood is no worse or better than many inner city neighborhoods, including the one that I live in. Unemployment has ravaged most of Toledo's inner city but the economic status of a child's parent should not determine whether or not a washer and dryer is placed in a school to demean or humiliate families and children.
Black parents are very protective and particular of what they place on their children as far as clothing is concerned. It is a stretch of the imagination for me to believe that Pickett parents are any different than any other parent. They would not be accepting of their child coming home from school in different clothes than what they sent them to school in. I know young black parents. They tell their children to not let anyone comb their hair, change their clothes and not to tell the family business. It is really hard for me to believe that parents accept this form of "help." The only way I see this taking place is with an implied threat of other consequences.
I have personally witnessed students eating in a lunch room surrounded by a large pile of used clothing on the floor at Pickett. Hopefully this is not the clothes closet that the ladies spoke of in the article, because children should not have to eat where used clothing is stored.
One of the problems that I have with the clothes washing program is if this is a viable solution to children coming to school "soiled wet," muddy, sock-less and underwear-less, wearing clothing that is too small, soiled with vomit, then there needs to be a policy, set procedures and guidelines in place so that there is no room for violations of a family or a child's dignity. Before a child is placed in the program, parents should be notified and their permission secured before any child's clothing is washed and dried and/or discarded. The way that the "program" is being implemented now is with the attitude that the parents are being negligent to the point that it needed to be announced in a public forum that the children at Pickett have parents who send their children to school without the basic necessities for success and that these children need a washer and dryer in the school to provide this support.
The entire stance by the black ladies at the school is a defensive one. Acting out of fear of being exposed has created skewed arguments for this behavior. The volunteers say that they don't actually change the children's clothing but ask the child what size they wear, provide the correct size and then the child changes the clothing. How many children do you know of that can tell you what size they wear?
Because there is a documented lack of teaching, low non challenging standards, a watered down curriculum and plenty of clothes being washed, sometimes "10-12 children" needing new clothing in one day , why not just call Pickett school, Pickett Laundromat?
Sometimes we as black people forget where we came from and we look down on families and children not of the same economic status that we are but Toledo Edison, Area Office on Aging's Foster Grandparents, Pickett PTO, Crystal Ellis and Assistant Principal Herneika Johnson should know better.
Twila Page
African American Parents' Association

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Twila, dear -
In your arguments about how prideful Black people are, you seem to lose focus of where your rage and anger should be directed to.

The children are the most innocent in this whole situation.
Instead of automatically focusing your energies against the TPS administration, maybe you could consider that these people are actually helping YOUR children, and rage against the real problem here - The Black parents that send their Black children out in public, to school, in such a deplorable condition.

What do you think that does to a child's self-esteem ? Instead of considering the children, you try to shift focus and make it a Black Pride kind of thing. Like the administration is insulting the entire Black race.

And when you begin to focus on these negligent parents, you should also rage about how these same parents neglect their children by not getting involved in their academic life. The teachers, administration, and the school can hardly be expected to do it all. The parent is the primary role model in a child's life.

Positive parental involvement in a child's life goes a long way toward development of successful young adults.

Isn't that the ultimate goal ?


I know you have told me to keep my name out of my mouth but I will respond to your post. I believe that you missed the whole point. However, thanks for your comments but I will consider the source. :=)

and look to the message.

Regardless of what you think of me, the point remains - Why don't you ever shift some of your focus and rage from TPS to the parents of these failed children.

First and foremost, these Black parents are the ones that are continually failing these Black children, yet you continue to ignore that fact and chose to blame anyone and everyone else.

Enlighten me to your reasoning, please. ;-)

Wow, I could not have said it any better..............

When children come to school dressed inappropriately (no coat in the winter, clothes that are soiled and/or with an oder) the school should call the parents and have a conference to see how this situation can be remedied. If the parents are unwilling to come for a conference or fail to help their children with their clothing, then the school should file parental neglect charges against the parents. It is hard to believe that a large number of children fall into this category, but schools are not in the laundry business nor should they be.


You would be surprised, as I , to the number of students that are in this situation. In addition, many times when the school calls, the parents will not answer, phone is disconnect or they have moved with no forwarding address. Many times, schools are lucky parents show for meetings, conferences or IEP meetings. What about the number of students in foster care. the schools battle many obstacles and this program is a great support for the students.

If the parents were against this, then why haven't the parents made a formal complaint? Everything that Purnhrt is basing her opinion on is hearsay. She received a call from a public forum, did she hear complaints? No............I must ask, you advocate and use Pickette as an example for your mission(?) against TPS, then why would you compalin and cause such a fuse over something positive? In your response, all you cover it up with is "black folks this and black folks that"......... Get off that ban wagon! This is not about black, the volunteers are black and are sensitive to this issue.

You complain to TPS whenever, wherever and however you can................take your time and go help out there, make a difference for these students, like the many volunteers are doing.

Having a conference with the parents would be ok, but how many families would then remove their children from school altogether and "claim" home schooling. I can imagine what would happen to those poor kids. If there are volunteers willing to do this so that they may just help even one kid, then i think it should be fine. (just my opinion)

Yes, right. I think what she is saying is we should remove the washer/dryer and instead call Child Protective Services to make a complaint against the parents... because god forbid the community give a hand to those that need it.

I agree. There is already a system in place to deal with parents like these. By utilizing it is a way we can expect that system to be accountable. Many times we hear people complain that the system failed. How can we expect the system to be accountable for something it has no knowledge of.

By not calling the protective services its not an issue of the system failing the children it's an issue of the teachers and volunteers failing the system.



"there needs to be a policy, set procedures and guidelines in place so that there is no room for violations of a family or a child's dignity. Before a child is placed in the program, parents should be notified and their permission secured before any child's clothing is washed and dried and/or discarded."

what's wrong with that?

children attend Pickett school. The ones I have talked to are offended by this "intervention." If this is as big of an issue as portrayed by the volunteers then a policy needs to be put it place. But first the mission can not be ignored. The mission is a school, not a laundromat .

Correct the academic problems of the school and everything else will fall into place. Education is the way out of poverty.

Sandy, you say that I need to get off the Black "ban" wagon when I am black, the students are black, the families are black, the neighborhood is black and the volunteers are black. The only people that I see in this equation who are not black are the teachers who started this "fuss" by going into a public forum and denigrating the black parents at Pickett School. If this had not happened no one would have ever known about the washer/dryer at Pickett. These good black volunteering women could have carried on washing and drying children's garments until the students graduated but a white teacher found the need to portray black parents in a very negative light.

although I must say that Pickett Elementary makes many referrals to the child protective service agency. I can not see Pickett Elementary calling the LCCS agency and the agency not responding. If this is the case then LCCS is not doing their job. With a budget of almost $45 million there is ample revenue to provide services that benefit the children.

Again the washing and drying of children's clothing is inappropriate at a school without proper procedures, policies and guidelines in place including notifying the parent.

Since this article came out I received a call from a parent about a child being taken home by a teacher and given a shower. This behavior must stop. Let parents do their job and if they are not performing their jobs to the expectations of the school there are proper agencies to handle any situation.

Do you realize how many children would be taken out of their homes and placed in foster care? The foster care system that is not big enough for Toledo already. They are not able to remove children from homes because they are dirty.

This is not just a "black" issue. I have whites, latino and hispanic children \ families that would benefit from this at my elementary school, which I volunteer. Actually not far from Pickette, within the same learning community. I understand the stuggles within the school. This is a way to enhance the learning environment, so children can learn and feel good about themselves. This only enables the learning environment, it does not take away from.

a child can be take out of a home because they are dirty?

i feel twila has a point about what black parents think. i'd be willing to bet that not many of us live in the area she is talking about. how many of us really know what it's like to be black in a poor neighborhood? how many of us know what it's like to be black living in a school system that's failing our kids. parents in this neighbrood send their kids to pickette because it's the public school in their area. a school that has not improved in 8 years.

as far as the children's services people is concerned i am very leery of them. i had a bad experience with them when i was in high school. a teacher called them, and they came to the school, sat me down and screamed at me demanding i tell them what's going on at home. i was so scared i could not stop shaking. here i had the agency that was supposed to be helping me screaming at me because i refused to tell them anything. i wasn't sure what was worse, getting abused at home, or by the children's services people. it's really sad that this is the agency that we are told to turn to when we feel something is wrong.

Your first three sentences contradict each other.

Lucas County Children Services is not supposed to be in the business of removing children from their homes. They are in the business of protecting children. A child with "dirty " clothing would not be removed from their home based solely on that criteria, "dirty" clothing would be in the eye of the beholder. Dirty could just be dingy.

I don't recall saying that this is a black issue. As a matter of fact I always say that all families are the same, black and white. Society is the major problem. You are attempting to make it a black issue. The only reason that the race of the individuals came up is because the students are black, the parents are black, the neighborhood is black and the teacher who reported in a public arena that the black parents were not keeping their children clean was white. Also I think you were the one who said that the Volunteers "guarding the hen house" are black.

It does not matter to me if everyone involved are purple aliens right is right and wrong is wrong.

The dignity of children and their families should never be breached.

If this is such a good program and the families in your school really, really need volunteers in the school to wash their children's clothes and you have such a big voice at TPS call Brooks Insurance Agency (Walbridge's Partner In Education) have them call the Appliance Center and I am sure that a washer and dryer can be delivered to your school before the end of the day.

Present your case to them.

I do agree with you, this is not a "black" issue. However, your entire post refers to black, so you are making it about race. I also do not care of the color of your skin, it is about the person within that is important.

I may do that. However, next year we are going to a swing space for the building of our new school, so timing is noty right. If there are donations though, we will gladly accept them. :)

out of a 1100 word document I wrote the word black 4 times. So how did you read that my entire post refers to black? HUH?

So swing space will not be able to accommodate a washer and dryer? They make them really compact now a days.

Let me know if Brooks OK's the washer and dryer.

If we implemented your suggestions, just putting a shirt on a poor kid's back could require the following:

  • Permission Slip
  • Parental conference
  • Parental notification when clothing was changed
  • Procedure manuals on how clothing can be dispersed
  • A system to track each child's clothing sizes

Isn't that a bit too much red tape to give a kid a clean shirt?


"Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually dirty kitchen, and
five times out of nine I'll show you an exceptional man." -Charles

There's a city full of walls you can post complaints at


those would be excellent guidelines. A parent just told me, when I gave her a hypothetical question concerning her daughter and someone washing her clothes. She told me that her daughter is allergic to any kind of washing powder except for a certain kind. What kind of washing powder would be used by the volunteers, Tide, Cheer, Arm and Hammer or the generic brand that I use? All of these washing powders would have caused an allergic reaction to this person's daughter.

Who would be responsible?

The parent, for not properly clothing their kid. But since some parents have dropped the ball, volunteers have stepped up to fill a need. I don't see the problem with this, nor do I see the need for a bureaucratic system to "protect the kids" from receiving needed clothing.

"A parent just told me, when I gave her a hypothetical question
concerning her daughter and someone washing her clothes. She told me
that her daughter is allergic to any kind of washing powder except for
a certain kind."

Here's a non-hypothetical question for that parent: If allergies are a concern, why don't you buy some hypo-allergenic detergent for the school? Or if you can't afford to do that, seek sponsors like Krogers or Meijers.

I use this stuff from Planet, which is hypoallergenic and phosphate-free and can be found at Krogers for under $10. Donate a few jugs of it to Pickett and any allergic reactions could be averted.

We can pose "what if" scenarios until we're blue in the face, but it is clear that a need exists for this service and the bulk of the expense is being picked up by private industry and volunteers. Any additional bureaucratic piling-on should be discouraged.


"Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually dirty kitchen, and
five times out of nine I'll show you an exceptional man." -Charles

There's a city full of walls you can post complaints at

What if the kid left home clean but fell on the way and got dirty?
Thats not the parents fault but it could become an issue if the kids clothes get washed in something they are allergic to.

She'd be my grandfather.

If it's a life threatening allergy, the kid should have a medic alert bracelet. If that's not the case, a simple note to the office on the first day of school informing the staff of the allergy and that the child's clothes should not be washed. Either way, allergic reactions to detergents is extremely rare and shouldn't be a reason to discontinue this program


"Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually dirty kitchen, and
five times out of nine I'll show you an exceptional man." -Charles

There's a city full of walls you can post complaints at

Nicely stated...........

When the washer & dryer breaks down, who is called in to repair it? Would that have to be a union guy at top pay or could a volunteer fix it? Just wondering.

Excellent question!

minute question..................
perhaps out of TPS budget........LOL
The point is, it is a good deed what they are doing. There must be a thousand other issues that REALLY need dealt with?

you are right sandy, why not finally answer my question, what have they been doing to improve the school for the past 8 years? oh yeah, i forgot, you told me...

"Understand, they have been in academic emergency for 8 years, but that is not what this blog was about."

do i need to start my own thread on this topic, so you will answer, or it not important?

I am not sure. Feel free to call the school and ask for yourself.............

hey let me know too!

i find it interesting that when someone asks you a direct question you either, ignore the question, call the person names many times with profanity, or throw the question back to them. some cheerleader.

Did I say I knew everything? Heavens no!
Do I support our school district? Hell yeah!
Is it a perfect school district? Heavens no!

Church buys supplies for elementary classrooms
Neighborly help for Keyser kids, teachers

Will this "good deed:" cause havic?

wouldn't it be property of the school, so we would have to pay top dollar to fix it. i'm sure there's some union contract stating anything that breaks down at the school needs to be fixed by a union repair person, otherwise it would be taking a job away from the union. kind of like how kids can't clean off desks they wrote on because it's maintenance's job.

But you and purnhrt get to explain to the kids that the reason they
have to walk around in dirty, torn, or ill-fitting uniforms is because
the machines might require maintenance at some point in the future.


"Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually dirty kitchen, and
five times out of nine I'll show you an exceptional man." -Charles

There's a city full of walls you can post complaints at

What have they done for you lately?

TPS educates my 3 boys everyday!




at the board meeting today. I think they are tired of washing clothes without getting paid so I heard they are talking strike!

Dont get mad, because you piss people off. Why didnt you say that to all the Pickette supporters and volunteers who really wash them clothes?

with them and I will attend. By the way your son was awesome last night at the board meeting.

Thank you.............He is really special and sees the good in everyone. He has a heart of gold. I have learned more about the qualities of life and mankind from him, that I could ever show him. I appreciate your kindness to him.

can you get a meeting for me with the good ladies of Pickett Elementary?

You demeaned the program they started and chided them for providing clean uniforms to kids in need. If I were a volunteer at Pickett, I'd tell you to go pound sand.


"Show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually dirty kitchen, and
five times out of nine I'll show you an exceptional man." -Charles

There's a city full of walls you can post complaints at

Sure. I can call them and ask if they are interested. it may be more respectful if you call the school and ask to speak with the community partners about it and ask if they would meet with you.

I know many moms there are upset with you, so it may be an opportunity to talk with them and both sides could work togehter in a positive manner.

Sandy wrote:
****Why didnt you say that to all the Pickette supporters and volunteers who really wash them clothes?****

I can't very well say anything to anybody without meeting with them.

First of all it is not a program it is something that some volunteers are doing at Pickett without any input, knowledge, or permission from the parents of the students.

From PurnHrt: First of all it is not a program it is something that some volunteers are doing at Pickett without any input, knowledge, or permission from the parents of the students.

I really don't see the harm in this. I don't believe that the kids who are coming to school with the normal amount of dirt on them, which on grade school boys will be right around three pounds, are the ones getting the attention. No. The kids that are getting their clothing washed or exchanged, and who should be getting a shower along with the clean clothing are getting this attention because their parents don't care enough to send them to school clean. They arrive dirty. They smell bad. If the school can find a few ladies kind enough to volunteer for this detail, then God bless 'em, because it's something that needs to be done.

The reason this is happening without guidelines, permission slips, councilor consultations and various rules and regulations is very simple: the work would never get done any other way. Obviously the kids need attention, they need it now, right now. Not some other time when it's less likely to offend anyone.

Which reminds me. Anyone offended at this voluntary care of children should go and read about the good Samaritan. If you're still offended, read it again and go have Bishop explain it to you, along with a very succinct and unyielding sermon on good works.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

the only reason I suggested a meeting is because of what you said: *******Why didnt you say that to all the Pickette supporters and volunteers who really wash them clothes?*******

Many, many people in the community and parents of Pickett students are very upset about the fact that anyone is washing their children's clothing in school without their knowledge and permission and using incendiary language about their children.

I won't be asking anyone to meet with me, and the only positive working out of things would be the removing of the washer and dryer from Pickett and any other school that has one.

Today I spoke with the woman from the agency who runs the foster grand parent program at Pickett and according to her the Area Office of Aging is not affiliated with the program, that the program is run by the principal and the teachers and that the foster grandparents do the bidding of the teachers, so if a teacher says to wash a load of clothes the foster grandparent does it.

As a former substitute teacher I want to say that I always enjoyed working at Pickett School. It shouldn't matter, but for the record I am caucasian. I found the students to be, for the most part, a precious group. I know there's community problems after school everywhere, but perhaps more so in Pickett's neighborhood? Those kids are smart and have ability. I often had success with just reading aloud from a textbook, say social studies text and going around the room. Also, something all elementary students like to do is work math problems at the board. Regular daily activity such as this to keep students engaged, with regular recess breaks, will go a long way towards success with the 3 Rs. I'm not a fan of removing children from class regularly for special tutoring, programs, counseling, etc., which is disruptive to the class work. I'm not a fan of "centers" and "journaling" which seems to be done widely in TPS elementary schools. Seems like pure waste of time to me. As well as tons of plastic counters and math equipment. What good is that when kids don't know what 6 times 7 equals? More classrooms need "paras" to help keep order, I think, especially at schools with low scores like Pickett. But what do I know, I'm not a "real" teacher! I started the LAMP program at UT to become certified but I gave it up due to time, money, age (mine) issues. So I'm training for another career instead. However, I miss the classroom. I think that if a Pickett teacher would announce to class something like "How many of you know this school is low performing in academic scores?" or "Lets show the rest of this city that we have ability and we can put Pickett on the map, get good press (maybe even national press) etc." not just to compete with Fulton as someone somewhere in swampbubbles suggested, but TPS-wide, I think with proper parent support and inspired teaching Pickett could pull itself far up! No reward is better than pride in my judgment, these kids are competitive and very smart, they know music lyrics and computer gaming, they can learn. If it takes rotating some teachers then that's what it takes. I don't blame the teachers but I'm sure there's a few that have bad attitudes and need to be placed somewhere else for everyone's good. But maybe I'm just naive? STill, considering all the press and meetings (what can really be accomplished in meetings anyway?) I think the solution to Pickett's problems are right under their noses (TPS administration's). Do any other substitute teachers out there have any thoughts? One more thing, parents need to support teachers unless there's something TERRIBLY wrong, don't just look for problems! I also noticed that parents often send McDonald's breakfasts in to their children to eat in class, which is something I wouldn't DREAM of doing. That is disruptive to class work as well.

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