Controversy Erupts Over Petition to Reinstate Rome Free Academy’s Marching Band Director
Over 500 people have signed a petition to reinstate Rome Free Academy's marching band director, but not everyone agrees with the sentiment.
The debate over whether Jacob Meiss should be allowed to return as RFA's marching band director for the 2019-2020 school year has spilled onto social media after a petition was circulated to demand his reinstatement. The petition, which began at Change.org, reads, in part: "We the undersigned believe that the termination of Mr. Jacob Meiss' direction of Rome Free Academy Marching Band is completely unjustifiable and demand that he is granted full restoration of director for RFA Marching Band 2019-2020, effective immediately."
According to the Rome Sentinel, Mr. Meiss is prevented from applying for the band director position for the 2019-2020 school year as the result of a settlement agreement between Mr. Meiss and the Rome City School District. The agreement document says the district has “concerns relating to recent conduct by Mr. Meiss involving his adherence to the Dignity for All Students Act (New York State Education Law Article 2, ‘DASA’), his interaction with students and other staff members, his demeanor, and his professional judgment....” DASA is a NYS Law that seeks to prevent harassment, discrimination, and bullying on school grounds, buses, and at school functions.
The Rome Sentinel goes on to say they received documentation from the district that asserts that this is not the first time Mr. Meiss has faced consequences for his actions; Meiss "has previously accepted a disciplinary penalty for misconduct."
Mr. Meiss has been director of the RFA Marching Band for about nine years. This year, the band earned the top spot in the Large School Division 3 category in the New York State Field Band Conference championships
While the petition to reinstate Jacob Meiss has garnered several hundred signatures - many of which appear to be from students and former students, based on their comments - on Facebook, the debate is divided. Some parents allege that they and their students have had negative experiences with Mr. Meiss, while others say their child enjoyed having him as a teacher.
"I signed and have no regrets, my daughter has him as a band teacher and she loves him! She has told me he treats all of his students as his own kids. Yes he’s tough has raises the bar for them but my daughter has told me he is the reason why she loves band." - Laura W.
"I encourage anyone to message me privately if you would like examples of Jake’s conduct over years of experience dealing with him. I’m sure any of the other students who feel aggrieved would also be willing to share their anecdotes with you privately as well. I am not posting my personal experiences with Jake on social media, but will continue to push back on anyone who claims the accusations are baseless." - Devin K.
It's unlikely that the whole story will come out, both to protect Mr. Meiss - who has agreed to consequences for his actions, and other individual(s) who may have been involved.
Do you have an opinion on whether Mr. Meiss should be allowed to be band director? Anything to add to this story? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org