Philipsburg-Osceola parent questions field trip issue

lfalce@centredaily.comMay 27, 2014 

Every field trip starts with a permission slip.

Sign here to let your child pet goats, ride a bus to a theme park or visit an apple farm. The form says where the kids are going, when they leave, when they come back, and that the parents know and agree to let them go.

Not every field trip comes with a permission slip that says participants risk serious injury or death, and that by signing, you are releasing the location from all responsibility.

Hope Hughes got a field trip form like that for her Philipsburg-Osceola Middle School daughter’s seventh grade field trip.

The seventh graders are going to Outdoor Odyssey Leadership Academy, a venue that P-O administrators said promotes team-building and communication through outdoor adventures, including ziplining and GPS activities. Principal Kelly Rees said she asked teachers for recommendations for a seventh-grade field trip and this was their idea.

The permission slip is boiler plate that she says is required by the company’s insurance carrier, and the venue says no serious injuries have ever occurred.

Hughes said it absolves the company from negiligence and that she doesn’t want her child to be the test case should something happen.

“There is still that one in a million chance that the rope breaks,” she said.

Superintendent Gregg Paladina said that his family had the same conversation. His son is a student in the same seventh grade, and Paladina’s wife was concerned about the permission slip.

“After discussing it as a family, we decied to sign the release and send our son,” he said.

However, he has decided to take a closer look at field trips. He told Hughes at Tuesday’s school board meeting that he hopes to see trips more “educationally focused,” although he did say that he believed the trip appropriate for the goals the seventh-grade teachers were looking to reach with the class.

Board members also pointed out that the permission slips for the trip had gone out more than a month ago. Paladina said he has received calls about the release and the trip that have been both pro and con.

Hughes said her daughter will not be going, and that other parents have similar concerns.

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