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Salt Lake City parents complain a school’s privacy form is a gag order that could threaten kids’ safety

In the stack of papers parents at Salt Lake City’s Hawthorne Elementary sign at the start of the school year, the one labeled “Parent/Adult Volunteer Confidentiality Agreement” didn’t seem likely to set off alarm bells.

However, a few parents did raise objections, arguing the form amounted to a gag order to keep them from learning about bad behavior classmates might direct at their children. And, after a discussion between two parents and the school’s principal, the form will be rewritten to address those fears.

The “communication between parents,” said Megan Buhler, a mother of three Hawthorne students, “is one of the real strengths” of the school, and this form “is specifically designed to squash that, and I’m concerned about that.”

On the form, parents are told if they fail to keep information confidential, the result may include “being denied the opportunity to volunteer.”

Marian Broadhead, principal at Hawthorne, said Friday that the confidentiality form is a routine one. “We’ve always had it in place here,” she said, adding that college students who volunteer at the school have had to sign it for 20 years.

She added that the rule “is a protection for” parents, so they will be aware of how easily someone could divulge student information — such as ID numbers, birthdays or grades — inadvertently in emails or social media. Such data is protected under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA.

The form, she said, is “not about whether you can talk to a parent about behavior.”

However, a notice posted with the forms at a parent meeting Thursday night — and captured in a photo Buhler posted to friends on Facebook — reads, “It is most important that students, their behavior and/or grades are not discussed among school volunteers and that student privacy is respected.”

For Buhler, being able to discuss student behavior is an issue of safety. And it’s personal.

Last school year, on a field trip, a classmate repeatedly screamed at one of Buhler’s children and other students, she said. Buhler wasn’t volunteering that day, and another parent told her about the incident.

That same day, Buhler said, her child’s teacher sent an email that seemed to downplay what happened. “She mentioned that there had been a slight incident, and basically put it all on my daughter,” Buhler said. When Buhler told the teacher what the volunteer parent told her, “[the teacher] said, ‘Oh, well, that’s actually how it happened,’” Buhler said.

Buhler said the parent-to-parent network at Hawthorne is a vital safety check. “The observations that I’ve heard from my own child, from those parent volunteers, have been really helpful — in fact, in some cases, more helpful than the teachers’ observations,” she said.

Broadhead said that teachers and administrators can discuss student behavior with parents, but there are limits because of FERPA.

“Let’s say that your child was hit, a fist to the face,” Broadhead said. “I am able to let you know that I will follow all the appropriate procedures, and the discipline, and due process. But I’m not going to tell you that Johnny, who hit your kid, now is going to be whatever, whatever, whatever. … I can tell you everything that we do to protect a child, to be safe, but I also have to manage the privacy of the other [student].”

On Friday afternoon, Buhler and the other volunteer parent met with Broadhead. Buhler said the principal agreed to revise the form, to make clear that student information should be protected — and that volunteers should speak up about safety concerns.

“This isn’t people gossiping, this isn’t people sharing student data,” Buhler said. “This is a parent seeing an unsafe situation and informing a parent that her child was in danger.”

Broadhead, who this month was named the Salt Lake City School District’s Principal of the Year for 2020, said, “We wouldn’t be the school we are without our volunteers.” Last year, Hawthorne was named a National Blue Ribbon School, one of three in the state to receive this competitive honor from the U.S. Department of Education.

Gordon Monson: Let us turn to the Good Book to put the Utah-BYU game in its proper place

If we must get all Biblical, and, apparently, we must, in a college football rivalry game unfortunately named the “Holy War,” then let’s start by joining in, by turning to the book of Matthew in the New Testament, where it reads, in so many words, what is divinely applicable here.

The first will be last and the last will be first.

So it is, then, that what was once the last game of the year — Utah vs. BYU — is now the first. And given all the circumstances that conspired to move the game, namely, the gods of the Pac-12 demanding it, it is an inspired place for the game to be.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Can we get a hallelujah on that? A righteous yell? An amen?

Yes, we can — from coaches, players and fans.

It beats the heaven and hell out of opening the season against, say, Presbyterian College or Northwest Nazarene. No offense intended for the Blue Hose and the Nighthawks — oops, they don’t even play football — but that kind of lid-lifting challenge doesn’t quite hold the attention of players working and sweating in the buzzard-hot days of August like this does.

Nobody’s daydreaming or dogging it now.

That much is evident to anyone who has visited with the Utes and Cougars in the run-up to the big game.

BYU’s players, in particular, have not hidden the importance they attach to the opener, to winning the opener, speaking honestly about their approach to playing Utah. It is huge for them, large enough to keep them working hard when they are tired and sore and sick of running drills and fed up with coaches screaming in their face masks, demanding more precision, better execution, greater effort.

None of them have beaten the Utes in their college careers — and that goes for most of the coaches, too. As for the football program as a whole, eight straight losses is hateful to everyone involved in it. The way they see it, eight is enough. It hurts them in recruiting, especially in-state. BYU coaches have had their fill of hearing the echoes of Utah recruiters not only beating the drum over and over and over about offering an opportunity to recruits for them to play in a power conference, unlike what BYU offers, they have grown absolutely weary of hearing about the rivalry losing streak.

Changing that on the field, head to head, is Job 1 for those coaches, particularly the head coach, Kalani Sitake, who has never beaten Utah since taking the reins in December of 2015.

Anyone who believes that doesn’t bug him, day in and night out, doesn’t know Sitake at all. He’s attempting to secure a contract extension at his alma mater, and beating Utah would aid him in a most notable way. He and those who work under him and play for him are fully aware of the situation. They want to win this for themselves, and for their boss.

The motivation is every bit as strong for the Utes.

Make no mistake about the care factor on their end. Kyle Whittingham may have other team goals, tiny matters on his agenda, such as winning the Pac-12 and going to the Rose Bowl, and he may hate playing this game, because of his personal connection to and feelings about it, the former Cougar going up against the program for which he and other family members played and coached, but he would rather expire on the sideline than lose to B-Freakin-Y-Freakin-U.

And that attitude is clearly expressed to every player on his team. Has been for years. If it’s important to their head coach, it’s important to them. And every one of them has received that message, at an amplitude that would shake a house.

Even, especially, as Utah has been picked to win the Pac-12 and has a lofty preseason national ranking, it is pushed and pulled to win Game 1. The Utes could do something extraordinary this season, and losing to BYU would be an unacceptable way for them to commence their presumed ascent.

The fans are into it, too, because so often, as already discussed, seasons are launched with a lesser opponent, one that offers as its reward mostly disappointment if the home team doesn’t win by 40. This adds extra meaning, a layer of oomph that brings reward with any kind of victory.

A loss?

For the Utes, it’s a commandment straight from Whittingham himself: Thou shalt not lose to BYU.

For the Cougars, it’s a habit they badly want to break: Who remembers their last win?

The rivalry game, right out the gate, will not only have served its purpose, stirring proper preparation for a season, for a game that still matters, it also will tell us, most magnificently, who’s breaking what.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.

Owners of Robintino’s restaurant in Bountiful change their minds, decide to remodel instead of close

Earlier this week, Robintino’s restaurant in Bountiful closed its doors, and the owners said they were done after 55 years in business.

On Friday — after an outcry from customers — Bob and Merrilee McCall changed their minds.

“We have decided to close for remodeling and a much-needed vacation,” Bob McCall said in a telephone interview. “We are definitely going to continue.”

McCall said he didn’t have a timeline for reopening, “but we want to get back into business as soon as we can.”

The restaurant, he said, would keep the recipes and menu that have made it a south Davis County institution.

That’s a big change from earlier this week, when the McCalls posted a note on the front door of the Italian eatery, 1385 S. 500 West, saying they were shutting the doors for good.

As news spread on social media, a “Save Robintino’s!” page was formed on Facebook, where customers speculated about the real reason the restaurant closed and contemplated how it could be revived.

Most of the comments mourned the loss of the restaurant that first opened in 1964 and was popular for its pizzas, pastas and complimentary breadsticks with ranch dip. For many, Robintino’s has been the go-to place to celebrate birthdays, homecomings and the end of Little League baseball season.

“Throughout my life, I have celebrated events both happy and sad at Robintino’s,” one Facebook commenter wrote. “This restaurant has become woven into the fabric of my life, and I mourn its passing like that of an old friend.”

Before national chains started serving personal pan pizzas, Robintino’s offered its 8-inch Cenetta pizza. There are other original touches, like the signature dinner salad topped with beets, black olives and a slice of pepperoni.

The McCalls first opened Robintino’s — named for Robin, their daughter — in the old shopping center on 400 East and 900 North in Bountiful, where the Mandarin Restaurant now sits. Later it was located on 500 South. About three decades ago it moved into the former Bratten’s Cove location.

Bob McCall, who soon will be 80, has spent his entire life in the restaurant business. He owned Francesco’s restaurants and other Robintino’s locations in the Salt Lake Valley.

All of those have closed, except for the one in Bountiful.

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