Teacher’s Letter Ruffles Some Parents’ Feathers

Buffalo, N.Y. (WHNT) – A teacher in Buffalo, N.Y. sent a hand-written letter home with kids advising parents to take care of hygiene problems in her classroom. The letter did not sit well with some parents, and they are speaking out about the issue.

The pre-school teacher’s letter told parents of several children with “soiled, stained and dirty clothes” in the 3 to 4-year-old class. She voiced health and safety concerns as well as her own personal issues with students’ presentation. The teacher told parents, “It makes it difficult for me to get close to them or even want to touch them.”

Every student got a letter. The pre-school teacher at Buffalo Building Academy asked parents and students to sign and return the letter as confirmation.

Several parents have complained saying the letter was unnecessary and inappropriate. Some are asking for action against the teacher for the following letter.

teacher-hygiene-letter

We want to know what you think. Was the teacher justified when she sent the letter home, or did she cross a line? Post your response on our Facebook. We’ll share some of your answers in the news at 9 on WHNT 2.

67 comments

  • Lacy

    Inappropriate in the way she presented the letter. If she had concerns and wanted to send a letter home, she should have worded it more carefully. I would pull my child out of any center that expressed the teacher would not get near or touch my child…

    • Jim

      Calm down. Don’t take offense. The teacher did no wrong. It’s not the teachers job to teach hygiene it’s the parents.

      • Windy

        Really this teacher should have her teeth knocked down her throat 3/4 year olds are notorious for not staying clean and most parents can not afford to go out on a daily trip to buy new clothing for their little ones and their clothes get stained usually the first time that they wear them if she is repulsed by those babies maybe she needs to rethink her career choice

    • Chrissy

      She said that it makes her not WANT to touch them. It says nothing about her actually not touching them. Grammar is important.

  • Sue Sisk

    She should have only contacted the parents of the children who had been wearing the soiled clothing and set up a time to speak privately.She shouldn’t of sent a note home with every child in the class.

    • Suzanne

      I do not agree with Sue on sending a letter only to the ones that where “not clean” that calls out certain children. I have worked at some places that had problems with adults and they sent a letter to everyone and if that did not work then they addressed the person or persons. But the teacher should have had a more professional letter and the part about not wanting to be around appalls me. She had to know that this would happen when she decided her job choice. She should apologize to all the parents and children.

    • Albert cleveland

      If she had not sent it to every parents she would have caught backlash from many because she did not tell them how messy things must have been from a safety hygiene point of view. She did nothing wrong. Everyone can second guess a better letter, but it is much better to stop all this political correct BS.

    • Chrissy

      Sending it to a select few means that she is saying IN HER OPINION that this child is nastier than the next and in a situation like this, there isn’t room for opinions, only facts.

  • Gay wright

    This is really sad, the parents should address this problem by making sure the kids have clean clothes and baths. Parents should take care of kids . So many children have to dress their selfs. This should be taken care of and if not then the teacher should call DHR feel sorry for the kids. Someone has to say something whether it’s a teacher who by the way probably spend more time with your kids than you do as a parent.

  • Tim Young

    She definitely crossed the line and should try to be more compassionate and less critical. And being a teacher, she should know the word is unkempt if she’s going to be so picky.

  • Sharon

    I think it was very rude the way she worded it. she’s a teacher for heavens sake. The matter should be brought before the board & some type of action should be taken against the teacher, at least a suspension or something.

  • Robin Shelton

    In every classroom there are always some that don’t have all they need at home. As a teacher you should express to the parents the need for homework help, you should also express personal hygiene needs. I think this should have been done face to face, one on one and to only the parents who have children who need attention in this area. Teach personal hygiene in the classroom and encourage the child to ask for help at home.

  • Sherry Stephens Brown

    I agree that hygiene issues sometimes need to be addressed. However, as a teacher, one would expect her to be well educated enough to understand tact and diplomacy. It seems rude beyond measure that any teacher would send home such a note with any child. Think what this potentially could do to the child’s self esteem. A more appropriate measure, in my opinion, would have been to approach the parents directly, or at the very least, have worded her blanket letter approach in a more professional and dignified manner.

  • Jeannette Nerche

    I think the teacher had the right and although she sent one home with each child was good . this way she did not signal out the child. there is more as a parent that can be done to help. now that the parents know that there is a problem in the class room , they should lend a hand. instead of getting all huffy about the letter they should see what they can do to help the family out.

  • C burton

    I know a lot of people are offended by the letter the teacher sent home but honestly folks, shouldn’t we be more offended by the lack of patental care that these children are receiving? The letter is not the problem. She could have singled these kids out and only sent notes home to the parents that needed to shocked but wouldn’t that be singleung the children out for others to make fun of them? Sometimes people just can’t handle the truth!

  • Brenda Munusamy

    It could have been more professional, but the point is still the same; parents clean up your act! Teachers are blamed for everything. Where is the parental responsibility? Everybody wants to call foul ( pun intended), I side with the teacher. She has to care for all the children and she should be allowed to run her classroom in a sanitary way. Let the parents come and work in that room for a day!

  • Laura Dempsey

    It is unreal to think a 3 or 4 year old would know what this teacher is saying . They can’t wash their own clothes or run their own bath .
    This should have been addressed to the parents not the children. So heartless to put the children in a situation to have to confront their own parents. If they understood any of it .

  • Peggy

    I think the teacher did right she never called out any child by name she just made parents aware there is a problem I also agree where are the parents that are sending these kids to school

  • Stacey Rush

    She has every right to send this letter people. No one wants their child to be the stinky kid in class. Too much emphasis is based on how people word things. And no, she shouldn’t have met with parents individually BECAUSE of the aforementioned fact; parents would take offense being confronted face to face like that. Sending a letter and not pointing out a particular student and embarrassing them and/or their parents was the right rhing to do. Get off her back, clean your kids and move on.

  • Taylor Thompson

    I work at a group home taking care of clients if i left people with stained shirts and smelling i would be fired….people need to take care of there kids they are 3-4 years olds they will make a mess take a change of clothes

  • Janos Poleretzky

    I agree that the letter was not proffessional in appearance, but who gives a squat. The message got a good uproar and massive response from parents , the media , and “my child don’t stink” parents. I am willing to bet that the teachers pupils are returning to class at lot cleaner than before. I believe that the teacher should have brought this to the attention of the school administration instead of taking it upon herself. I don’t believe the teacher should be punished other than a warning or reprimand. It is clear that she was concerned for the welfare of the children and herself. It’s to bad that parents were offended by this. It’s not like the teacher forced the kids into prayer or make them salute the American Flag. Sniff your kids; sign the letter; have supper and ask your kids who the stinkers in the classroom are.

  • josh l

    Perhaps in this era of political correctness its wasnt the right thing to do. However I would think the only parents who had a problem with the letter were the ones not doing their job. I think this country has become to ssensitive. People should take care of their children and not expect others to do the job for them…..

  • Susi

    Knowing I have always made sure my kids were clean, bathed, teeth brushed, hair washed, combed and that they always had clean clothes to wear no matter what, I would not be offended if the entire class got a letter. It would be cruel to single certain children out. I think I am more appalled at the fact that parents aren’t making sure that their children are bathed with clean clothes. Seriously, soap isn’t expensive. I would do without so many things for my children to have what they NEED and personal hygiene is needed. I actually went to school with someone who was homeless- her clothes may have been wore out, but she never came to school dirty or smelling bad.

  • Robert Dexter

    Most schools tell parents that the children are to have an extra pair of clothes ( complete ) in case of such things. so children are not completely potty trained and at time have accidents. What is a teacher to do when a child is dirty or has an accident ? Let them sit in it all day ? where my child went to Pre-K there were changing stations and little persons restrooms. A good school pays their teachers good money to care for those type of things. why they are just little kids learning in a Big persons world. As for the Letter ,It could have been stated better and if a child or 2 were offending children all the time then address it with the administration and call the parents ( there are things called phones ). So let them work the problem out and if the teacher was any kind of a teacher especially for Pre-school should Expect this type of problems.

    • Kyle Smith

      You don’t EXPECT children to be sent to school dirty and unkempt! You EXPECT parents to take pride in their children’s appearance. Even old clothes, which I wore most of my life, can be washed and clean. Poor children that don’t have running water usually take more pride in their appearance the better off children. I grew up around families with children that had soiled clothes and hygiene problems, these were addressed and clothes were donated and gratefully accepted by the parents. A form letter is NOT a bad thing. It singled out NO-ONE.

  • Daphne

    She definitely could have worded it better, checked her spelling, punctuation and put it on a letterhead. The word is unkempt, not unkept. I have dealt with this issue about hygiene and it does cause problems with health issues. If another child has an allergy and a child comes in covered in “WHO KNOWS WHAT!” (i will not gross you out with details) Not just with Me not wanting to touch a child but with the other children around said child. It has been to the point that I have or my co-workers have taken the child to the showers and bathed them and bought clean clothes to put on them and calling DHR on the parents. It is sad to know that there are parents out there still to this day that will not take better care of their babies. I have cried over the state that some children have come to school in. It can definitely take a toll on a person to see it day in and day out.

  • Missy

    VERY inappropriate. Did any of you criticizing the parents ever stop to think they may be homeless and embarrassed to let anyone know? Not everyone is as blessed as you may be. The parents may be doing all they can with what they have or don’t have. If the teacher had any heart she should have contacted the parents to seek a solution for the problem, not add to it.

    • dannicalliope

      My mother grew up poor, with no electricity and no indoor plumbing much of the time and frequent moves because her parents couldn’t pay rent so they were constantly being evicted. She grew up poor, but not dirty. There are ways to keep clean, even the prisoners in Auschwitz did it because “it made them human” (Sara Normberg–Pryzk, Auschwitz, True Tales). Hygiene used to be a matter of basic human decency and pride in ones’ self and not at all related to social standing or money.

  • jusme

    it is what it is, keep your kids, and their clothes clean. I understand not eberyone has the $ to buy “perfect” clothes, but even thrift shop clothes can be washed. I do not blame the teacher for sending the letter. sending your child to school dirty and soiled could be considered neglect in some states. however, if the children become dirty/soiled while at school, tbat is, of course, a whole other situation.

  • Smitty

    This action by the teacher is totally inappropriate! Many people are struggling Financially and emotionally in these trying times. Certainly there are more appropriate ways to deal with this situation and as a teacher who is suppose to instruct our children in the subjects of English, Math History and Science, Science also including Hygiene, I believe she needs her own skills reexamined. There are certainly more respective and conscious ways of handling this matter.

    • Big Dog

      The teacher didn’t say that their clothes were not nice enough. She said they were not clean and unwashed and had a foul odor. Struggling financially is no excuse to being dirty, nasty, and unbathed.

  • bonnie

    I think it was a problem that needed to be addressed. However, it should have been typed to be more professional. It definitely should have been composed better, especially being in the teaching profession. She could either sent a general hygiene letter to all OR just sent to it the children that is having the problem. The biggest error was not closing the letter (notice) with her phone number should the parent(s) need to speak with her in case there is something that she may not be aware of in their life, and offer assistance if they needed it.

  • Allison

    If everyone would read the letter, it states that students are coming to school dirty not that someone has an accident. For those of you saying that these kids may be homeless, it is a preschool which means it costs parents money to have their child attend school. Obviously, this has become a persistent issue, otherwise the teacher would not have sent out a letter. Parents have the responsibility to be their own child’s caretaker. Personally, I would be ashamed if I was a parent that sent my child to school filthy. Also, the letter could have been presented more professional; however, has anyone considered that the school may not have access to printers and copiers, and the teacher felt like the issue needed to be addressed immediately. A preschool is so much different from elementary school. People cannot judge a preschool based on elementary school standards, because preschool is not mandatory. All I am saying is do not judge the teacher so harshly, and think about if this was your child and you sent them to school dirty. How would you feel?

  • Adam Alcocer

    The letter was appropriate to a certain extent. She should have it approved by the principal who would have guided her in a more professional direction. Typed with School letter head would have presented more of a united front with her and school officials. She appears to have had an experience with a child and kept it bottled for some time and then in frustration she jotted down the letter to parents. The same way people expect the parents to keep their children clean and smelling good we expect a teacher to handle these situations in a more professional way, she is representing the whole school.

  • Doug

    How can we judge if we don’t know the exact circumstances of the classroom. If parents aren’t taking care of their children in regards to hygiene then they should be called out and ridiculed. That’s ridiculous. Teachers are people too and can overstep boundaries as well. Just because she said something doesn’t make it so. If she is accurate then the parents that do so are lazy, sorry parents. Wash your kids everynight, brush their teeth every morning and send them out in public with clean clothes everyday. Almost every American can afford to do so.

  • tracey

    A teacher expects them to stay fresh and clean…. I dont think so. She expects them to understand when its the parents duty.

    If she had issues with the conditions that they were in, its called speak with principal and then if they agree allow them to do what is needed.

    You teacher….. must not have children nor have ever been around them because if you had you would know they are dirty stinky filthy at times but that is the same thing you were at that age….

    Until you have a few…. keep your mouth shut and just take the cute pictures of them in their creative and chaotic moments of learning and figuring out what they want out of this great big world.

    • Thomas

      I’ve been around children for a very long time, and yes, they do tend to get dirty and filthy, but to show up to preschool itself filthy, dirty, and with a foul order around them, then that’s something that the parents need to deal with.

  • Thomas

    I do think that the teacher could have done a better job of how she said it, but I also think she was in the right. And it wasn’t wrong for her to send the letter out to all of the students parents, instead of just those that showed a lack of hygiene. Now if the parents of the ones with just stained clothes was because they can’t afford it, then that’s one thing, but if it’s just cause they don’t want to do anything about it, yet can afford to, then it needs to be properly taken care of.

  • Robert Dexter

    Well the teacher said several students sometimes daily. Ok ,then it should have been addressed before she got so disgusted and could not stand to be near or touch a child. And then there was the , It appeared that some of them were unclean and unkept. What does appear to be ? second and or 3rd hand clothes. Maybe she felt embarrassed because her class may have been made up of some of the less unfortunate children. Maybe she felt they needed to be dressed like her own children ( if she had any ). I can understand the part of being upset about them being soiled and smelly. Of course if they are soiled they are gonna smell. Is it possible that maybe after the parent dropped their child off and they were playing they soiled themselves then ? this Is left open for interpretation of our minds. But one thing I feel strongly about is the people jumping on the Band Wagon and readily wanting to call in DHR. Do any of you realize the problems and inner wars that would be started and possibly families torn apart because you jumped the gun. STOP..Lets call DHR on your child or children because I don’t like the way they are dressed or I think they look unkept or have stained clothing on. If the children are truly that bad then by all means intervention is called for. But the teacher should have gone to school guidance counselor or Principle and tried to solve the problem that way.. Then again maybe the teacher did not like her job or the class she was dealt.. there are way to many unanswered Questions.

  • Jackie

    If the children are 3 to 4 yrs old, then the person writing this letter is likely not a real teacher, but a day care worker. The style of writing and sentence structure suggests an immature female, possibly a high school student. Let’s not give REAL teachers a bad rap by assuming this was written by someone with an actual teaching degree.

    • Finally!

      Glad someone finally pointed out that a 3-4 year old “teacher” is not a real teacher but a daycare worker. The term teacher should be reserved for those who teach K-12, not daycare workers with no college degree and no certification. Daycare workers only need a hs diploma, and sometimes not even that. I did not see this story when it aired but am curious if 19 knows the difference. Also, not everyone pays for daycare. Someone said if they could afford daycare they could afford soap. There are many free head start programs for low income families as well programs that pay for daycare for low income families.

  • robert kern

    This teacher went about it the right way in that she did not single anyone out she put it forth to all to bring awareness to the parents and to hopefully get them to check themselves and take better care of their children I feel if anyone takes offense to this obviously they are the guilty party and show a guilty conscience and instead of condemning the teacher they should check themselves and maintain their children.

  • Angela Allen

    So as stated by law inside of mentioning the problem and hoping it would get the proper attention she should have followed protocol and reported to DHR the parents who were neglecting their children. I think what a nice teacher to send a note. Your first warning legally should be Children Services at your door.. js

    • Tonya

      Why should Child Services be at your door because your child isn’t clean? How do you know it’s neglect? That’s making an assumption and could possibly be slander.

  • Finally!

    Lol at her leaving a space for a 3-4 year old to sign their name to the note. She must be quite a “teacher”!

  • liz

    She should have typed the letter maybe it would have went across better. But I have to say in dropping my own child off at pre k that many parents them self are unkept and think pajamas are clothing which they are not they are for sleeping it. I think the letter only offended the people and even here on this board who do not take care of their own appearance and their childs appearance. home school your children if you are not ready to have them ready for the outside world. People judge based on outward appearance. If you look dirty and unkept it makes you think what kind of home and parents do these kids have ? She could have contacted DHR for neglect instead she sent home a letter. Many teens and children themself are having kids and maybe she thought they didnt know how to properly take care of their own kids so she sent home a friendly suggestion.

  • Tonya

    I think that she probably should have had more discretion and maybe worded the letter differently. Either way it’s going to offend someone. If you speak directly to the parents of the children who may need better hygiene, the parents may think they’re being humiliated. If you send a letter home with every student, then every other parent and student will be judging the other children. Speaking only to the parents of children with hygiene issues isn’t profiling. It’s using discretion and addressing the problem. Maybe there are reasons behind the children and there clothing/bathing, etc. Still, being poor does not mean you can’t be clean. Keeping a child’s clothes clean at that age is hard. But, bathing and proper hygiene would be a big help. She’s a teacher and a role model. Think about how you say things and don’t end a letter to a parent with “Enough said.”

  • sheretta

    now the letter could have been written better, but I’m a single parent of 4 great kids would needs clothing, and if my washer machine don’t work I was their clothing in the bathtub. Now all stains don’t come out, but they are bathe and their clothing has been washed. If there is a big problem see what you can do to help. sometimes it takes a caring person. You all don’t know or even understand whats going on in a home because some will not ask and calling DHR on a parent who struggle time to time is not right. There are times that I have struggled with soap, no washing powders, no shampoo, all at one time, but I was ashamed to say something. I was in a state of mind to where I thought well they got a roof and lights over they head and food to eat and all the love in the world from me I still struggle at timea even today. Don’t be quick to judge. The teacher have concerns and if she knows the kids who do find a place in your heart to help and speak with the proper authority to meet with those parents to see if there is anything they can do to help, even though you do have some parents who don’t care.

  • Jon

    If you find it necessary to take offense to what a caregiver/educator has to say in regards to the manner in which your child is given to them, then you need to re-assess how your child is sent to another person for care and education. These are basic responsibilities that as a parent should be cared for daily, not taken offense to when a letter is sent home. We live in a society where we share equal responsibility for our neighbors children and in doing so, we need to take care of our responsibilities before, during and after. Not complain or get upset when someone else notices our lack of attention to the detail for our future generation.

  • Kim

    I think the letter could have been written alittle more professionally however if it didn’t apply to you then why would you consider this offensive?? Apparently people don’t appreciate the truth. Today everyone seems to get offended by something, so I’ll tell you. If you a nasty pig clean your house and you should have your kids taken from you since it’s apparent your unable to care for your kids

  • C.simmonds

    I think it’s appropriate, if your child have an accident and becomes dirty it’s one thing , but for them to show up dirty and smelly in my class is a poor reflection on you as parents. And a distraction from teaching. What she should be responsible for cleaning them and then get chared Gordon inappropriate touching your child/ children. Do you do as a parent . Your children will get more from teachers time.

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