As allegations of misconduct by staff at Turlock's Stanislaus Military Academy continue to mount, two students have reached out to TurlockCityNews.com to share their stories about the school.
One student, who anonymously e-mailed TurlockCityNews.com under the title “Proud but Sad Cadet,” says the school has lost its way.
“I truly enjoy my school for what it was meant to be, not for what it currently is and has been for some time, now,” the cadet wrote. “My parents enrolled me because I want to go into the military. Not because I am a mess-up or what my parents call 'unfortunate people.' There are students like me there, more than what people think.”
SMA is a “school of choice.” While the majority of the 200 or more students at the school have had severe disciplinary problems at other schools, there are a significant number of students who are there because they choose to be – neither because of technicality, nor as a last chance opportunity.
The “Proud but Sad Cadet” went on to address the recent allegations of misconduct.
“The statements that some of these people are saying, MOST are true and some are exaggerated, very few,” the cadet wrote.
“I overhear teachers and DI’s (drill instructors) talking about other students all of the time. This does happen all of the time; I just walk away or ask to use the latrine. I have my own problems and do not need to have knowledge of others. We as cadets are taught the core values of: commitment, discipline, respect, courage and honor. (A specific administration member) always talks about living by these core values. However, somewhere along the line he has lost a few of his own core values. I wish we had our old teachers and DI’s with other staff would come back.
“I wish that (the specific administrator) would talk to us and not at us; we really are not as ignorant as he feels we are.”
A Ray of Light in the Darkness Surrounding SMA
With allegations and negativity swirling about SMA, one SMA graduate e-mailed TurlockCityNews.com to praise the institution. To date, this student is the only person not paid by the SCOE to publicly provide positive comments.
Jordan Herr praised the school for helping him to turn his life around.
“Sometimes in life we drift off when we are younger, and it takes a little more than gentle persuasion to get back on path,” Herr wrote. “I was definitely not going to graduate high school and as for priorities, I didn't have any. I'm not going to shoot you some special about how the school is the greatest thing that ever happened. It did teach me life skills, humility, and tact. That school taught me things that stand behind decisions I make still today.”
Herr says he is currently serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army as a combat engineer.
“Without enrolling in SMA I would have never been this successful. Please understand that everything in life has mishaps, life would be boring without them. The academy generally is an amazing thing that has happened for the kids of Stanislaus County and it would break my heart to see it shut down.”
To date there has been no public discussion or comments about shutting down SMA.
The consensus among those interviewed by TurlockCityNews.com is that SMA has the right idea to turn troubled lives around, but perhaps the methods are incorrect or misguided due to ongoing problems in the organizational structure at SMA.
“I think what you are seeing here is a pattern that they (administration) let things there get out of control. This program is a good idea. Administration has to realize these kids are not soldiers yet, they are still kids. No matter how they got to SMA no one deserves what some of these allegations are saying. I’d like to see a good faith effort to turn things around there. Again, it is a good program,” said California School Employees Association Representative Kyle Harvey.
Part 1: Parents: Mismanagement at Turlock's Stanislaus Military Academy Led to Suicide, Injuries, Retaliation
Part 2: SCOE Launches Independent Investigation into Stanislaus Military Academy Mismanagement
Part 3: “Culture of Fear” at SMA Leaves Parents In Fear of Retaliation
Watch the video news coverage from Tim Daly at News10/KXTV at the link below:
"Military high school under fire after suicide"