Naumann Video Controversy a Sign of Our Times: High School Community Largely Supports Its Principal

January 16, 2013
By

The emergency meeting called by the School Committee, the extensive regional television news coverage and even the crowd of close to 100 parents, teachers and students who came out to support Erick Naumann Monday night are all symptoms of the times we live in.

Most likely, had Erick Naumann looked at his video parody of the Terminator movies, titled the “The Naumannator,” in the context of the times we are living in he would have decided against it.

Instead, he released his video project, in an effort to show a sense of humor to a generation of youth raised on violent video games and movies that make his own video presentation tame by comparison. That is not to say that he made the right decision, or justify the video in any way. I am simply pointing out a fact. Images of violence are all around us every day and it is only when that violence crosses over from the fictional world to the real world that we as a society take notice.

Eric Naumann was trying to connect to his students, and despite the uproar that attempt created, his effort was noticed by his students.

Of the more than 100 people on hand at the special School Committee meeting Monday night, only one parent rose to voice her concern over the video, and amid the tide of glowing endorsement of Naumann, even she tempered her remarks by saying simply that the video had scared her and made he feel her children were unsafe.

“I don’t know Mr. Naumann,” said Carol Ciampi-Dugan. “I just want to talk as a parent of an 18 year old . . it was very scary (given) the time we are in right now. I was afraid to bring my child to school.”

Ciampi-Dugan noted that she was not at the meeting to see Naumann punished, she simply wanted to voice her concern about the video.

She was the only one who was willing to stand speak about it. Every other speaker rose to talk about Naumann’s influence on students, first at the Parlin School and at the high school since returning this past fall.

Vinny Simonelli, a member of the parent council said prior to the meeting, “Everybody thinks this (reaction) is way overblown. He was just trying to show the kids that he does understand their world. . .he just picked the wrong movie.”

But the fact of the matter is that the views expressed by both parents and all of the others who did not come to the meeting, are right.

The media scrutiny and emergency meeting were an over-reaction to what basically amounted to a poor decision by a veteran educator and administrator who has largely not made such mistakes in a 15-year career in Everett.

At the same time, the video did reflect some insensitivity to school shootings and parental fears about school security in light of recent events.

But perhaps the most telling thing said by anyone on the subject during Monday night’s meeting came from one of the students who told the School Committee, “That video did not make me feel unsafe. I feel safe at the high school, because I know Mr. Naumann will do everything he can to protect us.”