RCS Addresses Military Uniform Incident


Katie Wolf

The AHS student section waves American flags during the national anthem at a football game.

Rochester Community Schools Superintendent, Dr. Robert Shaner, continues to answer the last calls and emails concerning the incident that took place at Rochester Adams High School two weeks ago.
Adams parent Lieutenant Colonel Sherwood Baker was refused admittance into Adams on September 9. Lt. Col. Baker came to the main entrance of Adams in order to address an issue concerning his freshman daughter’s schedule, and a Safe-Ed security guard told him that he could not enter. District officials will not verify the reason Baker was turned away, but multiple outside sources, including The Detroit Free Press and Fox News, report Baker was denied access because his military uniform ” may offend” students.
Baker did not have an appointment, and district authorities will not confirm whether or not Baker had identification, but Dr. Shaner assures Baker “did everything he was supposed to do” in order to enter the building. While parents are encouraged to make an appointment when they wish to speak with a counselor or principal, there is no policy explicitly stating this rule.
According to RCS regulation 9150, “If a parent/guardian wants an appointment to discuss his/her child’s progress with a teacher, the appointment should be arranged outside school hours, on conference days, or during the teacher’s planning period.”
Baker exited the building when he was denied access by multiple security guards, and the incident was promptly resolved with an administrator escorting Baker back into the school.
According to Dr. Shaner, the episode was a “miscommunication,” and Rochester Community Schools does not have a policy excluding individuals in uniform.
“There was some unfortunate miscommunication that resulted in an unfortunate situation. I don’t think there was any ill will. It was poor communication and poor execution,” said Dr. Shaner.
Shortly after the incident, news outlets broke the episode to the public. Dr. Shaner appeared on WJR soon after to publicly apologize on behalf of Rochester Community Schools and wrote a letter to the entire military community.
The incident placed a national spotlight on Adams and the district. Individuals from around the country contacted both Dr. Shaner and Adams principal Mr. Kevin Cumming to voice their disgust, concerns, and opinions on the issue. They received hundreds of emails and calls concerning the episode, and Dr. Shaner has a binder in his office with copies of every email he was sent.
“Any email I got, anywhere in the country, I answered. Any resident of Rochester that called, I talked to them personally,” said Dr. Shaner.
Dr. Shaner was personally offended by some of the comments, as he is a Marine himself. Dissenters claimed he was “anti-American”and questioned his service to this country.
Mr. Cumming was also offended by those who have called Adams unpatriotic. Cumming said, “They do not know Adams High School. Our school is being portrayed in a light that we know is untrue.” Cumming added, “The district is ultimately concerned with the safety and security of all students.”
Unfortunately, the facts of this incident were misreported in several sources.
“It really brought out hate. We get wound up in this and forget we’re really supposed to be taking care of kids,” said Dr. Shaner.