When Compassion and Political Correctness Collide – A Case for Rachel Rosoff’s Family

Rachel Rosoff  a senior at Enloe High School, passed away in September 2016 from a tragic accident when she was electrocuted while performing her duties as a lifeguard at a North Raleigh pool. She was just 17.

Now, as graduation season approaches, her family has asked the staff at Enloe for a simple acknowledgement of their daughter, who was involved in theater and art at the school, during the graduation ceremony. So far, principal William Chavis has declined, despite an online petition started by Rosoff’s sister, Jordana, which has garnered 3019 signatures to date.

According to a recent article in the News & Observer, Chavis sent an email to Rosoff’s mother last week in which he wrote, “A memorial of a lost/loved one has potential to cause students (or others) to react in ways that would take trained professionals (i.e. counselors) to support – we cannot ensure that at such an occasion. Consequently we will not have a memorial at a graduation ceremony.”

I’d like to say I understand the school’s need to be politically correct and avoid the potential slippery slope that things such as these might encourage, but really, this particular issue seems a bit silly doesn’t it?

WCPSS doesn’t have a specific policy banning such acknowledgements. Rosoff died nearly nine months ago – students have had time to mourn and it seems pretty unlikely that a mere mention of her passing is going to create a wave of grief that may pose a threat to public safety.  The family is simply asking for their daughter to be acknowledged, as she would have been graduating with her class. This seems a matter of respect and common decency for Rosoff, her family, and the friends who knew her.

I don’t know Principal Chavis, and I haven’t spoken to him so I don’t know what his exact thought process was with this decision and I imagine reaching out to him at this point would generate a call back from WCPSS’s official spokesperson rather than from Chavis himself. We could all give him the benefit of the doubt and hope there’s some compelling reason the public simply isn’t privy to – that’s always a possibility.

Or perhaps this was simply an error in judgment – an overthinking of the situation or something of that nature. If so, it can easily be rectified by both Chavis and WCPSS, and the sooner the better. The graduation ceremony is set for June 14, so there’s still time for the school and district to reconsider and here’s hoping they will. As a parent myself, if God forbid I found myself in a similar situation, I would hope for as much.

A link to Jordana Rosoff’s petition is here: Acknowledge Rachel Rosoff at Graduation.

Categories: This and That

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2 replies

  1. I am thankful for the continued coverage on Rachel so her life and legacy will not be forgotten. A simple request by her mother to acknowledge Rachel at her high school graduation has been met with bureaucratic nonsense. I hope Principal Chavis, the Wake County Superintendent, the Wake County Dean of Students, and the Wake County Public School System administration take the time to read the comments made by more than 3,100 people worldwide. The sentiments are similar and simple: It’s the right thing to do.


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