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School principals' hotline set

by Paul Leakan

STAFF WRITER

Some parents may be too shy, too intimidated or just too busy to meet with their child's school principal and ask questions about what their child is doing in school.

But a national telephone hotline service will soon give parents at least a brief -- but massive -- forum to begin asking questions.

Starting next Monday, the National Association of Elementary School Principals will hold its 11th annual National Principals' Hotline, a service dedicated to answering parents' questions about schools, children and education issues.

This year's three-day hotline will originate from New Orleans, where around 6,000 kindergarten through eighth-grade principals will attend the convention.

Educators will volunteer their time in two-hour shifts, and more than 100 school principals will staff a bank of phones and computer terminals, including one principal from Mercer County.

Parents will have a chance to speak confidentially with a principal or get specialized advice from a school psychologist with the National Association of School Psychologists.

Callers will have the opportunity to ask about a variety of topics, such as school discipline, zero tolerance policies, testing and learn disabilities.

"It started basically because we understood the need for parents to get involved in the education of their kids, and this was one way we could facilitate that information," said Peter Magnuson, spokesperson for NAESP.

Although no Harrison County teachers are scheduled to participate in the hotline, School Superintendent Robert Kittle said it was a good tool for the education system and parents alike.

"I think the most important thing about the hotline is that the principals are making themselves accessible to the public," he said. Beginning this Sunday, the National Principals' Hotline number can be accessed at 1-800-944-1601. In the Eastern time zone, the hotline will be available from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday. At the same time, parents can also pose questions via e-mail by accessing www.naesp.org.

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