‘Relationship application’ sparks outrage in Rensselaer schools

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The Rensselaer City School District is discontinuing use of a “relationship application” that an assistant principal gave to a high school student, asking her who she planned to date and whether it will “cause drama” if the romantic relationship ended.

The form also contains questions about whether her behavior would decline because of the relationship and if her grades would be affected.

Lark Rutecki, the school board’s vice president, said it was targeted to one student.

“Navigating relationships at that age is really difficult. To be singled out at school? I think it’s just inappropriate. For a faculty member to want to know personal information just doesn’t seem right.”

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After NewsChannel 13 reached out for comment, Superintendent Joseph Kardash said he also had some concerns when Facebook complaints about the form were brought to his attention. However, he said his concerns were eased when he looked into the matter.

“This ‘relationship application’ was a tool used by one of our administrators in his prior district to address student drama that stems from high school relationships. It was intended to address student responses and reactions that stem from adolescent relationships This document is not a form that the school regularly handed out to students,” Kardash wrote.

Kardash said the administrator was attempting to address some “animosity” between students that stemmed from a relationship ending, and he used the form to “prevent escalation through student reflection.”

Kardash said that the relationship was not filled out nor turned back in.

That being said, Kardash said the form is “outdated” and “not appropriate for societal expectations today” and the district does not intend to use it again.

Rutecki said the school district needs to take more action.

“Just not addressing that and essentially saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to delete it and move forward’ sort of misses the point,” she said. “When a parent is bringing a concern to you, school board members are bringing concern to you, and you’re just brushing it aside? It feels like you’re protecting a staff member versus being concerned about how this impacted the student involved.”