[sac-board] Revised letter to High School District/liability concerns

  • From: "Jennifer Polakis" <m24@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <sac-board@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <sac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2013 12:42:05 -0700

Hi Rick and all...

We approved "Free membership for high school students" at the February 2013 
board meeting.

Thank you for taking time to help with this idea--thank you for your 
suggestions and especially thanks for bringing concerns to the table.  It's 
important to make a conversation to get everything as good as possible 
before proceeding.
The newest revision to this letter incorporates a suggestion from Spencer to 
mention the N. Rim Star Party, and some grammatical corrections and a 
suggestion from Dick to welcome students to star parties.  A copy of the 
revised letter follows this discussion initiated by Rick Rotramel on 
concerns of:
1. Liability/risks of the under-aged, and
2.  Risk of exceeding our meeting room capacity.


Of course these are valid concerns that are thought about seriously--they 
always have been and always will be.  They are things to remedy, not things 
to paralyze.

If a high school aged student were to become a _paying_ member of the club 
it would be the same concern.  Our constitution does not have an age 
requirement for membership nor do we "card" people at the door or at the 
entrance to a star party.  The exception is the Messier Marathon Liability 
Release wherein "All adults 18 and older must sign this release, and sign 
for children under eighteen in their care."

If a student wanted to go to a dark-site star party, they would probably 
need a parent to drive them, or  parental permission for someone else to 
drive them.  In fact, they need the same to attend a regular meeting--making 
membership free only fixes one small barrier of many larger issues to 
student participation.

I'm fairly sure I'm not the only person to bring an unrelated child to a 
star party.

Regarding the "possible" accusations--certainly a concern, the same concern 
for the Thunderbird Star Party or our participation in school star parties. 
It hasn't happened as far as I know.  But it could.

We should always be diligent in the safety and protection of children.

Article VI of our constitution addresses "expulsion of members" for such 
things as 3. Willful disregard for his own safety or the safety of 
others...and 4. Conduct detrimental to the club.

If ~459 students showed up for a meeting?  1.  We'd have to have to take it 
outside!  2.  We'd then have to find a larger venue.

If ~10 remaining live SAC members showed up for meetings? 1. We could have 
meetings around one of their kitchen tables.

Rick Rotramel wrote:
I am very concerned about the liability factor involved with high school 
aged students attending our star parties way out in the desert. Please 
consider all the risks associated with the club. I don’t mean to rain on 
your parade, but all this stuff should be thought about very seriously.

Like, how are these students going to travel out to the desert. Will they be 
alone or accompanied by an adult? This also brings up stuff like "possible" 
accusations if something were to go very wrong at one of these outings.

Please consider all the possibilities of what we are getting into here.

Also, about inviting entire school districts to our monthly meetings. What 
will we do if suddenly 459 or so show up for a meeting?

Thanks for listening.

Rick R.

(This is from the original letter with Dick's suggestions in CAPS): 
Additionally, we try to get out TO observing OBSERVE with our telescopes 
twice a month--on weekends near the new Moon and the 3rd quarter Moon which 
sets early.  (The Moon makes the sky very bright and difficult to observe 
objects such as galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae.)  We are currently 
driving 60-100 miles away from the city to get some distance away from light 

Here is the newest revision of the letter incorporating Dick and Spencer's 
suggestions, I try to refrain from calling observing a "star party" as 
parties out on the desert connote drinking.  Also, I didn't "welcome" 
students to observing events, I let them know they don't need a telescope to 
come out and catch some views at a dark site.

April 11, 2013

Phoenix Union High School District
4502 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012

Attention:  Dr. Kent P. Scribner, Superintendent

Via E-mail: Isela Rivas-Reyes, Assistant to the Superintendent

Reference: Free Membership to Saguaro Astronomy Club for High School 

Dear Dr. Scribner,

On behalf of Saguaro Astronomy Club, I would like to offer a free membership 
to our astronomy club for high school students.

Please refer to our website:  www.saguaroastronomy.org .  Our club 
originated in 1977.  We hold monthly meetings with an invited lecturer on a 
range of  topics including:  the status of extra solar planet search, the 
composition of stars, astrophotography, citizen science programs in 
astronomy, updates on space missions like The Lunar Recognizance Orbiter 
Camera, historical astronomy, astronomy in other countries, and other 
interesting topics.  All lectures are done by professional astronomers from 
Arizona's observatories and universities  or highly skilled amateur 
astronomers. Our monthly lecture meeting is held at Grand Canyon University 
at 35th Avenue and Camelback on Fridays closest to the full Moon at 7:30 
p.m.  A schedule and map is available on our website.  Membership includes 
an E-mail of our monthly newsletter.

Additionally, we try to get out observing with our telescopes twice a 
month--on weekends near the new Moon and the 3rd quarter Moon which sets 
early.  (The Moon makes the sky very bright and difficult to observe objects 
such as galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae.)  We are currently driving 
60-100 miles away from the city to get some distance away from light 
pollution.  A telescope is not required to attend these observing events as 
we enjoy sharing the views.

One of our members chairs a novice group with an invitation to his 
observatory in Maricopa for help on operating a telescope, how to locate 
objects, etc.  Also, schools,  scouting programs, etc.  can request our 
astronomers  to bring telescopes to an event; and we've hosted Thunderbird 
Park's annual star party for more than 25 years.  Every summer we organize 
the North Rim Grand Canyon Star Party to coincide with The Tucson Amateur 
Astronomy Association's South Rim event.

Teachers, parents, and students can contact me directly via E-mail or 
telephone, or can refer to the list of contacts on our web site.

Please advise if it would be more effective for me to contact each of the 
high schools in your district individually.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this letter; I know you must 
be an extremely busy person.

Kind Regards,
Jennifer Polakis, VP
E-mail: M24@xxxxxxx, telephone: 480 967-1658
Saguaro Astronomy Club www.saguaroastro.org

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