In Michigan, a school district is facing backlash from parents after a school ended a sixth-grade field trip by taking the students to a lounge with stripper poles in plain sight.
The New York Post reports that on November 16th, students with the band and orchestra of Hart Middle School, located in Rochester Hills, visited Niki’s Pizza in Detroit after attending a performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The pizzeria operates jointly with the risque nightclub Niki’s Lounge.
“The students were moved from Niki’s Pizza due to a lack of available space to the Lounge where they tried out some pole dancing,” said Andrew Weaver, a Rochester Community Schools (RCS) trustee and parent, in a Facebook post on January 6th. Weaver’s post featured pictures of several students dancing on the poles, as well as pictures of the interior of the adult lounge and its drink menu.
The story went viral after it was shared by the popular Twitter account @LibsOfTikTok. However, the school district responded to the story by blocking LibsOfTikTok on Twitter and issuing a statement denying the story.
RCS spokeswoman Lori Grein claimed that the school never took the students “to an eatery attached to a ‘strip club.’”
“Proposed field trips are evaluated by a curriculum team and require a parental/guardian permission slip,” Grein continued. “The safety and security of our students, staff and school community is always our priority.”
The owner of Niki’s, Agatha Kefallinos, said in a subsequent interview that the school would have been made aware of the seating arrangement ahead of time, noting that “when we have a group of over 100 people, we give them the option of going to our second floor, which is operated as a club on Saturday nights but is closed during the day.”
Kefallinos, however, defended the use of the poles and claimed that they are not stripper poles, but instead simply “part of the decorations.”
After exposing the story, Weaver said that he was the victim of retaliation by the school district. On December 21st, Superintendent Robert Shaner sent a letter to the school board demanding that they “take immediate action to ensure Mr. Weaver’s compliance with protocol,” adding that the district may seek “legal redress” against Weaver.
But in another statement, the school board once again denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the letter in question “did not include any threats.”