Sunday, February 8, 2009

School Discipline and Silly Administrators

The original article and my repost here was about a student who was sent out of the building when he was suspended and had to wait in sub-freezing weather for 20 minutes. I generally read such things with suspicion - somebody's always lying and usually both sides are speaking through the sides of their mouths.

To wit:
"the school has records of calls made to Mother telling her that her son was going to be suspended that day." "Mother said neither she nor her son knew he was set to be suspended that day, or he wouldn’t have shown up for school." (Names changed to Relationships for clarity.)

This sounds a lot like a case of mistaken communication with interpretations taken liberally by both sides. School probably called and said something like "He's gonna be suspended if he keeps coming in late" but might not have mentioned specifics. I can remember when my school called (kept careful records) but never actually talked to a parent - since neither was home during the day when the administrators called.

On her side, Mother might have figured that if she dropped him off and made a quick getaway, she could be rid of him for the day - the school might not go to the trouble of calling to have him removed. He does sound like a real PITA.

The lawyers are going to have to decide that, but I have my suspicions and it's because of some later statements by the school.

As an aside, we have the obvious question of why "suspension for lateness" makes sense. I mean, you have the kid there and that ought to be your purpose all along, no? Put him in a Special study hall, make him serve after school detentions or something that keeps him there and makes your point. If the true reason for suspension is something else, that needs to be said or you will never address your real problems.

So what is my smoking gun here? A few statements from the "Human Resource Officer" ...
"He was finally told to leave the building. At that point, he was trespassing." and "would never have been removed from the building had he remained calm"
But he wasn't really being raucous or violent, he was being a goofball. Why exaggerate?
"Had he not kept sneaking into the building and roaming around" and "He was being insubordinate with the principal and also not following protocol"
Don't you love it - now he's being "insubordinate" and not "following protocol." Let's use serious terms so people won't notice how silly this whole thing is. I find that school administrators resort to this kind of talk when they know they're going too far, when they know that simply stating facts won't look good, when they know they screwed up and are trying to CYA.

For my part, though, the biggest screw up was this line from the HRD (a dehumanizing title, if I've ever heard one - just call the woman Dean of Students or Attendance Secretary) ...
"He’s failing all of his classes and he failed all of last semester, too. He’s not coming in, and is playing games when he is here."
Have you never heard of FERPA, lady? This bit of information was told to a REPORTER. Besides being immaterial to the case at hand, this information comes under the category of Educational Records and it is PRIVATE.

Moron. If they are resorting to this level, they are almost always trying to cover up their own mistakes. Even if the school district is not actually at fault in any way and did everything else exactly right and the mother and kid are completely in the wrong, this HRD needs to rethink her public relations, at least.

1 comment:

  1. I think the suspension for lateness is iffy from the start. Sounds like he was failing out and they didn't know how to handle him. Proportionate discipline? No. That's the most serious misconduct, using the discipline code to deal with an academic problem.

    And then putting him out with nowhere to go is pure stupid.