What are School Administrators Thinking??? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 15 year old threw a water bottle from the bus last week. I am being told that an empty water bottle dented a car (have yet to see the car and the police said they were sending a report but have yet to see that either). The school, in their infinite wisdom, have suspended the child for 10 days, will take 30% off his grade, and can extend the suspension under the guidance of the superintendent. And they have already requested an extension.

OK, I hear about this on a Friday afternoon at 2m while I am at work. I become upset...who wouldn't...and the administrator keeps going on and on about how dangerous his behavior is. I finally just tell her I can't talk about this because I am too upset and can't think rationally. She calls me three (3) more times!!! to tell me all about his suspension. I keep telling her to stop calling, I can't do this right now. I go in on Monday to talk to her. I ask her what she expects my child to learn from this experience. Her answer is "I hope he learns to never do this again." I try to explain that because I have to go to work (I just missed 2 weeks due to a preschooler with behavioral issues) he is seeing this as a vacation. She just states she is following policy.

I called my attorney who suggested getting copies of the policy and requesting a hearing with the Board of Education. Dh called the Board and was told that they can suspend a student for no reason for up to 10 days and the parents have no recourse. And they can take the 30% off the grade. BUT there is an alternative program he can attend and will receive full credit for his work. In addition, the school does not have to provide the homework for the time out so he could lose 100% causing him to fail his classes.

Am I wrong to think this is just ridiculous??? I am not suggesting that my son not face consequences. What he did is wrong. I suggested that he should lose his bus privileges for 2 weeks (having to walk home) and make restitution. The school administrator basically laughed at me and told me that was not severe enough. Let's see...no school, no homework..school refuses to turn paperwork to district so he can attend alternative program... and no parent at home during day OR go to school, do homework, walk home, work and pay off debt...hmmm...is this really a question???

Would love to hear thoughts on this one. Oh and btw if we fight the Board he loses 100% of his credit if we lose.

Jamie
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#2 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:09 AM
 
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While I can see kicking him off the bus, and the police and said car owner being involved, I have NO idea why the school would suspend him AND take away 30% of his grade.... That is INSANE!!! He should be punished. But I dont get the grade thing.
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#3 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:19 AM
 
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Actually, I don't think it's too harsh. What if the driver whose car was hit lost control in the face of some unidentified object hitting his/her car and slammed into an oncoming car, killing someone? No, that's not being dramatic. It happens quite often.

If it were my kid, he'd be coming to work with me every day, not getting a free pass sitting at home.
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#4 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:59 AM
 
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The school's actions on this case are ridiculous, punitive, and outrageous. In fact, the school shouldn't even be involved in this. It's a legal matter between you, your son, and the driver of the car that was suppousedly damaged. Yes, I get that it happened on a school bus, but legally that shouldn't change anything. It didn't happen on school grounds, and even if it did, it happend outside of the building, obviously not within school hours. I think that if your son did actually cause damage to another vehicle, then he should work to pay off the costs of the car. That's the right punishment. Taking away 30% of his grade because of a bottle hitting the car is completely missing the point and will only harm his self-esteem and self-worth. It won't teach him anything except to hate anyone in authority because of the unfairness of the consequences. And what's this about if you fight the board, he losses his WHOLE grade? Is that the POLICY?? So if parents disagree with the policy, and fight it, the child looses? I cannot, CANNOT see how that can be legal. I'd follow your attorney's advice and ask for a written statement of the boards policy, and if that's truly the case that your child looses 100% of his grade if you choose to challange this assinine punishment, I'd be running into court so fast their heads would spin. I'd also call the local news and make sure that the entire public knows how little their children's education is valued the school district, and how they expect everyone to be sheep and not question anything. What a crock. You have every right to be completely livid.

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#5 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 05:12 AM
 
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Stupid school.

What he did was wrong, no doubt, but that's an awfully extreme punishment.

If he fails all his classes because of this, he's going to have to repeat the semester, right? Or do summer classes? If the school put my kid in that position, I think I'd just pull him out altogether and let him pursue a GED/homeschool.

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#6 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 06:39 AM
 
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The consequences are all wrong (ie at home all day playing instead of studying) but the consequences should be harsh. Throwing anything out of a moving vehicle, which can easily (and did) hit another vehicle, is dangerous. Regardless of whatever happens, I hope your DC does learn a valuable lesson - that he could have really hurt someone.

At a much later age, a friend and I threw warm water and chicken fat out of a 7 story building onto people on the street below (all dressed up to go to the paladium night club.) Boy, did we think this was funny. It ruined their clothes, gave them a shock. Well, the boys living in the apt above us also thought it was funny, and threw a chair out the window. A metal chair. Onto a busy street. The chair was completely demolished, and I guarantee that if a person had been under it, said person would be dead. The police came, the boys were evicted immediately. We never threw anything out the window again. I am sorry it had to get to that point to knock some sense into our heads.
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#7 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 08:22 AM
 
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The school has every right to be involved, he was on the school bus when the incident happened. They are still responsible for him until he steps off that bus. My son did something similar with a juice box and was suspended for 5 days so i know the outrage you're feeling but it really is dangerous. The grade thing though I'd fight. I also don't agree with the police involvement and the claim of a plastic water bottle denting a car. Give me a break. I'm willing to bet nothing comes of that so don't sweat it.
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#8 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 09:08 AM
 
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Ok yes we all know it was wrong. But it was an empty water bottle. I'm having a very very hard time seeing big ol damage from an empty water bottle. What am I missing here?

And 30% of his grade and a 10 day suspension? Are they freaking nuts?

Schools are so freaking power trippy now days.
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#9 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 09:44 AM
 
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I can tolerate the suspension (although I too think it is stupid) - but I would be all over them about the grade.

Exactly how does throwing a water bottle out a window affect his grade in, say, math?

And does the school expect him to try in any given class if he knows he is almost gaurenteed to flunk the course? Why would he even go to class?

I also think the school is sending a horrible message: we do not care about you, and one screw-up= you're out. Bleh!

Kathy
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#10 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 09:48 AM
 
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The consequences are all wrong (ie at home all day playing instead of studying)
He really does NOT have to be home all day playing. Yes, I know that not *every* job lends itself to bringing the kid with. I work retail - which is generally less accommodating than office work for this sort of thing. But I can almost guarantee that my store manager would let me bring him - and put him to work. The last thing he'd be doing is playing.

"Eh, it was an empty bottle." Have you ever had something unexpected fly up into your windshield? Do you drive along saying "La la la, it was an empty bottle, no big deal"? Or do you have an instinctive reaction? Which could lead to a tragic situation. I'm sorry, but this sort of behavior needs to be nipped in the bud from the get-go. Especially with a child approaching driving age.

The school has every right to be involved. They are responsible for the child from the moment he walks out the front door to the moment he walks back in it at the end of the day.

And.... environmental incorrectness by littering!
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#11 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 11:30 AM
 
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It sounds like he did something potentially dangerous that was impulsive and stupid. Obviously there should be some kind of a repercussion.

I like your idea of losing bus privileges and making restitution much better, though - it's actually connected in some way with what happened.


The suspension and grade consequence does not relate directly to what happened, and frankly it sounds like it will stress out his mama far more than it will stress out him. Most mothers can't bring their teenager to work for 2 weeks, if they want to keep their job.
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#12 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:02 PM
 
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I am sitting here thinking how up in arms people would be if the water bottle hit an MDC child who was standing near the bus instead of a total stranger's car. "Call the police! FIle charges against the bully! He's 15 -- that was no accident, a child of that age should know better than to throw things out of a moving bus ! How dangerous! What a bully!" etc etc yadda etc.
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#13 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:05 PM
 
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Sure....he should be in trouble.

But is what the school is doing the best consequence?
And how are grades involved:?

Kathy
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#14 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:07 PM
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Duh- of course what he did was wrong. You don't and no one on here sounds like they are condoning throwing stuff out the window. It gets thorny when doling out punishment. I really am annoyed at punishing (sp?) at the lowest level of morality.

The outcome of the school's punishment would leave, imo, a child being afraid to do something stupid like that for fear of getting caught, suspended (although most kids do look at that like vacation!) and messing with school grades. What do any of those have to do with the original action, I have no idea.

I am sure there are other things that could be done to help the child realize just how dangerous it could be to throw stuff out a window... or at least how gross all that stuff is along the road. What about picking up trash from the road? How about "volunteering" at a hospital where people are who've been injured in car accidents. I mean anything that will have some semblence (sp?) of natural consequences to what he did.


BTW- An empty water bottle dented a car??!?! Really?!!?
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#15 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:26 PM
 
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The school's actions on this case are ridiculous, punitive, and outrageous. In fact, the school shouldn't even be involved in this. It's a legal matter between you, your son, and the driver of the car that was suppousedly damaged. Yes, I get that it happened on a school bus, but legally that shouldn't change anything. It didn't happen on school grounds, and even if it did, it happend outside of the building, obviously not within school hours.
If a child is on a school bus, the school is still very much involved. In most school districts that I'm familiar with, in fact, the school is responsible for the student from the time he enters school property (either building or bus) until he arrives at the home/day care facility, etc...So, if a student leaves school and gets in a fight on the way home, even several blocks from the school, the school can still discipline the child. This child was one a school bus, which is, obviously, school property and therefore falls under school jurisdiction.

A 15-year-old is old enough to consider the consequences of his actions. He's almost old enough to drive, which means he needs to be thinking about the impact of his actions on the drivers around him. An empty water bottle sounds relatively harmless, but the results could have been fatal. The only part of the punishment that is unreasonable is the 30% loss of credit; the grades he has already earned should not be affected. That, I would fight. I really can't blame an administrator for being irate about it. If something had happened to the driver of that car or anyone else, the school system would have been held liable.

I'm sure there are more effective ways than a simple 2-week suspension; but, it's only a "vacation" if the parents let it be a vacation. The suspension should be filled with things like iamthesmilingone, such as cleaning up trash or volunteering (although I realize she intended for them to be instead of suspension, I don't).
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#16 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:46 PM
 
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I understand the school being involved as any behavior on the bus must be reported to the principal. I think that in school suspension and losing bus privilages makes more sense tho. I dont understand how they can do out of school suspension, demote his grade, and possibley extend the suspension is a lot.
I would also be demanding a copy of the charges against him,proof of damage, and want to speak to the person who owns the car that has the damage as a minor you are the guardian and with the police involved you should have full access to all of that info.
I do think some punishment is necessary as it is dangerous to thow objects at cars.

Good Luck!
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#17 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 01:49 PM
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The suspension should be filled with things like iamthesmilingone, such as cleaning up trash or volunteering (although I realize she intended for them to be instead of suspension, I don't).

True... I just would like to see a clearer connection between the action and the consequnce. If a child is suspended from school, as it appears in this case, it can be more of a punishment for the parent. I worry about the effect it would have on their job and livelyhood and cost associated with arranging supervision if it is not ok to bring said suspended kid to work. Messing with a family's finances does not make sense to me over this incident when there are other options for punishment/consequences.
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#18 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 02:03 PM
 
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I don't get this consequence at all. Throwing things out of a moving vehicle is really dangerous, and there definitely should be serious consequences. But, the consequences should have something to do with the offence. The boy's grades have to do with the work he's done in class, not with something he did after school on the bus home. Taking his bus privileges and making him walk makes sense - this doesn't.

This reminds me of one of my son's friends, who gets grounded for everything. His stepmom is big on "consequences", but the consequences have nothing to do with the offending behaviour. Get lippy with your stepmom? You're grounded. Forget to eat your lunch and leave it in your pack? You're grounded. Don't finish your chores? You're grounded.

What on earth does a kid learn from "consequences" that have no connection to whatever they did wrong?

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#19 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 02:12 PM
 
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I have a 14 year old and an 18 year old. The youngest has problems with impulse control. I also had an incident happen to him in school which resulted from another child's lack of impulse control which resulted in the other child being suspended. Last year, my then-17 year old lost the starring role in the school play due to getting his only failing grade ever in a class. He tried to appeal, but the school wouldn't hear of it. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and deal with the consequences of your actions.

My 14 year old is now grounded for doing something unsafe and impulsive, though not involving another person. My 14 year old had 2 bus referrals last year for not obeying bus rules.

I believe that your DS should be punished for what he did. If he gets the impression that you think the school is being too harsh, he may not think it is important to respect the rules at school and on the bus.

It is well known that young teens do not always make the best decisions, due to their brains not being fully developed. Nevertheless, your DS did do something dangerous. I hope that you talked to him about the possible consequences of his actions. Perhaps when he is done with the suspension, he could do some make up work to bring his grade back up.
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#20 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 02:38 PM
 
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I believe that your DS should be punished for what he did. If he gets the impression that you think the school is being too harsh, he may not think it is important to respect the rules at school and on the bus.
I agree that her ds should have consequences (or punishment). However, I'd be hard-pressed to pretend I agreed with the school in her shoes. The punishment isn't so much "too harsh" as wildly inappropriate. While I don't know the OP's son, I can assure you that this kind of random crap never encouraged anybody I know to have respect for the school and/or the rules. It simply taught us that we were right - the school staff/admin had their heads stuffed so far up their own butts that they couldn't see daylight. While I don't have quite that view today, I certainly had it all through school, and the random nature of the consequences that we received for misbehaviour only ever reinforced it.

You can't teach someone to respect the rules by handing out arbitrary, disconnected punishments for misbehaviour. You can easily teach them not to respect the rules that way, though.

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#21 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 03:05 PM
 
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30% of his grade taken off? Great way to motivate someone to just give up. Legal recourse seems appropriate. The school shouldn't be involved with that. --Lisa
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#22 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 04:09 PM
 
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Since it happened on the bus, and was clearly a very dangerous scenario, he should lose bus privileges for a certain amt of time. If someone then has to take him to school, he needs to find a way to compensate them (Since I have to drive you to school, I won't have time to ______. When can do _____ for me?" If he can walk to school he needs to walk to school. And ITA he needs to get real about how his behavior affects others. Is he eligigible for a learner's permit? Being in the driver's seat has given my DS and DD a much different view about the importance of their behavior and the potential consequences.
Suspending a kid sends the wrong message. "Ooooh, if I break the rules I don't have to go to school?!? WOOO HOOOOO!" That would've been my (as a teen) and my ds's response. Okay, I felt the same when DS was suspended ("We're going to the zoo zoo zoo how about you you you!!")
Lots of good ideas from PPs.
Situations like this are great opportunities for kids to begin to appreciate the absurdity of artificial institutions like school. They pack kids together so now there *have* to be rules, ensuring that indidvidual's needs are ignored/slighted. All in an attempt to program them for corporate America, so they'll happily accept a Walmart job. Grrrrr.
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#23 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you to everyone who replied. This has been quite the situation to say the least. The police department called to say that they have completed their report and have the statements from everyone. Really??? They never talked to my son. Wasn't he involved in the incident? Don't they need a statement from him as to what happened. The school now wants us to pay them for the damages. Are you kidding?? We told them our insurance company wanted to send an adjuster to view the damages. I want to know this damage was caused by the water bottle.

I am with everyone who fails to see why the 30% deduction in grades is occurring. I don't understand what this has to do with this incident. In addition, he was struggling already now why try? And he knows he can't have his permit/license until he has all B's so now he know that is out the window.

One more question: Would you consider on-line school at this point? I just don't think he will make it with 30% cuts on all the homework and no ability to make up tests and quizzes missed during the suspension.

Jamie
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#24 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 06:23 PM
 
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I agree with all of the schools consquences with the exception of the 30% grade reduction.

This being a vacation for you DS because you have to go to work is not the school fault as the parent it is up to you to see that this is not a vacation.

The alternative program seems to provide for your DS to make up the 30% grade loss so that seems seems fair.

I think restitution should also be required and may be if the police determine that charges are filed or the owner of the car wants to press charges or sue. I as a parent would make my DC pay for the damages regardless of any other school or police decisions.

I would agree with the administrator that your punishment of no bus privilages for 2 weeks and restitution is too lenient.

I also don't think it is fair to punish your DS if you appeal this decision to the Board and would check for the legality of that. It has to be written what the policy is and what the parents recourse is. When I was in school it was called the Student Code of Conduct and students and parents had to sign it every year at the beginning of school.
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#25 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 07:00 PM
 
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Sorry. I don't think it is too harsh either.

I have known since my child started kindergarten that it isn't O.K to throw stuff from the bus. The kids know they aren't supposed to be throwing things from the bus.

The schools don't make decisions based on an individual case anymore. They have rules, consequenses, and that is just the way it is.

I am sure he thought it was funny. But the owner of the car didn't think it was that funny.

The best lesson he will learn though, is when he gets his new car, maybe someone will throw something at it and cause a dent. Then maybe he will realize that what he did in 2007 was actually not so funny.
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#26 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 07:01 PM
 
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I agree with all of the schools consquences with the exception of the 30% grade reduction.

.
True. Somehow I missed that one.

It's not right to take away what he has already earned.
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#27 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 07:46 PM
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The best lesson he will learn though, is when he gets his new car, maybe someone will throw something at it and cause a dent. Then maybe he will realize that what he did in 2007 was actually not so funny.
But doesn't that imply that in order to understand the other person he has to feel the same way if something like this happens to him? What if he does not care about his car or it never happens to him? Is it then beyond him why someone else would be bothered?
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#28 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 09:10 PM
 
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Thank you to everyone who replied. This has been quite the situation to say the least. The police department called to say that they have completed their report and have the statements from everyone. Really??? They never talked to my son. Wasn't he involved in the incident? Don't they need a statement from him as to what happened. The school now wants us to pay them for the damages. Are you kidding?? We told them our insurance company wanted to send an adjuster to view the damages. I want to know this damage was caused by the water bottle.

I am with everyone who fails to see why the 30% deduction in grades is occurring. I don't understand what this has to do with this incident. In addition, he was struggling already now why try? And he knows he can't have his permit/license until he has all B's so now he know that is out the window.

One more question: Would you consider on-line school at this point? I just don't think he will make it with 30% cuts on all the homework and no ability to make up tests and quizzes missed during the suspension.

Jamie
So what do you think WOULD be appropriate? So far, I don't see that you see any sort of consequence as necessary.
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#29 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 09:18 PM
 
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I think we all appreciate that what he did was wrong and potentially very serious. Any consequence should be designed to help ds appreciate that. I think your proposal was very good. Maybe it is not "severe" enough; I don't have ideas right now, but at least it's agood start. The school's punishment just does not fit the crime at all. The reality is, for many kids, suspensions are just vacations; those who misbehave the most are the ones most likely to perceive a suspension as a vacation. I really don't think it is ever appropriate punishment unless the child's behavior involves harming another student or disrupting the class or the like. At best, suspensions are counterproductive. And the grade cut is just way out of line -- if he had straight A's, that's a C- at best. Where is his incentive to do better in the future? How is ruining this boy's future proportionate? If he had been arrested for drunk driving, at least as dangerous and probably more, he probably would have had his license suspended and perhaps had to go to AA; it would probably be a misdeamenor that would not have to be disclosed, and the school probably would not have been involved.
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#30 of 64 Old 10-12-2007, 09:28 PM
 
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It does seem the school is after blood. Unless he is a really great student, 30% reduction in grades means he will likely fail the entire yr. Is this the first time he's had difficulties?
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