Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Should Schools come down hard on 12 year old's for bad judgement?

Every parents fear is that their kids will do something age related stupid at school someday. We're now seeing that play out again, even after zero tolerance policies were softened.

It should be understood upfront that African-American students are 8 times more likely to get out-of-school suspensions than white students. Cap Times: 
A hearing examiner recommended expulsion for one semester for Dereian Brown, a sixth-grader at Cherokee Heights Middle School who allegedly brought a BB gun to school. The Madison Metropolitan School District argued the 12-year-old should be expelled for two semesters, until December 2016, for violating school policy. 
From what I have heard so far, Dereian carried the gun around with him so his parents wouldn't find it at home. A dumb 12 year old decision without a doubt. But what makes this horrifically sad is how this might effect Dereian's life for years to come. Just as amazing, teachers and students have been speaking out in support of keeping him in school:
Some of his former and current teachers testified at the hearing, praising the student for being a “role model” in the classroom and his “exemplary” behavior.

Dereian’s attorneys, Gansner and Matthew Giesfeldt, argued expelling Dereian would cause more harm than good and would go against the district’s efforts to narrow the expulsion rate between its African-American and white students. Dereian is African-American. Dereian has no previous record of disciplinary problems. An online petition was started a few days ago in hopes of persuading the school board to let Dereian stay in school. The petition had 473 signatures as of late Monday night.
But it's this kind of thinking that I still can't wrap my mind around:
Dylan Pauly, the district’s legal counsel, said all students need to be held accountable for violating school policy, regardless of the kind of student they are.

The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition also issued a statement in support of Dereian, saying “MMSD and Jennifer Cheatham have stated many times that they want to end Madison’s school to prison pipeline. If they expel Dereian Brown, they are continuing the feeding of this pipeline.”
WKOW coverage:

Here are the current standards...
The school district's Behavorial Education Plan is touted by officials as an alternative to a no tolerance policy, with an emphasis on outcomes other than severe discipline.  Student violations with a gun of any kind fall under the plan's Response Level Five, and its mandatory consideration of expulsion.

District officials say students with a weapon at school can avoid any disciplinary action under the "Surrender for Safety" program.  It allows for such an outcome if a student unintentionally brings a weapon or other inappropriate item to school, and surrenders it to a staff member, before there is any threat or harm.

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