By Zerline Hughes
So, remember my “she-said” blog rant about the mass suspensions at my daughter’s school?
Well, I decided to get the skinny from the main source – the principal. She graciously took unscheduled time to sit with me and offer general details of the situation. First, lemme say, it’s pretty sad. Second, lemme say, that I think she was up against a wall on decision making. Yet and still, there’s got to be a different way to deal with our children considering all these new situations that didn’t exist, 30 years ago -heck, not even five years ago.
Bullet points on what had happened:
- Young ladies (5th grade) were using their cell phones during school day.(violation no. 1)
- Said young ladies (again, 5th grade) were planning fights- not just heat of passion altercations, but strategically, pre-meditating, setting up fights. (major violation no.2)
- These young ladies (reminder, 11 & 12 years old) used those cell phones to record fights. (yikes!)
- And, of course, these young ladies posted the fights on social media. (woah!)
My eyes pretty much welled up with tears. To think that our kids, so young, are thinking like this, being impacted by what they see on TV and the interwebs and not realizing the implications, is disheartening. To think that my daughter – and my son – could so easily get wrapped up in this trending behavior is scary. And to think that my children could end up in jail or prison for such behavior – cyber bullying, assault, even sexting (considered a sex crime in certain situations) – is sickening.
It seems the principal took into account many considerations as it related to consequences. She referred to chapter 25, the disciplinary section of the public school system’s handbook. And to chapter 25’s credit, there’s mention of restorative justice strategies and even on-site suspension, but there’s also mention of a 90-day suspension which I question. What would happen during those three months during the student’s absence? Further, the 2009 document (this is the most updated I found) also needs to be updated based on the new technologies and situations that could arise with our children.
Anyway, the principal did, of course, have a hard job to do. She seemed genuinely thoughtful about how to deal with the situation – especially since it was clear that each of the girls were, in fact, involved in the incident. They were on camera. Their phones had text evidence of who was involved. There was no need for her to question who was involved and to what capacity.
So the moral of this story: more education for parents -and our kids – is needed. In the area of social media and school discipline and its MANY effects on our children.