Thanks to Brad Hughes at KSBA.
Whether it’s a good student, bad student, mediocre scholar, role model or troublemaker, the school system has an obligation to provide each an education.
In return, children have a responsibility to apply themselves, behave and absorb as much information as they can in a relatively limited number of school days.
This symbiotic relationship between students and teachers has served the American educational system well for generations, even in the days when we learned “readin’, writin’, and ’rithmitic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick.”
That stick has long since been relegated to a woodpile or perhaps an obscure education museum. So, too, have many of the teaching methods that were commonplace to today’s parents and grandparents.
What remains unchanged is a two-sided obligation for providing and accepting education for our children, funded by public taxation. When a major event occurs that disrupts the normal educational process, the public has a right to be concerned, even if they have no children in the system.
Representing the interests of taxpayers, teachers, administrators and students, the board of education often becomes the final arbiter when things go south. Monday night, the Hopkins County Board of Education shouldered that responsibility and rendered a thoughtful decision in the best interests of all concerned.
On May 9, a student at Hopkins County Central High School tried to force her way back into the classroom after leaving because of a disciplinary matter. When a female teacher attempted to prevent her from re-entering the room, the student assaulted the teacher, inflicting several injuries, which could have been worse if another student had not intervened.
The student was arrested, placed in juvenile detention and eventually sentenced to serve 25 days. She pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of fourth-degree misdemeanor assault.
The teacher, meanwhile, did not return to school for the remainder of the semester as she attempted to recover from the physical and emotional damages inflicted by the student.
Monday night, the board considered whether expulsion was in order for this rising senior. As Superintendent James Lee Stevens pointed out, there has not been an actual expulsion in Hopkins County since 2003, so the term for the hearing might have been misleading.
Though some in the crowd of 75 people may not agree, we believe the board’s ruling was the most prudent for all parties concerned. It allowed the student to complete her high school education, albeit online or elsewhere, banning her from Hopkins County Schools property during the 2008-09 school year.
It’s a good decision that accomplishes the primary function of schools, providing the opportunity for a student to learn and graduate. While it does deny her access to former classmates and in-school educational and social activities, it eliminates any threat she might pose to students, teachers and administrators.
We are told that the crowd of people who withstood the heat outside the board meeting Monday night for over two hours were there to see for themselves that fairness prevailed.
Education is every bit as concerned with learning from life’s experiences as it is about material found in books or lectures. What we hope this student and others learned is that violence, whether against teachers or classmates, is not acceptable.
The process will continue when classes resume next month. The contract between students and the educational system has been strengthened by the board’s action Monday night.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
This from the Madisonville Messenger: