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BOTD 4/10/14 "The Principal Decision" A Late Chat Production

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David M. Katz


Marshall
The Principal Decision
A Late Chat Production

You are the assistant principal at the local middle school.  Your primary responsibility is maintaining order and discipline.  You have several disciplinary options available to you.  You may suspend students or assign in school suspension or Saturday detention.  After school detention, writing assignments, and removal of certain privileges are also available to you.  Your district does allow corporal punishment and you do employ your paddle as needed.  You may give up to a maximum of four licks.

These are two of your students.  Both boys are thirteen year old seventh graders.

This is Rufus McKlerk.  Rufus is a bully and a marginal student.  Rufus has been before you several times and has experienced almost every tool in your disciplinary tool box.  You would love to have Rufus expelled as you feel he is a distraction and danger to other students but you have never been able to catch him in the act of being an aggressive bully.  Rufus' parents are uninvolved and have basically told you they could care less what you do with their son.  The black eye and bruised cheek are what brings us here today but more on that later.

Rufus McKlerk
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This is Cameron Shaw.  Cameron is an honor student and has been citizen student of the month for three months running.  He has never been in any sort of trouble and all of his teachers report he is a joy to have in class.  Cameron is very well liked and respected among his peers.  His parents are very involved in his school life and his mother is the president of the parent-teacher organization. Cameron just got braces on his teeth.

Cameron Shaw
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Today you heard a commotion in the hallway outside of the library. Several students were standing around cheering on a fight. You made your way into the middle of the fray and found Rufus sitting on the floor crying and holding his face. Cameron was standing over Rufus staring at his still closed fist. Cameron looks like he is in shock and is mumbling about being sorry.

You ascertain from witnesses that Rufus was teasing Cameron about his braces and Cameron then slugged Rufus.

You have a student help Rufus to see the school nurse while you escort Cameron to your office. Rufus will be fine but he will be wearing a shiner for a little while.

Cameron is sitting in your office still in shock. He is quietly crying but manages to tell you that he is sorry but he just couldn't deal with any more teasing from Rufus. Cameron explains he really doesn't know what came over him and the next thing he realizes is he has slugged Rufus and Rufus was on the floor.

There is no set school or district policy as to how you have to deal with this. Typically when a student hits another student you give the choice between four licks or a five day suspension. You do take in consideration the circumstances of the matter.

Cameron finally composes himself and asks, "What are you gonna do to me?"

What do you tell Cameron?




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John Boy


Sherrif
I'm going to try and get some witness statements. If this is his first time in my office I think I can offer a little slack..... 2 licks or 1 day suspension. I don't like have to discipline a good student but we both have rules we have to follow.



Last edited by John Boy on Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:52 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : JB can't think straight)

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David M. Katz


Marshall
As much as I want to let Cameron off I know I can't.  I am going to mostly agree with JB's take and I will offer one day suspension or two licks.

But secretly I'm happy someone put Rufus in his place.


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John Boy


Sherrif
David M. Katz wrote:

But secretly I'm happy someone put Rufus in his place.
So do I Wink  Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink Wink 

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Kat


Editor Extraordinaire
If Rufus's teasing is an ongoing problem for Cameron, then the school has already failed in its responsibility. Rufus is clearly a troubled young man, and the attitude of his parents is probably part of even deeper problems in his home. If the school/district has an on-staff psychologist, I need to refer Rufus to that person. Otherwise, I will refer him to whatever counselor we do have and hope for the best. Frankly, I don't hold out much hope.

Though I share in the responsibility for this incident through my failure to stop Rufus's bullying, I have to remember that Rufus is also my responsibility. I can't overlook that Cameron responded to verbal teasing with physical violence. I'm well aware of how damaging verbal bullying is, but physical violence is never an appropriate response. I'm tempted to go easy on Cameron, considering his record, but I don't think that would do him any favors in the long run. It would probably set him up for retaliation -- this time perhaps physical -- from Rufus. I'll give Cameron the four licks that is the usual punishment. (I don't want to put him through making a choice.) I will adjust the force of the licks to reflect Cameron's size and lack of corporal experience. The punishment will be painful, but by no means brutal.

Kat

Iconoclast


Trailboss
I will congratulate him on his victory, and tell Cameron that If Rufus gives him any more trouble he should black his other eye!

Iconoclast

1strappedboy


Sherrif
Well, look at what teasing just produced in my neighboring school district.  The school has a responsibility to all students, not just those who are recurring problems or needy.

There's a BIG part of me that wants to shake Cam's hand and tell him 'well done' but as an administrator I can't do that either.

I recognize that he was goaded into hitting Rufus and so I agree with the idea of a reduction in what I normally hand out for this type of offense.  A one day suspension or 2 with the board of education is about right to me.

Regarding Rufus, there are much larger issues at hand and I hope as principal I have resources on site or someone I can refer him to as it's obvious that there's no home support for him.  Before we get to that, we need to deal with his bullying and fighting.  Even though he got the worst of it, HE started it from what I am reading.  Because of the lack of home support, I can't see a suspension being of any value and by the same token I don't want to leave him feeling hopeless by going the max on him; therefore I will tell him he is on his VERY last chance here and proceed to give him the same 2 with the board I gave the other little pugilist.

AFinch


Sherrif
If I'm answering this question for 2014, then I agree with Kat and Dimitri.

In 1962, when I was 9 years old and in 4th Grade, there was a school bully who was at least a head taller than I was. He not only teased me constantly, but spent most of recess periods pinching and punching me as well. After months, I finally had had enough. Despite being the smallest, wimpiest (and smartest) kid in the class, I grabbed him in a headlock and banged his head against the grass until he cried (which didn't take much). The supervising teacher came over, shook my hand, and said: "It's about damned time".

The bully never bothered me again and we actually became playground friends, though we never hung out after school. That was a far better solution for everyone than today's PC handling. In an ideal world, many, perhaps most, problems would be better worked out without always having an adult intervene.

MemoryMan


Sherrif
I'll note with satisfaction that Cameron seems to have sorted his problem himself.

However as an administrator in a society where "shock and awe" is reserved to politicians I'll require Cameron to take his regulation four swats thankful that the PC brigade have not yet thought to fit paddles with impact meters.

Oh! And when Rufus comes back from the nurse he was fighting too.

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Jack


Admin
There is no way I would suspend a student unless I felt that action improved the safety of the other people at the school (if I had an option). If the rules say 'four swats', Cam is going to get four swats. They're also not going to be easy, as I think he needs to realize how serious what he did was, and he needs a motivation to take the proper course in the future.

If I can get witnesses to what actually happened, and they support Cam's story, Rufus will also be punished with whatever the rules allow for verbal harassment. I want him to understand that provoking others isn't acceptable, and that it's still against the rules, even when it does turn around and bite you on the ass.


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squarecutter


Sherrif
I'm going to send Cameron home to compose himself for the rest of the day. Not a suspension but I cannot see any useful work being done. I also don't want him to be feted as the conquering hero simply because achieved what half the kids in the school wanted to do. I'll remind him that under any other cirumstance he would be getting licks and that I don't wish him to walk away with the idea that fighting is the right way to settle ones differences

Stone Man


Marshall
I do like Kier's 1962 post... if it could only still be that way for bullies and us "so called" wimps.

In this situation, I trust I will find students who will confirm Rufus's past and present bullying. Once he is back from the nurse he will get four licks with as much force is allowed.

After discussion, Cameron will also be getting four licks. The will be boy/paddle size appropriate, and with enough force to be remembered as punishment.

squarecutter


Sherrif
I wrote my comments before I read the rest and was surprised how out on a limb I was here. I think I forgot to take the zero or minimal tolerance and may also have hit on the diffference between the UK and the US south. I feel that where it says that usually and that I punish according yo circumstance that 4 licks for a student who has never been in trouble bothers me, Seems to me that one or two licks would make the point about fighting while letting Cameron feel I was taking the provocation and his past history into account. As for Rufus I think the marked up face will likely do more for him than any paddling but I will give him what Cameron got. Anything more makes him a martyr in his own mind. I stand by allowing Cameron the rest of the day off(non punitive.) As for Rufus it is good for all concerned for Rufus to continue to show his face while in this state.) I do think he needs counselling and wonder wether thsat can be offered despite his parents

Jack


Admin
squarecutter wrote:I wrote my comments before I read the rest and was surprised how out on a limb I was  here. I think I forgot to take the zero or minimal tolerance and may also have hit on the diffference between the UK and the US south. I feel that where it says that usually and that I punish according yo circumstance that 4 licks for a student who has never been in trouble bothers me, Seems to me that one or two licks would make the point about fighting while letting Cameron feel I was taking the provocation and his past history into account. As for Rufus I think the marked up face will likely do more for him than any paddling but I will give him what Cameron got. Anything more makes him a martyr in his own mind. I stand by allowing Cameron the rest of the day off(non punitive.) As for Rufus it is good for all concerned for Rufus to continue to show his face while in this state.) I do think he needs counselling and wonder wether thsat can be offered despite his parents

I'm not sure that schools in Texas have the option of just giving a kid a day off. I also don't feel that it's a zero tolerance issue. What is an issue is that Cameron assaulted another boy. This was NOT self-defense. It's hard for a kid to walk away or go get a teacher, but adults go to jail for not doing it, and it's a lesson kids need to learn.

We could talk about whether it's ridiculous or not for a simple punch between kids (or even between arguing adults) to be a legal matter, but the fact is that it is one, so I have no trouble trying to stress that to Cam. Nor do I feel that Rufus was fighting (in this case, based on the scenario), so I don't feel the same punishment is valid, though I will punish him for verbal harrassment.


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Pi Beta


Deputy
I'm going to give Cameron the regulation 4 licks and make them hard; I don't want him to have been singled out for special treatment.

Once he's recovered his composure, I'm going to have Rufus in with Cameron still in attendance. I'll tear into Rufus verbally detailing all the worst punishments I can give him, then ask Cameron to choose what I should do for the verbal bullying. I hope that he will be big enough to say that on this occasion he thinks the bashing he gave Rufus is sufficient; if he does, I can hope for reconciliation and, maybe, this will make Rufus reflect and modify his future behaviour.

Bus if Cameron wants him to be given the same as he received, Rufus will get it - in full measure.

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