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BOTD 1/19/17 "This One's Personal" A DMK Production

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David M. Katz

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Marshall
THIS ONE'S PERSONAL
A DMK Production

The format and voice of this BOTD is a bit different but I have a personal RL situation fresh on my mind.  I have already had the relevant talks by this point and Lynn and I have reached a decision.  However, I would be curious as to how you would handle it.  So, put on your BOTD response hat and let me know your thoughts.

**Oh, let's keep comments to just the situations and let's please don't turn this in to a discussion about the current POTUS-elect.  We've hashed that out already.  Look at this purely from parent/student/school positions.  Thanks!


__________

My son, fifteen-year old Lynn, got suspended today.  Lynn loves politics and follows elections and government closely.  He considers himself an expert on Civics and the US Constitution.  I have encouraged his pursuits in these areas.  Lynn does want to be a veterinarian but he also hopes to run for some sort of office one day.


LYNN - 15
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*No not a RL picture but it is similar

I really only know what Lynn and the "Executive" Principal (he likes that title instead of "Head" or "Lead" Principal) have told me and the stories don't mesh but Lynn was too worked up to speak coherently when I collected him from school.  It is rare for the Executive Principal to handle discipline issues.

The school plans to show the Presidential inauguration and the festivities surrounding it on some large screens in the auditorium and in the gym and students will be divided by class as to where they view it.  By a draw from a hat (supposedly) it was decided that FOX News' coverage would be shown.

Students not wanting to attend or students who have a parent not wanting them to attend have the option of a "study hall" in the cafeteria, private reading in the library (limited to seniors) or parents can pick the student up from school (students who drive may leave with a note from a parent)and the absence would be excused.

There are two viable options for my kids and their friends other than watching the inauguration.  We all discussed this last week and Shelby and Nathaniel are coming home.  Jentzen is doing the "study hall" so he can work on a paper.  Mop's parents want him to watch.  Lynn wanted to go to watch as well BUT he organized some friends and fellow students to do a "silent protest."  Lynn's friend Matt is in on the "protest."

The 9th and 10th graders are watching in the gym.  Lynn and his group (a very large number) had planned to simply sit backwards with their backs to the screens.  No noise, no signs, just to simply sit backwards. Lynn is sophomore class president and very popular and so he does carry a huge amount of influence.  I was aware of the planned protest and did endorse it.  I felt that it was their right and I actually felt the administration would support it.

Not so.

Word of the "protest" made it to the "Executive" who called Lynn in after lunch today.  Lynn is the organizer of the protest so that made sense.

This much is known:  Lynn did confirm the plan.  Lynn did admit that it was his idea and that he was soliciting support.  Lynn did stress that it would be peaceful and silent.  Lynn was told they couldn't do it.  Lynn was told to "call off his followers" and to either respect the proceedings or select an alternate activity.  Lynn was told he could have time in the afternoon announcements to call off the protest.

Guess who said "Hell no?"

The rest is somewhat fuzzy:   The Executive principal is a member of the local Republican party and is an avid supporter of the current president-elect.  Apparently Lynn accused the man of playing politics and abusing his authority in order to suppress the rights of students to a peaceful protest. Apparently there was some sort of verbal argument with Lynn not only NOT backing down but intensifying his accusations against the principal.  It apparently got ugly (on Lynn's side) with Lynn dropping some choice language that he rarely uses.  (It sounded like Lynn was channeling his inner Nathaniel.  Shocked  ) Lynn got suspended and I got a call.  When I arrived at school, Lynn was sitting in an outer office seething and I could tell he had been crying.  I went in and sort of got the principal's side but he wasn't very talkative and gave only basic details but did stress that "my son" was out of line.

Lynn is suspended through Friday which means he won't be at school for the proceedings or any sort of protest.  Supposedly an announcement will be made to threaten any students who follow through on the protest with suspension as well. (The other kids, after getting home, did confirm that such announcement was made and that students were reminded of alternate activities. Neither Lynn's name nor his punishment were ever mentioned. The announcement simply advised that no protests of any sort would be allowed and that any student protesting would face suspension.)

Lynn COULD lose his position as class president. The SGA constitution says the principal can remove a class officer for misconduct but must have a majority vote of support from the faculty. Losing his position has been threatened but Lynn is hedging his bets that the faculty will support him.  

How would you deal with Lynn and with this situation?


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StevieWeeks

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Trailboss
Move to Canada...

AFinch

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Sherrif
I'm going to let the suspension stand, only because of Lynn's intemperate language when confronted by the alleged responsible adult in this matter. Should said "responsible adult" attempt to remove Lynn from his position as class presidency, or add any additional punishment, God help me, but I'd call the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both organizations I generally despise, as well as the school board and the newspapers.

I agree with Lynn. The principal is using his authority to push his politics. It doesn't matter whether I agree with those politics or not (I don't). Although students in schools apparently have no rights to free speech (or anything else other than freedom from physical abuse) according to the courts, a silent, peaceful protest would have been a GOOD civics lesson, akin to Mike Pence, no matter how you feel about him, telling his daughters that the booing at "Hamilton" was a sign of FREEDOM.

Meanwhile, I'm going to talk with Lynn. Just talk. But he needs to understand that like Beast in Beauty and the Beast, he needs to learn to control his temper (no matter how much he's provoked). And he needs to also understand that Courts have continuously ruled that kids in schools do not have a right to free speech, and that they challenge authority in that venue at their own risk. He'll have to decide for himself whether it's "worth it" to make a point. I once had a coworker whose motto was "Never wrestle with a pig. You just get muddy yourself, and the pig likes it." It's good advice.



db105

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Trailboss
Shocked

In hindsight it's clear he should have refused to speak about this subject with the principal or any other school officer.

In a school one would be wise not to ask for permission, or engage in a bureaucratic struggle or discussion, to protest. If you want to protest just do it. Do not discuss it in any way with the administration. If called, he should have told the principal that he had nothing to say about the subject. Just listen and maybe even record the conversation.

So too late for that...

I don't know what your rights are in your area. Do you have to be given a written notice describing the reasons? Have you any right to appeal? What is the reason you were given for the suspension? I assume it's the language he used. Based on what I have read, I think public schools can't discipline students for silent acts of political protest that don't disrupt the operations of a school, but foul language is a different matter.

In any case this is a learning experience. People in authority will not always have your best interests in mind, even if that's their job. If in a college application interview he is asked if he has ever been suspended he should reply truthfully and explain the circumstances.

Maybe you could contact the UCLA and ask for advice.

I think Lynn should refuse to engage in conversation with that principal again.

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db105

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Trailboss
AFinch wrote:I once had a coworker whose motto was "Never wrestle with a pig.  You just get muddy yourself, and the pig likes it."  It's good advice.

Sounds like good advice to me too.

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David M. Katz

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Marshall
db105 wrote: Shocked

I Do you have to be given a written notice describing the reasons? Have you any right to appeal? What is the reason you were given for the suspension?

Yes, I was given written notice which I have to sign (only to acknowledge receipt of the form and of my kid.)

The reason(s) listed were "inappropriate language," "insubordinate," and "disrespect."

Appeal can be made to the district superintendent.


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David M. Katz

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Marshall
db105 wrote:
AFinch wrote:I once had a coworker whose motto was "Never wrestle with a pig.  You just get muddy yourself, and the pig likes it."  It's good advice.

Sounds like good advice to me too.

Very good advice.


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David M. Katz

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Marshall
AFinch wrote: But he needs to understand that like Beast in Beauty and the Beast, he needs to learn to control his temper (no matter how much he's provoked).

For him to go off like he did is very much out of character for him. He felt highly passionate about this and/or he's been taking lessons from his older brother. He normally controls his temper quite well.


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Adric

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My advice would be not to wrestle with a pig.  I think the executive principal or whatever he wants to call himself is holding all the cards.  I think Lynn is mistaken when he thinks that the faculty would back him up in opposition to the principal, and it seems that his position as class president is more important than winning this particular battle.  He needs to try to hang on to that, even if he has to sacrifice what he sees as his right.  We'll all need to pick our battles carefully.  Lynn can be enough of a martyr for being suspended through Friday without being impeached as well.  It is also a bad idea to act while in a state of strong emotion.  (I experienced that lesson myself in just the last few days.)  Just my thought.

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18Smacked

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Cowboy
I know I am in the minority here, Dave, but consider this carefully:

When I was a Jr. in H.S. I was Sports Editor and Photographer for the H.S. newspaper. The principal did not like an article that put him in a bad light, and he quashed it from running. (I do not recall what it was about, but it was not a sports article, so I was only indirectly involves as part of the “Editorial Board.” In any case, we resented the authority the administration was wielding over is, and we contacted the ACLU. They, in turn, contact the School Board. Now, the President of the School Board of our town was the dad of one of my friends, and this dad’s day job was Dean at a very “big name” University’s “Business School.” (It is an institution that is literally world-famous. The kid’s dad was all the time travelling to Russia when no one was allowed to go ion or out of Russia; he came back with pictures of himself in the Kremlin with the Minister of Education, he had Rubles for us to see/hold, etc.) He served a President of the School Board as a sort of favor and “service” to the kids in the town. Usually, there were only routine matters with which to deal, anyhow.

Well, when the ACLU contacted the School Board, the proverbial sh** hit the fan. A public hearing of the School Board was called, and all residents of the town were invited to attend. I was called by the state newspaper, and I was asked to sell them pictures of the meeting; a reporter was covering it for them. The county newspaper was there, too, and the TV stations from the capital were there, too. I got up and made a statement tat the Principal was out of touch with the thoughts and feelings of the students; were he, in fact, sensitive to those things, we would not have been there that evening.

When I came home that night, and told my folks that I had spoken to everyone, my parents went crazy with worry, and said I should never have said anything. The thing that saved me was just then, my friend’s dad called and said that what I had said was very appropriate and well said. I went from being a dog to a hero; at least with those adults. The next school day, I was called out of class to see the Principal. It was the craziest conversation I ever had with the man, because he never came to any point. He talked about his family, his service in the war, how he liked the students, and almost anything you could imagine. But, I never saw any point for his calling me out of class.

I do not recall the way it all got resolved, but when we came back for our senior year, we had a new principal. In retrospect, I think the School Board listened to what I said, and considered it as a good summation for the entire episode. I am sure that other speakers at the meeting had equal, if not more effect than me, but all in all, the issue was one of Civil Rights, and the student body’s expression of them.

Dave, my take on this matter is that I would NEVER allow my son’s academic permanent record to have a suspension shown on it. Especially not one for this sort of thing that has violation of your son’s civil rights all over it. I strongly suggest that you get in touch with the ACLU, but also an attorney on your own. See what they think.

In my opinion, even if your son did use foul and inappropriate language, he was goaded into that by the “Executive” of the school. Let this “Executive” find out that you are unwilling to allow him to squash your son’s civil rights. Whatever you do- do not sit idly by, and allow the permanent record to forever carry the stain of a suspension that was goaded by the “Executive’s” political slant! Contact the School Board, the newspapers, and whoever will listen. But don’t allow this to happen!

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Y Lee Coyote

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Deputy
I’ll second 18smacked comments but add --
1- That the selection of Fox is quite improper for it is a network that often dispenses false news and extreme biased positions.
2- To protest having the school watch a national event is not really reasonable.  To protest a BIASED version is.

It also appears that the Principal caused the situation to become personal which is not professional and probably nepotism.

It would have been good if Lynn had made the announcement indicating that he was doing under the direct direction of the executive.

HTH

Y.

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Kat

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Editor Extraordinaire
I probably can't do anything about the suspension if Lynn actually did let his language get out of control. Nevertheless, I would lodge a vigorous protest with the superintendent of the school district and the school board, on the grounds that the principal provoked the behavior. I'd at least make enough trouble to make them consider whether this principal isn't more of a liability than he's worth.

I'd furthermore take every possible step to ensure the right of the students to a peaceful, silent protest. Students in the US do have a right to free speech, subject to restriction on certain grounds, such as safety and maintaining order. The burden is on the school to demonstrate a compelling need for curtailing free speech. I don't think the school can meet that burden in this instance. The planned protest is akin to the right of students (upheld in court) not to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.

How a court would rule in any particular case such as this is a toss up, but I think the challenge would be worth a call to ACLU, as well as the media.

I would also consider having Lynn organize the students in an alternative to the original protest, consisting of black armbands and some conspicuous gesture of protest such as crossed arms.

Kat

Michael Junior

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Kid
This is a complicated decision, because it can be very difficult to separate one's own personal convictions and opinions from the actual issue at hand.

The facts are - this situation doesn't involve a student's rights, as much as some would like to see it. It doesn't involve the student's, parent's, or principal's political opinions. It most definitely doesn't involve the random chioice of broadcast (no news network is without bias - they all equally share blame in this sense).

The facts are these (as far as I can tell) - the school has the right to set rules for their students and expect them to be obeyed by all students and faculty. As much as many teenagers would like to believe otherwise - their school is not a democracy (in the same way almost all of our employers are not democracly operated). The school has provided for several different, and extremely reasonable, alternatives for students who choose not to attend. No one is being forced to participate.

Unlike what some here have said - there is NO evidence that the principal has allowed this to become personal at all. We may suspect he has (especially if we disagree with his ideology), but that doesn't necessarily make it so.

It appears that Lynn was guilty of everything for which he was accused - inappropriate language, insubordination, and disrespect.

Based solely on this information, the suspension is absolutely deserved. Further punishment at home is also likely warranted, though out of respect for Dave, I'm not going to speculate on what type or how much.

Before I'm sent to the gallows by those of you who likely think I'm speaking from my own political beliefs, I'd like to ask you to honestly consider the following (because I already have myself) -

1. Would you feel the same way you do right now if the political shoe was on the other foot? What if Hillary Clinton had been elected and it was MY son who was suspended for the same reasons Lynn has been? How would you want me to deal with him?

2. Ignore the politics altogether. What if YOUR son was suspended for "inappropriate language, insubordination, and disrespect" stemming from something completely unrelated to politics or personal beliefs? Would you still be inclined to fight for his "right" to behave that way, or would you support the school's punishment (and possibly add to it at home as well)?

My youngest son Daniel was suspended for misbehavior several times as a fifth grader two years ago. He understood that a suspension meant a spanking at home (after reviewing the facts to ensure that the suspension was indeed earned). Therefore, if he had done what Lynn did (even as a tenth grader), he would still receive some type of punishment here.

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ivor

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Marshall
I won't beat about the bush here - I'm not going to add my two pence worth as I can't trump anything that as already been said.

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Jack

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Admin
I would protest the suspension to the superintendent on the grounds that the Executive is supposed to be a mature adult, and he completely mishandled the situation. I'm not even going to say he was wrong in saying that a peaceful, silent protest could be distracting to other students, for whom the chance to see an inauguration might be an educational experience. I am going to say that his well known prejudice made him the wrong person to be addressing this, and that should have been obvious, if maybe not from the start. I also won't say that the Executive deliberately provoked Lynn, but it certainly doesn't sound like he tried to deescalate the situation either. I would protest that a suspension in a delicate situation like this is inappropriate, and that a less draconian consequence won't seem so much like an authority figure trying to destroy anyone who questions or opposes him on Twitter (just as a random example).

As for Lynn - if this was one of my kids, I would probably punish him with a couple of swats and making him do a time out during the inauguration itself. Knowing Lynn's history, I would probably omit the swats, but make sure he understands that he was out of line in his response to the executive, and we'll have a long talk about how he should handle that situation (call Dad, since he is still a minor). I would also suggest a letter to the executive for how his opinion and dissent was expressed would be appropriate.


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squarecutter

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Sherrif
I  am going to comply with the suspension. Much as a liberal minded parent might sympathise I will remind Lynn that he is protesting  the result of a free and fair election because he didn't like the result.Not all his countrmen feel the same as he does. Thats life. Were this Bolivia or Chile withan unelected President I would have more sympathy. If Trump acts outside his remit or the constitution he would also have grounds I might suggest he and his friends protest outside the School campus where the Principal may not have the right to to stop them. I will not take action against Lynn over ti beyond reminding him about approriate languageand that I expect him to remain within the law

However If he were to be threatened with loss of class presidency then the student body would in my eyes have much more just cause for protest as that would be against their democratic wishes



Last edited by squarecutter on Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:24 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : last para)

db105

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Trailboss
squarecutter wrote: I will remind Lynn that he is protesting  the result of a free and fair election because he didn't like the result.

I'm not sure I get your point. You are not allowed to protest against a political leader, then, since he got his political power through an election?

Regarding fair, one could argue that an election where the winning candidate gets 3 million votes less than the losing candidate might not be the best moment to boast about the fairness of the electoral process. I would leave it at legal.

Other than that, I agree that the reason for the suspension is his language. One might argue that he was goaded, but that's open to interpretation and he still was in the wrong, no matter how pedagogically questionable and ethically dubious the principal's attitude was.

On the other hand, if he had carried out his protest and he was suspended for looking the other way while Trump was on TV, then that would be political persecution, since the behavior of looking the other way is clearly not worthy of suspension unless you are persecuting someone's political beliefs. (Just like a school can rightfully punish a student for taking part in a protest walkout, but it cannot punish that student more harshly than it would punish a student who just left the school because he felt like it.) That would be the moment to make a real fuss, in my opinion.

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Kat

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Editor Extraordinaire
Michael Junior wrote:It most definitely doesn't involve the random chioice of broadcast (no news network is without bias - they all equally share blame in this sense).

False equivalence, Michael Junior. All news networks do not share blame equally. Fox, and its opposite number, MSNBC, make no bones about their bias. There are three major networks to choose from without going to cable coverage. There will probably also be PBS. Fox is an extremely inflammatory choice that should never have been an option.

Michael Junior wrote:The facts are these (as far as I can tell) - the school has the right to set rules for their students and expect them to be obeyed by all students and faculty. As much as many teenagers would like to believe otherwise - their school is not a democracy (in the same way almost all of our employers are not democracly operated). The school has provided for several different, and extremely reasonable, alternatives for students who choose not to attend. No one is being forced to participate.

Because schools are dealing with a student body that mostly consists of minors, they have special responsibilities to provide a safe environment. That does not mean, however, that students surrender every civil right when they set foot on campus. Public schools are in no way analogous to private employers. The public school is an extension of the government's power.

The planned protest is an exercise of the students' right to free speech that has nothing to do with whether the students participate in watching the inauguration. The offer of alternatives is meant less to accommodate the students than to silence their free speech.

Michael Junior wrote:Before I'm sent to the gallows by those of you who likely think I'm speaking from my own political beliefs, I'd like to ask you to honestly consider the following (because I already have myself) -

1. Would you feel the same way you do right now if the political shoe was on the other foot? What if Hillary Clinton had been elected and it was MY son who was suspended for the same reasons Lynn has been? How would you want me to deal with him?

I would expect you to deal with him in the same way if an adult in authority had been this arbitrary and provocative. Had the principal offered a reasonable justification for forbidding the protest, my reaction would be different. For instance, if tensions in the school were running high and he could make a persuasive case that the protest might provoke violence among the students, he might have argued that safety and order overrode free speech.

Michael Junior wrote:2. Ignore the politics altogether. What if YOUR son was suspended for "inappropriate language, insubordination, and disrespect" stemming from something completely unrelated to politics or personal beliefs? Would you still be inclined to fight for his "right" to behave that way, or would you support the school's punishment (and possibly add to it at home as well)?

I wouldn't be fighting for my child's right to misbehave, but I would feel concern if an adult in authority had escalated a situation. I tend to support educators, as I spent many years in a classroom. I've experienced as a student, and also witnessed as a teacher, adults misusing their authority, provoking emotional students rather than calming them down, and then punishing the students. Most situations can be resolved without drama if the adults act like adults instead of authoritarian bullies.

Michael Junior wrote:My youngest son Daniel was suspended for misbehavior several times as a fifth grader two years ago. He understood that a suspension meant a spanking at home (after reviewing the facts to ensure that the suspension was indeed earned). Therefore, if he had done what Lynn did (even as a tenth grader), he would still receive some type of punishment here.

You are the only one who knows the situation with your own child. The situation with Lynn, as Katz describes it, is one that would concern me as a parent -- not only for my own child but also for others students in the school. Even adults have limits and can erupt in anger and frustration. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to their emotions. Competent parents and adults know the strategies for de-escalating situations before they get out of hand. For instance, when a confrontation shows signs of escalating, disengage. Continue the discussion when both parties have their emotions under control.

E.g.: "Lynn, I can see you're getting upset about this. I want you to return to class for now and we'll finish the discussion later."

Kat



Last edited by Kat on Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:27 am; edited 2 times in total

Adric

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Cowboy
db105 wrote:... I agree that the reason for the suspension is his language. One might argue that he was goaded, but that's open to interpretation and he still was in the wrong, no matter how pedagogically questionable and ethically dubious the principal's attitude was.

This is the point.  The suspension isn't about politics.  It's about language.  Lynn let his mouth run free in a moment of weakness and anger, and the consequence, unfortunately for him, is appropriate.  I hope the consequence will go no further than that and he will be able to keep his presidency.

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db105

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Trailboss
While I agree with several of the things you say, Michael, and I probably would not contest the suspension, I have to ask you this question:

Michael Junior wrote:
The school has provided for several different, and extremely reasonable, alternatives for students who choose not to attend. No one is being forced to participate.

Participate in what? Seriously, what exactly is this activity where students are not forced to participate? Is it paying homage to a particular politician? Then that activity should have no place within a public school. Is it an educative activity so that students can become more familiar with the political process? Then a silent and peaceful expression of dissent is not inappropriate for that activity. On the contrary, it's equally respectable as any other attitude, and in fact I would argue that it reflects a higher civic and political awareness than most teenagers have. What legitimate reason would there be to forbid it? Because it's unpleasant for other students or teachers who would prefer this activity to be a celebration of Trump's victory? On the contrary, I would say that seeing other people disagree with you and expressing it in a peaceful manner is very much in line with the objectives a political activity at school should have.

What has Lynn learned instead? That one should not defend his political opinions? That people should be wary of their leaders because they will squash you if they can, if you disagree with them. Exactly the contrary of what he should be learning in a good school. Who was the one who said something like "I couldn't disagree more with your opinions, but I would be willing to die to defend your right to express them." Winston Churchill?

Edit: Voltaire, according to Kat. In any case, the answer to your question is yes, my opinion would be exactly the same if Lynn was a Trump supporter protesting against Hillary Clinton.



Last edited by db105 on Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:25 am; edited 3 times in total

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Kat

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Editor Extraordinaire
db105 wrote:Who was the one who said something like "I couldn't disagree more with your opinions, but I would be willing to die to defend your right to express them." Winston Churchill?

Voltaire, I think.

Kat

David M. Katz

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Marshall
Lynn finally got to the point where he and I were able to have a productive conversation about the issue.  

Lynn was right about the silent protest BUT it has been upheld that public school students have limited Constitutional rights.  The principal was legally in his rights to ban the "protest" in that there are alternate activities and the viewing is not mandatory.  I think it sucks and I am frankly shocked at his approach.  The viewing is intended to be an educational opportunity.

Lynn did admit that he crossed a line and he finally told me exactly what all he said to the principal.  I was shocked.   Shocked   Lynn's response and words were similar to problems I have had with Nathaniel as far as his dealing with school officials.  Lynn did get loud and belligerent and used several curse words with the principal including several instances of the F bomb. Lynn did make personal verbal attacks on the principal. I agree that the responsible adult would have not allowed the situation to escalate, especially with an emotionally sensitive student. But, we all, even adults in authority, handle things poorly sometimes and Lynn did make this a personal attack and did allow himself to cross a line.

Our sort of standing house rule about suspension is that the kid is grounded for the term of the suspension with a list of chores and that the suspension also earns a spanking even if one was given at school in conjunction with the suspension. (More on that in a bit.) I was prepared to dole out a similar punishment but I did not.

Given Lynn's admissions, I supported the suspension but I did not punish him further.  I will explain why.  Firstly, Lynn absolutely views the suspension as a punishment and is devastated by it and has had a couple of crying spells over it Wednesday evening after coming home from church.  Nathaniel, like most students, views suspension as a vacation.  Lynn truly understands he is being punished and he does understand why.  I do think Lynn was goaded in to his actions.  Lynn is very very worried about losing his officer position and so has agreed that he will write a letter of apology to the principal concerning his belligerent and disrespectful response and he is going to ask to keep his position. The letter will be hard for Lynn on both an emotional and a skills front. Lynn has also expressed concerns over having possibly harmed his reputation.

After Lynn and I had a very long and productive talk that afternoon I felt that letting the suspension stand with no additional punishment from me is the right course.

I actually have an attorney.  (Adopting three kids, getting divorced and reworking my will means I have a guy. He is also helping Todd and Rick with Jeff's adoption.) I am going to call him and ask his opinion of the situation without Lynn knowing I did so.  I am sure I will be told that the suspension is justified. (Sadly, I agree that it is.  Even given the fact that an adult in authority did contribute to the problem, Lynn is deserving of consequences for his actions and words.)

Our county still permits corporal punishment in school and it is widely used but mostly in the middle schools.  There are four high schools in my county and three of them do use the paddle but in a very limited way.  Our "executive" principal does not support school CP and so, in my kids' high school, CP is not used.

In this case, I think a couple of firm paddle swats would have been the right thing to get Lynn's attention (despite his history) after allowing the situation to calm down. Knowing Lynn, it would have been the right response.  Yet instead, he is suspended.  (At least he truly views the suspension as a punishment.)

I was all set to give Lynn his first paddling from me for his disrespect and language but I did realize he truly had been sufficiently punished and I think double jeopardy doesn't necessarily have to be exclusive to school paddling.

Thanks, guys, for your interest, advice, concern, and help!

I truly think I made the best of a bad situation.  Nathaniel has a standing process in place in that he may step away from a situation (be it office referral or conflict in a classroom) and call me at any time.  Also, because of Nathaniel's volatile history, the school administration does support allowing him to remove himself from a "trigger" situation.  (This same "executive" was involved in the development of Nathaniel's "plan" and so it does surprise me that he acted this way with Lynn but, to this point, Lynn has been a model student behaviorally.)  I have now instituted the same process with Lynn and will get the administration to sign on. One would think that an adult professional would not need such a "plan" but this so called executive proved himself to be a trigger point yesterday.

Lynn did need to own his role in this and he has stepped up (now) in a very mature way.  (I do think there was political motivation but that cannot be confirmed.)


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db105

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Trailboss
That seems reasonable, David. Lynn should see this as a learning opportunity. As I said, I think once things got to that point the school punishment is justified (a school paddling might not have been a good solution in my opinion under the circumstances, since the cause is a confrontation with the one who would apply it), but I would still send a letter to the school board explaining the situation and your disagreement with the way the school officials handled it. Oh, and Lynn sending a letter of apology to the principal for the way he spoke to him is absolutely the right thing to do. If it makes it easier for him, he could also express in that letter in a respectful manner why he thought, and still thinks, he was being treated unfairly, when he was denied the opportunity to take part peacefully in a political activity.

I also agree with your decision not to add more punishment, and your reasoning in doing so.

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Kat

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Editor Extraordinaire
David M. Katz wrote:Lynn was right about the silent protest BUT it has been upheld that public school students have limited Constitutional rights.  The principal was legally in his rights to ban the "protest" in that there are alternate activities and the viewing is not mandatory.  I think it sucks and I am frankly shocked at his approach.  The viewing is intended to be an educational opportunity.

Katz, I addressed this in my lengthy reply to Michael, Junior, but I will repeat it: students have a Constitutionally-protected right to free speech that the school cannot override without demonstrating a need. Offering alternatives to viewing the inauguration is an accommodation for those who don't want to view it. It has nothing whatsoever to do with a non-disruptive exercise of the right to free speech. It's a bit like telling the many people going to Washington to protest that they had better just stay home and not turn on their television.

Maybe I'm being harsh towards the principal, but he is the adult and he is the professional. He created the situation, and regardless of whether or not Lynn's punishment stands, for the sake of the entire student body, someone needs to address the principal's unprofessional behavior. I think his even considering Fox's coverage is pretty convincing evidence he allowed his political convictions to color his judgement. Neither Fox nor MSNBC should ever have been in play.

If the principal truly intended this to be an educational opportunity, he should have put that to Lynn, while at the same time offering him alternatives for protesting:

"Lynn, the peaceful transfer of power is a civics lesson I want you all to experience without the distraction of protest. The school isn't showing this as an endorsement of Trump but rather as demonstration of our political process. Consider that many people will be at the inauguration, including Mrs. Clinton, who are by no means there to express support for Trump personally. They will be there to support Constitutional government.

"So I ask you to protest in a way that doesn't stop you from witnessing history in the making and that doesn't distract from the solemnity of the occasion. Sometimes it's better to temper your right to protest with a sense of the context. Remember how offensive the protests of a certain 'church' have been, as they target the funerals of soldiers, for instance. Perhaps you could resurrect the classic black armband protest used to protest Vietnam."

Kat

Adric

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Cowboy
db105 wrote:Oh, and Lynn sending a letter of apology to the principal for the way he spoke to him is absolutely the right thing to do. If it makes it easier for him, he could also express in that letter in a respectful manner why he thought, and still thinks, he was being treated unfairly, when he was denied the opportunity to take part peacefully in a political activity.

I agree with Daniel that the letter of apology is the right thing to do.  I don't think it is a good idea to mix the apology with his opinion that he was being treated unfairly.  A real apology addresses a single subject, otherwise it may sound like "I'm sorry, but ..."  Even if that isn't what was intended, it is how the apology will be read.

I think there is a lesson here about the way the world works in real life.  Supposing for the sake of argument that the exec purposely goaded Lynn into intemperate remarks just so he could suspend him and defend that decision.  The final result is that the exec won, and Lynn lost.  To avoid losing like that in the future he can't let anyone manipulate him so he loses his cool.

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