Drugs, Alcohol, Children and Schools Part II Expulsions

In Part II the discussion was the reality of having a drug and alcohol problem within our schools.  If we recognize the problem we should also review and revise our approach to addressing the problem.  Today the topic will be about the reaction of the Board of Education to the problem and some of the history of the Expulsion Committee action.

On paper the Board of Education has a firm policy prohibiting possession and use of drugs and alcohol by students (Section 5131.6 of the policy manual).  The penalty according to the policy is “discipline up to and including expulsion”.  It is unclear what discipline will be taken or what brings it to the level of expulsion.  We do however; have a three year history of expulsion hearings to look at.

Since March of 2009 20 students have been expelled from Coventry schools and most of those have been for violations of Section 5131.6 of the policy manual.  Every case involves a different set of circumstances and all the facts of each case are not made public but the final decision is a matter of public record.

For violations of Section 5131.6 the policy calls for a penalty that may include expulsion but that expulsion does not seem to be the same or even consistent in application.  If a student is given a penalty of expulsion and expelled from all school property and school-sponsored events for a period of one (1) calendar year what does that mean to you?  Is that the same as 180 school days?  Let’s take a closer look at how it is applied.

A student receiving the penalty in March could actually be back in school by September.  How could that be you ask?  It seems more often than not most of the hearings are in the spring of the year and expulsions are given for a year but with good behavior a student will only remain out of school until the end of the current year.

If a student has a hearing say on June 7, 2009 and is expelled for a calendar year they could actually be back in the classroom in September.  Now we all know how much real education is practiced in June with field trips and end of the year activities.  Does this seem a bit like an early summer vacation for a penalty?

Is it a bit arbitrary and capricious if the same type of penalty is given to a student on March 10, 2009?  One student would be out of school for about two weeks while the other would be out for over 3 months.  Where is the consistency in the application of the policy?  Every good parent knows the importance of being consistent and fair in matters of discipline is it too much to ask the same of our Board of Education?

Maybe it is time to look at alternatives such as summer school or online courses over the summer to make up educational time.  Maybe we should be looking at our curriculum for better educational opportunities on drugs, alcohol and the consequences of actions?  How about some more creative ideas as a penalty?  Perhaps a more active role of the guidance department in the issue before and after a problem occurs would be a good idea.  The discussion needs to take place.

We may never eradicate the problem of drugs and alcohol in our schools but one thing for sure like weeds in a garden if you ignore this issue it will not go away and can spread.  Good students can make bad decisions, it happens it doesn’t mean they should be branded for life but it does mean it must be dealt with to discourage others, and provide a learning experience for the student.

Members of the Board of Education are human they can be good people and still make bad decisions, it happens.  The question is do you pay close enough attention to what they do to know what is really going on?  It is time the Board of Education members become accountable for policy and administration.  It is time for a review of section 5131.6 of the policy manual and how it is enforced.

Please click on the comment link in the box below to share your thoughts on this subject with other readers.

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6 responses to “Drugs, Alcohol, Children and Schools Part II Expulsions

  1. Loretta

    180 days (1 calendar year) that to me is a school year and they should not be allowed to be back in school unless they can prove that they will not be disrespectful or disrupt the learning process of the other kids/ young adults. But with that being said I also think that these kids need to be kept in school in a class room like ISS (in school suspension) to keep them out of getting into even more trouble when they are expelled. The kids need to learn that they can not be disrespectful and act out because they will have to face consequences. The school system needs to be stricter and not let them do what they feel like doing day in and day out. These kids/young adults are there to learn not to do what they want (drugs, fights, drinking) and it needs to be dealt with.

  2. Jan

    I checked three area schools, EO Smith, Tolland High and Windham High and each of them have very specific consequences in their handbooks for different types of offenses to school policies. Coventry High School has an 80 page handbook but offers no consequences. Hmmm, are we giving the school too much power?

  3. Jan thank you for your input. What you have done is establish a good starting point for the Board of Education to begin their review. I would not like to see the issue drag on but if something is not done soon perhaps after the November election the new Board will take some interest in this issue.

  4. Laura Malcolm

    Do you all think every offense should be handled cut and dry? I also don’t understand why this should even be a BOE issue. Do you think when the voters are choosing BOE folks they are considering this sort of thing?

  5. andrea

    We were all young once, I can admit I experimented with things that were not so good for me-the same things I want my child to avoid! There is a big difference between now and 20 years ago. Kids have access to a myriad of more potent drugs and alcohol, mix that with invincibility and lack of respect for authority and that is one dangerous cocktail. As a teenager-I knew if I got caught my parents would have a consequence for me, I know that the school would have punished me (and stuck to it.) I also had this message engraved in my brain-my parents worked hard-one parent working 3 jobs, another 1 job, what would it have done to my family if I got in trouble? Or worse, ended up dead? Ever hear the saying, give an inch, take a mile? these kids nowadays are taking many miles because they know that they are “just there” whether it be at home or in school. They are in school to pass tests-not learn life skills. They go home to a stressed out family (socio-economics), and if they are amoung the rarity, a parent is there to greet them at the door. Our society is so absorbed in survival, and gun shy, the village that everyone talks about-doesn’t exist. There is also a certain degree of guilt involved in parenting now, too many try to be a friend to make up for the other things that they cannot provide, or they are so overworked they just give in to the whim of the child. Bottom line, as parents we need to, NEED to, be involved and understand what is going on in the place our children spend most of their waking hours at. We also, as parents, NEED to hold those we trust to educate our children accountable for those hours they are there. We pay their salaries, why do we brush it off-we wouldn’t if it was the cable or utility company doing our wallets and our families injustice?

  6. Jan

    Is there a way to find out what EO Smith’s, Tolland’s and Windham’s expulsion rates are and compare it with the number of students in those schools as well? Kids need to know what the consequences are to their actions and the schools and the BOE need to know how to hand out those consequences… it should not be on a case-by-case basis. If you read through the other schools’ handbooks, none of the students who were suspended for drug use would have been expelled on their first offense. We have given the BOE and the schools way too much power!

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