Monday, April 03, 2006

A Little Common Sense, Please

What do you do with a young man who makes an honest mistake, and reports his honest mistake to the correct authority immediately?

a) Thank him for his forthcoming behavior
b) Thank him for his forthcoming behavior, but slap his wrist gently
c) Throw the book at him! Rules are rules! To the gas chamber- go!

I think you see where this is heading. From today's Indy Star report:
A Far-Eastside couple say they are stunned that a Warren Township Schools principal suspended their son and recommended his expulsion for possession of a
pocketknife even though he turned the knife in to the office as soon as he arrived at school.

After turning in the knife, the eighth-grader was suspended from Stonybrook Middle School for 10 days and may be expelled.

Elizabeth Voge-Wehrheim and Frank Wehrheim, the boy's mother and stepfather, have hired Indianapolis attorney Lawrence T. Newman to represent them.

"This young man made the most responsible choice under any policy possible," Newman said of the boy, Elliot Voge. "They are treating him as the most irresponsible student under the circumstances."

A or B are acceptable outcomes. It's fine to send the message that actions have responsibilities, even if the actions are accidental. Slap the wrist if you must. But throw the book?
(Principal Jimmy) Meadows, in his expulsion-recommendation summary, wrote: "Realizing that the knife was an item he should not have on school property, Elliot immediately went into the main office and handed the knife to our school treasurer."

Meadows noted in his summary that "throughout the entire investigation and student due-process, Elliott (sic) was a model student."

So there is no reward for model students for are forthcoming with the truth. That's a fabulous message to send to teens. The principal will get to reap what he has sown, as other kids learn that it is better to run the risk of hiding contraband rather than surrender it. Poetic justice for him, but very bad for the other students and teachers.

I do hope we have a few school board candidates in Warren Township!


Michael said...

Actually, Mike..A is the only acceptable answer. You do not punish honest mistakes that result in no harm to anyone. As you say, this sends entirely the wrong message to kids. Here is a kid who is being punished for doing what they indoctrinated him to do. Honestly, expulsion from the government school system could be the best thing that ever happened to this kid. When I think back to my days in the 8th grade a pocket knife was something every kid carried. Shoot, I remember loaning mine to any number of teachers when they needed one. It's a sad situation when a pocket knife becomes the government school equivalent of a WMD.

Kevin said...

Didn't our state legislature just make having a knife on school property a crime?

Mike Kole said...

Kevin, if that's the case, heaven help the janitor!

Michael, we sound old here, but I used to carry a Swiss Army knife to school, too. Was a standard companion to my pencils and pens.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

It soundes like an extreme version of the recent expulsion of a Carroll High School student in Fort Wayne for writing a rude "satire" about his school.

Except this case is WORSE...

Mike Sylvester

Rex Bell said...

Zero tolerance = total intolerance.

Kevin said...

The kids stepfather was on Hannity and Colmes last night. Even Alan Colmes thought this was stupid.

Kevin said...

This law does not go into effect until July 1, 2006.

CoffeeBigPlz said...

Out of hand.
This is all so out of hand. Does this mean I have to get rid of my swiss army tool that has all of my hex and screw drivers and such that I can take apart computers with when I go to school? Gee they have a no knife policy.

I feel like we are getting legistated to death.