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LETTER: York City School Board — Please come see me after class
Remember your very first day of school? Maybe you had a brand new backpack, and squeaky new shoes. Maybe you were nervous about meeting the other new kids?
One York City child will not have that first day of school experience after bringing a Taser to school in questionable circumstances (Erin James "York City kindergartner expelled after bringing Taser to school"). The child, unlikely more than five or six years old, was expelled for the first quarter of the upcoming school year. The article does not mention if the child's home life was examined or if the child was asked what a Taser was or why he or she thought it was necessary to bring one to school.
While you may have been anxious on your first day of school, your teacher was busy using the first few weeks of school to set classroom rules, routines, and expectations. Fitting a child into this pattern after 45 days is disruptive to the other students and teacher.
Furthermore, research indicates that expulsion does not work as an effective punishment. Safe schools are necessary, but expulsion is not the way to achieve them ("Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion," American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013). Classroom-based or in school disciplinary measures that keep students in school are more successful.
When even the school district President says, per article, "it's unlikely the child understood the potential danger of the weapon" and states "I don't think the child wanted to hurt anyone" it is time to question if the punishment fits the crime.
Who exactly was the school board was trying to punish? Why shouldn't the school board be trying to foster stronger education goals?
York City's graduation and attendance levels are lower than state levels, (District Report Card 2011-2012). It seems the school board would serve better creating an environment that addresses why students do not feel safe at home or at school.
To deprive a would-be first grader from some of their most formative school days for reasons they do not understand, and for a crime they were not aware of, does not seem fair or effective.
This case smacks of ineffective rules with implications the school board cannot begin to comprehend.
York City School Board, please try again and resubmit for partial credit.
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)