One reason is some of the headlines that catch my attention and remind me that sometimes schools spend too much time coming up with rules and too little thinking about creating an atmosphere that truly cares to the unique needs of each student. Here are some examples:
- 17-year old Ohio student will not be allowed to walk because he went over the absence limit while tending to his cancer-stricken mom.
- A 12-year old Native American student was suspended for saying "hello" and "I love you" in Menominee
- Pennsylvania middle school bans Ugg boots (because students were hiding their cell phones in them)
While we may not have headline-grabbing examples of school rules at BHS, there are a few that have me thinking that they are more about showing power than compassion. I remember a discussion at another school that we had when looking at handbook changes for the following year where a teacher indicated concern that some proposed changes would "take away the hammer." My response focused on the fact that students (and adults) bring a lot of outside baggage to school each day and that the hammer was the last thing they needed.
The main thing that I would like to discuss is the use of out-of-school suspensions and when it is appropriate to use them. In my opinion the parameters for Out-Of-School suspensions (below in bold italics) need to be changed. Personally, I think we need to take out the wording "but not limited to." I know this tends to be legal terminology to make sure that we don't leave anything out, but when it comes to out-of-school suspensions I think we need to put some limitations in place. Our priority needs to be providing education not taking opportunities away.
Out of School Suspension will be imposed in the cases of, but not limited to, continued infractions of school rules, acts of violence, acts of vandalism, threatening actions or words, theft and the possession and/or sale of alcoholic beverages, weapons, and/or drugs or gambling. Such acts may be subject to a hearing for exclusion before the Superintendent of Schools. Students suspended out of school are not permitted to enter the school grounds or participate in any school-sponsored activities for the duration of their suspensions.So what are the things that need to change in the BHS student handbook? You can check it out below or download it from here into iBooks on your iPad. I would appreciate any suggestions in the comments section below to assist in our revision which will go forward to the Burlington School Committee in the next month.
2011-2012 Student Parent Handbook