Parent Proposes Alternative to School Suspension

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Responding to recent comments regarding district lawsuits, I applaud questioning use of taxpayer dollars, school authority, embracing teachable moments and demanding change in school culture.

This event accelerated district-wide training of staff, athletic leadership and students on cultural adversity and social-emotional needs of our students. This included implementing social/emotional support standards of self-awareness, self-management, self-efficacy, social awareness, social management and social engagement. The district initiative was funded in part by $159,000 from School Power.

Yet, parents in said incident demanded a lawsuit to essentially expunge accountability. Why allow students to be unaccountable for their behavior when programs are funded to help teach responsibility? Being a bystander or an instigator shouldn’t be excusable. How can one say that an event occurring outside school hours won’t affect the learning environment at school?

Nearby private schools have a 24/7 policy on enforceable violations of school policies. Ed Code states the district must safeguard students from discriminatory practices in public schools and “..policy shall include a statement that it applies to all acts related to school activity or school attendance …” Winter sports were in season and these students were identified wearing LBUSD gear.

Rather than question overreach, do they do enough? There should be bigger concern with how much isn’t being done to reprimand students or staff that are harassing, bullying or not representing good character? Isn’t character what people do when no one is looking? LBUSD routinely evaluates board policy and ethics. With advances in technology; pressure on students over academics, society and peers; awareness of bullying and harassment and the necessity of tolerance; the boundaries of a school day have evolved. Ed Codes and disciplinary guidelines should, too.

Teachable moments are necessary, but without actions studies show messages don’t always stick. Perhaps character demerits could be a step between detention if suspension isn’t warranted but the infraction warrants more. An in-expungable character demerit could potentially eliminate character and leadership awards and scholarships, allowing for teachable moments while still allowing opportunity for colleges through application essays. District policy for zero tolerance could allow teachable lessons without completely changing a students course, but still demonstrates zero tolerance for violations against clear and identified infractions. Communication is a must and certainly the district can improve on that.

This administration needs to work overtime to continue to put new policies in place. The district must maintain accountability by all, students and staff. The community should demand more.

Sheri Morgan, Laguna Beach

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