Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 15, 2012

Discipline in the schools: How far is too far?

VALDOSTA — Recently there have been reports in the national news of incidents in schools about a child being arrested for having a butter knife in their lunch box or a high schooler being expelled for something they wrote on their Twitter account.

When it comes to school discipline, how far is too far? At a Valdosta Board of Education meeting on April 9, board member Warren Lee said, “We’ve given kids records that shouldn’t have gotten records with the police department.”

Lee suggested that discipline procedures for fighting in the city school system have gotten out of hand, so this week, the Times spoke with both systems to see how each deals with the issue.

Valdosta City Schools

Currently in the Valdosta High School code of student conduct book, policy states that at “principal discretion”, law enforcement may be contacted.

According to Assistant Superintendent of Finance Marty Roesch, when two or more students are involved in a fight, there is immediate administrative discretion and depending on the severity, those students will be referred to the school’s Resource Officer.

“We don’t have the power or the authority to arrest students,” said Roesch.

The Valdosta City School system has a memorandum of understanding with the Valdosta Police Department to report each incident.

Roesch stated that these sort of memorandums are common practice for school systems who partner with various agencies.

“Like any other agency, you have working relationships with other agencies,” said Roesch.

The memorandum states that school resource officers (SRO) will “respond to situations as needed” and “notify a school administrator when there is a discipline problem in any area of the school”. When a child is participating in a fight, it is common practice to involve a police officer.

While fights are not a daily issue in the city school system, there are instances where students have been arrested for fighting. A behavior that once would have warranted a phone call to a parent can now potentially lead to an arrest record that could very well prevent a child from getting into a good college or label that child as a disciplinary problem for the rest of their years in school.

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