A view from my side.
The event that started it all:
During a class in which a 3rd year teacher was going over a test, a student asked about an answer, which was marked wrong. He felt he could defend his answer and, perhaps, get at least partial credit. The teacher was unprepared for this student’s line of questioning, and realizing that he had a point, she was not ready to get into it. She dismissed him, saying “not now, we will talk about it later.” He asked again to talk about it then and she sent him to the office for being “disruptive” in class.
It gets worse:
In the Assistant Principal’s office, the student explained what happened, showed the AP his test, and explained his point. The AP agreed that he probably did, indeed, have a valid argument. Be all that as it may, the student was going to have to spend the rest of the day and all of the next in In School Suspension for being disrespectful, disruptive and argumentative in class. In a bit of shock, the student asked for an explanation. How is it, he asked, that he could be in the right, the teacher refuse to discuss what the AP admitted was a legitimate point and end up in ISS for 1.5 days?
The AP asserted that the student was now being disrespectful and argumentative with him. He continued that if the student didn’t stop arguing and asking questions he would get more time in ISS. The student said, “Ah, come on…this isn’t right. This is bullshit.” The AP jumped up from his seat, grabbed a new set of forms and was now sending the student to the Alternative Classroom for 21 days for “profanity directed at an administrator.”
Now, this student did not say to the AP, “You are full of bullshit”, or any other such comment that was directed at the AP. He simply described the situation he was in as “bullshit.” He didn’t threaten the AP. He didn’t raise his voice. The AP admitted the student was calm and basically in a state of disbelief.
The student served 14 days of his 21 day sentence.
The teacher lost control of herself. She felt threatened when she actually was not. Being relatively new, she decided to abdicate her responsibility and pass it along to someone else. The AP felt he had to “back his teacher” and that disciplinary action was required for the student in order to send a message. Then, the AP freaks out when the student uses the word “bullshit” to describe the situation he is in and decides the student directed a profanity AT him and makes yet another bad decision.
What should have happened:
The AP and the student should have had a discussion about the teacher being caught off guard and trying to save face. The AP should have asked the student how else the student could have handled the situation, especially since the teacher was still relatively new to the profession.
The teacher should have been talked to about how to properly handles such situations. It might not have been a bad idea to send her to a refresher class on classroom management.
The AP should have been told he was wrong in his decision that the student directed a profanity “at” him.
The student should never have spent a a minute in ISS let alone 14 days in the “alternative classroom.”
In a meeting with the school’s Principal, he stipulated that all of the decisions made in this instance were wrong. He conceded that the adults failed to act responsibly and maturely. He also said the student should have just kept his mouth shut and accepted that his answer was “not the best choice” available. His final decision, however, was to back his AP and the student suffered. When asked what educational lesson he felt was being served, he responded none whatsoever.
This type of thing happens every day in schools all across America. If you have such a story, let me know.