January 2018 Column

The safety and well being of the children who attend our schools is always at the forefront of any educator’s mind.  The recent violence at Aztec High School is just another reminder of how quickly events can become tragic.  As a result of the Aztec shootings,  anxiety has heightened for parents, students and educators. With that in mind, Hobbs Schools has taken several precautions to increase our ability to prevent disasters from occurring.  However, due to the nature of some adolescent curiosity, we had some students make very poor decisions that resulted in what the district categorizes as  “severe” discipline measures.
The decision on how a student will be disciplined is made  by a school administrator during a “long-term hearing.” While student privacy rights prevent me from speaking about specifics,  I can explain that the long-term hearing process allows parents and students the opportunity to defend/explain themselves for the accused misconduct.  Similar to the way a court of law operates, HMS school hearing officers take into consideration the severity of the infraction,  the student’s prior discipline record and the impact the alleged infraction had on staff and students. 
The most severe discipline our district  can impose on a student is to remove him or her entirely from the educational process. Although the move may protect the school, it will hurt the student if parents fail to monitor their student’s activity at home. More simply said, if HMS expels every student accused of a severe infraction, we would flood the community with juveniles who are not educated and have no adult supervision.  

In addition to permanent expulsion, other possible long-term hearing discipline outcomes include assigning a student to the Alternative Learning Center or Home Bound studies. 

One purpose of discipline is to try to ensure that the offender does not commit the same offense again. Most of us made bad decisions as young people and were allowed a second chance that enabled us to lead a productive life. I certainly made some poor decisions as a young man. Due to the nature of corporal punishment, however, the discipline was quick and severe without the ability to plead my case.  Admittedly, most educators are soft hearted and try to give second chances to most students.  We want our students to be successful.  We also want to have an environment that is safe and secure for all students and staff. If you hear about school punishment outcomes,  please understand there are several factors taken into consideration when a verdict is handed down.  Discipline is not a part of the educational job that anyone enjoys but it is required to maintain a safe and orderly culture.

 

 

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