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Letter to the Editor Fairfax County sends wrong message with delayed vote on discipline

Published on: 
Tue, 06/12/2012
Media Source: 
Washington Post

Regarding the June 9 Metro article “Fairfax School Board delays vote on discipline”:

In 2004, my wife and I moved to Fairfax County, in large part due to the excellent reputation of its school system. Like many parents in the county, we believed this move was in the best interests of our children. After reading about the delayed vote on discipline in the school system, I am no longer sure that our decision was the right one.

 In the past few years, it has become evident that the draconian “zero tolerance” discipline practiced by the county school system is overly punitive and does much more harm than good. I am greatly disappointed in the school board for delaying its vote on a policy change. Its action raised the question of whom the board represents: the community at large, or the Fairfax principals who want to run their schools apparently without accountability to the parents and guardians.

 

Requiring parental notification before students are questioned about serious offenses should not be viewed as overly burdensome on the school system. For years, I have heard from teachers that parents are not involved enough. Now, when parents are stepping up, wanting to be notified quickly of incidents involving their children, the schools won’t allow it.

I believe that part of the educational experience is learning that there are consequences to one’s actions. I also believe that students need to learn the lessons of proportionality; that the punishment needs to fit the offense. The lessons of forgiveness, compassion, mercy and redemption are also necessary.

Walter J. Stankewick, Alexandria

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