Friday, April 13, 2007

What does a guy have to do to get suspended around here?

***The names used in this post have been changed to protect the (not so) innocent...

Harken back to Thursday morning. Third period had just started, and my students were still filing through the door. Once they were in, the door was still propped open. I was picking up my clipboard to take roll, when one of my students said, "Mr. Chanman, you better get out there!" I walked to the open classroom door to see Myron, one of my third period students, squaring off against a student from another class. I yelled to Myron, "Get in this room right now!" Myron looked back at me for a second, looked toward his nemesis, and then violently shoved him full on in the chest with both hands. I ran over to the two students and stood in between them, facing Myron, telling both of them to disengage. Myron continued to aggressively lunge toward me in an effort to get at his opponent. I yelled at Myron to go to the office, and he finally complied. I turned around to the other student and asked for his name. He said, "Jamal". I said, "Jamal What?" He said, "Jamal Johnson." I told him to stay put while I alerted the office of Myron's impending arrival, and when I came outside, "Jamal" had split. At this point, one of my students said, "Mr. Chanman, that guy's name isn't Jamal, its Khalid." I verified this information, so that kid got a referral for lying to me, and I understand that he's on his way out for other offenses anyway. But now, let us focus back on Myron, who also received an office referral from me.

This is by far, not the first time I have dealt with Myron. He was previously suspended for five days earlier this school year for sucker-punching a student in my classroom during third period. Why did Myron do it? Because he felt like it, apparently. Myron is mean as a snake, and has previously verbally assaulted me on several occasions, screaming at me at the top of his lungs after I have attempted to redirect his behavior. So the score is, total disrespect toward me, not a lick of work done in class all year long, and two physical assaults committed against fellow students, both of which I have witnessed with my own two eyes.

Fast forward to this morning. After physically assaulting another student yesterday, in full view of the rest of my third period students and me, who comes walking into class but Myron. I couldn't believe it. I had stupidly assumed that he would actually be suspended, but there he was.

I snapped.

I told Myron to gather his things and go to the office. Of course he protested, but I said, "Go!" I then picked up the phone and informed the vice principal that I was sending Myron to him and that Myron was not welcome in my class today. The VP asked me why, and that presented a bit of a dilemma. I wasn't about to discuss the case in front of my entire class, and that is what I told the VP, but he persisted. I simply told him that it was a safety issue and that I would talk to him in his office during my prep period. My students aren't stupid; as soon as they heard me say the words "safety issue", they knew I was talking about Myron, and the class erupted into one part laughter, one part scoffing at me, and one part cheering.

When my prep period arrived, I had my sit down with the VP. I told him that I was quite astonished that Myron walked into my class after what had happened the day before, and that I could not in my good conscience allow him to stay there. What kind of message does that send my students that you can assault another student and then be right back in the classroom the next day. Not only that, I don't feel safe in the classroom with Myron in there. He has a terrible temper, a proclivity to assault people, and he is nearly as big as I am, and I am 6'2"/215. The VP hemmed and hawed, telling me that Myron and the other student received detention, and that I can't punish Myron twice for the same crime by sending him out of the room.

[Jaw drops to the floor]

Detention? Both of them? One physically assaulted the other, and the other lied to me about his name. WHY WEREN'T THEY SUSPENDED??? And this same administration sits there scratching their heads at staff meetings as they wonder what they can do to quell the behavioral disturbances on our campus. How about giving real consequences for their actions?

But have no fear, the administration is currently in the process of starting up a new program at our school. It's called the Peer Mediator program, and student-candidate interviews are currently underway. Students on campus are trained as peer mediators, and so the next time Myron and Khalid (who has gang ties by the way) get into a fight, some other tweeny-bopper on campus can try to get these two to shake hands and make nice. The world of public education is truly an alternate universe.

Good Day to You, Sir


Anonymous said...

At some schools there is hope. One little 7th grade boy sneaked a soda bottle into my room, and hid it under his sweatshirt. Being the ever-alert teacher that I am, I eventally saw it and told him to throw it away. He informed me that I was not the boss of him or his soda bottle! I then sent him to the office for defiance, rudeness and being a seventh grade jerk. For this relatively minor offense, he was suspended for two days. As I said, there is hope.

Anonymous said...

A co-worker of mine had her daughter suspended from school for one day because her friends, not her, threatened to beat up a boy she didn't like. The principal of her school decided to suspend her because she didn't show remorse for the situation. Seems pretty petty compared to the crap you are dealing with. And yet, it seems like a sufficient punishment.

Seems like your administration should look at other school districts for punishment examples.

Anonymous said...

You need to take that crap to the board of directors and next time this happens dont call the office call 911 from your cell phone and say your life is in danger, it is right!

Anonymous said...

It seems like many schools are on opposite ends of the spectrum - either too much or too little. I've heard of parents pulling their kids out of schools where their children were punished for things that someone else did. And, I wouldn't dream of sending my kid(s) to a school that didn't take enough action, which is definitely the case in your situation.

Dan Edwards said...

And, where is your union on this, regarding a safe working environment? This lack of discipline for a habitually dangerous individual is a direct violation of California Education Code.

IF I was you, I'd get with my building rep ( if he/she has the gumption for it ) and discuss this problem with the principal. And if need be, promise to take it to the community and local press.

Texas Truth said...

Peer Mediation: That animal raised its head in our school about two years ago. It lasted less than a year.

Administrators cannot make a decision to safe their own careers. They “him and har” around and hope the problem disappears.

I am finding that most administrators had trouble cutting it in the classroom when they were teachers. Looking at some administrators I know and it is very clear that they were very weak in discipline in the classroom.

I could go on for hours about that, as I know you could, but I won't.

Keep up the good work. Take care.

Anonymous said...

This is all about not being able to talk to the kids in the right way to deescalate a situation. Teachers need to learn to talk to kids and stop ordering them around.

W.R. Chandler said...

Hmmm, let me give it a try:

Ummm, Myron... if it's not too much trouble, could you, like, come into the classroom now? Please, take your time.

When a violent situation is about to occur, you bet your butt I will order that student around. What planet do you live on?

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