Suspensions at East: Parker instates new discipline policies

Story by Ashleigh Fields, Online Editor-In-Chief

The 2018- 2019 academic school year has been filled with various new discipline policies at East Meck. Many of these policies result in either after school detention, in school suspension (ISS), or out of school suspension (OSS), two of which will remain on a students permanent record.

“At the start of the school year it was my goal to improve students behavior and we are doing that through these strict policies,” Principal Rick Parker said.

Parker is working to improve students actions and school safety through different approaches. One of his new strategies is the “Blue Light Special.” In the hallway, Parker and another administrator set up a blue police light waiting to stop students who have their headphones or phones out, which are now both prohibited during the school day at East. If caught with either, the student in question is given a slip for after school detention. If students fail to show up, they can be given ISS, and if they continue, they could possibly receive OSS.

“The goal of this policy is to ensure students safety, I want each student to be able to hear in the case of an emergency lockdown,” Parker said.

However, some students disagree.

“If he [Parker] says lockdown, people will rush to a safe place, those with headphones will hear and see it,” junior Giovanni Samuels said. “I think this shows [Parker’s] priorities are misplaced, [Parker] should consider punishing those who cause the lockdown instead of those who are victims of circumstance.”

For school administration and staff, this seems like a reasonable solution to preventing safety hazards and unruly students at East.

‘Don’t break the rules and you won’t have a problem,” Assistant Principal Joel Edde said.

Some students agree.

“I feel like students are being defiant for show, if you follow the rules you won’t get suspended” senior, Charme Brown said.

However, for some students, parents and educators, it’s an entirely different story.

“There has been a drastic change in repercussions for minor offenses since my freshman year. The punishments have escalated to adding a blemish to your personal record which can prevent you from obtaining a scholarship or going to college” senior D’Erica Boskie said. “I just think that’s unfair and it’s something that needs to be addressed.”

“My child was suspended 10 days for a fight that didn’t happen,” Doris Spivey said.

For most, the maximum OSS is ten days and the maximum ISS is 5 days. However, students with extenuating circumstances of OSS are often sent to alternative schools where they will receive in school credit for attending.

“My child became involved in a verbal altercation with another student resulting in her suspension. I do not feel that this suspension policy is an effective form of punishment for students. The rules need to be reviewed and revamped,” parent Doris Spivey said.

It seems as if instead of discouraging students from further infractions, the new policies have encouraged more.

Currently, the school statistics state that 200 students have received an out of school suspension in the first four months of the 2018-19 school year and 68 students have received an in school suspension. As a district, the data from last year states that over 20,000 suspensions of 10 days or less occurred in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. There were 23 long-term suspensions and 13 expulsions, which the district is hoping to improve on.

Other schools have turned to new disciplinary measures such as mentorship programs, counseling, mini courses and behavioral contracts. At East, the alternative programs include after school detention and community service assignments. These alternatives often pose problems for students who cannot access transportation.