Consistency needed in disciplinary process

On January 5, Principal Jack Phillips delivered a speech to the High School outlining a recent disciplinary case that resulted in the expulsion of a student. Phillips included only the details necessary to illustrate the community’s standards on substance abuse. Names were not used, preserving the anonymity of those involved.  

This recent expulsion marks the fourth in four years, and in light of the discrepancies in the handling of different disciplinary cases, we, as an Editorial Board, are calling for greater consistency in the management of severe Code of Conduct infractions.

Procedure is pivotal in these instances, especially ones that may lead to suspension or expulsion. A thorough, clearly documented procedure ensures fairness and limits any bias or mistreatment through the disciplinary process.

Instances this year have caused this Editorial Board to call into question the administration’s management of the disciplinary process and their conviction to follow procedure without fail.

In previous expulsions, the affected grade had been informed before the rest of the community; an important step that breaks the news to those most affected that was forgotten in the recent expulsion.  

We implore the administration to maintain this practice. Grade levels are important communal units and should be prioritized in receiving the news of the dismissal of one of their fellow classmates.

In a more glaring instance of inconsistency this year, the administration contradicted the precedent set in maintaining the anonymity of students involved in Code of Conduction violations. As a punishment for an offence equivalent to academic dishonesty, a student was made to publicly apologize in front of their grade in a class meeting, disclosing the details of their disciplinary case.

As an Editorial Board, we take serious issue with the handling of this disciplinary transgression.  We believe discretion is a pillar of discipline, especially among minors. As young adults, we should be held accountable for our mistakes, but we should also be allowed to move on from them. Disclosing the details of a disciplinary case to the entire grade greatly hinders one’s ability to do so. Unless other students are directly impacted by the violation, there is no reason to share the disciplinary proceeding with anyone else.

Making this information public when it isn’t necessary creates a culture of shaming. Public apologies as a form of discipline can also solidify stereotypes of individuals for what may have been a lapse of judgement or poor decision under extreme circumstance.

Everyone in this building and among the broader school community have made mistakes before, some more serious than others, but we all deserve the opportunity to move on without informing the entire school of our mistake.

We believe that there should be a punishment for those who do infringe on the rules set by the Code of Conduct, but we strongly disagree with the measures that were taken on this particular case.

A disciplinary process in which students are forced to publicly own their disciplinary cases in front of the community is one this Editorial Board views as inappropriate and valueless. Thus, we request the administration avoid similar forms of retribution in the future, refraining from making a precedence of this punishment. We believe that if students are subjected to this form of punishment, it treads the line of public humiliation, which isn’t a form of punishment members of this Editorial Board deem tolerable.

The Editorial Board calls for the evaluation of the High School’s disciplinary process. Specifically we encourage the addition of a detailed protocol for the administration and SFDB’s handling of suspensions and expulsions to the Code of Conduct.