New school disciplinary process unnecessary

Published 11:28 am Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Southampton County Public School Board is trying to make its disciplinary policy more clear by making it more complex.

The new policy the school board adopted at Monday night’s meeting needlessly adds another bureaucratic hurdle for parents to jump over when their child is faced with possible expulsion.

Previously, when a principal recommended a student for expulsion, the student pleaded his or her case in front of the school board’s three-member disciplinary committee. In order for a child to be expelled, the verdict has to be unanimous. Parents or guardians could then appeal the committee’s decision, holding a second hearing in the presence of the entire school board if they so choose.

In the coming school year, the superintendent will get original jurisdiction in cases of expulsion. Dr. Alvera J. Parrish will make the first decision on whether or not a student will be expelled, and then parents can appeal her decision to the disciplinary committee, then appeal once again to the rest of the school board.

This amendment to the process does two things: it changes the expulsion procedure unnecessarily — why try to fix what wasn’t broken? — and it concentrates power into one person.

Whereas before the initial decision to expel a child was made by three people who had to be in agreement, now it’s made by one. This effectively gives Parrish sole discretion. How many parents will go through the lengthy process of appeal after their child is expelled?

The disciplinary committee has done its job for many years, and we are unaware of any complaints that parents had about the expulsion process. The school board’s decision to give Parrish yet another responsibility to fulfill when she has so many other undertakings to oversee doesn’t really help anyone; it just “fixes” a process that wasn’t broken.