I have written in the past about incidents and experiences my children have had in their schools. I want to make clear that my children do not attend schools in the district for which I work, but rather, attend school in neighboring Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD (HEB ISD).
Recently, my 14 year old son was disciplined for coughing during a test by having his grade reduced from an 83 to a 40. The teacher claimed that he laughed and distracted the class (students I talked to said he cleared his throat). After talks with the teacher, the principal, and other students in the class, it was revealed that the teacher’s rule about test-taking is that any noise coming from a person will result in the test being taken up and being graded to the point at which the student was finished at that time. This means students who are sick, sneezing, coughing, hiccuping, etc, better not come to class during test day.
The principal upheld his teacher’s policy, so we had to take it up with one of the assistance superintendents at the district. She agreed with us, and left it up to the principal and teacher to come up with alternative discipline for the coughing. His grade did get restored, and hopefully other students who have had this same thing done to them this year will have theirs restored, as well.
Today we learned that the alternative discipline is to be In-School-Suspension. ISS was created back when I was in high school to be a more acceptable alternative to suspending a student from school entirely. It was meant to be used for those infractions that are serious enough to warrant suspension. My son coughed during a test and now he is suspended for a day.
Progressive discipline is clearly called for in this case. After interviewing other students in the classroom, it is clear my son did not intentionally distract the other students and that classroom management in this particular teacher’s classroom is poor, at best. As the assistant superintendent herself said, this teacher’s very strict rules only serve to encourage students to disrespect their teacher.
This incident, unfortunately, is not the first evidence of an embedded problem throughout this district. I have five children who have attended schools in this district over the past 12 years, and there have been repeated instances of teachers giving students failing grades for not bringing in signed progress reports, or giving “free 100s” for bringing in a box of tissues. This abuse of grading power has got to stop.
Further, going from zero to in-school-suspension – without stopping off at detention or parent conferences, and the like, is unacceptable as well. This practice discourages students to behave well in school because they know if they make one mistake (such as coughing during a test), they will be suspended. The assistant superintendent made the comment that ISS is “no big deal” – it IS a big deal to students who haven’t become accustomed to it.
I had to write this post to vent a little. I would love to hear your thoughts on these issues – does your district have similar policies? Is it time for a change?