Should these children have been expelled from school? In early December, the Antelope Valley Union High School District expelled twenty-four students for “tee peeing” a home. Apparently, tee peeing consists of putting toilet paper around the house and dumping feminine hygiene products all over the lawn. The girls in question thought they were doing this at the home of their French teacher, and they also wrote profanities in French about the teacher on the lawn. Finally, the recalcitrant young ladies prepared “wanted posters” and dumped those on the property as well.
One of the problems here is that the girls had the wrong home. Instead of messing up the home of French teacher Jean Marie Andrews-Dest, the students ended up at the home of retired Lancaster physician, Dr. Richard Andrews.
The parents of the girls who have been expelled are claiming that the girls cannot be kicked out of school for this behavior since that which they did was not done on school grounds, and is therefore not an expellable offense. What does the Education Code say about acts that can lead to students being expelled? The code indicates that expellable acts must relate to school activity or school attendance. Damaging school property is high on the list of expellable offenses; however, if you damage private property, and it is during school hours, that could also lead to your being terminated. In other words, the code addresses behavior on school grounds, while going to or coming from school, behavior during the lunch period, and whether it is during or while going to a school-sponsored activity.
The attorney for the girls indicates that this matter involves private property and behavior not during school hours and therefore would be more appropriately handled in civil court, assuming that the doctor wants to sue, as opposed to expulsion for the culprits.
I do not agree with all of what the attorney is saying; however, I do agree with her statement that the “punishment is disproportionate to what occurred.” This is not something to be taken lightly; however, expelled from school! How about a suspension, maybe thirty days; somewhere around there seems right. Clearly what the girls did was big-time inappropriate, and arguably the crimes of trespassing and vandalism were committed; however, for you Gilbert and Sullivan Pirates of Penzance fans, “the punishment should fit the crime.” I can also think of a few sentences these girls should be writing on the blackboard a few thousand times, and I think that one to two hundred hours of community service should also be part of the punishment. Let them know this is serious, this must not happen again, but don’t ruin their lives. No one was killed or hurt by their actions, other than the feelings of the French teacher.
It’s my belief that expulsion is the easy way out. Once again, we have an issue that is being looked at in too much of a “black and white” fashion; let us just wash our hands of these children and kick them out of school so we don’t have to deal with them again.
How about something that might help rehabilitate them and teach them a valuable lesson, yet leave them the better for it? How about something that will teach the girls the difference between right and wrong without having “expelled from school” on their resume as they attempt to get into college.
Suspend, yes. Punish, yes. Require apologies and then some, yes. Expel, no. The punishment should fit the crime.