By Patti Howell
I truly believe it is easier to fight City Hall than it is to fight the Central Dauphin school district! They make their own rules and run their schools like a dictatorship. Their word is law and no one has the right to question it. They don’t need proof, they don’t need evidence, and they make decisions that affect these kids’ lives with unfounded accusations, conjecture, and hear-say. Their motto appears to be “Guilty until proven innocent!” To hell with due-process … and fairness be damned! The arrogance with which they rule their schools is unbelievable and in my opinion unacceptable.
Here is the scenario: Sixteen high school kids took a limo to their senior prom on a recent Friday evening. There was a discussion between them all prior to the event that NO ONE was to bring alcohol to the prom. Unfortunately, when you have so many kids, you can usually be assured that someone is going to screw up. Well, apparently at least two individuals that we know of did! There were a few bottles of alcohol found in a couple of duffle bags on the limo and it appeared that some of it had been consumed. To most of the kids in that limo, the fact that alcohol was brought out was a complete surprise and many of them insist that they did not take part in any drinking. To my knowledge one student took responsibility for bringing the alcohol on the limo.
The police were called (as is appropriate in this situation) and they interviewed and gave breathalyzer tests to 8 of the 16 kids, 2 fled the scene on foot, and the other 6 were never pulled from the prom and were able to continue dancing and enjoying themselves. Many of the kids blew 0.0 on the breathalyzers and were released by the police with NO consequences. Now we all know that there is no leniency by the authorities these days when it comes to underage drinking. And who is more qualified to determine if there is any reason to administer punishment than the police? Well… evidently the CD School District is.
On the following Monday morning, their “investigation” began. One in which they badgered and interrogated each of the students and tried to pit one against another with insinuations and hollow threats. This so called investigation took two days after which 10 of the 16 students were given 3-10 days suspension from school, with an informal hearing during the 3rd day at which time it would be decided if the term of the suspension would go further. To no one’s surprise each student was then given the 10 day suspension. This is excessive to say the least, especially without a shred of evidence.
Now, for most of these kids, especially those who know they are innocent of any wrong-doing, they just got themselves a nice little extra Spring-Break. They still have to keep up with their school work, but can do it while lying by the pool if they like. However, two of them happen to be athletes on the track team, both seniors, one of which had already qualified to compete in Districts, the other who was one jump away from qualifying. For these two, who coincidently blew 0.0 BAC results, and adamantly deny use of any alcohol that night – this has ENDED their track careers. Due to the timing they missed the Cedar Cliff Relays; the Mid-Penn’s, and now, due to the 10-day suspension, will not be back in school in time to compete in Districts.
Most of us who played any sports in high school realize that at this time in your life, competing at a District or State level is not only quite an honor but also one of the most exciting accomplishments for any athlete. So, with no proof and no evidence, these two boys are paying a MUCH higher price than even the individual who admitted bringing the alcohol or the ones that fled the scene.
I and many of the other parents involved have made pleas to the Principal(s) and to the Assistant to the Superintendent to be fair and to see that they have NOTHING to hold against many of these kids. We begged them, particularly in my son’s case and that of the other athlete to take into consideration how a 10 day suspension would affect these kids’ lives – all of our efforts fell on deaf ears. We contacted lawyers, only to find that somehow CD School District reigns supreme. There is virtually nothing that can be done about this injustice. And that is exactly what it is…AN INJUSTICE!
How does this happen? When did the school districts get more power than our law enforcement and justice system? When did these so-called “educators” go from trying to help our kids to becoming tyrants and bullies? At this point the only thing I can do is to make this public and let everyone know that if they have a child who will be or is part of the CD School system, they had better be prepared for the tyrannical way in which they run their schools as well as their blatant disregard for an individuals right to be “innocent until proven guilty.”
In speaking with many of my friends, co-workers and family, many who are in or familiar with other school districts in this area, I have heard numerous times that they are not surprised one bit. Evidently CD has quite a bad reputation for excessive punishments and for running their schools like tyrants.
I hope no one has to go through this with any of their children and I wish I would have known years ago about the unfriendly climate that exists at Central Dauphin. I used to be a “Proud Parent of a CD Student.” I am now still VERY proud of my Student, but cannot say the same for the school from which he will graduate.
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