Should schools punish students for off-campus behavior?

Cobb County students can be suspended from sports teams and school clubs for breaking school rules – even if the infractions occurred off-campus.

School board members approved rules last week to guarantee students are disciplined uniformly when caught drinking, smoking or doing drugs. The punishments are harsh. Students face a 25-day suspension from activities on their first offense.

How are they going to catch students? Students could be setting themselves up by posting pictures on Facebook and other sites, a district spokesman said.

Obviously students should be punished for breaking school rules on campus or at school-related events like field trips.

But is it right for school officials to discipline students for something they do on the weekend or during the summer?

A common complaint is that schools are expected to do parents’ work. Should schools take on off-campus behavior?

33 comments Add your comment

Dog and pony show

June 17th, 2009
7:18 am

Yet another dog and pony show by yet another school board. Here’s a novel idea. Try to adequately address discipline inside the schools first, then worry about what happens outside of school.

Turd Ferguson

June 17th, 2009
8:02 am

Schools should not address off campus behavior. Thats the job of the PARENTS!

Is the off campus behavior of teachers being addressed? Based on many of thems lack of morals I would say not. Any why not…it is ok for a person who is TEACHING your kids to behave in the disgusting manner some of the do?

M H Barden

June 17th, 2009
8:54 am

The schools cannot do what is required of them on campus. They should leave parenting and law enforcement to the proper persons.

Tony

June 17th, 2009
9:10 am

Schools must have the authority to punish students for behavior that is disruptive to the operation of the school regardless of where the behavior occurred. In the case of what is proposed by Cobb, they are focusing on extra-curricular activities. The students who participate in these activities are not required to do so in order to earn their high school diploma.

One of the downfalls of some of our schools is the lack of behavioral expectations that are consistent with promoting a good education. As parents and community, we should be ready to support our schools for setting high academic and behavioral expectations.

There are off-campus behaviors that warrant disciplinary action for good reason. An off-campus brawl on Saturday certainly has the potential to erupt into a school fight on Monday. Administrators of schools must have means to protect students from behaviors like this. This is just one legitimate example.

The bottom line is that our society needs to get a grip on the issue of responsibility. Personal responsibility must once again become an ethical standard that we embrace. Too often, we excuse behaviors that are completely unacceptable. We try to blame others or institutions for behaviors that are a hindrance to learning and we fail to teach our children that their choices are the real issue.

I applaud Cobb Schools for establishing a clear and viable plan to address behavior that is destructive to the personal development of its students. More communities should band together to do the same.

And while they are at it, they should once again enforce appropriate behavior standards in their schools. Standards that promote EARNING a good education.

catlady

June 17th, 2009
9:20 am

If it is a school-related or sponsored event, wherever it takes place, then YES, the schools should hold the students responsible. If it is something that happens outside of school, say, at an under-age club, or at the McDonalds, then NO. I realize that problems like that can spill over into the school on Monday, but so can problems from home. I hope we don’t propose to intervene in student/parent disputes just because the student could bring their ill feelings to school on Monday.

We have enough to do. Give us the authority and backing to discipline students for school behaviors and actions, and quit expecting the schools to solve every other problem a student might face or might bring to school. Really, instruction should be the schools’ main focus, not social work!

Ernest

June 17th, 2009
9:40 am

I see this as having a type of ‘morals clause’ in order to participate in extra curricular activities. Do students have a ‘right’ to participate in extra curricular activities? I believe most would say no. If this requirement is placed in the Student Code of Conduct manual, explained to all students, the secure signatures from parents and students, this could possibly work.

On the flip side, it would also mean that an appeal process should be set up for students, especially cases where the evidence is not clear cut. Pictures on a social networking site ‘could’ be staged however if someone is arrested, it makes it somewhat easier. A question I would ask is does this apply immediately when they are charged or when they have gone through the judicial system and found guilty. If a star athlete is charged with DUI, could they use the legal system to delay a trial so they can continue to play. After all, there is a presumption of innocence until found guilty by the courts.

jim d

June 17th, 2009
9:44 am

Dis with you on this one Tony,

One of the great principles in this country is the quarantee protecting us from DOUBLE JEOPARDY.

punishing anyone twice for the same crime is not only wrong but quite unjust. Your concerns about fights breaking out at school, while justified, are of little concern to the law until such time as a crime is committed–should we start punishing someone because they MAY commit a crime we’d all be incarcerated.

But then that is JMHO

SG

June 17th, 2009
9:52 am

I totally agree with catlady. This is just another example of everyone expecting schools to do EVERYTHING!

jim d

June 17th, 2009
10:24 am

Ernest,

Are you really ok with this?

Are you also ok with the potential financial burden it may place upon the school system?

In reality I’m going to venture a guess that most systems are already doing this anyway. Places like Gwinnett with their multi Billion dollar a year budget, (which exceeds the budget for the entire county government btw) whinning when funding is reduced, could actually save money by quitting to attempt to be the parents in these cases.

After all, aren’t the extracurriculars designed to help keep students — out of trouble??

jim d

June 17th, 2009
10:32 am

Tony, Ernest,

“in loco parentis” IMHO stops at the school property boundries. and one certainly would not want me setting on a jury hearing such a case.

flipper

June 17th, 2009
10:58 am

If my children are caught drinking, doing drugs, breaking laws, etc. you can be assured that consequences that we impose will be fitting and most likely more severe than anything the school could impose. That being said, if a school ever tries to impose punishment on my child for something that was totally unrelated to school business then I will sue the pants off of the school, and I believe I would win. They have no business getting involved in the personal lives of their students and their families.

Ernest

June 17th, 2009
10:58 am

Fair question, JimD! I still think it goes back to whether one feels participating in extracurricular activities is a privilege or right. I think it is a privilege. If one of my children got in trouble with the law outside of school, I would take away any ‘extra’ activities they were involved in, allowing them to focus solely on school. We can agree that there are some parents that might not take the same action as I would. I see this as not only saving my child from embarrassment but possibly the school also. We can go to public websites to see who has been charged with crimes in each county. Could you imagine a game in which an athlete was charged with disorderly conduct was playing, the opponents knew of that and held signs or shouted jeers regarding that? What kind of burden would that place upon the school system to secure that environment?

Depending on how you look at this, it could be a ‘public safety’ decision. I agree that most school systems are probably already doing this to some extent. I seem to recall an incident in Cobb a while back that involved an athlete and drunk driving. Perhaps this is a reaction to have a standard policy in place for all schools?

BTW, schools systems are typically funded by 65-75% of property taxes for that county/municipality. In many cases, they are the largest employer in a county.

jim d

June 17th, 2009
2:31 pm

flipper,

guaran-damn-tee you’d win if i were in the jury box!!

jim d

June 17th, 2009
2:46 pm

Laura,

As a rule I generally take anything published by World Net Daily with a grain of salt. However, this is rather disturbing at best and maybe worth blogging.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=101371

jim d

June 17th, 2009
2:56 pm

and more in the news.

RACE TO THE TOP FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS

Georgia moves up 3 slots to #17

http://www.edreform.com/charterlaws2009/ranking_chart.pdf

Tony

June 17th, 2009
4:08 pm

HS Coach

June 17th, 2009
4:48 pm

As a high school coach, I try to instill good decision making into my players. If they choose to engage in illegal behavior outside of school, it shows me they aren’t capable of making good choices, and therefore, I don’t want them on my team. We don’t check in on them to see where they are outside of school, but if they get caught, they have to deal with the consequences.

All of my players know that if they get caught with drugs/alcohol they’ll be at minimum suspended from the team, and, depending on the severity or if it is the first time, possibly booted off. They are told before tryouts that being on the team is a privilege, not a right, and that if they do anything to make the team or school look bad, in any way, they may be off the team.

I’m lucky in that I have a good group of kids, but there is always the chance that one will screw up. If they do, they know what’s coming. This policy just formalizes what almost every coach already has in place, so in it just makes it more uniform. This policy would let the kids off easier than I would, but some other sports, this policy would be much more severe (typically, but not always, football and basketball).

what??

June 17th, 2009
6:15 pm

If enforced, this isn’t a case of double jeopardy (which is being tried and/or punished twice by the courts of law); it’s a natural consequence of bad decision making – the removal of a PRIVILEGE. Extra curricular activities are just that – EXTRA. And as long as all parties are informed ahead of time of the consequences of said bad decision making, I don’t think you have a legal leg to stand on. It won’t make it to court, so flipper and jim d, I think you’re both SOL.

I’m sure this is related to the fallout of several incidents that happened in Cobb involving student athletes and their poor decisions. The problem was that there were several incidents, of varying degrees, at different high schools that resulted in different consequences. People were upset that Student A at School A didn’t get as severe a consequence as Student B at School B, even though most people thought what Student A did was worse. The county is just trying to level the playing field, pun intended.

If you look at all the professional sports leagues today, you see young men making extremely stupid decisions (Travis Henry, Plaxico Burress, Micheal Vick, Matt Jones – I could go on). Chances are that these guys had been doing stupid stuff for a long time before they got caught. Chances are also pretty good that a lot of stuff was swept under the rug because they were good athletes, and people wanted them on the teams and on the field. This stuff doesn’t just explode out of a vacuum. I say nip it in the bud when they are young – make the players step up to the plate and display maturity and personal responsibility. What’s wrong with that?

catlady

June 17th, 2009
6:43 pm

Of course, private schools can do anything they want as long as they make it clear from the beginning.

Is the new proposal only to apply to extracurriculars? If so, yeah, I support it. If it is other things outside of any school program, then, no.

The only time I confronted a school person on a decision was the band director at my elder daughter’s high school. I was chaperoning a ball game trip, and there were members of the band who not only did not stand during the National Anthem, but they talked all the way through it. I told him they had no business representing their school; that they could stand up and shut up for 90 seconds in exchange for being allowed to participate. They didn’t have to sing, or put their hands over their hearts. Just stand up and shut up.

He told me the administration would not support that requirement. It would infringe on student rights.

Classroom Teacher

June 17th, 2009
7:07 pm

“if a school ever tries to impose punishment on my child for something that was totally unrelated to school business then I will sue the pants off of the school, and I believe I would win.”

Flipper I believe you would lose:

http://tinyurl.com/2×7rjj

jim d

June 17th, 2009
8:44 pm

Classroom teach,

you overlooked one small detail in this particular case ” School sanctioned event”

But that is not what we are talking about here. we are talking about anywhere anytime.

Coach & what, we aren’t talking about your athletes either–we are talking about anyone.

And for the record, Double jeopardy is a procedural defense (and, in many countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico and India, a constitutional right) that forbids a defendant from being tried twice for the same crime on the same set of facts. At common law a defendant may plead autrefois acquit or autrefois convict (a peremptory plea), meaning the defendant has been acquitted or convicted of the same offense. If this issue is raised, evidence will be placed before the court, which will normally rule as a preliminary matter whether the plea is substantiated, and if it so finds, the projected trial will be prevented from proceeding.

what??

June 17th, 2009
9:20 pm

jim d – we ARE talking about athletes and club members, and not just anyone. The ruling is very simple – if you are caught doing something you shouldn’t, you don’t get to play sports or participate in a club. You still get to come to school, you don’t have to serve any suspensions, nothing – the only “punishment” is consequence of which they have been informed ahead of time.

From the administrative rule:

“Participation in interscholastic/extracurricular (extracurricular) activities in Cobb County School District (District) schools is a privilege. Students participating in these activities are considered to be school leaders. They are role models who represent their school and more importantly, depict its character. With leadership comes additional responsibility and student participants must adhere to high standards of conduct. When students violate these high standards, the District may withdraw the privilege to participate in interscholastic/extracurricular activities.”

You all might try reading the original document, too:

http://www.cobbk12.org/centraloffice/adminrules/J_Rules/Rule_JICDD.pdf

And, no matter how you spin it (or cut and paste, as the case may be), it’s STILL not double jeopardy – not even close – and your post said what I said, only much more wordy. A student be suspended from play is not “a defendant from being tried twice for the same crime on the same set of facts.” Besides, how is this expectation for student athletes any different than what the NFL has done with Michael Vick – or MLB with Pete Rose? Criminal charges and sentencing along with suspensions from their games of choice – hmmm, sounds like Cobb could be preparing their students for the real-life job of being a professional athlete.

BTW – I’m not a Cobb County employee, but I am a Cobb County parent of a student athlete, and I don’t have a problem with this rule – if my child were to get caught and lose playing time, I wouldn’t complain. He’s been forewarned. It’s about time we started expecting more from our next generation, IMHO.

jim d

June 18th, 2009
8:41 am

what??

Consider that according to a recent study by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, children who participate in after-school programs are more engaged in and have a better attitude about learning, perform better academically, and enjoy an increased sense of accomplishment, competence, and self-esteem. Participation also lowers children’s risk of becoming depressed, using drugs and alcohol, and experiencing other behavioral problems.

That being said, one must consider restricting a student from these activities might actually promote the behavior that an attempt to thwart is being made. It makes little sense–but then so does our entire public educational system as it stands.

AlreadySheared

June 18th, 2009
9:41 am

High school is life on training wheels. Later on in life, misconduct, especially criminal misconduct, will affect your ability to get or keep a job.

Teaching the little angels this important lesson now, at the cost of participation in extracurriculars, is a comparatively cheap and easy lesson.

jim d – you’re the latest to join a HUGE group of people who habitually confuse correlation with causation. I.e, maybe the kinds of kids who participate in after school programs start with higher self-esteem, less depression, and reduced drug and alcohol use. I suspect that habitually sleeping under bridges has a strong correlation with poverty, but if I chose to spend a night sleeping under a bridge it would not actually cause me to be poorer.

Ernest

June 18th, 2009
9:50 am

JimD, this may be turning into a circular discussion. If the rules are clearly laid out up front, more than likely the children you described will not do anything to compromise their ability to participate in extracurricular activities. Let’s face it, a majority of our children ARE doing the right things already. I see this as establishing a ’standard’ punishment for possible violations.

Just A Teacher

June 18th, 2009
11:36 am

I think it’s good that this policy is being uniformly applied. I work with a lot of kids after school, and they know that it is a priveledge to be selected to participate in my program. They also know that I can (and will) suspend that priveledge at my discretion. As the person legally responsible for them while they are under my charge, I don’t want people who are going to cause me problems associated with my program. Maybe keeping somebody from going to prom for smoking a cigarette in the parking lot of Piggly Wiggly is a bit harsh, however. They might want to take another look at this policy.

jim d

June 18th, 2009
2:17 pm

Perhaps we should just find a way to identify the little miscreants at birth and eradicate them, saving us all a lot of effort.

what??

June 18th, 2009
6:03 pm

jim d – “Perhaps we should just find a way to identify the little miscreants at birth and eradicate them, saving us all a lot of effort.”

I guess you fall on the side of “nature” in the “nature vs. nurture” argument.

AlreadSheared – “High school is life on training wheels. Later on in life, misconduct, especially criminal misconduct, will affect your ability to get or keep a job.

Teaching the little angels this important lesson now, at the cost of participation in extracurriculars, is a comparatively cheap and easy lesson.”

Amen to that – my point exactly.

what??

June 18th, 2009
6:09 pm

You think you have it bad – read about these kids in CA who have to go to school 34 extra days because of a clerical error! Funny thing is I used to live in the district of one the schools years ago.

http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/06/16/aschol.html?sid=101

Gwinnett Parent

June 19th, 2009
9:58 am

Look – some of these public school districts want the right to do the parents job, when they want it. And then when they don’t – they use parents as scapegoats for every problem possible.

I am advising my sons and daughters to move as far away from Georgia as possible when they decide to raise a family.

what??

June 19th, 2009
3:28 pm

NFL player Donte Stallworth – convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to (a mere IMHO) thirty days has been suspended without pay INDEFINITELY by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell:

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/9702006/Goodell-sending-strong-message-on-Stallworth

Double jeopardy? I think not. A fair consequence? Without a doubt.

jim d

June 19th, 2009
10:01 pm

what,

WHAT? you gotta be kiddin—Stallworth isn’t required by law to play ball and the NFL is NOT a branch of government.

what??

June 19th, 2009
10:37 pm

Nor are students required to participate in EXTRAcurricular activities – and that’s my point – it’s a PRIVILEGE (like playing in the NFL), not a right, and a privilege can be taken away for failing to uphold one’s end of the bargain. We forget, when wecall them “government schools” that WE are the government – they are community schools, and a community can determine appropriate accepted behavior – as long as it falls within the framework of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Unless I’m wrong, there is no amendment guaranteeing someone a spot on the local varsity team.