Letter to the Editor: Food fight not handled correctly

To the Editor:
Jun 3, 2014

To the Editor:

I just wanted to take a moment to shed some light on additional information about this story that seems to be getting overlooked. The administration was aware of this situation and sent a vague warning to dissuade students from getting out of hand rather than using the power they knew would be effective to prevent this from happening on the front end. 

I am parent of one of the boys being charged and went to the school Friday to speak with the assistant principals and head principal. I have two other children have graduated from Wilson Central High School in 2009 and 2011. In past cases of senior pranks, the threat of not participating in graduation was proven effective as a preventative for senior pranks. When I questioned the administration as to why this was not used, I was told that they gave a warning, and there would be consequences. 

I asked why they did not lock down the lunchroom. I was told this was not a possibility for safety reasons, when just two years ago this was done to keep students from leaving the cafeteria to participate in a senior prank, which was a pep rally on the football field.

Upon a little further investigation of my own, I found out the cafeteria was at full capacity with students peeking in from the hallway, which is not normally the case and out of control prior to this food fight even beginning. Students were banging on the tables and chanting very loudly.

The cafeteria was prime for things to get out of hand, which it did get out of control and quickly. I would think that considering everything the administration was aware of, this would have been the best time to clear the cafeteria as a preventative measure.

I also suggested they get on social media to see exactly who was involved, because I had seen videos of one of the school’s prime basketball players make a video saying get ready for the food fight, flip a table and start throwing food. I later heard students were told by some of the administration to erase videos from their phones. So you tell me if this sounds like they wanted to get to the heart of the matter or to simply target a select group of senior students. I believe it is questionable they took every precaution to keep control of the students.

Furthermore, when my son said he would rally students and clean the mess because he did not feel it was the responsibility of anyone else to clean the mess, he was denied the opportunity. Does this sound like an administration that is about allowing students to take ownership of their actions? It is evident this is not a lesson that seems to be of any value to the principal, because her response when I asked the question was that she did not know why; it was so hectic at the time. 

Instead, she sent the students and teachers to clean up. This sent the message those involved never wanted to take accountability. My question is, where is her accountability? When she knew what would prevent this from happening in the first place, she chose not to prevent it. 

To make matters worse, she began to tell me what would be a acceptable senior prank. If you don’t want senior pranks, don’t tell me what is acceptable as a senior prank. If the law is zero tolerance, that means no exceptions. That means do a thorough investigation to get to the bottom and not target specific students, while protecting others. 

If the director of schools could check social media, then why did the principal not do the same. I believe it was because she was not really interested or she would find that there were some of her favorites involved.

I am not saying that these boys – yes I say boys, because your age does not make you an adult, your actions do – are responsible for their actions.

However, there were clearly more than a total of 15 students that are being charged. They are completely responsible, and they accept complete ownership, but this is simply someone choosing to abuse their power. 

The principal at Seigel High School had enough sense to choose a penalty to fit the crime. The principal in this situation should have followed his lead. 

If you know what to do and choose not to do it and stand by and watch it unfold, you are just as accountable. Your position and title should not change that. 

These are just some things that need to be heard and taken into consideration.

Johnna Romkee

Lebanon

Comments

jtribb

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, your age does make you an adult.

Is deleting video evidence of a criminal act a criminal act in itself?

If underclassmen were involved, will they not be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies when their class graduates?

Johnnalee

I get the law, studies prove that at the age of 18 your brain is not fully developed. It is just evident that other school administrators handling senior pranks, handled things in a more sensible manner.
I would think that deleting criminal evidence is a criminal act. Unfortunately, I am sure that it happens in many cases. I am sure that students will not come forward now,to acknowledge this was the case out of fear of consequences, and parents not wanting their kids involved. I understand that some people don't want to be involved, even though I don't agree.
Underclassmen will not receive the punishment of not walking at their graduation because they are not seniors now, that was the response I received. The consequences should be consistent if you want to send a strong message.

jtribb

Punishment should be the same whether they are Seniors or Freshmen. Kids (and parents) need to learn there are consequences for your actions.
I do not agree with the punishment that was handed out. Cleaning around the campus or washing buses and cummunity service would probably have been more appropriate.
If teachers or administrators told students to delete video, they should be reprimanded.

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