Out of all the articles I’ve written on this blog in three and a half years, none were more intense than the story about a student named J in the Smyrna School District. It took a considerable amount of time to write the ten part series about what happened to J in the district. But I wouldn’t trade that time away for a minute. While the story wound up having a happy ending, it caused a lot of folks in Delaware to take a very close look at student discipline, zero tolerance, and expulsions.
The Smyrna School district has been tough with discipline. In my opinion, they have used the heavy hand more often than not. Case in point: the State Board of Education has two more Smyrna appeals coming up. In looking at their history of appeals the past few years, Smyrna comes up A LOT! For J, he is doing well at Smyrna High School and is happy to be back in the district.
To read all about what happened with J in case you were living under a rock last summer, here it is:
The Smyrna School District Board of Education is meeting tonight for what they are calling a “reorganization meeting”. Meanwhile, Superintendent Patrik Williams has flat-out responded to my two requests for the email addresses of the Smyrna board. I actually called most of the members earlier today, but none of them picked up. I did not leave messages.
What kind of school board, in this day and age, does not provide email addresses? Seriously? Patrik Williams seems to think he doesn’t have to provide those even though he is the secretary for their board. What is the point of having just phone numbers if no one picks up? Most Delaware school boards and even charter boards provide email addresses for their board members on their website. I know he saw my request for this because he responded to me on another matter.
At the board meeting tonight, I expect a decent crowd. The board may discuss discipline issues including votes on current issues, former students, and potential litigation according to their agenda. They do have other items on their agenda. Most school boards go into public session at the start of their meeting and then adjourn to go into Executive Session. Then they return and go through the public agenda. Time is allotted for public comment this evening. Bring tootsie rolls if you wish. The meeting will begin at 6pm at the district office in Smyrna at 82 Monrovia St.
J’s mother will be there along with others who are not happy with his situation and how the district handled it. I will be there. You should too.
We reach the end of our series. A new player joins the wide cast of characters with a very important role. And what is J’s final fate?
In the last chapter, J was getting pummeled by various state agencies: The Smyrna School District, The State Board of Education, The Delaware Department of Education, and The Delaware Department of Justice. For allegedly calling a girl a terrorist ten months earlier. He was up on truancy charges. The Delaware DOE rescinded the home school certificate four days after they approved one for her. Is this kid ever going to get a break? Continue reading →
The story of J and his battle with the Smyrna School District continued. After J was expelled, his mom filed an appeal with the State Board of Education. She also had J’s criminal trial to contend with as well. The trial was set for November 14th. Continue reading →
J was officially expelled from the Smyrna School District on September 21st, 2016. But his mother was not giving up without a fight. She told the administration this very thing at the discipline hearing two weeks before this. So it wasn’t a shock when his mother filed an appeal with the State Board of Education. Something happened soon after that raised serious questions as to the true intent of J’s expulsion. Continue reading →
The September 7th Discipline Hearing for Student J at Smyrna Middle School had two very big witnesses about to testify. After Smyrna Middle School Associate Principal John Camponelli and Principal Steve Gott gave their testimony, it was time for the Smyrna School District Assistant Superintendent Patrik Williams to testify in the discipline hearing against student J. J’s entire future depended on what happened next. Continue reading →
In Part 3, we heard the testimony of the alleged victim, P, and the School Resource Officer. Now let’s dive right into the testimony of the administrators. First up, Smyrna Middle School Associate Principal John Camponelli: Continue reading →
J was arrested for the 2nd incident in the hallway of Smyrna Middle School. A discipline hearing was scheduled for September 7th, 2016. J did not start school with his peers because he was still “suspended” and was awaiting potential expulsion pending the results of the discipline hearing. After the meeting was rescheduled three times, the day of the discipline hearing came, almost four and half months after J was arrested for the 2nd incident with P.
Five and a half months went by after the incident in the home economics room. J took the Smarter Balanced Assessment along with the rest of his 7th grade peers at Smyrna Middle School. On April 20th, J and his friends were walking down the hall on their way to the school bus. Something happened that would alter the course of J’s future… Continue reading →