Child abuse concerns, confidentiality, search and seizure, parental custody, and First Amendment interpretation are some of the main legal and ethical issues facing our school according to my principal and assistant principal.
My principal’s previous experiences were as a business owner, college leader, school counselor and church member. He has over thirty years of experience. He highlighted issues of parental custody and student discipline as those that affect our school the most. Reflecting on a recent custody case in which I was called to testify, my principal said, “ it seems the parents often expect the school to take sides.” He explained that both the custodial and non custodial parents have rights. As for student discipline, my principal’s views were in line with what I have learned in class regarding the reasonable suspicion standard. He stated that the police must meet a higher burden of proof than school officials before searching lockers, purses, backpacks, and persons.
Student discipline can be defined as following a set of methods or rules of conduct. Still he felt that common sense must be used when following a zero tolerance policy. He said, “zero tolerance does not work for a little first grade student whose mother packed a paring knife to cut an orange or the boy scout who left his whittling knife in his coat pocket after a camping trip. School administrators must determine intent and circumstance and act accordingly.”
Common sense must also be used in identifying potential child abuse cases. My principal felt schools have a duty to protect children from abuse, but that doesn’t necessarily include “bad parenting”. If all their basic needs are met, then coming to school in dirty clothes doesn’t necessarily mean they are abused.
My assistant principal has been a school leader for two years. She had previous experience as a volleyball coach and mentor to prepare her for her current role. Some issues she cited as relevant to our...