School authorities not upholding Code of Conduct'

Published 11:38 am Wednesday, November 29, 2000

By Staff
To the editor:
It was with agony that I arrived at the decision a few weeks ago to withdraw my daughter from Escambia County High School, that is, with bitter agony plus expense. I did not make the move until I had spoken personally to the high school principal, the superintendent and two board members.
Led by her four older siblings who graduated with honors from ECHS in 1995, 1997 and 1999, my daughter had invested all her efforts toward high achievement at ECHS. But facing the deleterious school environment on a daily basis became too high a price to pay to follow a family tradition. The decision to withdraw during her junior year was traumatic.
I only regret that I did not make the move earlier. I am most happy to have found that, outside the dysfunctional ECHS, there are schools functioning as designed with faculty and student body empowered to achieve.
The mass exodus from ECHS is due to school authorities' failure to keep their part of an agreement with parents and students. Every year, student and parent must sign the "Code of Conduct" which lists acceptable behavior and consequences for misbehavior, for infractions ranging from talking out of turn to assault and battery. We law-abiding parents and students have abided by our part, with the expectation that the authorities would enforce the code.
If the code were enforced, offending students would be removed promptly and the educational environment would remain intact. As it is, teachers stand at their classroom doorway at recess and wonder what will happen next. Classes are interrupted as teachers run to the aid of others. Teachers send the offenders to the school office, only to have the offender returned with a note, "You take care of this in the classroom." The school authorities have the power to remove, suspend, expel offenders in a timely manner. They have repeatedly, year after year, failed to exercise their authority, and now they are perceived by the offenders as being powerless.
When I hang my child's graduation picture on the living room wall, her cap and gown will not match the blue of her sisters' and brothers'. From now on, the sight of a dark blue polo shirt or jacket will be a sign that a child's parent was not able or not willing to somehow get the child out of a bad situation.
The information reported to the media regarding numbers of students who have left ECHS is distorted. We parents know this for a fact. I wonder what would be the true number of teachers who have left ECHS.
How have their careers been impacted financially? How has the quality of education at ECHS declined? It is time to hold someone accountable. I think it is time for the school authorities at the state and local level to pay for their choices.
Letitia Digmon

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