Stupid Public School Officials

Kevin Francois got a call from his mother during his lunch break at school. A teacher saw Francois on the phone and demanded he hang up on his mother. Francois refused, and the teacher tried to take the phone (resulting in the phone disconnecting). Ultimatley Francois was suspended. Here is the punchline: Francois’ mother was calling from Iraq. Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, Kevin Francois mother, has been in Iraq since January. Francois even told the teacher it was his mother from Iraq. The end result is that Francois has been suspended for 10 days.

Granted Francois probably wasn’t behaving at his best (he reportedly used profanity when brought into the office), but sheesh is this stupid or what? Why couldn’t the teacher have waited until Francois was done talking to his mother, she is in Iraq afterall, then tell him the policy and take him to the office to work out some sort of arrangement where Francois could take calls from his mother. No profanity, polite, and problem solved in an adult manner. Instead some idiot teacher had to over-react. The teacher is the adult and based on the facts so far sounds like he behaved in a childish manner. I’d say, at the very least suspend the teacher for 10 days too. Of course, that won’t happen.

Update: Michelle Malkin seems to have come to a similar conclusion.

Smoother “conversating” between the student and administration might have led to a better resolution.

FILED UNDER: Education
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. M. Murcek says:

    Common sense is actually not PC in the public school environment. One imagines that half or more of all “in-service” days are spent thinking up absurd ways to interpret and enforce all the idiotic minutiae of school rules.

    And people wonder why so little learning is getting done…




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  2. Bob says:

    Hopefully a local attorney will see this and volunteer to represent him. 99% chance that a local judge will reverse it.

    Isn’t it nice that they looked out for the kid since his Mom was in Iraq and his father dead. I wonder how they treat kids in regular situations. Execution?




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  3. Anderson says:

    The family home and the classroom are two refuges of petty tyranny, where jerks can be jerks to their powerless charges with no peers to witness.

    This attitude becomes habitual & then displays itself outside the classroom as well.

    I bet a large contingent of angry parents would do wonders to get that teacher’s contract non-renewed.




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  4. I think the real problem is that children in general are viewed as second class citizens by the school systems. Now don’t get me wrong here – children are children, not adults. But they still deserve the same kind of respect as adults, and deserve to be treated as people with fundamental rights.

    When you take that away from them and treat them as subjects rather than citizens (which is more or less the school system’s view), of course they rebel against it.

    Wouldn’t you?

    This is a wonderful case in point. If the teacher had treated the child with respect and asked what the phone call was for, and then found out why, there would never have been a problem. Instead, it was assumed that the phone call was a problem for no other reason than that it was a child on the phone.




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  5. bryan says:

    I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here and say that you’re not telling the entire story. Indeed, perhaps you should have read the whole story you linked to.

    “I even asked Kevin, ‘You know we can try to work something out to where if your mother wants to call you she can call you at the school,'” Parham said. “So we’ve tried to work with Kevin and we’re going to continue to try to work with Kevin and his mother and his relatives. In the course of good order and discipline, we have to abide by our policy.”

    Francois admitted he was partially at fault for his behavior but said he should have been allowed to talk to his mother.

    “I was mad at the time, but I feel now maybe I should’ve went about it differently,” he said. “Maybe I should’ve just waited outside to pick up the phone. But I don’t I feel I should’ve changed any of my actions. I feel I was right by not hanging up the phone.”

    Your post insinuates that the sole reason for his suspension was taking the phone call, when the matter was more complicated than that.

    It’s overreactions like these that you chide creationists on all the time.




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  6. Nick says:

    I have a son in the Army serving in Iraq. His patrols have been attacked by roadside bombs since he got there. Every call I can get through to my son is confirmation that he is ALIVE at that moment. Every word my son utters to me over my cell phone is precious. How much stronger the feelings must be for a son with a Mom stationed in Iraq. It is astounding to me that a high school assistant principal can’t see how important such a phone call can be. Maybe the student was wrong to use profanity; but some simple counselling to watch his language was in order. Not a ten day suspension.




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  7. katie says:

    children are children?
    im 17 and i consider myself far from being a child
    ..your right he did react inapproriately but anyone in his situation would have..the situation could easily have been prevented if his teacher wasnt so ignorant..
    what do you think will happen now?




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  8. kappiy says:

    It is clear that the teacher was enforcing a very legitimate rule: no cell phone use during school hours.

    Anyone who has worked in an educational environment will tell you that consistency is key for maintaining discipline. The student admittedly acted disrespectfully.

    In this case the parent or guardian should have worked out some arrangement with the school to allow the kid to talk to his mother.




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  9. kappiy says:

    Steve,

    Where is the evidence that the teacher “escalated the confrontation”?

    According to the article: “Francois said the teacher tried to take the phone, causing it to hang up.

    The student said he then went with the teacher to the school’s office where he surrendered his phone.”

    Assuming that the kid’s story is true–what does it mean to “try to take the phone”? Asking the kid to give it to him? Physically taking? We have no idea. The teacher was enforcing legitmate (and, I would argue, essential) rules.

    The kid admits acting disrespectfully and does not deny the use of profanity. The teacher and the administrator both indicated that they were trying to deal rationally with the kid.

    High Schools–like the military–need to have order and discipline, otherwise the place will be a madhouse.

    Point of comparison: what if the mother’s commander had ordered her to get of the phone and she refused? Would we expect her to be reprimanded by her superior??




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  10. Jackie says:

    The whole world seems to be going nuts. Are we all so bogged down with rules and laws and protocol that we have lost our souls. Where is the grace and the love? The child’s mother was in Iraq. The teacher made him hang up on her?? Come on! What a violation of his very heart and soul!




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  11. Meezer says:

    My rural school has an absolutely-no-phone rule and I can tell you that every teacher and every student would have moved heaven and earth to let the kid talk to his mother *any* time she could get through. The woman is in Iraq-she may have to call when she can, not on a prearranged schedule, signed in triplicate and notorized.
    This would, strangely, not have resulted in chaos or the Apocolypse.




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  12. Traver says:

    Can’t even respond short of exploding. I absolutly agree with “order” but order is not hard and fast. Always remember the execption. Wheather you like it or not, there will always be one. Under the specific circumstances, the young man had every right to be on the phone at that particular moment. Bottom line, the school district was in the wrong with this one. Thanks Again. I vote for a civil suit & and review of the school board NOT by the school board and its policies. In the end it will come down to polotic’s, not what is right and or wrong.

    Yet another piece of the puzzle as to how or why the school system(S) are going all to hell. Screw policy, try honesty, integrity, grace and so on. Essentially, 1954 marked the beginning of the end of public school as we one knew it.

    See Ya’




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  13. kappiy says:

    Let me be clear–I am not saying that the kid should not be allowed to talk to his mother at school. We have to be cognizant of the scenario.

    I would posit that it went something like this:
    A teacher sees a kid talking on a cell phone. He tells him to stop. The kid doesn’t stop. At some point he leaves the building.

    Remember, this kid ain’t president of the chess club–he’s getting Fs and Cs. Do we know his patterns of past behavior? Do the teachers know that the kid’s mother is in Iraq?

    I’ve volunteered at public schools for a number of years and I can tell you that it is pretty much a daily occurance that kids lie when they get into trouble. Do we know anything about this particular school? Is there drug and gang activity?

    All of this contextual information is required before you can blame the teacher for not doing his job properly.




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  14. hedpig says:

    teacher should have asked who he was speaking to and respected the boys privacy…you CAN NOT make gen’t assumptions because ‘most’ kids YOU know lie…this was all handled wrong and i for one do NOT blame the kid for cussing and getting mad…it very well could have BEEN the very laST time he spoke to his mother…. have you thought of that?….people have no courtesy anymore…everyone is so quick to excpect the very worse…and where did the article say he was getting F’s??? geesh people… there IS a chance he may NEVER see his mother again and you argue about a few minutes on a phone? teacher could have taken the phone to verify it was his mom calling… geesh… what a stupid thing to have happen..i hope that entire school gets hammered and NOT in a good way !




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  15. Mike Smith says:

    I am horrified!

    Are we saying that school employee’s have a higher authority than this boy’s mother? Do we allow faculty to deny a student’s communication with a parent?

    I have been under the impression that employees of a school district work for the people of the community. Is this not true for Columbus? The last I checked, Columbus, GA was in the United States of America, not Cuba. That boy is not school property. Any authority that has been granted that teacher by the parents of that community is subordinate to the authority of the parents. It appears that Spencer High School has forgotten this.

    I believe the boy’s use of profanity was justified. I believe whatever “defiant and disorderly” reaction this boy had would be warranted, considering that school employees were attempting to deny him communication with his parent. These actions are unconscionable.

    Let me be clear: I do not believe it is important that the boy’s mother is serving in the military. What is important here, is that school employees have punished a boy for standing up for his right to communicate with a parent. These events mandate retribution.

    It is the school administration that requires the suspension. I truly hope the good people Columbus seek to terminate the employment of these poeple and ban them from public service for life.

    Irvine, CA




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  16. Justin Kani says:

    The reason why this can be considered news is because his mother in in Iraq. If it is important for him to get a phone call from his mother it should have been worked out before hand. That would have been the adult way of handling it.




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  17. kappiy says:

    Hedpig-

    I have never contended that the kid should not talk to his mother. I am trying to give you the perspective of a teacher who–by the account presented here–was merely doing his job. Had the kid responded by saying calmly, “Mr. So and So, i am speaking with my mother right now, she is in iraq. Iknow that this is a violation of the school’s rules, but I dont get a chance to talk with her very much…” that would be great.

    From the information provided, he just blew up. What do you expect the teacher to do?

    Also, with regard to the Fs–it is at the end of the story: “My grades were coming back up. On one of my report cards I had like a ‘F’ in one of my classes,”

    For my friend from Irvine, I am trying to portray the teachers perspective. He has no idea who is on the phone. The school board has a policy in place banning such behavior. If you see a student breaking a rule, your first reaction must be skepticism. Why would you believe a rule breaker? When the kid goes ballistic, it doesn’t help diffuse the situation.




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  18. Soldier's Dad says:

    kappiy,

    Anyone who has received a phone call from Iraq knows one thing – It can’t be worked out in advance. Whenever someone gets hurt, phone service is cut off. Missions are scheduled at all sorts of all hours.

    When your loved one finally gets thru, you frequently get cut off in mid sentence. Sometimes the connection is good for 2 minutes, sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 15 minutes.

    There is no time to call the school office, hope that the secretary isn’t on “break”, have the school figure out what room the kid is in, send a runner etc. etc.

    As far as a child with mommy in a war zone getting good grades….how often does the kid have to endure “TF Bagdhad soldier killed”, name withheld pending notification of next of kin.(17 is old enough to understand the morning news)

    Ft Benning…3rd ID…let’s see…They got folks in Tikrit…a female soldier was killed there in on the 15th of April, or maybe his mom is in Bagdhad, a female soldier was killed their on the 18th of April. I wonder if the kids “attitude” problem is related to that.




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  19. mattumanu says:

    [quote]
    I’ve volunteered at public schools for a number of years and I can tell you that it is pretty much a daily occurance that kids lie when they get into trouble. Do we know anything about this particular school? Is there drug and gang activity?

    [/quote]

    Ad hoc, ergo proptor hoc…

    1. Kids lie to get out of trouble.
    2. This kid was in trouble.
    3. Therefore, he must be lying.

    [quote]
    All of this contextual information is required before you can blame the teacher for not doing his job properly. [/quote]

    Such information could have been gathered in less the 15 seconds by asking a couple of qualifying questions before taking action.




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  20. lt bell says:

    all this stupidty begin when the religious right
    started taking over the school boards a few years ago. American Christions are the AntiChrist.




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  21. TCO says:

    Big deal, his mom is deployed. Stop babying the tyke. I’ve been deployed and didn’t pull shit like that and would laugh at a family member who did.




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  22. craziness says:

    This is craziness. THe poor kid has to listen to the news every day and hear of roadside bombs and citizens arrested and tortured, the least we could do is allow him to use the phone. especially considering how dificult it must be for mother-son to coordinate time to talk with the time difference and the military limitation on the use of phones.

    I think we should send an e-mail to the principal and voice our concerns. Her e-mail is located at the school’s website:

    http://www.mcsdga.net/schools/high/spencer.html




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  23. bryan says:

    Gad, you people are way overreacting on this matter. I’m almost beginning to question my conservative credentials, because this sounds exactly like the sort of lunacy Bill O’Reilly tries to peddle all the time and people were upset about the Schiavo protestors who were overreacting.

    Let’s be brutally honest here, this is not some “child.” It’s a 17-year-old young adult. You don’t know the situation of the school he’s in, you don’t know his background, you don’t know his previous or current activity toward teachers. In short, you (and I for that matter) don’t know nearly enough details to lash out at the school district based upon the media story.

    Funny how people who will upbraid the media all the time about reporting lapses are so quick to latch onto a story when it fits into their particular lenses – especially if it’s a two-fer (anti-military persecution AND public school shenanigans! Oh Boy!)




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  24. Denise says:

    There was a link to the schools website from the article I read – I wrote the superintendent and copied the idiot assistant principal. The kids mother is in IRAQ. He should be allowed to speak with her at anytime – the teacher did overreact. I don’t know if he has past disciplinary problems, but perhaps his grades have suffered due to the deployment. It doesn’t matter to me – the school was in the wrong, and I hope that those involved get fired.




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  25. Steve Oren says:

    I love how the school administrators try to divert full blame for the incident to the student by continuously stating “he used profanity”.

    How absurd, and how unfortunately typical of today’s public schools. I would like to see the idiot teacher take 10 days off to learn how to think and behave like an adult.




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  26. Steve says:

    Where is the evidence that the teacher “escalated the confrontation”?

    Trying to take the phone away is escalating the situation. Unless there is some really weird situation here I can’t see how it can be anything other than taking an already delicate situation and increasing the tension. It was a dumb move.

    Assuming that the kid’s story is true—what does it mean to “try to take the phone”? Asking the kid to give it to him? Physically taking? We have no idea. The teacher was enforcing legitmate (and, I would argue, essential) rules.

    Well if the story is true, I think we can rule out “asking for the phone” since asking for a phone rarely causes phones to hang up.

    The kid admits acting disrespectfully and does not deny the use of profanity. The teacher and the administrator both indicated that they were trying to deal rationally with the kid.

    Only after agitating the kid. That’s real bright. Let me see, I’ll piss somebody off over a potentially highly emotional issue, then complain when the person I’ve pissed off isn’t open to reason at that point.

    I still think this problem could have been avoided. That it wasn’t reflects poorly on the school and its administration. Was Kevin Francois out of line to use profanity and become disrupive? Sure, but then again so was the school for failing to do their job.

    Let’s be brutally honest here, this is not some “child.” It’s a 17-year-old young adult.

    Oh you are sooooooo right. After all, 17 year olds are such logic machines and so mature.

    You don’t know the situation of the school he’s in, you don’t know his background, you don’t know his previous or current activity toward teachers.

    Right, lets punish him for his past behavior!

    Funny how people who will upbraid the media all the time about reporting lapses are so quick to latch onto a story when it fits into their particular lenses – especially if it’s a two-fer (anti-military persecution AND public school shenanigans! Oh Boy!)

    You are so right! The teacher was right, the administrators were right. Hell, they should have called the cops on the kid and had him arrested.

    I’m almost beginning to question my conservative credentials, because this sounds exactly like the sort of lunacy Bill O’Reilly tries to peddle all the time and people were upset about the Schiavo protestors who were overreacting.

    That’s okay, I’m well past the begining stage.

    For my friend from Irvine, I am trying to portray the teachers perspective. He has no idea who is on the phone.

    Well the supposedly the teacher was informed. Perhaps the teacher is like you kappiy and assumes students always lie. Of course that is a great way to build respect with students: assume students always lie.

    The school board has a policy in place banning such behavior. If you see a student breaking a rule, your first reaction must be skepticism.

    And therein lies the problem. What if in a classroom there was an emergency and the kid was calling 911. Suspend him? What if it was an emergency from home? We can play what if games all day here. The point is a simple rule with draconian enforcement can lead to bad outcomes in some instances.

    Why would you believe a rule breaker? When the kid goes ballistic, it doesn’t help diffuse the situation.

    And after being told that “it’s my mom and she’s in Iraq; I’m not hanging up,” demanding the phone and trying to take it certainly wont help either will it?

    I agree the kid handled the situation badly once it got the office, but the teacher and administration don’t come out looking much better. Futher, I expect a 17 yo to act stupid. I expect adults who are probably 2x the kids age to not act stupid.




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  27. Paul says:

    The “kid” is 17, not 5. At 18, he could go visit Iraq on his own “deployment”. It would seem, unless he is slow, he had better learn to follow the same rules in the very near future, that he’ll be facing in a combat zone, presuming he is even willing to serve.




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  28. Paul says:

    Silly question for Steve: When a punishment is ever issued, at what point does it NOT happen for behavior that occurred in the past? Minority Report was “just a movie.”




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  29. Jim Peavey says:

    What is “conversating”? Is this a Georgia term, or part of some new English? I can not find it in the dictionary. Is not the word “conversing” the proper term, especially for a school teacher?




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  30. Angela says:

    It seems to me that the teacher handled the situation poorly, and, the school continues to do so as well. Once they became aware that the boy had been talking to his mother in Iraq, they should have over looked his bad behavior and offered him counseling instead of suspension. In all likely hood, the boy is experiencing the terrible stress and worry that natuarlly occurs when one’s parent is deployed. A unique situation like this demands understanding and a little rule breaking. The school is only proving that they have no heart when the boy clearly needs their help and understanding the most.




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  31. katie says:

    you keep saying hes 17, “hes only a child” he “doesn’t have proper logic” blah blah blah, that’s bullshit, if any of you were at work and received a call from a loved one in iraq, and your boss racted in manner this boys teacher had…. youd all get pissed as well, high schools retarded policy on swearing is a joke, the fact that he swore should have nothing to do with the situation.. and if its “really that bad” shouldnt this school expel all students who swear?

    this whole event baffles me, his mothers a hero for fighting in this war and shes not even allowed to talk to her son.




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