Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hope High Protesters' Punishment

Linda Borg for the ProJo:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The 207 Hope High School students who walked out of class Thursday will receive a two-hour detention on Friday, during which administrators and teachers will present students with information on the six-period day and the graduation requirements.

Students will also not be able to participate in the high school's annual field day on June 16. Instead they will be required to perform a "school-based" community service during the time the field day is held.

The Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union called the punishment of Hope high School student protesters "extremely harsh under the circumstances."

"We're quite troubled by the actions that the high school has taken," said Steve Brown, executive director of the RI ACLU. "First, these mass letters of punishment offer no formal opportunity for students to respond and both school policy and the U.S. Constitution require that there be an opportunity to respond to these allegations."

Brown also said that a parent of a Hope student has asked the ACLU to contest the punishment, which his agency is looking into.

I'm not sure if I'd call it "extremely harsh." If the district is unlucky it might be just harsh enough to keep the kids agitated (through June 16!) but not harsh enough to intimidate them. Also, this part (from the letter sent home) might not be a good idea with such a well-organized and informed group of students:

...during (the detention) administrators and faculty will present the students with additional information and explanation regarding graduation requirements and the transition to a six-period schedule.

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