Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

January 04, 2004

Heartfelt thanks to retiring principal

As parents of a junior at Centennial High School, we wanted to express our enthusiastic and heartfelt appreciation to Mrs. Lynda Mitic on the occasion of her retirement. Lynda Mitic has done an extraordinary job in her career at Centennial, most recently as the principal, and previously as an English teacher -- committing 21 years of dedicated service to our children.

Lynda Mitic has guided the Centennial High School community with confidence and compassion. Her thoughtful leadership and unwavering integrity make Mrs. Mitic a terrific role model for the children, and for us as parents.

Mrs. Mitic has been an enthusiastic proponent of our children's educational, personal and social development. As parents, we have long admired her acts of selfless dedication for the children. It seemed as if she personally attended every one of the students' extracurricular activities.

The excellence that Mrs. Mitic inspires at Centennial is reflected in the scholastic performance of the student body, which is second to none. She and the top-notch staff at Centennial have developed a fantastic environment for learning by focusing on the needs of the children while consistently applying high standards of achievement and behavior. Not a politician, Mrs. Mitic is a proponent of the children and their quality education, treating each of them fairly and equally.

We are very pleased that Mrs. Jennifer Peduzzi will be serving as the acting principal. We are a big fan of Mrs. Peduzzi, and know that she will do a great job in this, her "swan song" at Centennial.

Looking toward the future, we hope that Dr. O'Rourke and the search committee can find a successor who will maintain the high standards of personal integrity and scholastic excellence that Lynda Mitic has set.

Mrs. Mitic, thank you. You have much to be proud of, and you will be dearly missed.

Carolyn and Mark Leuba Ellicott City

School mistreats Muslim student

Recently when I read in the newspapers that a 16-year-old student, who is an Asian-American and a Muslim, was arrested in his class in a Howard County public high school, at the behest of the school's assistant principal, it made me sad.

Apparently this student's infraction was that when his teacher asked him to relocate to a seat different from where he was sitting with his friends, he declined to do so. When the school's assistant principal asked him to come to his office, he declined but shortly thereafter relocated to the new seat in the class per his teacher's instruction. The student neither indulged in objectionable behavior nor used bad language. But the assistant principal called a policeman who manhandled the student, arrested him and dragged him in handcuffs to the police precinct.

The question for all of us is whether school authorities should get students arrested on such minor infractions? Does the school management not have any other alternatives available to discipline such students? Why is it that while school system officials do not subject majority community students to such abusive behavior, they often do not hesitate in subjecting the students of minority communities to it?

The sad fact is that in this case the spokesperson of the Howard County Public School System is continuing to publicly justify the obviously biased and abusive actions of the school's assistant principal, and is instead blaming the student by misconstruing the facts.

I recall that not too long ago, when my son and other Asian students faced verbal and physical violence from some majority community students in a Howard County School System high school, despite many complaints to the school principal, no action was taken to stop the abuse.

Many people may not believe that the public school system of a supposedly progressive and affluent county like Howard County is behaving in such a biased manner toward the minorities. But the above incident demonstrates that bias and discrimination against the ethnic and religious minorities is alive and well in Maryland's school systems.

Kaleem Kawaja

Ellicott City

The writer is an executive member of the Maryland Muslim Council.

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