Speak out!

November 30, 2005

THE ISSUE: -- The Anne Arundel County school system released a report last week that showed a 13 percent reduction in the number of students expelled between the 2003-04 school year and last year. But a poll of county seventh- and 11th-graders last year showed that fewer felt safe in their classrooms. What can the school system do to make students feel safe?

Bad administrators should be fired

The drop in expulsions, and subsequent rise in violence, is neither surprising nor unpredictable. If we were truly concerned about the safety of our students, and I put the emphasis on the word "if," then administrators who have shown an inability or disinterest in protecting our students would be terminated. Not only is that not happening, but they seem to be a majority in the ranks of our county school administration, forcing an ever-increasing number of parents to opt for private schooling instead. Firing the bad administrators and expelling the thugs who commit violence in the hallways is a relatively easy course of action to follow, but one that inexplicably our county powers have found difficult to enact. As more good parents opt for private schools, it seems that the administrators are ever more willing to lower their standards for the remaining students and parents. Interestingly, the Meade High School Web site indicates that the philosophy of the principal is that "if all students respect each other, are honest, responsible, and show concern for others, school will be a better and safer environment which will promote higher student academic achievement and active participation in all school programs." Great philosophy. And one that neither [Meade High School Principal Joan A.] Valentine nor the Anne Arundel County school board seems to actually believe.

Michael P. DeCicco Severn

The writer is referring to an incident this year involving Meade High School Principal Joan A. Valentine, who was criticized by a Circuit Court master and Anne Arundel County prosecutors for not identifying two witnesses in an alleged assault until ordered to do so. The charges arose from the alleged beating last January of a white student by black students at Meade. The case against the one student charged was later dismissed.

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