To the Editor:
I just read an article by Michael Lee Pope ["Politics of Notification: Father takes his plight for increased parental notification to Richmond," Connection, Jan. 26-Feb. 1] It is simply wrong! The schools have too much power, and in the case of the schools, it seems all too true that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." In the name of "protecting the students" and "being able to do our job," the schools simply have accrued far too much power without any checks and balances, and it is time for change.
Really, would the actions and power of the schools be tolerated or allowed in any other venue? The failure of the school to notify a parent when questioning a student places both the student and the parent at a distinct disadvantage. The schools use "administrative law" to deny any pretense of due process or respecting civil rights of the student or parent. The schools’ usual approach seems to be "Guilty," with no pretense of even "until proven innocent." It is utterly appalling that the schools ride roughshod over the civil rights of students and parents and force decisions upon the parent and child that wind up costing the family thousands of dollars and untold emotional stress. Who knows what the real cost is – the article merely describes the tip of the iceberg.
What happened to the man and his family in the article, could happen to anyone at any time. This condition must be corrected. The schools should never be allowed to question a student without a parent present. The schools should never be allowed to force a student to sign anything without a parent present. When the schools do this, they then just decide that expulsion is the only option and that is forced upon the parent with no recourse or even hint of due process, even though there may be a "pro-forma" hearing to "white wash" the whole process. The effect is that of a $12,000 fine upon the parent, because the parent must now find a private school that will take the student. This usually causes a great financial hardship on the family, since this is money they could not afford to spend.
It doesn’t really matter what the FCPS, VEA, and VASSP have to say. They are part of the problem and want to continue to be able to hide their abuse of power from "us citizens." In reality, they should recuse themselves from the debate.