The paper critically analyzed Case A.1 on page 153-154 of the Wagner, P and Simpson, D (2009) textbook titled ‘Ethical Decision Making in School Administration’ a SAGE publication. It is important to note that it is human actions that have made the world be or not what is it today. People have to be managed in an ethical manner for successful running of events, despite this aim; all human actions do have implications be they positive or negative. What is therefore vital before any action is taken is to evaluate or have in mind the possible outcomes of any human action especially to fellow human, in addition, the question of the action being ethical, fair and just should prevail.
In the case, four students (Alain, Brad, Amie and Carl) all in grade twelve in Cedar Hill Christian Secondary School were suspended for five weeks after being found guilty of using marijuana and three of them confessed to experimenting on ecstasy, drugs prohibited by the school rules and regulation ‘student handbook’. This called for either dismissal or permanent expulsion be they student or staff members according to the ‘school regulations’.
Three main questions have been addressed in this work, they are; what are the consequences of the action on suspending the students for five weeks, If a stricter punishment that prevented high school graduation for these students had been implemented, what would have been the long-term consequences to the students from this action? and whether I believe the action taken was ethical, fair and incase there was a balance between justice and mercy for the suspended students.
Consequently, it is always those in leadership positions that either take action or delegate such responsibility of taking action to those deemed responsible to do that. Three main questions in mind of leaders are what should they do, how do they know if they have made the correct choice and is the action the right thing to do? All these question try to bring about the concept of fairness, justice, principle, mercy and moral in decision making process. It has been noted that doing all these things in unison will ensure that both involved parties are left satisfied and convinced. If not then, there are bound to be more problems (Wagner & Simpson, 2009).
The consequences of suspending the four students for five weeks
The action of suspending the four students on the basis that they admitted regularly smoking marijuana and some experimenting on ecstasy will have both positive and negative implication. In this case, the discussion will be on the cost or consequences of the action taken by the executive board.
The first consequence is that, the students will be adversely affected in terms of academic achievement. Considering the fact that they are in their final year in high school, the five weeks they will be out of school doesn’t mean the school academic program stops, for this reason they stand to loose as they will not be part of the student being taught and prepared for the final exams (Cedargrovebelgium, 2010). As stated in the recommendation, they will be provided tuition and any academic support at the expense of the parents, if the parents are not financially stable and not in apposition to provide academic support poor grades may be expected. They will graduate while some of their results will remain pending, this will eventually interfere with them joining tertiary institutions.
Secondly, the suspension will definitely stretch students’ parent budget as they are required by the executive board’s recommendations to hire tutors for their students as well as meeting all other cost necessary in preparing the students for the final examination. All this is despite the fact that the involved parents have or will be required to pay the school fees before student are allowed to graduate. In addition, if the affected students are addicts, their parents will have to pay for guiding and counseling services which are offered at school by the director of Alcohol and Other Drugs Abuse (AODA) who could have ensured that the discussion is confidential and at the same time help students shun from such prohibited manners (Sundius, 2010). Parents will also incur medical expenses arising from the use of marijuana or ecstasy experimentation.
The suspension also has the ability to negatively impact on self esteem of the affected students as they will be psychologically affected as fellow students will tend to constantly keep them at bay or mock them. This will make the suspended student see themselves as social outcast hence impeding their social interaction thereby having low opinion of themselves especially if the teachers and parents do not act appropriately (Ontario, 2009). Such student also lack moral respect from fellow students and to an extend the community.
It has been noted with a lot of concern that suspension or expulsion of students mainly involved in drugs, arm or fighting are made more repulsive by such actions especially if other initial alternatives for correcting the mistakes were not thoroughly exhausted. Suspension, despite the fact that it has been used as a displinary tool for such cases as drug abuse, there are cases where just talking and counseling the affected students proves to be successful and effective as the students comes out a better person.
Suspension also makes the student not access other vital facilities necessary for their growth and development. They will not be allowed to take part in co curricular activities such as sports, choir hence affecting their social, mental and physical aspect of well being (NSBA, 2005). Suspension is considered a “Debtors’ prison” as it prevents students from learning or even do what is expected of them to be responsible school citizen.
Long-term consequences of a stricter punishment – expulsion
According to the Student Handbook ‘school regulations’ section, students are liable to expulsion on the ground among others “possession or sale of drugs or alcohol while in school or at school sponsored activities outside the school environment (including being under the influence of drugs or alcohol)”. Consequently, students my not be allowed to graduate if they haven’t meet the graduation requirement established by the board of education, owe fees, fines or class dues or in detentions.
If these students are not allowed to graduate, this will obviously impact on their academic progress to tertiary level such as universities and other colleges. As a requirement, for one to be enrolled for certificate, diploma, higher national diploma or a degree course, prove of secondary school and other relevant academic documents is vital and inevitable, since these students will not have graduated meaning that they do not posses the relevant documents, their entry to such academic levels is doomed (Barrientos, 2010). People acquire academic qualification for them to get knowledge and skill necessary for getting a job or start business in which case they want to better their lives together with those of others, these students will definitely not have such an opportunity.
Psychological problem is another possible long term consequence of not being allowed to graduate. This arises especially when such students will be seeing and meeting their classmates who are pursuing higher education or have got good jobs. In addition, the society if they will not carefully and soberly handle such students by guiding and counseling them but instead see them as failure, social outcasts will make the affected students have very low self esteems and can lead to some of them either committing suicide or do sinister things.
Thirdly, it places students particularly those coming from low – resource or revenue families and communities in learning jeopardy or worse. In case the students have been expelled from their school only and not allowed to graduate and come from poor families, they will have very limited chance to again secure a chance in secondary schools due to lack of money. This will completely doom their desire together with that of the country to have literate citizens.
Not graduating which is contrary to students’ expectation definitely will make them loose focus and morale in life if they are not guided, counsel and given all support necessary to regain their expectations. This is because they will have the opinion that those years spent in trying to acquire education have gone to waste and there is nothing good to leave for. Consequently, such students are prone to continue and exceed use of drugs having a number of consequences such as being imprisoned or paying huge fine, usually met by the parents. The stricter action forces such students to drop out of school and they will involve themselves in heinous activities such as robbery, burglary leading to irresponsible citizens in the society.
Another consequence of the punishment is that most parents will tend to disassociate themselves with such students despite the fact that they are their parents. Such students are in most cases left alone and to struggle for themselves. This contributes to psychosomatic problems that have various implications such as mental disorders, involvement in illegal and socially unacceptable ventures.
Finally, the affected students will have very bitter feeling (anger) towards the school, the principle, executive board members and can plan on a way to revenge making them vulnerable to face law of the land.
My opinion on the action taken, suspension for a period of five weeks
Based on my judgment and reading of the Student Handbook ‘school regulations’ section as well as student searches subsection, the action to suspend the students for five weeks was fair and ethical. This is because the school regulations despite making it very clear that possession, sale or use of drugs warrant expulsion, the involved students were suspended for five weeks and were allowed to graduate although with pending results of certain examination tests (Gula, 1997). Although Amie’s mother claimed that Miss Chelsea initiated investigation after ‘illegally’ examining her daughter daybook, this is wrong because as a school principle, Miss Chelsea was mandated to “maintain order and discipline in the school and protect the health, safety…may conduct student searches on school property” according to Board policy (4097) and in my view it did not exclude the Amie’s daybook.
In my own view, the action did stroke a balance between justice and mercy as the principle and the executive board was trying to carry out their mandate the best way they knew. The first reason to support my view is that, being in possession, selling or under the influence of prohibited drugs such as marijuana calls for expulsion; the decision to suspend Alain, Brad, Amie and Carl was a lenient especially after the parents of Alain, Brad and Carl asked for leniency as they claimed that their children cooperated during the investigation considering the initial decision by executive board to suspend.
It is also worth to note that, the fact that Phyllis was spared the suspension, justice and leniency prevailed, she was dragged to smoke marijuana by Sean and Brad. The fact that these students were allowed to graduate, contrary to the stricter action of not allowing them to graduate ensured that they will only wait a bit longer for their pending results to be incorporated in their certificate than not having their certificate at all despite the time and money invested in their quest to acquire knowledge.
Thirdly, the chance given to parents and guardians to address the recommendations of the review panel and provide any relevant evidences guaranteed justice. Parents in such occasion are given time to raise issues which proved to be vital in coming up with a more lenient decision.
Investigations carried out by the principle and those involved especially where every student were individually questioned and agreed to have been under regular influence of marijuana made sure that no student is convicted falsely and unfairly.
Although suspension and expulsion are among the disciplinary actions, there negative implication to students, both in long and short term should make school principles and the executive boards to first exhaust the available alternatives to solving emerging problems before resorting to these two methods. If it is inevitable, proper measures opt to be in place to assist those students affected for instance anger management programs among others, according to ethical scholars, this is vital in successful correcting students.
Barrientos, J. (2010). School Suspension: Are They Effective. Web.
Cedargrovebelgium. (2010). Mission of the Cedar Grove Belgium Area School District. Web.
Gula, R. (1997). Moral Discernment. United States of America. Mahwah: Paulist Press
NSBA. (2005). Guidance On Federal School Law: Student Drug Testing. Web.
Ontario. (2009). Suspension and Expulsion; What Parents Need To Know. Web.
Sundius, J. (2010). Long Term Suspension And Expulsions And The Provision Of Education Services. Web.
Wagner, P & Simpson, D. (2009). Ethical Decision Making In School Administration. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications