It’s difficult balancing policy, mercyPublished 4:46pm Tuesday, April 9, 2013
It has not always been easy to find a balance between law, policy and mercy, in terms of serving as a judge and jury in matters relating to children and their future. When children violate the district’s policies are brought before the Selma City School Board, it is not unusual to find yourself in an awkward position — particularly if you honestly see yourself representing God and the community.
Like most times when students who made mistakes against our policy are brought before us, I’m always taken to the book of John chapter 8 of the Bible where the Scribes and the Pharisees relied solely on the law while Jesus’ approach, in the same case, taught us how to reprimand a person and still instill hope. According to the law in those times, a lady who was caught committing adultery was to be stoned. The law was extreme in the execution of judgment and flawed by objective because she could not have committed adultery by herself.
Similarly, when a child is found with a knife, razor or an illegal drug, the child is suspended and brought before the board for expulsion while the contraband’s source or the child’s bully remains unknown.
Expulsion, even as the chief of police consents, keeps sending the children back to the street. I would not tell you that our policy is harsh or flawed but I can categorically affirm that our policy needs to be reassessed because I’ve seen enough of the drug and the apparent self-defense cases lately. No self-defense excuse may justify bringing a gun to school.
When you have a plan or policy and an unexpected concern arises or the plan is not giving a reasonable outcome, it then becomes essential to reassess your plan. I don’t believe that sending a child to an alternative program, instead of to the street is an act of dummying down our rules; it’s a wise decision that allows the school or District Judge Bob Armstrong to retain control instead of the street bosses.
I do not know exactly how the adulterous woman cried to Jesus or what goes through the mind of children that come before us, but the expressions on their faces, always seem to sing the chorus of a song that pleads, “I’m so sorry; Can you give me another chance; I’m so sorry; Can you help shine my little light; help me help me I want to stand”
We want these children to succeed regardless of impediments; as we implement designs and policies that are meant to help them defeat the obstacles on their path to success.
I applaud the Gang Resistance Education Training Program and other proactive programs. The school officials and resource officers who follow school policy by doing their job are not the enemy. Still, the sine qua non remains that we just need to overlook politics and be sure that our plan is effective because if children fail in getting education, we fail collectively.
Leaders in all fields; or even presidents of nations made mistakes as children but wise adults reprimanded them, stood up against the mistake and helped them. Plan reassessment is in no way a weakness; it’s a distinguished organizational management strategy.