Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Discipline By George 

Yes, There Are Rapists in Our Schools

Thank you, George Dunlap. Mr. Dunlap did us all the favor of capturing, in hair-raising clarity, the twisted bureaucratic mindset that is returning rapists and other violent offenders to our classrooms. In an editorial in The Charlotte Post two weeks ago that every parent should read, Dunlap, a school board member, wrote that he gets calls all the time from citizens who ask, "Did one student really get suspended 31 times?" and "Do we actually have rapists in our schools?"

"The answer to both of these questions is 'yes,'" Dunlap wrote. "What the media and others in the community don't explain is why."

Dunlap goes on to explain that contrary to public perception, most of which has been created by arch-conservative Larry Gauvreau who claims the school system can expel anyone, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools must allow these kids to return because of provisions in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

"In fact, the law requires it," Dunlap wrote. He went on to claim that 10 attorneys with whom CMS recently consulted have backed him up on this.

Dunlap's version of this story is being asserted by about half the school board, either out of ignorance or a desire to fool the public or both. Gauvreau, meanwhile, accuses them of hiding behind the law to keep these kids in school when they could be expelled, which adds to the confusion.

The reality is that both Gauvreau and Dunlap are right, says CMS Associate General Council Michele Morris. And, although she wouldn't say it, both men are also wrong.

Among the crucial facts that Dunlap didn't mention is that IDEA applies only to kids with documented physical, learning, mental or behavioral disabilities. The majority of the kids in our system aren't disabled and thus are not covered by IDEA. If the school board believes that a non-disabled kid poses a danger to other students or teachers, state law says he can be expelled. That student then has the right to apply for re-entrance every six months, although the system isn't required to re-admit him if the school board and school officials decide against it. Despite this, School Safety Director Ralph Taylor told me in December, the system does not permanently expel students, which quite frankly is frightening.

Dunlap is right that kids to whom IDEA applies cannot be expelled. By law, the school system has to continue to provide educational services to them, even if they are incarcerated for a violent crime or wish to resume their education after committing one on campus.

IDEA gives school systems who want to hide behind it huge leeway to put emotionally and behaviorally disabled kids back in the classroom. But even Morris agrees that the system can place a dangerous child who qualifies for IDEA protection in an alternative, or more secure, setting if the team of educators managing his case agrees that it meets his educational needs. If the same educational team decides that an IDEA student's violent or disruptive behavior was not due to his or her disability, they have even wider latitude to discipline the student or remove him or her from the classroom.

Although violent students who fall under IDEA cannot be permanently expelled, contrary to what Gauvreau claims, the bottom line is that if Dunlap and his colleagues wanted to keep truly dangerous kids from having contact with the mainstream student population, they could do it. If they wanted to permanently remove chronically disruptive students from mainstream classrooms, they could do that, too.

Instead, these kids, both IDEA and non-IDEA, spend brief periods in alternative schools or boot camps — when they are removed at all — and are recycled back into mainstream schools, and in the case of the second group, mainstream classrooms.

That's how a sex offender I've been following who committed his crime in a bathroom at North Meck later turned up at West Meck where his presence terrified students and teachers alike. Like Dunlap said, it happens all the time. But it doesn't have to. After this paper spent a few months raising holy hell about it, the system began educating the sex offender at home.

So far, all CMS has offered to do is expand two short-term programs for students who display bad behavior, and to expand — by how much they haven't said — the Derita Graduation Program for chronically disruptive students, which requires that they and their parents meet certain criteria before returning to their regular school.

Translation: we'll add a few more seats here and there in our behavior management programs, but in the end, we plan to recycle violent and chronically disruptive kids back into the classroom.

Adding a symbolic handful of security guards to deal with kids who shouldn't be there in the first place, as CMS did last week at Hopewell and North Mecklenburg high schools, isn't the answer, and it won't fool parents in the long run.

But thanks to Mr. Dunlap, we now know one thing for certain. There are rapists in our schools, where they are no doubt "preparing for greatness."

Contact Tara Servatius at tara.servatius@cln.com.

Pin It
Submit to Reddit
Favorite

Speaking of News_citizen.html

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events

Photo Galleries

  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
» more slideshows
www.flickr.com
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2017 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation