Monday, August 10, 2009

Big Laws or Small Laws?

This is Mr. Weber's 2nd assembly address to the students of JPII, on August 10,2009.

Listen carefully and hold your opinion until I finish.

The new discipline code is as follows. Disciplinary incidents will be classified as either Class A, Class B or Class C violations.

Class A violations include acts that interfere with educational processes or other areas of school jurisdiction. Examples of Class A violations include: distracting other students, littering, failure to follow directions, offensive touching (non-sexual), rude or discourteous behavior, cheating, failure to follow the dress code, missing homework, gum chewing or eating candy. Typically, Class A violations are handled within the discretion of the teacher.

Class B violations are those which seriously disrupt the educational process in the classroom or other areas.

Rule B08: Criminal Mischief/Pranks/Vandalism
Rule B09: Defiance, Disrespect, and Opposition to Authority or Rule B10: Willful, Persistent Disobedience
Rule B16(A): Possession of Cellular Telephone or Other Communications Devices
Rule B20: Harassment or
Rule B31: Threats/Intimidation
Rule B30(A): Inappropriate Display of Affection/Touching
Rule B30(B): Sexual Offense
Rule B32: Possession or
Rule B33: Sale or
Rule B34: Use of Tobacco Products, Matches, or Lighters
Rule B35: Trespassing
Rule B36: Truancy/Unauthorized Absence/Tardies
Rule B58: Other School Rules and/or Board of Education Policy

Consequences for violating Class B violations will include suspension not to exceed 3 days or, if repeated, a recommendation to the principal for expulsion.

Class C violations are considered illegal acts.

They include
Rule C01: Purchase, Possession, or
Rule C02: Sale, Delivery, Distribution or
Rule C03: Use of Alcoholic Beverages
Rule C04: Arson (Setting a fire on/in school property)
Rule C06: Bomb Threat
Rule C07: Burglary/Breaking & Entry or
Rule C24: Larceny/Theft/Possession Stolen Goods or
Rule C25: Unauthorized Use of Vehicle (Theft)
Rule C11: Disorderly Conduct/Disruption of School
Rule C12: Disruptive Demonstration involving five or more students or
Rule C22: Incite Others/Create a Disruption of School
Rule C13: Purchase, Possession or
Rule C14: Sale, Delivery, Distribution or
Rule C15: Use of, Marijuana, Narcotics, Stimulants, and Any Other Unauthorized or Illegal Substance or Drug Paraphernalia; Inappropriate Use of Medications, and/or Use of Intoxicants
Rule C17: Fighting Among Students
Rule C18: False Fire Alarm
Rule C29: Sexual Harassment
Rule C30: Possession of a Handgun or Realistic Replica of a Weapon

Violations of Class C offenses will result in a minimum of a 5 day out of school suspension up to expulsion and the filing of a police report for the student committing the illegal act.

More detail is available on line. For example, a weapon is defined as:

1. A firearm, including, but not limited to, any hand gun, shotgun, black powder firearm, flare gun, zip gun, or
any other device from which a projectile is discharged by explosive powder.
2. A realistic replica of any firearm, including, but not limited to, realistic replicas of a handgun, rifle, or shotgun, black powder firearm, flare gun, zip gun, air gun, blank gun (starter’s pistol), gas-operated gun or arrow gun.
3. Knife, irrespective of the blade length, including, but not limited to: Box cutter, Fixed-blade knife, Lock-blade knife Spring-loaded knife Swiss Army knife, Butterfly knife, Folding knife, Paint scraper, Stiletto knife, Utility knife , Carpet knife Key chain knife Palm knife Straight razor , Exacto knife, Linoleum knife , Razor blade Switch blade
4. Numchucks, throwing stars, fighting claws or other weapon utilized in martial arts.
5. Explosive device of any type including, but not limited to, fireworks.
6. Fingernail clippers or other items that contain a knife blade or metal fingernail file.
7. Bicycle chain or heavy duty chain, bike sprocket.
8. Other weapons including Baton, Cattle prod, Ice pick Mace/Pepper spray, Spear, Black jack, Club, Machete, Taser, Bull Whip, Bow and arrow, brass knuckles or hand axe, Bull whip, Hatchett, Loaded gloves, Sling shot , or any device capable of discharging a projectile or invented for or used for the purpose to inflict injury.

OK, I asked you to hold your opinion until the end. So what do you think? I don't like it either. I guess we won’t adopt the new Code of Discipline for Montgomery, AL Public Schools here at JPII.

I outlined this policy in some detail for a reason. G.K Chesterton, a famous Christian writer, once said:

When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.”

I think the policy I just outlined is a pretty good indication of what he means. If we can’t agree that we’re going to be a school where honesty, integrity and respect rules the day, then we’ll have to be a school ruled by laws that are increasingly detailed and specific, written by liability lawyers which must define what the word “knife” means.

I don’t want JPII to be place ruled by small laws—and neither do you. Rather, we want to stay committed to the big things—the ideals for which this institution stands.

What we stand for is contained in our Veritas pledge, which, for the sake of the 189 students who are new, we recite from time to time at our assemblies:

I promise before God and members of this community that I will be a person of integrity who will not lie, steal, cheat, plagiarize or break the bonds of trust that define this community. I will take responsibility for my decisions. I make this promise in order to build a community of trust and integrity with my brothers and sisters at JPII. (JPII’s Veritas Pledge)

May God give you the integrity to live by what you promise.

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