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Student discipline: What is the superintendent's policy?

How is new Manchester Superintendent Debra Livingston handling school discipline cases that involve fights and weapons brought to school? No one outside of the administration seems to know, and the administration isn’t saying.

Asked via email to respond to the Student Conduct Committee chairman’s concern that far fewer discipline cases than usual are being forwarded to the committee, Assistant Superintendent David Ryan wrote that the superintendent “does not have a reply for you at this time and will not be discussing student conduct issues.”

Clearly the administration needs an attitude adjustment.

School board member Debra Gangon Langton, chairman of the Student Conduct Committee, says the administration has forwarded only two conduct cases to the committee this year, a number she says is the lowest since she joined the committee seven years ago. The committee hears serious discipline cases, such as those involving fights and weapons.

Langton said the superintendent did not refer seven weapons cases to the committee. Five involved knives, one a BB gun, and one a Taser. She said she asked for an explanation weeks ago and has not received one.

Superintendents are not required to send every case to the committee, and for good reason. Good kids sometimes leave pocket knives in jacket pockets, for example. We should let kids make mistakes, not hammer them for every infraction. But parents have a right to know how the administration deals with serious discipline cases, and so do school board members. The superintendent needs to explain her approach.


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