Split decision

Protesters right on janitor case, wrong on transportation

We don’t blame activists for protesting Richmond County public schools for the case of the touchy-feely janitor.

Reports indicate recently-fired janitor Reginald L. Price has been accused of inappropriate touching of students at two different Augusta schools – first Murphey Middle School last year, and more recently at C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School. Before that there were similar allegations at Aiken Middle School in 2011.

The Aiken case was never prosecuted, but the mother in the Murphey case says the Richmond County school district dropped that ball.

It’s probably inevitable that colleges and universities and large school districts will have their own security forces. But they should never be graveyards for crimes that are never prosecuted.

Historically, there have been concerns nationwide that such security forces aren’t aggressive enough in prosecuting and publicizing crimes on their campuses. We’re not saying that’s the case here – but school security departments ought to bend over backward to avoid the perception that crimes might be downplayed, sometimes in an attempt to protect a school’s or district’s image.

There’s also the apparent problem of a lack of communication. An allegation of impropriety in one district should raise red flags in another.

Or from one school to another.

In fairness to the colleges and school districts, many cases are a he-said-she-said situation in which there isn’t enough evidence. That may be the case here, as well.

Yet when there’s a pattern, we can’t blame parents and PTAs for expressing outrage. About 20 of them did just that on Tuesday, at a protest outside the district office on Broad Street.

Where we part ways with the protesters is when they complain, on another issue, that the district doesn’t provide expelled students with free transportation to the alternative school.

As comedian Phil Hartman once said, impersonating the assertive Frank Sinatra: “Boo hoo! You had me and then you lost me!”

What? Your little babies get expelled from their “zoned” school – the little darlings have to go way out of their way to do that these days – and then you expect taxpayers to pick up the tab for the ride to the alternative school? Just so baby can keep on target for graduation?

Boo hoo. Get him there yourself or look into the GED. Society is already feeding kids breakfast and lunch, for free in many cases, and is otherwise wiping little noses all day long. Now you’re upset there’s no free ride for expelled students?

You had us, then you lost us.

OK, so that’s easy for us to say. We’re not running a school district, nor are we a single mother with a hard-to-handle, know-it-all expelled kid. And it is in society’s best interests to try something to get kids back on track.

What do other districts do with expelled students? Not just other districts, but the best ones? What are the industry’s best practices when it comes to this sort of thing?

The district ought to do its best to help, within reason.

But at the end of the day, we’ve got to stop behaving as if the world owes us a living. At some point, responsibility has got to come home – literally – to roost.

School board criticized about alleged sexual assault, alternative school transportation
Arrested school custodian faced 2011 allegation in Aiken

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