Mom questions school fairness

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When a student successfully appealed and got back into a Richmond County magnet school, Acquanetta Riley asked why her daughter wasn't given the same opportunity.

"It's clearly not fair for everyone," she said.

Mrs. Riley's daughter, who had attended C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School for seven years, brought a knife to school in February.

But she was told her daughter wouldn't be allowed to return to C.T. Walker, and it couldn't be appealed or challenged.

She didn't question it because magnet schools are run differently, Mrs. Riley said. Attending them is a privilege.

"Then come to find out a child had done the same thing and even worse and was allowed to come back," she said. "Where's the fairness in the system?"

Mrs. Riley was referring to a June 16 story in The Augusta Chronicle in which a John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School student successfully appealed after pleading guilty in a tribunal hearing to possessing marijuana and a weapon on school grounds. Although she withdrew from school and was sent to an alternative school, she will return to Davidson next school year. Her name was not released by the school system.

Mrs. Riley wants to know why her daughter wasn't afforded the same opportunity. She mailed and hand-delivered letters to interim Superintendent James Thompson and several Richmond County school board members for clarification but never heard back.

The answer she would have received would have depended on whom she asked.

According to Pat Burau, who oversees the magnet program as assistant superintendent for school improvement and program development, magnet school students sign contracts that state they can't return once they leave.

Exceptions have been made for hardships, but "in the past" no one has appealed this, she said in an e-mail.

But school board member Helen Minchew said magnet school students shouldn't be singled out for different treatment.

"I think everyone should have the right of appeal no matter where you go to school," she said.

The school board needs to hear from its attorney about whether the contracts trump board decisions, Mrs. Minchew said, wanting to get clarification so the rules can be consistently applied.

Mrs. Riley said she and her husband are looking at a private school for their daughter at least until they move out of the county.

"I just want my child to get the same opportunities as every child," she said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 07/17/07 - 10:48 am
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Either give everyone a second

Either give everyone a second chance or no one. I say NO ONE for a magnet school. I agree everyone deserves a second chance usually, but for a magnet school..... ehhhh. I graduated and all my years I didn't bring a weapon or drugs to school. Now either these schools should give everyone a break and let them back in or kick her back out. It is onyl fair. Letting e1 who broke the rules back in... compromises your prestige, But now you have to fix your mess. I am pretty sure this has happened before, it just didn't seep to the newspaper. Like they said... its's all in who you know and ask!!!!

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 07/17/07 - 10:49 am
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Strange. It's 11:00 a.m. and

Strange. It's 11:00 a.m. and this is the first post.

Hatfield0278
1
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Hatfield0278 07/17/07 - 10:51 am
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The easy answer is, Parents

The easy answer is, Parents need to talk with their kids. Tell them, Junior you shouldn't take weapons or drugs to school. It's that simple.

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 07/17/07 - 10:52 am
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I thought it was strange that

I thought it was strange that no one had posted so late in the morning. Some people wish the world was fair, so they create governments to make rules to make the world fair. But government rules cannot cover every single nuance, so these people who ask for rules and these people who make rules always provide a way for exceptions to the rules.

misscj0123
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misscj0123 07/17/07 - 11:30 am
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Children already in magnet

Children already in magnet schools need to appreciate the opportunity they have been given and follow the rules there. It's like having a great job with great pay and benefits. You just don't screw that up. There is a waiting list with more talented and well behaved kids who want to take their place. Something to think about.

booger
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booger 07/17/07 - 11:44 am
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No exceptions for Magnet

No exceptions for Magnet Schools. That is one of the reasons that they do so well. The decision to allow the one person to return should be reversed by the board, if not, they will the target of future lawsuits.

bone
23
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bone 07/17/07 - 12:04 pm
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more to the story? let's

more to the story? let's just wait and see what comes out when all the laundry gets aired...

daria319
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daria319 07/17/07 - 12:07 pm
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During 1999, at AR Johnson

During 1999, at AR Johnson (the "other" magnet school downtown!), four students were caught having sex in an upstairs bathroom, three students stole vials of blood from the school's phlebotomy lab, and NONE were expelled!!! They all graduated, some with honors! It is not the contracts that make magnet schools different. It is the majority of the students - we were known to care about things traditional students wouldn't even consider; in short, we were driven to succeed, not by teachers, not by parents, and definitely not by some stupid contract, but by ourselves. Those contracts are violated each and every day! Students at Johnson were known to withdraw after the first semester of their freshman year, only to return during their sophomore or junior year! If it says once you leave you're screwed, then start kicking everyone else out, and stop letting students cheat the system by leaving and returning with a higher GPA just before graduation --it's not fair to those of us who stuck it out all four years and worked our butts off!

KingJames
10
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KingJames 07/17/07 - 12:17 pm
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Any student who comes to

Any student who comes to school with a weapon or with drugs should be expelled and sent to an alternative school. It doesn't matter if the student was from a magnet school or not. They broke the rules and should have to suffer the same consequences as everyone else. And, if they are not supposed to return to the magnet school, even after their stay in the alternative school is complete, then so be it. They blew their chance. Let some other deserving kid take their place at the magnet school.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 07/17/07 - 12:41 pm
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wow daria, I didn't hear

wow daria, I didn't hear about that 1. They should have definately been expelled! And you are exactly right.... Its sad parents allow their children to cheat the system like that.. Its not fair!!

bone
23
Points
bone 07/17/07 - 12:52 pm
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so a deserving kid can't make

so a deserving kid can't make a mistake? i'd prefer to know that ARJ and DFA have truly diverse populations rather than just the appropriate racial / gender proportions. smart kids can be naughty, too, and there isn't any need to prevent them from being at academic magnet schools. what do we want, perfect li'l obedient robots?

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 07/17/07 - 01:23 pm
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ahhhh good point bone.. but

ahhhh good point bone.. but either give every one a second chance or none at all. That is what is not fair and needs to be looked into!! Mrs. Rileys daughter wasn't given that courtesy. I agree each situation is different a needs to be based on the facts of each case, but from the stories I have heard.. they don't seem to be doing it very fair.

freedom
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freedom 07/17/07 - 01:45 pm
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As a parent of a student who

As a parent of a student who has attended magnet schools for the majority of her school years, I can say that parents should take full responsibility for their children. Schools are institutions for LEARNING, not behavior control (that's what prisons are for)....Many of us (parents) blame the schools, government, the public, tv, radio, everything and everybody else, for what we have not done........and that is RAISE our children. Through observing their parents, children learn to cheat,lie steal, pop pills, fight, etc...Come on parent let's do better.......And on the dishonest tip......when I drop my daughter off at school in the morning..there are alot of others gettting out of cars with South Carolina and Columbia County license plates. You guessed the school DAVIDSON....

bone
23
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bone 07/17/07 - 01:50 pm
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is there a chance that mrs.

is there a chance that mrs. riley's daughter had previously gotten in trouble at DFA and was on probation at the time of her weapons expulsion? just curious - on the surface, this looks like an extremely unfair decision by the board. but i never trust my view of the waves; i want to see what's going on underneath.

Little Lamb
45398
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Little Lamb 07/17/07 - 03:09 pm
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Once again, most people are

Once again, most people are saying that the people running the school system should be fair. That is not to be expected. The judgement every one of us is flawed. Thus, fairness will never be achieved.

bone
23
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bone 07/17/07 - 03:20 pm
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interesting thought, little

interesting thought, little lamb. let's go a bit further with your logic: since subjectivity is the best any of us can hope for, why do we have a legal system? i say we abolish the whole gov't and everyone can just fend for themselves; after all, according to li'l lamb, we're not capable of dispassionate, objective reasoning.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 07/17/07 - 03:27 pm
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You are right bone.. thats

You are right bone.. thats why I said every case is different. Depending on the childs prior behavior and academics, could be a factor. But like you said, on the surface all these other stories make it seem unfair.

bone
23
Points
bone 07/17/07 - 03:55 pm
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i worry that my sarcasm is

i worry that my sarcasm is lost on the disembrained. i just fear when people toss up "nothing can ever be fair" they will turn to "compassion" as the answer; the last thing i want my gov't to be is compassionate (subjective). sorry, i'm carrying over from another posting area at waof's suggestion.

PlayaFace
0
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PlayaFace 07/17/07 - 05:05 pm
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i say every child deserves a

i say every child deserves a second chance unless, of course, the crime were a lot more severe.

children will be children no matter what school you put them in. every child will rebel in one way or another, some a little more than others. Because this child brought a knife to school one time does not make the parents unfit. maybe she just wanted to be bad to see how it felt. she was a child and being told you can never return to a school, public or not, for doing one small stupid thing even if you served your punishment is rediculous. i believe if you break the rules twice then thats grounds for expulsion.... like i said however... unless the crime were a lot more severe

class1
299
Points
class1 07/17/07 - 05:31 pm
0
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Both schools should have a

Both schools should have a zero tolerance policy for discipline. There are too many deserving children in our county who want to attend the schools.

KingJames
10
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KingJames 07/17/07 - 06:19 pm
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Weapons and drugs are serious

Weapons and drugs are serious charges for anyone to have to face. If certain magnet school kids only get a slap on the wrist for their infractions, while kids at schools like Laney, Josey, and Glenn Hills are sent to alternative school or even arrested, then what does that teach our kids about taking responsiblity for their own actions? Sure, every child deserves a second chance for SOME disciplinary problems. Possessing drugs and/or weapons, however, should be zero tolerance offenses. Unless it is proven that the charges are unfounded, and the student is found to be innocent, then of course, give them another chance. But, if the charges are true, then the students should not get any special treatment by being allowed to return to the magnet school. The safety of all students, faculty, and staff should be paramount to any second chances. If they were college students, they would probably be expelled. If they were military, they would be jailed, forfeit all pay, and dishonorably discharged. If they were working somewhere, they would go to jail and be fired. That's real life. The other student mentioned should not be allowed to return to the magnet school either.

Rozzie2003
5
Points
Rozzie2003 07/17/07 - 08:25 pm
0
0
Come on board memebers---you

Come on board memebers---you must let this student appeal her punishment if the other student was given the same opportunity. I counting on you, Joe Scott, to take up this case.

jajo1012
0
Points
jajo1012 07/17/07 - 10:56 pm
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0
I have no idea what the

I have no idea what the situation is with the child of the mother who is filing the complaint. But I do have a good understanding of the situation with the DFA student. I am a Davidson student, and I do know the person expelled. The headlines "WEAPON IN SCHOOL" and "DRUG POSSESSION" were not only TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT but weren't properly explained (in a previous article about this incedent). I don't know what information was released by the board to the media, but if the Augusta Chronicle knows what many others and myself know, then the paper has covered this story with a bias and a misrepresentation of the facts. The student being allowed back is smart , talented, and has a bright future ahead of them. There is no doubt this student made a mistake, but there is also no doubt they deserved a second chance. In the case of the student who's mother is quoted, we don't know their circumstances either. Of course, they deserve the right to appeal their expulsion, too.

jajo1012
0
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jajo1012 07/17/07 - 10:59 pm
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Also, please try and refrain

Also, please try and refrain from using stereotypes in your discussion. Alleging that magnet school students are "rich, priviledged and exempt from punishment" is totally untrue. Don't think this or the other related article published is informative. This is one big problem with the media. You almost NEVER get the whole story.

jajo1012
0
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jajo1012 07/17/07 - 11:04 pm
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By the way, the contracts (we

By the way, the contracts (we are required to sign) are just so administration can cut out the gray space when it comes to expelling a student. That way, when a student breaks the rules ("on paper"), they are immediately expelled. When it comes to disciplinary action, that is the ONLY difference between Davidson and Josey, Glenn Hills, etc.

ladybug74
1
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ladybug74 07/18/07 - 12:01 am
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I think I have to agree with

I think I have to agree with bone. I am feeling there is more to this story than reported. I'll wait to hear more before I form an opinion.

divenut
10
Points
divenut 07/18/07 - 04:34 am
0
0
A knife can really hurt or

A knife can really hurt or kill someone. But a little pot? C'mon!

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