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Sunday, Sep. 25, 2016

Of kids and punishment

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lynn A. Wade
Nevada Daily Mail editor

The parent of a Nevada High School junior, whose name is withheld to protect the identity of the student, believes a recent disciplinary action, taken by the school was inappropriate; but Superintendent Dr. David Stephens said that although he can't discuss any specific incident, the district has policies that outline the disciplinary action to be taken in that type of incident and follows those policies.

As a newspaper, we don't typically write stories about this kind of dispute; privacy laws mean we can't get all sides of the story, and it wouldn't be fair of us to publish the story of just one of the parties involved. The mother, meanwhile, planned to take her concerns to the school board, where it's discussed in closed session to protect the privacy of the students.

But here's what we found out.

The woman said the incident involved her son and another unidentified student; and the mother thinks the way the situation was handled wasn't fair, and presented her case as such in no uncertain terms to the Daily Mail.

Stephens said he could not disclose whether that had happened in this case, citing the Family and Education Privacy Act, which essentially says the district can't disclose its actions pertaining to any student except with the parent or guardian of that student. Nor could Stephens confirm or deny any disciplinary action taken.

The privacy requirements Stephens said the district must follow is something Stephens agrees often frustrates parents, who want to know what happened to the other student; but on the other hand, "I'm sure if it were the other way around, they wouldn't want us to share information about their student with someone else," Stephens said.

The mother also questioned the school's anti-bullying policy and whether it's being followed.

Stephens said there is an anti-bullying policy in place that's also followed by administrators. Anyone who believes bullying might be taking place can report it to the district. "We have a form," that's filled out; an investigation ensues and, when deemed appropriate, action is taken. The district then documents what actions have been taken and the outcome; but that, too, is a document that contains information that can only be shared with the parents or guardians of the student who's directly involved. Aspects of such investigations involving any other student can't be shared, even with parents of other students involved in the same incident.