These are the standard I hold for Frederick County Public Schools and my children as well.
I was called at approximately noon today to inform me that my daughter had sat at a table with other students, rather than at the table for her class. Her purpose in doing so, which she informed me she intended to do last evening, was to peaceably assemble with another student of her acquaintance during her lunch break. For this act of peaceable assembly she had been told to go to lunch detention at the front of the room, and she had politely refused. For this refusal she was sent to the office. These facts have all been admitted to and are without dispute.A call was made to me in an apparent attempt to enlist me in applying some sort of sanction for her conduct. You may consider this letter my pointed and vociferous refusal, and a direct challenge to this School policy.In reaching my conclusion I asked what purpose of the alleged rule had that she violated, that is, how her decision to peaceably assemble with another student of her acquaintance during non-instructional time while consuming her lunch in any way harmed the educational mission or execution within the school day. I was told that in the past some students had behaved in an unruly manner, including leaving trays and other debris after departing the lunch room at some point during previous school years.However, it was explicitly admitted that she had not committed any such offense. Under questioning the administration admitted that she properly disposed of her tray and other debris, there was no student displaced from a seat at the table to which he would have otherwise been entitled and there was no misbehavior such as a raucous conversation. The alleged rule which she had intentionally broken, that of demanding that she refrain from said peaceable conversation with a person of her choosing, under obvious logical analysis, is nothing more than both prior restraint and collective punishment for an offense that has not in fact taken place. The sanction applied also implicates a fundamental human right of peaceable assembly.Certainly any school has a right to sanction students who are unable to behave in a cordial and peaceable manner during lunch or any other time while on school grounds. It is unquestionable that the educational mission of a school requires that conversation between students be refrained from during instructional periods when attention should be paid to the material being presented. But no such argument can be made of disruption of the educational environment by a student simply choosing to have a quiet conversation with a friend while consuming lunch in the cafeteria.Further, I was told that she had a right to attempt changing this policy through a representative process in the Student Council. Upon further questioning, however, this assertion proved to be false. Not only does the Student Council have no binding power of any sort this matter had been previously put to them in past years, they had passed open seating at lunch as a resolution, and the Administration then unilaterally revoked the decision of the Council instead of applying sanction to any wrong-doers. This was a mistake on the part of the administration as my willingness to cooperate always instantly evaporates if an attempt is made to deceive for the purpose of enlisting my agreement.Collective punishment and deprivation of a students right to peaceable and quiet assembly with their classmates during non-instructional periods of the day is a poor and unwarranted excuse for the apparent rank arrogance and incompetence displayed by school staff who are unable or unwilling to do their job in policing the lunchroom and sanctioning those students who engage in inappropriate behavior on an individual basis.