Thursday night at 7 p.m. started as a standard monthly Board of Education meeting for Warren County Public Schools.
But a disciplinary hearing, made public, continued on for hours of deliberation.
It was around the case of a Warren Central student, who refused to move back to his school’s side of a basketball game when they played South Warren during a doubleheader last month. He was reportedly suspended for six days and given a 25 day alternative to suspension to go to Jackson Academy. He and his family appealed the decision from preboard, to be taken to Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.
The hearing heavily called into question notions of school authority and student defiance.
Testimony given by the principal and assistant principal stated that Assistant Principal Rita Daniels crossed the court to ask a group of Warren Central students to return to their side, in hopes of preventing any possible safety incidents in mind of team rivalry.
The student in question was asked by a teacher and family friend to move before the assistant principal had approached the group. He says he then consulted his mother over the phone, who said if he was not a part of any disruption nor was there one going on, that there was no reason to move.
During the hearing for the junior, which took place in Greenwood High School’s auditorium, about 15 others came out to support the mother and son.
Not long after the 4 hour mark of the hearing, and testimony from four people, head counsel Carlos Bailey had the board listen to a portion of a recording of a preliminary meeting with the student and his uncle. Administrators in the meeting were reportedly unaware that they were being recorded at the time. That continued for approximately 50 minutes before closing remarks, followed by a nearly hour-long closed and off-the-record deliberation by the board.
The board made a motion to extend the student’s time at Jackson Academy for another 25 days. The vote was 5 to 1.
Typically disciplinary hearings are held in a closed session as part of monthly board meetings, to protect the student’s educational privacy afforded to them by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Among other points, the defense jumped off of the idea that there was no policy that made students not allowed to sit with the opposite school. The high school’s position was based on the idea of a pattern of defying authority and an aim to ensure safety.