Discipline issue handled poorly, parent says
by Mark Andrews
Mar 27, 2014 | 3468 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The parent of a Cartersville Middle School student whose child was removed from a school bus by an administrator said she is disappointed with how the school system communicated with her following the incident, which included an administrator placing her hands on the student and detaining the student after school hours with the assistance of a school resource officer from the Cartersville Police Department.

Jessica Oliver said in a formal complaint that on Friday, Jan. 24, her daughter was “treated unjustly by the Cartersville Middle School Principal, Jeff Hogan and Assistant Principal, Ms. [Deborah] Malone. Ms. Malone went after my daughter, Izia Crockett, grabbed her forcefully jerking her arm during bus dismissal.”

Oliver told The Daily Tribune News on the afternoon of Jan. 24, her daughter was walking to her bus when she stopped to talk to a friend and was told by Malone to get on her bus, who, according to the written response from Superintendent Howard Hinesley, placed her hands on the student’s shoulder to “hurry her to the bus.”

Oliver also said in the complaint she was informed by her son, a CMS student, when he arrived home via the school bus, that an altercation had occurred between her daughter and Malone. Both her son and daughter ride the same bus and per disciplinary action, her daughter was suspended from riding the bus that afternoon and the following week.

She said after being informed by her son that her daughter did not ride home on the bus, Oliver became concerned and tried calling the school between 3:37 and 4:43 p.m., but could not get an answer. When she did reach Hogan on the phone that afternoon, Oliver states in the complaint he was “very offensive and aggressive” in regard to the disciplinary action. She said her daughter had a clean disciplinary record, which was confirmed in Hinesley’s response.

“By this time it is close to 5:20 p.m. when Mr. Hogan’s and [my] conversation ended, Mrs. Kim Nelson brought Izia home which was approaching 5:50 p.m.,” Oliver said in the complaint. “Afterwards when my daughter came home she told me her side of the story. Izia explained that she was actually scared for her life and that she did not know what they (meaning Mr. Hogan and Ms. Malone or the Police Officer) were going to do to her. Izia also said to me that they refused to let her call home and that she was alone in the office with Mr. Hogan and all she kept saying to them was that she just wanted to go home to her mama.

“... Izia feels, along with me, that what happened to her wasn’t right and extreme. Ms. Malone was definitely carried away. Ms. Malone embarrassed my daughter openly in front of the whole school and so Ms. Malone should apologize to Izia openly in front of the whole school. Izia says that students are still talking about it and makes it difficult to go back to school. Izia feels that Mr. Hogan and Ms. Malone stare at her while she gets on the bus now making her uncomfortable and like she is being provoked into saying something to them.”

Hinesley said in his response he counseled Malone “not to put her hands on a student no matter how well her intentions” and that following conversations with those involved, he did not feel any other action is required.

“I spoke with Mr. Hogan and reviewed the tape of your daughter and Mr. Hogan on the bus. The video clearly shows your daughter was insubordinate and disrespectful to Mr. Hogan,” Hinesley said in his response. “The tape did not appear to show any animosity from Mr. Hogan towards your daughter, yet your daughter was disrespectful in responding to the request.”

Hinesley further states there are no cameras in the area where the incident occurred between the student and Malone so no video was available.

Assistant Superintendent Ken Clouse responded to questions from DTN regarding the process of detaining a student and the manner in which parents are contacted during a disciplinary situation.

“There is no written policy regarding the detaining a student. I certainly can’t discuss the details about this particular situation, but anytime any student presents themselves in a situation and does not want to obey the directives or instructions of school authorities, those authorities have the right to do what is in the best interest of the school, other students, and the integrity of having school rules and protocols,” Clouse said. “This may include the involvement of a school resource officer if in the professional judgment of the school official this is needed. Having a school resource officer on the scene in that role is different from the school ‘calling the police.’

“There is no policy or law that requires that a parent be called before an administrator deals with any student in a matter of student discipline. At a time that it is appropriate, the administrator contacts the parent, but often this is not done until the situation is under control or the administrator has been able to investigate the matter. Unfortunately, sometimes parents call before the school even has a chance to deal with a matter. Similarly, there is no requirement to notify a parent if a School Resource Officer is part of an investigation or situation.

“We have a resource officer full time at the middle school as well as the high school. We currently share an officer between the primary and elementary school. They are CPD officers with complete authority as such, but on the campus they operate at the direction of the school administration and as a support mechanism most of the time.”

Oliver said the response from Hinesley was not satisfactory.

“As I went over the written response mailed to me from Superintendent Dr. Howard Hinesley, can’t help but to wonder why is it that the words of the principal hold more value than ours,” Oliver said in a written response. “Although Superintendent Dr. Howard Hinesley did reply back via letter my initial questions appeared to be avoided and are still unanswered. I will ask this again. No. 1. Why was my daughter removed from the bus and held at the school for hours and why I wasn’t notified about it? No. 2. What in fact did my daughter do wrong to deserve how she was treated?”

She continued, “... I have no reason to fabricate or maliciously misconstrue any part of my complaint. I’m still waiting on a valid answer and appropriate actions for justice for my daughter Izia Crockett. After all, right is right and wrong is wrong. Can’t anyone answer these simple questions?”