Recent Drastic Increase in School Violence is the Responsibility of Maryland Lawmakers
By Jan Greenhawk, Editor/Writer, Radio Free Oxford
In the past year, I’ve seen videos of several violent attacks on students/teachers in our local schools, had parent reports of many others, and have heard of multiple bomb threats which have emptied school buildings and disrupted learning.
Were they in one of the large urban systems in the Baltimore/Washington areas? No. They were in a small, rural school system of around 4500 students. A system that has two high schools, two middle schools, and five elementary schools.
The latest incident shared with me on video was one in which a student bragged about nothing being “to(o) scary” right before she attacked another female student from behind in a school hallway. I won’t share the video because it is disgusting. The child who was attacked was thrown into the wall and onto the ground. The mother of the victim posted the attack online since the alleged perpetrator had proudly posted the video online. Apparently, this is the SECOND time this victim has been targeted. Comments under the post indicated that the attacker had done the same to other students in another middle school in the county. Yet she is still in school. She is still attacking other students.
Comments on the video included people suggesting the attacker be arrested, condemnation of the school system for not doing anything to suspend or expel this child, suggestions to contact the Board of Education and filing a bullying and harassment report, sending the video to news organizations, etc. One commenter said, ” So they suspend her, then what? She retaliates and takes it out on your daughter.”
All of the comments are valid. There were others that talked about how bad it is getting in the schools, not just here, but everywhere. This school in the video was once considered the “safe” school in the county since it is small (around 200 students). Apparently, it isn’t anymore.
If we look closely at what is going on here, certainly the school system bears some responsibility. But before we go all in blaming school officials, we need to know some facts.
First, schools do NOT have the discipline policies that many of us remember from our time in school. I have watched discipline policies drastically change during my long teaching career.
When I began teaching, discipline was fairly cut and dried. If you did something that violated school rules, you were held accountable. It was the same for all students. I’m not saying there weren’t abuses, there were. Social status, race, gender, etc. were sometimes the determining factor as to whether you were referred for disciplinary action or not. But if a student attacked another student, the standard procedure was immediate suspension and often expulsion. Due process was in place, but the student could not return to school after such an act.
In 2018, under the direction of State Superintendent ( and former Talbot County Superintendent) Karen Salmon, COMAR, laws that cover discipline in Maryland schools, was changed. Here is the document:
This ten-page document explains what schools can and cannot do. But, the last sentence in the “Purpose” summary says so much,” The language in the regulation has been revised to state that a student could be suspended for up to “five school days per incident,” if there was an imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff that could not be reduced or eliminated through interventions and supports.”
This means that the schools have to jump through hoop after hoop of interventions, supports, etc. before even a child who is a danger to other students or to teachers can be suspended. That could be days, weeks, and months. If you are wondering exactly what these hoops are, they are part of what is called “restorative discipline.” That phrase is alluded to in the document in the last sentence:
The school system shall remedy the impact of a student’s behavior on school climate
through appropriate intervention methods including restorative practices.
Restorative practices are part of restorative discipline. Restorative discipline is one of those initiatives that Progressives create to hide what they actually want behind pretty words and sweet-sounding promises. Their aim is not to actually improve student discipline and therefore academic success. Their aim is to further divide and create chaos in our schools, like they have with “Defund the Police” movements in our cities.
The concept of Restorative Discipline was brought to national prominence during the Obama Administration. In 2015, a large school system adopted what they called the “Promise” Agreement. This agreement, which is restorative discipline, required that schools not suspend or expel students for violent behavior or even discipline them for various infractions, but instead offer counseling, intervention, and even rewards if they promised not to offend again. Teachers were to do “healing circles” and participate in “reparative dialogues.” It was done in the name of keeping children out of the “school to prison pipeline.” It got rid of “zero tolerance” and instead instituted a “multi-tiered system of supports” and a matrix of discipline levels which must be followed in order to discipline a student. Classroom teachers were required to collect data on misbehavior and the various interventions they implemented with the student prior to the removal of that student from the classroom. In essence, there were no immediate or actual consequences for poor or dangerous behavior. (Source: WHY MEADOW DIED, Pollack and Eden)
The large school system got tremendous national attention and accolades for implementing this program. Teachers were evaluated on their discipline data. Too many kids in a teacher’s classroom get suspended, and that teacher could be in jeopardy of losing his/her job. As one teacher, Kim Krawczyk, put it, “We began to spend more time calling parents and doing paperwork for troublemakers than planning lessons for the kids who wanted to learn. With all this paperwork and principals who won’t want to process it anyway, the best we can do for the good kids is to just let the troublemakers disrupt the class and try to teach around them.” (Source: WHY MEADOW DIED, Pollack and Eden)
In reality, discipline was not just overhauled, it was demolished.
The name of the system? Broward County, Florida. Do you know that name? You should, it was the site of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School on February 14, 2018. The student who killed his peers was a product of the Promise program among other horrible district policies and mistakes. Regardless of what the anti-gun zealots want us to believe, the lack of discipline and removing this kid from the school was the cause. The schools had been warned about him. No one listened.
And now we are using a similar system in Maryland. No wonder we see principals unwilling to suspend/expel students and even more willing to sweep students’ violent acts under the rug. Their hands have been tied by State law.
But MSDE isn’t the biggest problem.
In 2022, the Maryland Legislature did something that will make schools incredibly unsafe for students and teachers. Maryland State Senator Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City 41) sponsored a bill that would prevent a child under 10 years of age of being charged with any crime; not in the juvenile system and not as an adult. Children 10 -12 may not be charged and referred to the juvenile system unless they have committed rape or murder. Juvenile court jurisdiction kicks in when a child turns 13. This was done in the name of “protecting both public safety and the sanctity of childhood.”
At least the safety and sanctity of the childhood of violent children. Other children are on their own.
And parents are starting to see the effects of this bill. How long before the attacker above seriously injures or kills another student intentionally or by accident? What are the long-term effects on the victims? How can their parents send them to school and believe they are safe? This attacker was moved from another school to her current school in an act we used to call, “passing the problem.”
Educators will say that this is an attempt to get the attacker out of an environment and social group in her old school that encouraged her violent behavior. Unfortunately, what we are finding is that most of the predatory children continue to the same behaviors after they move. The fact that the attacker posted her attack on social media shows that moving her to different schools will not work. She is proud of what she did, and she will do it again.
So, what do parents do? Certainly, sitting by and watching your child get terrorized and attacked at school is NOT an option.
The following are MY suggestions as a former teacher and are NOT legal advice.
YOU MUST ABSOLUTELY NOT CONTACT OR INTERACT IN PERSON OR ONLINE WITH THE OTHER CHILD, THEIR FAMILY, FRIENDS, ETC. DOING SO COULD PUT YOU IN LEGAL JEOPARDY. REFRAIN FROM POSTING VIDEOS OF MINORS ON SOCIAL MEDIA, EVEN IF YOU ARE REPOSTING WHAT THEY POSTED.
When meeting with school and district staff, be polite and remember that they are not necessarily the problem.
- Meet with school administration about the incident. Be prepared that they will NOT tell you the punishment or action for your child’s attacker. Questions to ask are: How will you protect my child from further attacks or targeting? What assurances do I have that there will not be retribution on my child? Do not allow them to respond generically with something like, “We want all our students to be safe so we practice active monitoring, etc.” You want to know how they are specifically going to protect YOUR child. Make them put any steps they have IN WRITING. After you meet with administration and agree on what they will do, tell them you will be forwarding that plan to the Superintendent as a follow up. This provides a backup in case school-based administrators don’t act. Also inform them that you will be contacting a lawyer to make sure you know your rights and the rights of your child
- Contact a lawyer and find out your rights and the rights of your child. A lawyer will also be able to provide guidance for what you should and shouldn’t do. They can also guide you so you stay out of trouble!
- Arrange a meeting with the Superintendent of Schools to review school-based plans and discuss the problem.
- Don’t be afraid to share the situation with your local County Council, Board of Education, State legislators, media, etc. if the situation is not addressed. Again, be mindful of the privacy rights of minors. As perverse as it may seem, YOU could actually get in trouble for sharing video of the attack especially if the minor is identified. In today’s world, the victim can become the bad guy very quickly.
- Contact law enforcement just as a paper trail.
As kids learn that there are no repercussions for their actions, these attacks will increase. Schools and school administrators will do their best to keep it from happening, but they will not always be successful.
So, who is responsible for this debacle? Here is a list of delegates who voted for and against this bill:
List of State Senators who voted for and against the bill:
When these events happen, remember the names of the lawmakers who supported a bill that will put children and school personnel at risk. Elections matter!
List of State Senator’s emails:
House of Delegates emails:
Resource: Why Meadow Died, by Andrew Pollack and Max Eden
Jan can be reached at: Jan417@radiofreeoxford.com
© Janet L. Greenhawk and Radio Free Oxford, 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janet L. Greenhawk and Radio Free Oxford with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.