The Baltimore Sun ran a letter from Maryland Legal Aid’s Cornelia Bright Gordon about Baltimore City school’s permanent expulsion policy. “Children make mistakes,” wrote Bright Gordon, co-chief attorney of Legal Aid’s Baltimore office. “Which of them shall we throw away without benefit of any public education that might be their life-line for future success? No person attains adulthood without regrettable conduct.
“Our societal plan is to teach a child correct behavior, to help him/her learn from mistakes, and become a valuable, contributing member of our community upon adulthood,” she continued.
“Maryland law provides a free public education to all children ages five to 20. Certainly the law authorizes the individual counties to create discipline policies. But it anticipates a specific time period of removal from the child’s current school, and not an indefinite exclusion from all school whatsoever.”
To read the entire letter, click here.
Legal Aid staff attorney Nicole Jassie
After Maryland Legal Aid successfully challenged the permanent expulsion of three Baltimore City school students, the Baltimore Sun reports that the school system is softening its stance on permanent expulsion for students under 16 involved with arson or explosives.
“Nicole Jassie, a Legal Aid attorney, said she believes the Baltimore school system may have violated the Maryland Constitution when it told students they no longer had access to a public education,” said today’s article, “Debate simmers over student expulsions.” “She points out that the state guarantees chidren a free and adequate education and makes school attendance mandatory up to the age of 16.”
Jassie also pointed out that the policy contrasts with the criminal justice system. “Even teenagers who are convicted of serious crimes are allowed to go to a jail school,” the article said. “While a few school systems don’t let a very small percentage of students back in their schools after serious incidents, most systems transfer students to alternative schools and then allow them to return.”
To read the entire article, click here.
Last week, Assistant Director of Advocacy for Children’s Rights Janet Hartge and Jassie appeared on the Marc Steiner Show on WEAA-FM. Hartge debated Baltimore City schools’ Jonathan Brice about its permanent expulsion policy.
Baltimore’s Fox 45 TV news interviewed Maryland Legal Aid staff attorney Sarah Morgan and one of her clients, whose 13-year-old daughter was permanently expelled from the city’s school system after she was accused of setting a fire in bathroom. “We think this is an extreme overreaction to the school safety problem,” Morgan told Fox 45’s Jeff Abell. “We understand it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed. But this is zero-tolerance taken to a real extreme.” Click on the photo to see the video.
Maryland Legal Aid staff attorney Sarah Morgan
Students in Baltimore City caught committing arson or detonating explosives are being permanently expelled from city schools. While they may appeal, the Baltimore Sun reported today, if the expulsions are upheld, they are never to return to city schools.
Some parents of the expelled students are represented by Maryland Legal Aid. “The assumption is that when a kid is expelled, they get sent to an alternative school,” said staff attorney Sarah Morgan. “The school system is saying you lose your right to an education if you do certain things.”
Morgan represents two 13-year eighth-graders accused of setting trash can fires. She neither had a prior record of discipline problems. To read the article, click here.