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C.O.P.E. with suspensions

Thursday, October 29, 2009

(Photo)
Lynn Romas
* High Schools teams up with courts for program

A new program is having a huge impact on procedures for how out-of-school suspensions at Clay Community School Corporation operate.

Court Ordered Placement for Education (C.O.P.E.) is the newest tool used in student discipline.

"Suspending students out-of-school doesn't work," Northview High School Assistant Principal Lynn Romas said. "For many of the students, it was like a day off, they get to sleep in and watch television. Parents would always ask if there was something besides suspension and now there is."

The administrators at Northview High School, Clay City High School, Cumberland Academy, the Clay County Prosecutors Office, Clay Circuit Court Judge Joseph Trout and Clay Community Corrections teamed together to find an alternative for out-of-school suspension. According to Romas, the results speak for themselves.

"By the end of September 2008, there were 173 total days of out-of-school suspensions," he said. "By the end of September 2009, there were 61 total days of out-of-school suspensions."

The program is working as a deterrent for many of the students and Romas believes the numbers will continue to lower.

"The program is causing many of the students to think before they act," he said. "Many of them say, 'I'm not got to do that and go to C.O.P.E."

Instead of enjoying a few days in front of the TV, students are now going to court.

Students may be referred to the program through various violations, including:

* Alcohol/Drugs,

* Attendance,

* Fighting/Battery,

*Insubordination or Defiance,

* Intimidation/Profanity,

* Weapons,

* Tobacco, and

*Theft or Destruction of Property.

After the student(s) appear before Romas for the infraction, the student(s) are then told to be with a parent/guardian before Judge Trout the next morning. At that time, documents are sent to Executive Director of Clay Community Corrections, Mary Brown, who then meets with Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger to file the appropriate court documents.

The next morning, the student(s) and the parent/guardian attend the hearing, where Trout reviews the case, speaks to student(s) during court and then orders them to any number of morning study sessions with afternoon community service work details. Students can receive anywhere from one to 10 days in the program and the parents/ guardians are required to pay $15 in court fees for every day the students are enrolled in the program. The money is used to pay for supervision and transportation.

Students are then required to spend the first half of each day at Cumberland Academy, where they are completing school assignments for full credit. Students are required to have all of their schoolbooks and materials when they arrive in the morning.

"I try to impress upon them they may have made a mistake or a bad decision to end up in C.O.P.E., but now they can learn from it and move on," C.O.P.E. Director and In School Suspension (I.S.S.) Supervisor Dana Bottomley said.

Bottomley makes sure students complete their assignments correctly. Students are not allowed to speak, except when asking a question pertaining to the assignment. There is no sleeping or passing of notes. Students cannot draw, unless it is for a class, or 'horseplay.' They are required to stay in their assigned seats and are given one bathroom break. The environment is structured and students learn the requirements the first day.

"These are good kids and they know the expectations," she said. "They don't go through the motions. If they have to do an assignment five times to get it right, then they will do it five times."

C.O.P.E. students are kept separate from the other students at Cumberland. Everyday after lunch, representatives from Community Corrections pick up the students and take them to different areas around the county to take part in community service.

One location students have visited includes the parks. Supt. of Parks Bill Houck hasn't had a problem with the students and believes the parks are only benefiting from the program.

"They are supervised so there is no burden on me," he said. "They have raked leaves, painted benches and prepared the picket fence to be painted."

The program is modeled after the Generating Responsibility Through an Alternative to Suspension Placement (G.R.A.S.P.) Program.

"We feel this is a very positive experience and the numbers show it," Brown said. "We have had no problems with the students and only two repeats. They are learning their actions have consequences."

Student(s) are given a cause number when entering the program. Upon completion of the program, the record is expunged through the courts and at the end of the school year, every student's record is cleared, and they can begin each new school year with a clean record.

"It all boils down to everyone wanting to help the students," Romas said. "Wanting to help kids, teach them to reach their goals and be productive members of society."

Everyone agreed the program has been nothing but beneficial to the development of the students and they are hoping for some decreases in other areas of juvenile delinquency.

"If they see the consequences for their actions now then maybe as they grow, they will see ahead to other consequences before they act," Romas said.

Once a student is assigned to the program, they have to stay in the program until completion. If they do not, the judge has the authority to hold them in contempt of court. Romas said even if the child were to transfer school districts or become home schooled, they would still be required to complete the program or the school would not release their records.

"I think this is a good dose of reality for a lot of the kids," Clay City High School Principal Jeff Bell said. "It is a great alternative to out-of-school suspension and it was definitely needed."

Northview High School Principal Tim Rayle echoed Bell's sentiments.

"We are very fortunate this is a great partnership and (Romas) is doing an excellent job," he said. "Students are now thinking before they act. It's no longer a vacation to them. They know if they get into trouble they will go to Judge Trout."

Though the program is being used within the schools, Romas said the handbook is still being followed and C.O.P.E. is used after all other avenues are exhausted or if the offense is illegal.

C.O.P.E. offers students a realistic experience when seeing their actions do have a penalty.

"This program adds an enlightening ingredient in the discipline program," Romas said. "It is offering a realistic view of the consequences to students misbehavior."


Comments
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This is kinda stupid because kids will get in trouble but why should they be punished like an adult would. This is just another way for the city to make money off our children.

-- Posted by brittbratt on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 10:18 AM

I agree, just another way to make money for the court. How can A judge set rules unless the crime in school is against the state or county. Is it a written law? I think they have over stepped there boundries. Why not just bust there butts and keep them in school, or can't the teachers handle it. I don't think our judicial system has any business in our schools. Thank you.

-- Posted by Katrina on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 11:21 AM

Are these "criminals" allowed to hire an attorney to appear with them and counsel them on the legal rules of the court? I completely agree with the need for better discipline techniques within the school system, but taxing our already over-burdened and inefficient judicial system is probably not the most cost effective solution. What happened to calling parents to school for meetings, and properly administered corporal punishment. Furthermore, it is not "apparant" out-of-school suspensions don't work? It is the school corporations responsibility to provide an education to every student, however, the student has a responsibility to abide by rules, and to accept the authority of the teachers and administrators. If a student isn't behaving at school, it is probably a pretty good indication that he/she isn't behaving at home either. Make the parents understand that if the child doesn't behave, he/she won't be welcome there until they do. Why don't we call a parent in to shadow their child who has misbehaved for an entire day, maybe two or three days even. Embarrassment will be a huge deterrent, and loss of income to the family in the event that the parent works, will probably be an incentive to the parent to reinforce these behavioral changes at home.

-- Posted by almostfootballfree on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 12:05 PM

By the way, I really am afraid this is a civil rights lawsuit waiting to happen unless the student is allowed to hire an attorney. And, if they can't afford one, don't "WE", the county, have to provide one?

-- Posted by almostfootballfree on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 12:08 PM

I totally agree with almostfootballfree!There is need for better discipline within school,and parents need to do their part.But once again certain officials mislead kids and parents as to the difference between abuse and discipline.DFC are so quick to point fingers saying if u spank your child that is abuse,parents are afraid to give a good "woopin".Then the kids are not afraid of consequences.But school personel also have a obligation to set good examples and be a positive role model in these kids lives.Certain schools,and certain staff of CCS strictly enforce policy while they (the example,role model) do what ever and say what ever they want.For example,the rule on cell phones:no cell phones on said person or turned on during school time.And believe you me they will enforce it with the kids,and I agree it can be distracting if kids are texting or it is ringing during class time.While almost all CCS and teachers have their personal cells on them and on at all times.(I thought that was the purpose of putting landline phones in classrooms!)Now whats that tell the kids that just because they are CCS staff they don't have to follow policy?Maybe that is some of the rebellion problem in school?

-- Posted by westsidemom on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 12:31 PM

Dear Bloggers, F.Y.I.--(1) The schools get NO money from this program. The Court and Prosecutor get NO money from this program. The $15 per day fee is to partially cover the cost of supervision and transportation by Community Corrections(a division of the Dept. of Correction). The school administrator, the judge, the prosecutor, and director of community corrections are putting in the extra time at no charge. Why, you ask??? (2) Kids that stay in school and get a diploma are less likely to cost the government $$$$$$$$ in the future i.e. public assistance and/or criminal court. And (3) this program is authorized by state statute I.C. 20-33-8.5-1 and the schools have tried everything else i.e. in-school suspension, after-school classes ect.

-- Posted by alias on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 12:41 PM

And as far as getting the courts involved,don't we already have an overload of cases with real crime in our system already? I for one as a tax payer in this county feel my tax dollars that help pay the wages of appointed officials can be better used than to waste on these petty discipline issues.And I agree let the parent have some time to be with children at school,see after the household income suffers there will probably not be a second.But in my opinion,the CCS does not want any parents present during class time because there is too much of a risk of the truth about teacher and staff attitude and behavior with students to be found out by public.AS long as it is our childrens word against the staff and no 3rd party witness thats the way they want it, no proof!

-- Posted by westsidemom on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 12:42 PM

wow! im am a student at northview and no i am not a trouble maker if that was what you were thinking. i just love how the school is so stupid and so is our towns judge. no offense to any one but i dont beleive that we do things bad enough to get in that kind of trouble. i had a friend call a teacher a bad name and he gott kicked out for ten days and i kno his parents they dont have much money as it is so i mean come on if we were to bring drugs and weapons to school thats another story but anything under that is just redicluous. They all need to re think some of these retarted rules before the mosh pit comes lol jk.

-- Posted by foxychick2013@yahoo.com on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 1:51 PM

Maybe they can just punish them by making them spend more time in English class. It's obviously needed.

-- Posted by ugotitdude on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 2:04 PM

Do they get the cute little orange jumpsuits like the convicts get???

This is ludicrous. It is the parent(s)' responsibility to punish their children in a way THEY see fit as a result of being suspended. It's sad it has come to this. If more parents would step up to the plate with their kids and teach them consequences, alot more kids would think before they act...especially being hormone-crazed teenagers! I think they're on the right track with the working in the park thing. But kids shouldn't be forced to do it or be in "contempt of court", or have their records withheld if the don't. Parents should get in touch with a local farmer for their kid to spend the day with building fence or throwing hay or cleaning out stalls! That's HARD work; and you can bet he/she will think twice about acting up everytime he looks down at the blisters on his hands. I know there are LOTS of 4-Hers at Northview that could point Romas in the right direction.

-- Posted by IndiMa06 on Fri, Oct 30, 2009, at 3:52 PM

I have a good feeling that those against this are either parents of trouble students, or perhaps those that were in trouble a lot as kids themselves.

My point is this. If they are not causing problems at school, then why be against this? The previous efforts to stop children from doing ILLEGAL activities at school have all failed. DO NOT kid yourself into thinking that the parents of these kids will take matters into their own hands and discipline their children, because they do not and have not. In fact, most are either completely blind to their child's actions, refuse to believe their child is guilty, or just simply do not care. The problem is that most of the parents of these kids play a big part in the problem to begin with.

I do agree that if a child has to be seen in front of a judge, then they should have the right to council. However, I am also a firm believer that a child that performs an illegal activity at school, such as possessing cigarettes should have to face the same system they would if they were adults.

We all know that a felon doesn't just become a felon over night. It almost always begins at childhood and grows into something bigger. Maybe, just maybe, a good taste of judicial reality for even the little things as a child will help detour some would be felon from killing someone some day.

Besides, the punishment is simply forcing the child to do what they should have been doing to start with. The fee associated with it? Well... If I were the parent, my child would work it off around the house. the garage can always use a good cleaning.

-- Posted by Oldtown on Sat, Oct 31, 2009, at 12:06 AM

This goes right along with the labeling theory in Criminology. Once these people are in the system and have the stigma of being labeled a criminal, they will be more likely to commit a criminal act. Please read about the labeling theory.

I think there is great idea and can work if changed a little bit. I have heard of other places forcing these kids to come to court and stay the whole day, listening to the cases and what other people get for their actions.

-- Posted by Criminology08 on Sat, Oct 31, 2009, at 4:12 AM

Well I think a line has to be drawn somewhere. I mean some of the things kids get in trouble for is a little ridiculous. Have we all forgotten some of the things we used to do in school, some of the smallest things are getting our kids in trouble, things our teachers, back 25 years ago or so, would've just laughed off. Not now, our schools are a prison. I understand times have changed and some things have to be watched closely but come on, they're just a little too strict. I know a kid that was literaly suspended over spilt milk!! How about when a student ask the teacher for extra help and is refused, shouldn't that teacher be suspended? Our education system is really poor. Teachers used to be so helpful, and now they're just there to get a check. Most the complaints I hear are ones about the teachers. They need to quit bickering over the little things and teach our kids! That's what we pay them for. I heard a rumor, but yet confirmed that one student quit school over this new C.O.P.E. Yeah that's keeping our kids in school. I have friends in the Vigo Co. School system and Marion Co. School system and they can't believe what our kids go through here. Our Schools are more like a prison. The middle school is even worst. If they're so concerned about safety how about installing metal detectors or x ray machines to scan back packs instead of banning bags!!!! They won't let them carry back packs or book bags, so they make it where kids either have to balance all their books, or go back to their lockers and take a chance of getting a tardy, which may lead to them getting detention or Tuesday school, for something I believe is the Schools fault. At the old Brazil School we'd have classes at both Jr. and Sr. high, we'd carry a book bag or back pack so we wouldn't be late, but they don't have that luxary anymore.

-- Posted by doc69 on Sat, Oct 31, 2009, at 5:54 AM

For someone to assume that me, or my children were/are troublemakers because I believe one course of action used as punishment might not be the best one is ridiculous! I am going to take this opportunity to "enlighten" Oldtown about me and my family. First, not that it really matters, but I never once received any kind of discipline in the school system. Now, for what really matters in this message. I have 2 boys, the oldest is almost 20, college student, 4 year scholar athlete at Northview, who I think probably served a maximum of 1 in school suspension in middle school..,you know, a real bad seed. As for the other, he's a fourth grader with NWEA test scores in the top 5 percent in the state, and served on the student council, was selected to participate in the ground breaking ceremony, and who, by anyone's account, is one of the most well-behaved, responsible children you would ever have the priviledge in meeting. I am not delusional about the things kids do. I am harder on my children than any teacher will ever be, because it's not just my "occupation", it's my obligation. I have never spanked my youngest child, not one time, yet he knows to respect and listen to the lessons taught to him in both school and at home. Don't think that I am opposed to the COPE program because of the school system being at fault for all of our childrens failures. The truth is, children's failures start and end with the foundation formed within the first 6 years of their lives. My concern is with the willingness of everyone to throw up their hands and say "It wasn't my fault, I did everything I could!", when in reality, they passed the buck. I agree with some of the comments made by others about this article about what actually constitutes "discipline problems" in our schools. Zero tolerance policies should go away. All cases are subjective. If 2 children are fighting on the playground, and one of them was completely innocent and attacked, why would both be punished? I don't care if anyone agrees with my sentiments, I am not trying to condemn the school system, or the judicial system in our county. I just think that if we held more parents accountable for their children's actions you would see less need for school corporation "surrogate parenting".

-- Posted by almostfootballfree on Sat, Oct 31, 2009, at 10:41 AM

Oldtown,

For your information,no I did not get in trouble alot when I was kid.And both of my children are not "troubled",my youngest is a 5th grader at Forest park and has never missed the Honor Roll,and is very well-behaved.And my oldest is a freshman at Northview and makes good grades and is very active in sports and clubs and doesn't get in trouble.So,your feelings are way off this time,"OLdtown".And as far as my opinion,it is based on my experience as an "active" parent being involved with many school activities.I volunteer and partipate in alot of school sponsored programs as well as chaperoning for field trips and helping in classrooms at the elementary school level.I am against this program because I feel it is unnecessary waste of time.We did not need this program years ago when we all went to highschool,teachers and principals just handled it.And no Oldtown, we did not all turn into Felons!As a matter of fact, I have an Associate's degree in Business Administration.Do I dare ask your level of education?

-- Posted by westsidemom on Sat, Oct 31, 2009, at 12:12 PM

I may have mis-spoken when I made sound like "everyone" opposed, instead of the majority. But, that does not mean we can simply leave in-school matters of misbehavior to the parents to deal with, instead of allowing the schools to do it. Physical punishment in school was proven ineffective long ago and stopped for the most part, which is a good thing. However, the only thing left for schools to do at that point was to suspend kids in hopes the parents would take action, which has also proven pointless.

almostfootballfree: Who is throwing their hands up? The way I see it, the school, as well as ourselves are trying to find new ways to deal with it. You also state that discipline should begin at home. As I stated before, it does not work, and the proof is in the number of incidents that a great many of the SAME kids committing offenses over and over. This program is not designed to target those of us that work hard and succeed at teaching our children right from wrong. It is designed to hit the parents and children that continue to be a problem the hardest.

westsidemom: Of course we didn't need it when we were in school. That is because times change, and so do the actions of our children. When my parents were in school, drugs were unheard of. When I was in school, pot was the only drug you really saw around, and now the stuff being passed around can flat out kill a person on single use. That does not even consider the other things that happen now, that are even worse.

"Do I dare ask your level of education?"

Of course you can. I hold a Bachelor in Business Admin, and am CEO of one of the largest websites in the country marketing online education. Last year, my site sent more people to various colleges around the US than any other. I also paid over $50,000.00 in state and county taxes alone, so yes, I have an interest in how my tax dollars are spent by NVHS.

-- Posted by Oldtown on Sat, Oct 31, 2009, at 2:34 PM

I think this is probably one of the best things the school has done for our kids. Unfortunely, these kids have experienced more disfuntional families than our oldschool ever did. How many of these kids have single family parents working all hours, or parents with drug problems, or the all famous "anger management issues". If we had any issues our parents surely would make sure we lost them. But I have seen several kids suspended and running the town just so they dont bother their parents, The biggest problem I see is disrespect, this is the teachers, staff, and the kids. Lead by Example! We tell these kids you have to earn my respect and wonder why they act out. How are these kids going to hold a job when they dont know self restraint, self control, or even to respect and to interact with people they dont like. This is life, prepare the children of Clay County in whatever means works, but do not forget they are humans who deserve respect for their opinions too. These role models talk down to these kids so much, peg them as bad seeds based on one incident, and do not go the extra mile to help them. Some dont want help, and some have been kicked around so much they dont even know what it is. If this saves one child from spending years in prison later, more power to you

-- Posted by mamawpam on Sun, Nov 1, 2009, at 5:24 AM

Well said and explained Mamawpam,

It is hard to tell these kids respect those that have that title when those teachers and or staff are saying mean hurtful statements or accusations to our kids.It is always been said "love thy neighbor" but patience comes with growth.And these children are still growing and will be for awhile.Having said that,kids make mistakes as they go it is a learning process,something our school needs to remember.The community allowed them to put our 11 and 12 yr olds at the middle school a year early and CCS expects them to behave like well mannered adults.Some of these kids haven't even went through puberty and we are telling them control your emotions and act right,while staff are "wat too opionated" and do as they want.I have always tried to drill the respect factor into my girls and I for one do not want them to disrespect another,but in return I do not like "some" of the way CCS staff talk to kids these days.I have been disrespected myself too many times by CCS staff,not to have an open mind and believe that some of the stories kids are saying are true about Teachers hearing rumors or opinions and labeling kids based on no evidence or just becuz they might not have liked a family member.Everyone is their own person and personality,kids should not have these things hanging over their heads,isn't their enough trials and tribulations to overcome these days?This is my own opinion,"some of these so called dicilpine issues" that they speak of the school has helped create on their own.As the previous blogger said, many of the households have either 1 parent or 2 working doubleshifts to make ends meat,so therefore these kids are influenced and spend more time with school staff than they do their own parents.So don't be so quick to put all the blame on parents these CCS staff have to accept partial blame for these behaviors too.If they show them how the right way with good examples (not I will lock u up u Delinquent)we might have a better outlook on a future for the community for our children.

-- Posted by westsidemom on Mon, Nov 2, 2009, at 1:05 PM

well said westsidemom well said and I agree with everything you said

-- Posted by brittbratt on Tue, Nov 3, 2009, at 9:05 AM

I believe this is one of the smartest things the school could incorporate. Maybe if the kids realize they don't get a free day out of school then they would be on their best behavour and the schools may have less troubles to worry about. I am a mother of 2 school age children and I have been waiting for the school systen to do something that would be a more beneficial punishment instead of a day off of school. Thumbs up to whoever voted on the this decision!!!

-- Posted by foxycougar75 on Tue, Nov 3, 2009, at 12:05 PM

Thumbs up; best program for child/parent behavioral issues in years. I applaud the school and court systems for coming up with something that has meaning and grit. Forget Leo's negatism;he is probably mad because the 15$ will have to come out of his pocket. West Side mom is part of the problem and not the solution. Don't you want better for your kids!! This will only effect the bottom 5% of kids and parents who cause 90% of the problems in school. Accountibility has now come to the forefront for EVERYONE.

-- Posted by Mrs. Positive on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 11:53 AM

Mrs.Positive,

Spend a day at the Middle school or High school I mean a full hour by hour school day! And then see how you feel about applauding them after you see how the staff talks to and treats our youth of the community.I bet you will have a different opinion.I will say this I put my time in as a parent voluteer and i have seen firsthand,so are you active as a parent and participate in school activities?Or are you basing this opinion on hear say or what others are telling you?I don't have any kids that get in trouble so I am not just saying this because I am disgruntled about punishment a child of mine as gotten,I am stating what I have witnessed myself about actions I have seen from CCS staff.So Mrs.Positive,if I am part of the problem explain that please!I have no "troubled kids",I am a parent volunteer,I do my part maybe you are just one of those too busy parents that leave all the decision making up to someone else because you don't have time to fool with it huh?

-- Posted by westsidemom on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 12:46 PM

Westsidemom. I agree with you, as I also am a parent vol. at head start. & CCS. The kids should be allowed to carry there bags. My daughter isnt even allowed to carry a purse at her school, thats kinda hard when there on there period & most classes on top floor & locker on bottom floor. Kids have a right to defend there self when there being beat up with out having to worry about being in trouble for doing so.

-- Posted by confused33 on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 1:18 PM

You are part of the problem because of your blatant disrespect for authority. You like much of this county are negative towards any position of authority. Trust the people are doing the best for your children and support them when they discipline your or someone else's child. If you have been around the schools you would see the discipline problems of the few who affect the masses. YOUR BLATANT DISRESPECT is part of the problem. PS:please do not volunteer at any school anymore! Confused; security is a national issue and any rules pertaining to purses and bags have been pushed by the security problems in schools nationwide!

-- Posted by Mrs. Positive on Fri, Nov 6, 2009, at 1:44 PM

Mrs.Positive. I dont get were you get I have a BLATANT DISRESPECT. Unlike many I dont agree with the zero tolarance policy when they still are allowing bulling. As for discipline I dont see a problem with it. But I dont think they need a court record because they done something stupid in class. Also I will volunteer at the school, because that is my right & I like to see what goes on there. So sorry about your luck.

-- Posted by confused33 on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 3:29 PM

Mrs.Positive,

Like I said before You are too busy to voluteer or too lazy one!I work a full time job for Att,and still find time.I do see disrepect out of a few,but that does not give some staff the right to talk to the majority of the kids the way they do.If your opinion is so strong quit hiding behind a computer,get involved,and be a part in a solution as you put it.Oh I forgot you would rather let someone else do it.Maybe the reason your so "Positive" is because you pass the buck to someone else!I feel I have a strong opinon because I get involved.If we set back and put all the responsibility on "those that are tryin to do the best" maybe thats why these staff are gettin worn out or having trouble "Coping".And as far as bullying there is more Bullying going on by CCS staff members than other children.Let me tell you a prime example of why I don't completely trust those people.I was at Forest Park Elementary one day and watched a child confined to a wheelchair that if they did not hurry up that they could not participate in recess,Cmon,the poor child has enough obsticles but to tell them to hurry up and eat or leave their tray because they were not eating fast enough.I think you get what I am saying,if you love you child and trust your child you believe them first not a stranger!I could give you examples about what I have witnessed in the Middle school and high school too.But,I don't really think you understand,I am not saying do not punish the troublemakers I am saying there is a right way and a wrong way.And don't get me wrong not all CCS staff are bad just that there needs to be some "weeding" out done in this system,then maybe CCS will have a better outcome.

-- Posted by westsidemom on Mon, Nov 9, 2009, at 9:53 AM


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