There have been many comments, opinions, and heated reactions this week regarding the widely-reported story of a high school student receiving a three-game suspension for Student Code of Conduct violations. If the over-simplified and incomplete facts as represented in reports across the Internet were the entire story then perhaps the reaction would be appropriate. No one would expect a student to be disciplined for wearing a white shirt on a school spirit day – a day when all his peers were asked to do the same.
It seems like it would be easy for the school district to make public statements either refuting what is reported or “making our case” in the court of public opinion. In reality, we are unable to make specific comments or clarifications about the facts. Laws protecting the confidentiality of student records prohibit the school system from divulging details of student discipline. Those laws are meant to protect students and families and they are an important part of education. Because of this the public details regarding that story will have to remain as they have been reported: over-simplified and incomplete.
As with so many viral Internet phenomena, the appeal for simple, instant outrage outweighs the need to step back and say “Is this accurate? Is this the whole story?” The sheer quantity of online messages and comments from people from across the U.S. are proof of that.
We can only speak in general terms about policies and processes that apply to all students. There is a structured appeals process for students with any Code of Conduct violations. Students who disagree with a Code of Conduct discipline decision may appeal to a Code of Conduct Review Board. If they are still not satisfied with the Review Board decision, they may appeal directly to the Superintendent of Schools.
Participation in extra-curricular programs at Marshalltown High School is a privilege and, as such, carries certain expectations beyond those found in the normal classroom. Participants in extra-curricular activities occupy leadership positions, represent the school and community and depict its character, all of which brings additional expectations and responsibilities as outlined in the student Code of Conduct.
MHS and Marshalltown Community School District are committed to a culture of respect. In fact, the entire Marshalltown community has been a driving force in this effort with the nationally-recognized “Not In Our Town” initiative. We do not tolerate comments, images, or actions that in any way disparage other members of our Bobcat community. It is important for all students, but especially students in leadership roles, to understand the impact of their words and actions. Whether intentionally hurtful or simply misguided, the use of inappropriate or racially sensitive comments or images hurts all Bobcats. It’s important for everyone – students, staff, parents and alumni – to understand their words and actions can have unintended consequences.
We will continue to work together to build a strong, positive culture at MHS and in Marshalltown so that students, staff and our community know this has no place in our halls, in our classrooms, in our clubs or on our teams.