VP’s Column: Zero Tolerance Policy

From the April/May Eagle Eye Print Edition | By Vice Principal Ryan Frontiera

In this month’s print edition of the Eagle Eye there are two editorials regarding the recent change to HBA’s automatic dismissal policy in the case of a zero-tolerance offense.

While the student pieces will no doubt raise good questions, I was asked to submit a brief statement on behalf of the administration regarding the new policy and some of the reasons behind it. To clarify, the change that occurred is that the school amended the wording in the handbook to state that a student who commits one of these offenses “may be dismissed” instead of the previous wording, which stated that students “will be dismissed.” The new wording allows the administration to be able to respond specifically to each situation instead of having the consequences spelled out ahead of time. Behind this rationale was the belief that sometimes the best way to respond to help a student and reach the mission of the school may not be to automatically expel a student.

[one_third]HBA still does not tolerate or condone the use of dangerous or banned substances by our students.[/one_third]

HBA still does not tolerate or condone the use of dangerous or banned substances by our students. The difference is that we are moving in the belief that kicking a student out of the school may not always be the most effective or useful way to respond. If we truly believe that we can have a positive impact on our students, we might limit our chances to carry out our mission to equip students “spiritually, intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally so that they bring honor to God.” This vision was at the center of the decision to amend the policy.

The change to the handbook wasn’t an exception to the rules, but a shift in policy. Rather than bend the rules for a few individuals, we as an institution sought to rethink our approach to how we discipline certain behaviors. The new policy was also largely shaped by looking at the way our school policies had been carried out in the past, and the impact and effectiveness of those policies. It certainly was not taken lightly.

There is no way that I’ll be able to address every position in this piece, but I did want to make sure to offer these points to frame the student pieces. I know that there are those who disagree with the change, and I am OK with that. However, I do expect that those who disagree will do it respectfully and appropriately. I had multiple groups of students come to my office to ask questions, share concerns, or just talk through their feelings on the policy changes. To me this was the biggest positive of this whole process. I want you to be intelligent, active, and compassionate members of this community.

My door is always open to a student who wants to engage in dialogue on any issue, and I think we can leave with mutual respect, regardless of whether we agree. My hope is that we can continue to build and shape an environment where our students, faculty, and parents are actively working to honor God.

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