The news that a school has been told to apologise to a student expelled for swearing at a teacher may have led more than a few of us to be muttering a few similar words.
Auckland's Macleans College, which prides itself on its high standard and culture, was advised to say sorry to the teenager after his family lodged a formal complaint. The student had been expelled after giving a teacher a spray during an argument over an iPad. The student admits to saying "f*** off" and "don't touch my s***".
It came down to the definition of "gross misconduct".
A student can be expelled if they commit "gross misconduct that sets a harmful or dangerous example for other students". The school board's disciplinary committee decided his actions reached that threshold. The parents sought a review from the Chief Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, who ruled it did not.
Still, many of us would consider such an outburst to indeed be "gross misconduct" and there is no way a school should be asked to apologise for firmly dealing with such loutish behaviour; and in supporting the teacher while sending a message to the rest of the students.
It gets interesting, however, once you pull on the shoes of the students' parents. Would you want your child expelled from school; estranged from relationships; education destabilised for such an infraction?
As the Chief Ombudsman says, the student's behaviour required a "robust response" but there were many other options before expulsion.
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Boshier says school boards should ask his office for advice if they're unclear on how to discipline a student - instead of taking the "nuclear" option of expulsion or exclusion and having to backtrack later.
Boards of trustees, often filled with parent volunteers, have difficult work. They employ the principal and set the strategic direction for the school and the policies by which the school is managed.
But the primary objective of a board is to ensure every student at the school is able to attain their highest possible standard in educational achievement.
A firm reprimand; and a warning of the consequences of further failing to meet the school's standards should have been enough.