Located in the cafeteria of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School at 1304 Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut is the “Table of Shame.”
At part of Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry’s “zero-tolerance” policies even the slightest “violations,” such as wearing the wrong colored belt, will result in punishments designed to humiliate and demean students.
For example, it is not uncommon for Capital Prep students to be forced to stand in the cafeteria to eat as punishment for violating the school uniform policy or some equally unimportant “violation.”
And now, more than a half a dozen former and present parents, students and teachers report that Perry and his fellow Capital Prep administrators regularly require children, even the youngest students in the building, to sit at the cafeteria’s “Table of Shame.”
And yes… it is actually referred to as the “Table of Shame.”
While Steve Perry implements policies that are nothing short of outrageous and disgusting, the United States Government is working to push schools to move in exactly the opposite direction.
Just last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Connecticut’s own United States Senator Christopher Murphy participated in a press conference in Baltimore to release new federal guidelines about appropriate school discipline.
While the speeches focused primarily on school suspensions, along with the underlying racism in how many schools approach discipline, the new guidelines are about ending policies that seek to ostracize students or undermine and destroy their ability to remain focused and connected to their education.
As Attorney General Holder explained, “Too often, so-called “zero-tolerance” policies – however well-intentioned – make students feel unwelcome in their own schools. They disrupt the learning process. And they can have significant and lasting negative effects on the long-term well-being of our young people – increasing their likelihood of future contact with juvenile and criminal justice systems.”
In a follow up interview with the Hartford Courant, Senator Murphy added, “Long ago, I discovered that exclusionary discipline simply doesn’t work…It makes school less safe. It puts kids on a downward spiral that often ends up in the criminal justice system.”
Requiring students to sit at the “Table of Shame” or seeking to humiliate students my requiring them to eat standing in front of their classmates are absurd and mean-spirited punishment techniques that are not only counter-productive, but are nothing short of child-abuse.
Last year, Achievement First, Inc. the charter school management company co-founded by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor earned national notoriety for its obsessive use of school suspensions including children as young as kindergartners.
Now students, parents and teachers are reporting that Capital Prep, Hartford’s charter-school wannabee, regularly engages in discipline strategies that are equally offensive and inappropriate.
Check back for more details about Capital Prep’s stunning discipline policies in the days ahead.
In the meantime, check out the Real Hartford Blog which posted an article today entitled “Agreement Renders School Discipline Committee Powerless.”
In the blog post, Kerri Provost explains that there appears to be an effort to eliminate the effectiveness of the School Discipline Committee in the Hartford Public School System.
Provost writes, “The Hartford Board of Education came to an agreement with the Hartford Federation of Teachers that these [Committees] are allowed to remain in the schools, but the wording essentially renders these groups useless. It is said that “because of FERPA [FERPA is the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act] there shall be no discussion of any individual student whether by name or by reference at any meeting convened under this provision. If any discussion references specific students or incidents the principal or designee shall have the authority to immediately discontinue/cancel the meeting.”
Provost adds, “By leaning on FERPA, the school discipline committees can no longer — if the principal or designee decides as much — discuss if, for instance, calling the police to the school for a particular student’s behavior was appropriate or an abuse of authority. If the social worker and teachers determine that a principal has overstepped his or her boundaries by issuing too many in/outside school suspensions, there is not much they can do about this under the new agreement. It would be challenging to actually talk about the disposition of each case involving suspension or expulsion without having potentially referenced an individual student. If a teacher and social worker have concerns about a student and want to strategize the best way to get him or her help while in crisis, the principal or designee can point to FERPA and shut that entire conversation down.”
You can read the full blog at: http://www.realhartford.org/2014/01/13/agreement-renders-school-discipline-committee-powerless/
It seems that the new policy would certainly make it easy for principals like Steve Perry to prevent any meaningful discussion about his outrageous discipline policies at the School Discipline Committee level.