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Disciplinary problems hurt Youngstown schools revival

Published: Tue, April 19, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Some parents in the Youngstown City School District are upset that Superintendent Connie Hathorn did not involve all factions of the community in the early stages of what is without a doubt one of the most aggressive plans to save the system. The parents should be more upset with the fact that thuggish behavior on the part of students simply feeds the perception that the schools aren’t safe.

Indeed, Dr. Hathorn, who took over as superintendent on Jan. 1, has a message for parents and the community at large: Alert us when there’s something brewing among groups of kids so the schools can be better prepared with additional security.

One of the main reasons Youngstown is losing students to surrounding districts or charter schools is the perceived lack of safety. Parents who want their children to receive a quality education believe that what occurs in the classroom in terms discipline has a lot to do with the learning process.

Youngstown district’s reputation for student misbehavior was unfortunately reaffirmed recently when five Chaney High Schools students, including two 18-year-olds, were charged with rioting after they were involved in two fights in the building, according to police. They received 10-day school suspensions and could be expelled. When teachers, staff and the two police officers who work security inside the school were counted, 15 people were involved in the altercation. That’s not what the system needs — just as the superintendent and the school board are trying to sell the reorganization plan not only to district residents, but to parents in the suburbs who may be interested in what has been put in place.

“We’ve got to do something different,” the superintendent told parents during meetings with them to explain what he hopes will be accomplished. “Doing something wrong is better than doing nothing at all.”

Academic, fiscal emergencies

Dr. Hathorn is right in that regard, given that Youngstown has had the displeasure of being the only district in the state to be under both, fiscal and academic emergencies.

The fiscal emergency designation, in place since 2006, was recently lifted by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, but the system is still under the direction of the state with regard to academics. That’s because its state proficiency test scores have failed to emerge from the cellar.

The superintendent, with the support of the state-mandated academic distress commission and the school board, has put in place a plan that’s so different from what residents are used to that push back is to be expected. But, there is a high probability for success if all the stakeholders do their part. Parents and guardians have the most important role because if students aren’t willing to learn, the district won’t succeed.

To be sure, with Chaney and East high schools providing different opportunities, there could be the view that one is better than the other. But Hathorn has stressed that both schools will provide quality education, only under different circumstances.

Incidents of student misbehavior, such as what occurred at Chaney, must not be allowed to persist. Discipline must be enforced to the fullest extent of district rules and state law.


1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

These children come mostly from poverty and single parent homes. They are taught little in the way of family moral values at home. I applaud the superintendent for trying to change the school atmosphere to one of education and safety for the kids. It's a noble action. Why these parents object to this is beyond me?

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2Photoman(1246 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

What these children bring into the school system is what they observe and are part of in the home. The parents set the tone for the unacceptable behavior we see in our schools. We then complete this circle when the parents complain that the schools aren't providing the expected education of the children. These parents are angry because they have failed their children and they finally realize that their children will be just as they are.

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

"perceived lack of safety. "

It's a fact ! The thugs rule the schools . Beatings and robberies are common . Snitches always get punished . The thugs rarely get punished .

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4walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Dr. Hathorn should be commended for not involving all the factions of the community because everyone would have some kind of objection to his plan. This school system is sinking fast and drastic measures must be taken.

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5Eric(207 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

So the 18 year-olds fighting at Chaney got 10 day school suspensions. They are adults. What about some time behind bars in a real jail? While we're at it, let's get rid of the wrist-slapping juvenile court and hand these juvenile delinquents some real sentences. Maybe some hard jail time will teach these thugs that high school isn't so bad. And if they don't learn keep them in the slammer, because that is where they will eventually end up, anyways.

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6VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

I recently observed 2 spoiled pre-school children having a temper tantrum in a check-out line because the parent refused to allow the children to have an item they picked from the impulse buying rack. In a rage, one child bit into the item and threw it onto the counter, whereas the clerk had to ring it up and the parent was forced to buy it. After they left, the clerk confided that these children and their mother come in all the time and they are terrors in the store until they leave. They trash the shelves, eat food while shopping around and holler at their parents throughout the store. I can only imagine their lifestyle at home, or worse, what they will grow into when they become school aged and have to face teachers. No wonder we are having so much violence in our schools today.

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7Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

The culture is rockin the city . . .. To them it's all good . . ..

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82muchtax(895 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Eric above email was right. Quit wrist slapping. First fight 10 days, second fight you are out for the year. Is there a law yet where if a kid quits school he is not allowed a drivers license. If he has one already, suspend it. Caught with knives, drugs or guns you are out, zero tolerance. Our society are way too lienant on these thugs

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