(This is a copy of the letter FMCSD Tim Wondra has been sending to those emailing regarding the banning of students from graduation. We are running this intact as a letter to the editor)
Let me first say thank you to all for attending the School Board meeting last night and respectfully waiting until the end to address the Board. The Board is faced with many complex and diverse decisions. Board policy and the student handbook states that discipline of the students is handled by the building administration and Superintendent. The Board was not involved in deciding the discipline of the students, we do not have all the details of the incident. This is so, if there is an appeal process of the administration’s decision the Board has to be the judge and jury and in an attempt to be neutral to give both sides equal opportunity to present their case. That being said, we have to trust what our administrators thought was an appropriate level of punishment since they have all the information. Given the 2 pieces of information we do know 1) the students were warned ahead of time that if they did a “senior prank” they would not be able to walk at the commencement ceremonies and 2) they gained access to a locked building at 11pm on a Sunday night and vandalized the inside of the building. Accessing any locked building without permission is illegal. The legal definition of vandalism “Deliberate defacing or destruction of property; ignorant defacing of anything beautiful or treasured, such as a work of art, architecture, or a valued building. Ignorance or malice is usually inferred.”
We have heard many suggestions about letting the students walk and then making them clean tables, school ground, thing like that over the summer. Only problem with that is when it has been tried in the past the kids show up for 1 or 2 days then never come back and complete it. The school has no recourse. Also, if the students are allowed to walk that sets a precedence for the next time. The next class will think, well last year the kids broke inside the building and did some vandalism and got away with just a slap on the wrist. We will just do the same thing only bigger and then go to the School Board and say we are sorry, now let us walk at the graduation ceremony please. Why do Senior pranks have to be destructive and involve vandalism? Why not choose to do something positive. I saw a picture of a class that, with the permission and assistance from the administration, used empty cups to write out a message of hope and encouragement for the rest of the student body on the gym floor. How about raise funds and with the help of administration have a pizza and ice cream lunch for the rest of the student body. I expected more from our students, especially this Senior class that has done many great things for FMHS. I am truly disappointed that the default setting for this group was to break the law. If this same exact thing happened at your business or your home, would you be OK with just laughing it off as a “Senior Prank?” The students knew what they were doing was wrong. If there is an appeals process then it will have to follow proper policy timeline. We hear your concerns and will take them under advisement as this issue moves forward.
Dr. Tim Wondra D.C.
FMCSD School Board President