H.S. Coach Fired for Leaving 2 Misbehaving Seniors Behind (And an Update)

Hi ztshtttnek
Folks! News moves so fast. Here’s a story I was going to post tomorrow, but here it is today — complete with an update that just came in! 

Ricky Sargent, a football and track coach in Hempstead, Texas, was fired last week for leaving two seniors behind at a restaurant for about an hour, at night, after they misbehaved and refused to get back on the team bus.

The young men were acting up on their way back from a meet, and as a punishment they were told they wouldn’t be allowed off the bus to eat. But eventually they DID get off — and then refused to get back on. The adult or adults with the team at the time called Coach Sargent, who okayed the decision to leave the troublemakers behind, saying he’d come by to sit with them himself until their parents came to pick them up.

Which he did.

And for which he was fired.

Now, clearly, this was a breach of conduct on the coach’s part. But it certainly sounds like it was also a breach on the part of the young men who, as seniors, I can’t bring myself to call “kids.” If they are 17, they’re old enough to drive.  If they are 18, they are old enough to go to war. But they’re not old enough to wait for an hour at a restaurant for their parents to come pick them up?

I fear that the reason the coach was fired was not just that his behavior was legally dicey, but that as a culture we believe that anytime minors are not directly supervised by adults, they are in mortal peril. But they’re not. And in this case, the students were at a restaurant, with a coach quickly by their side, and parents headed over to get them.

We’ve bemoaned the death of common sense here before. This is the death of a couple of other things, too. It’s the death of any faith that our kids can be safe on their own. It’s also the death of a certain kind of faith in our kids — faith that they can roll with some punches, and even learn from cold water splashed in their face.  I’m not one for an eye for an eye, but letting young people experience real consequences for their behavior — even slightly improvised, imperfect consequences — does not strike me as evil. It strikes me as wanting our kids to do better, and believing that they can.

What will the young men learn from this experience? Maybe it’s that they can get away with their antics. Maybe it’s that they were injured and aggrieved. But just maybe it will be that they’ve lost a coach who did nothing worse than think that, when forced to handle themselves in an unfamiliar situation, they’d rise to the occasion.

That’s the kind of coach I’d want for my kids. – L.

BUT BUT BUT! — Here’s an update! And I don’t want to spoil the suprise but: Woot!

Is there any way two high school students can survive for an hour on their own at a restaurant?

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121 Responses to H.S. Coach Fired for Leaving 2 Misbehaving Seniors Behind (And an Update)

  1. Kaylee April 18, 2012 at 3:11 am #

    Okay, I am completely baffled here. A couple of bratty teens refused to get on the school bus after eating as a restaurant and the coach was supposed to do… what, exactly? He waitied there with them until their sorry excuses for parents arrived to collect their little darlings, right? What were his other choices? He can’t physically force a couple of young men onto a school bus, can he?

    I can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would want to teach this generation of children and deal with their rediculous parents.

  2. Emily April 18, 2012 at 3:45 am #

    What was the original infraction that disqualified the boys from being allowed off the bus and into the restaurant with the rest of the team in the first place?

  3. skl1 April 18, 2012 at 3:45 am #

    Why was his action illegal?

    How rotten of those parents to expect the whole bus full of complying kids to sit there indefinitely because two young men would not comply.

    So is it now the standard that a senior in high school cannot go one hour without adult supervision? WTH? And let me guess – these kids’ parents plan on sending them away to college four months from now. I hope they are sending a chaperon along.

  4. Jane W. April 18, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    If one of my kids had EVER behaved that way, they’d have gotten a thorough reaming from both me and their dad, and would be making written apologies to all involved. (They knew better, though!)

    I’m glad the school board reinstated the coach, and I think he behaved very sensibly in the situation – those boys deserved what they got. And he even drove out there to wait with them! If their parents had treated those kids the way the coach did, they might not have pulled their stunts.

    What I can’t believe is some of the comments at the website, on the story. People are still calling him irresponsible. What a bunch of rot! All I can say, is, way to go, coach!

  5. Andy April 18, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    Lenore, I hope you don’t mind that I incorporated (read: stole) part of your 6th paragraph to cobble together a response on Chron.com to some folks who feel that kids should never be left alone with Coach Sargent.

  6. Jim Collins April 18, 2012 at 4:32 am #

    I have to wonder if the coach would have been reinstated if he had a losing record? I agree with his actions, but, I see the hand of the alumni or boosters organization here, not the school board wanting to do the right thing.

  7. skl1 April 18, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    Re the coach’s record: who knows, but I wonder if his record is good because he has a more realistic view of what teens are capable of than his predecessors.

  8. K April 18, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    To whom should this coach be responsible? The 20 kids on the bus that are doing the right thing and want to go home on a late night? Or, to the brats that (as young adults) decided to disobey first by getting off the bus, then by refusing to reboard?

    If that were my kid, I’d expect him to be left behind. Then, I’d expect him to reimburse any adults inconvenienced by the behavior for their time and fuel.

  9. Donna April 18, 2012 at 5:09 am #

    I bet the parents are most outraged by having to drive an hour at 11pm to pick up their brats. How dare the coach inconvenience them in such a way? Glad he got his job back.

  10. Amanda Matthews April 18, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    What are the parents saying would have been an appropriate reaction? Should the coach(es) have gotten off the bus to babysit the two young adults that were acting like spoiled 5 year olds, leaving the other students alone? Should they have just said “fine, everyone get off the bus until those two are ready to go,” encouraging the bad behavior and making everyone return late? I just can’t imagine a reaction that wouldn’t be a “breach of conduct.”

    And I can’t imagine being upset with the coach in this situation. If these were my “kids,” not only would I have told the coach good job in leaving them, they would have been figuring out their own way home.

  11. wendyww April 18, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    From the update article: “the Board voted to rescind the proposed discharge of the head boys’ track team coach and the suspensions of the **four** other coaches”.

    I’m assuming those 4 were suspended because they were on the bus and therefore involved in this. Why did one of those 4 not stay with the bratty students? Surely the 17 students who did get back on the bus would have been fine with only 3 coaches in attendance.

    I think the Board’s response was excessive, and I’m glad they reversed it, but I agree with the poster that said the coaching record probably was the biggest reason they changed their minds. School boards are a lot more responsive to the squeakiest wheels than they are to common sense.

  12. chuck99 April 18, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    I can kind of see the coaches being in trouble. The students were on a school trip, and, until they were properly released (which normally occurs when the trip returns to the school) they are the school’s responsibility. Sure, two seniors can take care of themselves, but if something HAD happened, the school could have been legally responsible.

    For that matter, if you tried to leave me sitting on a bus, telling me I couldn’t eat, I would have done the same thing (though refusing to get back on does just sound bratty).

  13. Michelle April 18, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    If those were my kids, I would be absolutely mortified by their behavior. Because they decided to be little brats, the coach and the parents had to get out of bed at 11pm and drive an hour through the middle of nowhere just to babysit them. (Hempstead and Giddings are two small towns, with nothing but another small town between them, in the middle of a bunch of nothing between Houston and Austin.) And then the coach had to apologize? Insane!

    I did read in another article that one of the moms found out about her son being left behind when *he* called her, and that she freaked out because no one from the coaching staff had called to tell her what was going on. That does sound reasonable. The coach should have called the parents right away.


  14. Michelle April 18, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    “For that matter, if you tried to leave me sitting on a bus, telling me I couldn’t eat, I would have done the same thing (though refusing to get back on does just sound bratty).”

    The boys were apparently causing trouble on the bus (see the myfoxhouston.com article I just linked), being loud and wild. If they were acting like that on the bus, no way in hell I’d take them into a restaurant and inflect them on other people. Telling them to stay on the bus was completely reasonable; they could eat when they got home.

  15. Michelle April 18, 2012 at 6:35 am #


  16. Tsu Dho Nimh April 18, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    We had a situation like this happen on a band trip … 3 girls in a snit were in the restroom refusing to come out after a stop for gas and a bathroom break. I don’t remember what their issues were.

    The band director told us that the bus could and would go nowhere until the entire band was back on the bus. So the entire flute section and half the woodwinds marched into the restroom and “accompanied” our classmates back onto the bus.

    Because it was get onto the bus or face the combined wrath of a bunch of your friends who really, really wanted to go home.

    No blood was shed, but there was a lot of peer pressure going on 🙂

  17. Father of 8 April 18, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Lenore-thought you might want to see this.
    I have a few issues with this.
    One, this girl has serious behavioral problems, and my best guess would be that she has bipolar disorder. (My son is bipolar, so I’m quite familiar with it.) Still, her parents obviously do nothing to teach her consequences. Her mother told reporters she had her ‘mood swings’ but that was no reason for the police to treat her so harshly. Throwing a tantrum so severe you injure a teacher is not a result of a mood swing.
    Two, I wonder what triggered this tantrum. I don’t mean to imply that the teacher in any way earned this, but I find it odd that the article doesn’t even mention what she was so upset about.
    Third, when I first saw the title of this article, I was appalled. A six-year-old put in HANDCUFFS?! But as I read, I started to understand it from the teacher’s point of view. This girl was obviously out of control and a danger to herself and everyone in the room with her. Not that I believe calling the police on a child that young should be first-response. (The police have better things to do, people!) But these people had no other ways of restraining this child. And I don’t doubt that the police slapped handcuffs on her for their and her own safety.
    The parents here obviously think their child should be able to do whatever she wants. THIS mother should earn the title of World’s Worst Mom, not dear Lenore here?

  18. Donna April 18, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    @chuck99 – Leaving kids on the bus while the others eat is a common punishment for bad behavior on away-game trips. Stopping at McDs, or whereever, on the way home was a privilege. This is an 11pm stop. It’s very unlikely that the kids had missed dinner and were starving. This was just a special treat, able to be revoked at will by the coaches.

  19. Cass April 18, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    While in no way disagreeing with the actions of the coaches (I would have left them behind too). It might help some readers to understand why a 17yo boy is capable of this behaviour.

    You have boys transforming into men in an environment (high school) that gives them no responsibilty and therefore no outlet, no way to be men. Couple this with teachers conditioned to being in control of a group that outnumbers them. You have major power conflicts that happen all day long throughout a high school day. Lots and lots and lots of emotions. Rarely do students of this age have emotional control..rarely are they taught it. They know aggression or submission (not how to back down, calm down etc).

    Hoping it is easier to see how two boys can back themselves into a corner that they don’t emotionally know how to get out of. Given that four coaches couldn’t get them on the bus one might easily imagine the coaches were rather emotional themselves…. A bit of a hotbox.

    Leaving the boys was great (at 11pm after a long day trying to keep a team of high schol boys under control I might have done the same) but also a big power play by coaches. The boys were not shown how to control emotions.

    I am still all for there being nothing wrong with two young adults being left alone, just hoping to show that these emotions are big and real and sadly the young men have not learnt to control them.

  20. Donna April 18, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    “And I don’t doubt that the police slapped handcuffs on her for their and her own safety.”

    Except that if you read the comment from the police that is NOT why they handcuffed her. He says point blank that she was handcuffed because they were taking her to the police station and all people, regardless of age, are handcuffed when they are taken to the police station. They may have needed to get the child out of the school, but a judgment call should have been made against handcuffing her “per procedure.” They’ve also charged the 6 year old with assault.

    Now, the parents clearly do not have a good handle on their child. Her behavior was extreme and the parents don’t seem to get it based on their comments. I’m sure that they are not parents of the year. But “procedure” should never call for handcuffing a kindergartner. Pressing charges on a 6 year old is even more ridiculous. Further it sounds like the kid had calmed down before the police arrived and then freaked out again when they showed up. Regardless of what had gone on prior, I bet my 6 year old would freak out if she thought the police were coming to arrest her. I’ve seen adults break down into hysterics. The police could have been sent on their way once the kid was calmed down instead of escalating the situation further and pushing for the arrest of a 6 year old.

    The kid clearly has unaddressed mental issues and questionable parenting but, based on the articles I’ve read, the situation was handled badly too.

  21. CrazyCatLady April 18, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    I will go back and read the other posts, but, if these were my kids, and I got the call that they had to be picked up due to misbehavior, I would be telling them to walk the hour ride home. And no, I don’t care about the time of night.

    They misbehaved at an age when they should be role models. They wouldn’t take their punishment, and made matters worse by holding up the whole team. Those kids need to apologize to their parents for letting them down, to the coaches for causeing the trouble and to their team mates for not being part of the team. And as the parent, I would tell them they were off the team.

  22. Selby April 18, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    Thank God that coach got his job back. Do you sense the winds of change blowing? Just a little?

  23. Ms. Herbert April 18, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Texas teacher here – the coach would have been fired if he didn’t have a winning season – even without this incident. Football is god in Texas.

    The coaches did violate several laws/policies regarding students.
    1. Most serious denying food. You CAN NOT punish a student by denying them food or restroom breaks that is considered abuse.

    2. Giddings is not more than a wide space in along US 290. These are towns that basically roll up the sidewalks at 10 pm. Was the restaurant going to even be open? Even the Whataburgers tend to shut down their dinning rooms and only have the drive through open.

    3. Problem we are required to have X chaperons per Y students. Generally they require 1 driver and 1 adult on a bus for HS. For the COACH’s protection they couldn’t leave one coach they would have to leave 2 coaches behind. Remember these are two ticked off athletes lying and saying the coaches did something or came on to them is a real possibility. That may have left 2 busses without supervision.

    What do I think they should have done – called the parents that raised the brats and tell them they have 10 minutes to get their brats on the bus – or they are suspended for the rest of the year – all letters of recommendation will be retracted, and they don’t graduate. Those parents would have had the brats on the phone and on the bus quick. Come Monday the principal should have suspended them, retracted all letters or recommendation, and barred them from walking.

  24. Jenna April 18, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    I think the firing of the coach is beyond ridiculous. High school seniors are capable of waiting an hour to be picked up by a parent. They are capable of walking home from wherever they were too. If they can’t behave and obey, they need to have some consequences. I am so sick of how ridiculous our society is becoming when it comes to disciplining students. We aren’t allowed to discipline them at home or at school (thanks, Big Brother) and then we wonder why they are disrespectful, disobedient and rude. They haven’t learned that there are consequences when they misbehave.

  25. Emily April 18, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Honestly, if the boys’ original infraction was just being rowdy on the bus, I think it was probably a dumb move to just keep escalating the punishment–first, they were rowdy, then they got punished with not being allowed to get off the bus for McDonald’s (and,the bathroom issue didn’t even occur to me, but good point, especially considering they’d probably had a lot of water and Gatorade during and after the game), and then they got off anyway, and fanned the flames by refusing to get back on, because they were probably ticked off at being denied McDonald’s, because even if it was just a late-night snack/treat, most teenage boys have the appetites of trash compactors, so they probably WERE hungry, despite (maybe) having eaten dinner earlier. So, if I were the coach, I would have had the boys channel their energy in a positive way, by leading the rest of the bus in a sing-along. I might have even made this an established tradition/rule right from the first away game–you act up, you sing for everyone. This would either embarrass the boys into behaving, because they didn’t want to sing, or it’d get everyone involved in a rousing chorus of the school fight song–and, it might even get some students volunteering to lead the sing-along, thereby promoting camaraderie and inherently discouraging misbehaviour.

  26. skl1 April 18, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    I have to believe that if all these coaches decided to leave these teens behind, they were doing something worse than typical rowdiness. Were they harrassing or endangering others? I don’t know, but I’m going to give the coaches the benefit of the doubt that there was no other good solution here. This obviously was not the first time any of these coaches had encountered teen behavior.

    I really think leaving them behind was the most logical solution. Some folks above said they did not learn. Personally I think that any time you give kids some time to sit and think “oh crap” as was done here, you up the chances that they learn. The problem was that the lesson was quickly undone by the parents.

    These “kids” are old enough to go to war and fight and die. They are old enough to find their own way home after obnoxiously losing the privilege of riding the bus.

    AND – they had cell phones, for Pete’s sake.

    I come from a generation where plenty of teens arrived home on foot in the middle of the night after some foolishness or other. It’s called logical consequences.

  27. lizpicco April 18, 2012 at 10:18 am #


  28. Donna April 18, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    “Most serious denying food. You CAN NOT punish a student by denying them food or restroom breaks that is considered abuse.”

    I could be wrong, but I highly doubt that this applies to OPTIONAL trips to McDs. The bus didn’t have to stop at all. If the coach could have cancelled the trip for everyone, there is no reason that he can’t cancel it for some boys.

    “So, if I were the coach, I would have had the boys channel their energy in a positive way, by leading the rest of the bus in a sing-along.”

    Okay, these are high school boys, not elementary school kids. I’ve yet to meet a high school boy who wants to be forced into a sing-along. And these coaches couldn’t (a) keep these kids on a bus or (b) get them back on the bus when they got off. How the heck can they force them to sing if they don’t want to. This conversation would go about like:

    Coach: You’re being too loud. You need to sing to the bus.

    Kid: No

    Coach: Okay then.

    Any threat that could be made to get them to sing, I’m sure was tried with failure to get their butts back on the bus to avoid this whole thing.

  29. Havva April 18, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    So I told this story to my husband to see if he would have the same initial reaction I did. Yup, exact same “What ever happened to, if you don’t get on the bus in 5 minutes you will be left behind?”

    Both of us went on school field trips at that age. No one ever defied the get back on the bus call, and we can’t imagine what would have happened if we did. We believed the drivers when they said, “be here or you will be left.”

    What a jerk move on the part of the school board to completely undermine all the bus drivers and coaches like that.

  30. pentamom April 18, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    “This is an 11pm stop. It’s very unlikely that the kids had missed dinner and were starving.”

    Actually, as a track mom, I’ll say it’s quite likely. Track is weird that way — the meets go on. and on. and on. And sometimes the dinner break doesn’t happen until some crazy hour, especially if it’s some invitational with a ton of teams competing — the more teams, the more heats, the more heats, the longer the meet. And it may indeed have been a non-optional thing, required by the school because they’re responsible to provide a meal budget and a meal stop if the kids are away for a certain number of hours — sometimes this is the only organized meal track athletes get for an entire day (except such breakfast as they might obtain for themselves before a very early start.)

    That’s just a point of fact — I’m not disagreeing with your take on it. Even if they were starving, they were not in danger if they didn’t eat, and they created the situation themselves.

  31. Kay Wyma April 18, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    As always… Wow! … and unbelievable. I especially loved “after hearing from the community, parents, students, and the coaches, the Board voted to rescind the proposed discharge” in your Paul Harvey rest of the story.

    Let’s hear it for the Good Guy and responsible citizens that stood up for him. I hope we see more of the same.

    Thanks, Lenore for sharing!

  32. Donna April 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    @Pentamom – I know nothing about track. I know football players get huge meals before the game so the midnight stop is very optional. If they hadn’t eaten dinner, the boys should have been allowed to eat. Food could have been brought to them on the bus though.

  33. Andy April 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    @Emily sing along for 17 years old boys? I guess that would escale well over denied dinner and bathroom break.

  34. Andy April 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    As I understand it, coach was fired for not following the rules, not because he would endanger boys. The coach signed that he will follow those rules when he took the job. If he disagrees with the rules, he should not sign it, or make them change the rules.

    He willingly signed a legal contract and then broke it. The other party used they right to fire him, which is also part of the contract.

    I see no difference any other contract broken or a rule broken under any other circumstances.

  35. Did April 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    @Andy – As other people have pointed out, how was the coach supposed to react to that situation without breaking rules? I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be allowed to physically force two bratty teenage boys onto the bus(no matter how much the worthless brats deserved to be manhandled a bit) or force the rest of the teenagers to sit and wait god-knows-how-long in the middle of the night until their idiotic teammates finally decided to cooperate.

    Of course, everything is the coach’s fault, not the moronic teenage boys’ fault. I’m sure those wastes of oxygen got off with a slap on the wrist, while the man who was just trying to do his job nearly /lost/ his job.

  36. Selby April 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Oh poor wittle baby boys, starving to deaf, missing their wittle supper! Please, one missed meal is not going to kill them, and a little hunger might teach them a thing or two about the real world. Freakin’ brats…they didn’t get dinner? GOOD. I stand with the coach.

  37. pentamom April 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Well, this was a track situation. Note the reference to “meet,” not “game.” So it’s not unlikely that they were legitimately pretty hungry and hadn’t eaten in many hours after expending a lot of calories running — but still, as others have said, it won’t kill them, they were adults or very, very close, and what was he supposed to do? Take a bunch of people acting like animals into a restaurant? THEN what problem would have arisen?

  38. Momof2 April 18, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    Unfortunately, if they hadn’t gotten them for leaving the kids, they would have gotten them for not FEEDING them. Kids need to grow up! Guaranteed this is the kind of behavior they’re exhibiting at home with their parents, I’m sure!!! I say, good for the coaching staff. I would have done the same thing!

  39. tdr April 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    This coach is also the DEAN OF STUDENTS and has been completely undermined by the administration. He got his job back, but I’d be surprised if he can continue effectively in either job at this point. The general attitude that teachers are always in the wrong and the kids never are is one reason why students are not learning in many schools. It’s not the lousy teachers! It’s the lousy students!!! There is no concept of personal responsibility — underlined by stories like this. The coach did not owe anyone an apology. Those students ought to be shining that guy’s shoes from now until graduation.

  40. tdr April 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    One final comment — starving (ie very very very hungry athletic) kids do tend to act out and denying them food probably just added fuel to the fire. Someone could have brought them food and they would have been more likely to stay put on the bus. No, their lives were not in any danger, but not letting them get food was setting up a power struggle.

    none of which negates in any way my previous point….

  41. skl1 April 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    I did not get the impression that the kids were denied food. Assuming this was actually a needed meal in the first place, there are ways to receive food other than going into a restaurant.

  42. Uly April 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Well, this was a track situation. Note the reference to “meet,” not “game.” So it’s not unlikely that they were legitimately pretty hungry and hadn’t eaten in many hours after expending a lot of calories running

    They’re not children, they’re young men. They ought to bring a snack if they know they’re going to be going to a meet, then. If they really tend to run so late without food, the runners should all be aware of it by now, shouldn’t they?

  43. Kitlope April 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Don’t worry – this kind of thing will be the new norm as “kids” live with their parents into their 30s.

  44. Jane W. April 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    My youngest ran track, both indoor and outdoor, and cross-country. He always took several boxes of snacks of different varieties to the meets with him, as well as bottles of sports drinks and water. Many of the venues also had concession stands. All of the kids on his teams did the same thing. The only way they went hungry was if they chose to. Even if they ran out of food, one of the other kids would share. They didn’t always have a chance to stop for food, though – Wyoming is even more spread out than Texas, and there isn’t always ANYWHERE to stop and eat for hours on end, so maybe his teams were better prepared with food.

  45. Emily April 19, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    @Andy–when I was in high school and (my first round of) university, we took great pride in singing our school song, at sports games, during Orientation Week, and any time when school spirit was needed–in fact, it’s tradition at Bishop’s University, my alma mater, for the entire first year class to start each new academic year by gathering in the principal’s front yard (the principal’s house is on campus) to sing the school song–at least, the clean version of it. Anyway, the reason why I suggested it is because it’s win-win–if the boys want to sing, that gets them all occupied and doing something positive, and if they don’t, the mild “threat” is enough of an incentive to get them to behave. Also, for the person who said “pack a snack,” that doesn’t solve the “bathroom” half of “food and bathroom break.”

  46. Emily April 19, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    Or, alternatively, if the singing thing doesn’t work, how about “behave on the bus this time, or you can’t compete next time?”; or maybe some kind of “useful” consequence like having to wash all their teammates’ school track jerseys (or jockstraps if it was a football team) or something? Most teenage boys smell pretty bad when they get sweaty, so I can see that approach being effective. By the way–I don’t really agree with the idea of feeding young athletes McDonald’s junk for dinner, unless there’s no healthier alternative.

  47. pentamom April 19, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    “By the way–I don’t really agree with the idea of feeding young athletes McDonald’s junk for dinner, unless there’s no healthier alternative.”

    There’s no alternative on the kind of budgets that most schools give their track teams. Around these parts, they get a whopping $5 each to feed themselves after a meet. That’s not enough even at McD’s for most of them, so they have to bring extra themselves.

    I guarantee if this had been a football game, we wouldn’t be talking about McDonald’s, unless it was kind of an “optional” thing as has been suggested.

  48. pentamom April 19, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    “They’re not children, they’re young men. They ought to bring a snack if they know they’re going to be going to a meet, then. If they really tend to run so late without food, the runners should all be aware of it by now, shouldn’t they?”

    Yeah, they can pack a snack, and most do, but the point is that they’re often out (between the meet itself and travel time) for 12 hours on a meet day, WHILE competing hard, and probably missing any kind of real lunch altogether (except what kind of non-perishable stuff they can bring or get hold of and consume while at the meet.) A “snack” doesn’t quite cover that. It’s just standard practice for schools to provide a meal budget when it’s known that a varsity team will be away from home for more than a certain number of hours, and a stop at a restaurant is how that is used. Maybe that’s not how it used to be done, but that’s how it is done, so there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on here with a late stop at a restaurant on the way home from an event.

    I don’t *know* that this was a situation where they were out for a long day like this, but it could well have been, so a stop at McDonald’s need not be regarded as “extra,” “optional,” or “unnecessary” unless we know the specific situation.

  49. pentamom April 19, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    Emily, this is not a private school in Quebec. This is an urban track team in Houston. Your experience does not carry over.

  50. Uly April 19, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    No, I think it’s *reasonable* for them to stop to get food, even fast food. I just think that bringing some food with them for the interim is also a very good idea.

  51. pentamom April 19, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    And BTW, I’m NOT saying that “they need the food” and so shouldn’t have been kept out of the McDonald’s in the first place. The coach’s initial decision to keep them on the bus was entirely appropriate. I’m just saying that the restaurant stop may not have been intended just for fun and games, but was quite likely a normal part of the process for an away track meet, that everyone considered just part of the routine and the way they were going to get a meal that night, just like every other week during the season, because that’s how it’s often done.

  52. Kaylee April 19, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    Yeah, I really couldn’t care less how “hungry” the little darlings were. If they wanted to be allowed to eat in a restaurant occupied by human beings, then these young MEN could damn well behave like they deseved to be there. Otherwise, sitting on the bus is exactly where they belonged. It’s just a shame there weren’t another vechile available to drive these two directly back to the school where their parents could… oh, who am I kidding? The parents would no doubt find a way to blame their brats’ behavior on the coach and be on the phone to a lawyer.

    And I’m just LMAO at the idea of sing-along as a solution. I went to an urban high school and… yeah. Maybe back when they were *seven*.

  53. Donna April 19, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Knowing how to read, I understand it was a track meet. I just assumed they got fed like the football players do (well not the big meals because football is very important in Texas and track isn’t, but fed something during the day). I know that, through my 5 years in band, McDs stops for the football team and entourage were optional and occasionally cancelled for various reasons. I was basing my thoughts on that. I could very well be wrong.

    If they hadn’t eaten, denying food to a kid who hadn’t eaten all day is wrong no matter how awful they are being. But not letting kids off the bus doesn’t necessarily mean no food. I would have ordered their food and made them eat it by themselves on the bus. If you can’t trust them to act reasonable on the bus, you have no business unleashing them on the restaurant.

    I also agree with Uly – If you know you are going to go hours without being served food, bring some with you! If you haven’t eaten all day and are starving, seems like you should have prepared better. I imagine that they wanted something more substantial – and the buses usually stop at some fastfood teen haven – but no food all day is the fault of the person. Wanting something more substantial is no more compelling to me than simply wanting a midnight snack. These kids were only an hour from something more substantial at home and should have brought sufficient snacks to last the day so that they weren’t starving.

    As for bathroom, good grief, it is a total of a 1.5 hour drive from meet to home. They were just at a place with bathrooms less than 30 minutes prior. These are teens, not little old men with prostate problems. Even with drinking lots of fluids, they shouldn’t need to pee every half hour. While it is certainly possible that they did need to pee, I’m not going to assume that they did on such a short trip and view the decision not to let them off the bus as cruel.

  54. Donna April 19, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    Emily, being threatened with denial of a stop at whatever fastfood haven the team stopped at (because that is all that is going to be open at 11pm) wasn’t enough to stop these boys from acting up. They continued to push it until actually denied the privilege of getting off the bus. They then ignored that, opened the emergency exit and got off the bus. Then threats of being left behind did not get them back on the bus. They continued until actually left behind. I imagine that getting kicked off the team or missing meets was threatened as well – and has occurred at this point.

    What is it that you think threats of singing and Jersey washing is going to accomplish here that the other threats didn’t? I suppose there is an off-chance that a kid is so afraid of singing that not singing is more important to him than FOOD such that singing is a worse punishment than no McDs but I’m going to bet that’s not true in most cases. In fact, I’d place bets on the end result being singing as obnoxious as possible while continuing to be a dickwad.

  55. Emily April 19, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    @ Pentamom–Bishop’s University is public (and not elitist or excessively expensive), and they have a football team. I was never an athlete, but I did travel with my high school band, to day-long competitions, and also travelled internationally twice with them–to Italy in grade eleven, and to New Orleans in OAC. I also went on a three-day concert tour with the wind ensemble at the University of Western Ontario. Our music teachers ran a tight ship, but they didn’t ever deny food/bathroom breaks on trips as a punishment–instead, they encouraged us to play our best, and be our best, because doing anything less would reflect badly on our school, and ruin our colleagues’ hard work. We mostly took that to heart–not saying we were perfect, but most people we encountered, liked us, both as musicians and as well-mannered young adults.

  56. Emily April 19, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    @Donna–Dirty sports jerseys smell really bad. Jockstraps also smell bad, plus they’re worn over the private parts, so the that boosts the “gross factor” right there, of having to wash them after a game/meet–and, runners don’t wear jockstraps, but I suppose athletic socks would be almost as foul. But, failing that, I’m surprised that nobody suggested, “behave this time, or stay home next time.” I was never suggesting a “worse” punishment either; just one that’d work from the first instance of misbehaviour, in order to avoid escalating to more severe punishments. I’ve worked with kids/young people a lot over the years, and I’ve learned to never back myself into a corner discipline-wise, by threatening something I couldn’t follow through on, and it sounds like that’s what happened here. I don’t think the coach was wrong to leave the boys behind (after all, 17 is old enough to wait for a ride at a restaurant, even for an hour late at night), I just don’t think it ever should have come to that–but, maybe we should just agree to disagree on the matter.

  57. Donna April 19, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    I didn’t get the impression that this was an inner city urban track team. It actually seems like a relatively small, rural school. I think someone said between Houston and Austin. A Class 2A football team is generally not a large urban school, but maybe Texas does that different too. Either way a sing-along is laughable.

  58. Moldoon April 19, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    I find it hard to believe the parents who are saying they would have made their kid walk home. Really? It’s an hour-long DRIVE. Assuming that’s 60 miles, and the average walking speed is 3 mi/hour, that would take 20 hours. Even if you assume the kid can walk faster than average or even run part of the way, that’s just….crazy. And, in my opinion, a little bit of overkill in terms of consequences.

  59. Donna April 19, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    Emily, I was part of MANY school organizations that took trips, including the tennis team. It was always very well known that bad behavior on the bus could lead to not going next time or getting kicked off the team completely (or whatever). Track, not being a powerhouse sport in which the athletes can do no wrong (unlike football which is), I’m certain that not going to the next meet was always on the table. They were already passed that and needed something IMMEDIATE to get the behavior to stop for the rest of that trip. And, if my brother and his friends were any indication, teenage boys are not as bothered by nasty teenage boy smells as teenage girls. In fact, they may actually be impervious to them.

  60. Emily April 19, 2012 at 2:04 am #

    ^Okay, well, I also suggested unpleasant chores as punishment, or simply not allowing misbehaving students to participate in the next meet. Maybe making them sing wouldn’t work, but I’m pretty sure that banning them from future meets would work. The other thing I mentioned, that didn’t really seem to “stick” with anyone is, if these consequences are established from day one of the sports season (as a means of promoting good sportsmanship as part of being an athlete), then there’d be no need to discipline on the fly like the coach did. I never said that what he did was too harsh; I just said that it was maybe a little short-sighted. That said, I do think it’s a better approach than punishing the whole team for the actions of two runners.

  61. Emily April 19, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    I also agree with Muldoon that 60 miles is too far to make someone walk, even a healthy athlete, and even as punishment.

  62. pentamom April 19, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    “I didn’t get the impression that this was an inner city urban track team. It actually seems like a relatively small, rural school.”

    My mistake. I misread something and thought that it was located in Houston. But you’re right.

  63. Donna April 19, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    Again Emily those things ARE established from day one. I’ve never been on a team or in an organization for school that did not have rules for bus trips and penalties, up to and including getting kicked off the team, for violating them. This is a WINNING football coach with many years experience and the Dean of Students, meaning he has some ability to instill discipline into kids. Believe it or not sometimes kids misbehave even when they know there are consequences to their misbehavior. Believe it or not sometimes kids act up on the bus even though they KNOW they won’t get to go to the next meet. Believe it or not, kids don’t always make good decisions.

    I’m not sure why you have the impression that this was a first resort as opposed to a last resort to solve an immediate problem after known threats to miss meets were ignored by starting the behavior in the first place. Outrageous behavior on the bus needs to stop. It is distracting to the bus driver making the drive unsafe. You can’t keep taking away meets if that isn’t working. You need to try something else for the safety of everyone. And nobody else was penalized except these two kids. Everyone else got to go to McDs.

  64. Julie April 19, 2012 at 2:57 am #

    Does this remind anyone else of that episode of the Cosby Show where Theo and Cockroach get kicked off the track team and taken home without eating at the fast food place for making fun of the cashier? It was called “Theogate” and you can watch it on Youtube. It’s too bad the parents involved in this didn’t handle their children the way that Cliff and Clair handled Theo.

  65. Emily April 19, 2012 at 3:06 am #

    I’ve never seen The Cosby Show. What happened to Theo?

  66. skl1 April 19, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    They would not have had to walk 60 miles. They just would have had to HUMBLE themselves to get a ride home.

    When I was 18, I walked about 12 miles in 3 hours (setting out at 5am), because my mom didn’t want to let me use her car for work any more. I then worked for about 14 hours (on my feet) before being driven home by my boss. If they had not driven me home, I would have walked that too. I was not a track star, either. That said, my discussion with my mom over using her car the next day was a lot more humble than it had been the day before.

  67. Sylvia April 19, 2012 at 3:17 am #

    Hi Lenore – love your blog! You know what would be great, though? In the FAQ – maybe you could have a section with good comebacks to common helicopter parent ?

    For instance, a message was posted recently on a neighborhood email group that I belong to, forwarding a community alert from a nearby town that warned of a man driving in a van, who had apparently asked a kid to get in his car. The kid walked away.

    Regardless of the truth of this story (there was a similar story recently which turned out to be a fabrication), the tone in which it’s told, and the accompanying comments about kids needing to be supervised at all times, need to be challenged. It’s hard to know what to say to convince people, though, or at least present another point of view.

  68. CrazyCatLady April 19, 2012 at 3:23 am #

    Emily, when I was on the track team in high school, there were two types of members. Those who ran, and wanted to run, and loved running.

    And then there were football team players, who were doing track because they were told by the football coach if they wanted to be on the team in the fall, they had to keep in shape and do a sport in the spring, which, since most football players are not tennis players, track it was. In general, the football jocks were the ones to act up and cause problems. They didn’t care that the team got points or such, just that they were meeting requirements for football. I suspect that the two young men in this story felt that they were similarly entitled jocks. Since they are seniors, they probably don’t give a hoot if they are going on to college as it will make no difference to them – this coach has no say on what the college coach will do.

  69. Julie April 19, 2012 at 3:25 am #

    Theo and Cockroach were making rude comments about an overweight cashier at the restaurant their track coach took them to after a meet. The coach yelled at them, made them get back on the bus, without ordering food and then kicked them off the track team. They lied about why they were late coming home from track but Clair (Theo’s mom) knew something was up. Theo complained that she wasn’t treating him like an adult (he was 17) so she decided to treat him the same way she treats people at her job as a lawyer and arranged a trial to uncover the truth about what really happened.

    Now, I’m not suggesting parents have mock trials for their kids but she knew her son was keeping something from her. She didn’t automatically assume that she knew the whole story based on his word alone and when she did find out the truth she made him responsible for his own actions without blaming the coach or someone else. He screwed up and they both knew it. If I found out my 17 year old had been left at a restaurant, rather than taking the team bus I would want to find out the whole story, including the coach’s. My grandfather always said, “There’s 3 sides to every story; your side, my side and the truth.” Even if I trust my kid I’d want to know how other people viewed the situation because there’s always more to it than a single perspective.

  70. Neener April 19, 2012 at 4:02 am #

    I’m still stuck on wondering why it should matter when these young men last ate. Are they toddlers? Do they have some sort of medical issue? I don’t care if my child hasn’t had a bite all damn day long…it does not excuse *defiant* behavior, especially defiant behavior that affects not just her, but an entire busload of kids. Period. Full stop.

    I think the coach did exactly the right thing in a tough situation (one that I guarantee you is NOT addressed in the district policy, thereby forcing him to play it by ear) by instructing the other coaches and students to carry on with the trip home while he was on the way to the restaurant to sit with the young men who were REFUSING TO BOARD THE BUS. This fact gets lost, I think. What were the coaches to do – use a stun gun and drag them aboard? I hope that the fired/reinstated head coach asked the board that when they fired him – what would their suggestion have been?

  71. In the Trenches April 19, 2012 at 4:19 am #

    What Neener said.

  72. Emily April 19, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    CrazyCatLady–Gotcha. The band had its share of “fair weather musicians” as well, who joined the band on travel years (seriously, we had 90-odd people in grade 11, when we went to Italy), and then didn’t rejoin the following fall, because they knew the band only travelled every other spring, on odd years. Usually, their attendance at rehearsals and fundraisers was hit or miss (although they’d come to band social nights, usually), and their parents, for some reason, were perfectly fine with their kids doing this, although it annoyed our teacher to no end. She never told anyone they couldn’t be in band, but for the chronic flakes, she’d strongly suggest that they “return when their schedule clears up,” and she put priority on helping those who made band a priority for them. Not mean, but good life lesson, I think.

    Julie–That sounds like a good episode of The Cosby Show–funny, but gets the point across, that being unkind to others is really not cool. As for the “mock trial as parenting tactic” thing, there was also an episode of Daria like that, but I think they must have copied the Cosby Show, because Daria came out some years (decades?) after the Cosby Show did. The results were similar, though–after the trial, Daria and her sister Quinn were somewhat chastened, and got better at coming home by curfew.

  73. Donna April 19, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    The issue with eating is – did the coaches break a rule in refusing the runners food such that THAT is grounds for them being disciplined regardless of what happened later? By law, schools (and even prisons) cannot withhold meals as punishment for any behavior. If this was a scheduled meal, the coaches are skating on thin ice for not providing the meal. The school could find itself mired in all kinds of problems. If this was a treat stop, they haven’t even violated that law.

  74. Emily April 19, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    P.S., CrazyCatLady, would the football coaches have been okay with the football players training independently in the off-season, by running, swimming, and/or visiting the gym to lift weights and whatnot, instead of doing a school sport in the spring?

  75. Amanda Matthews April 19, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    @Muldoon they would have had to walk to the nearest bus stop/station.

    @the 6 year old being handcuffed, yes she should have been handcuffed, an exception should not be made because she is a child. Today it’s “but she’s only a child!” in a while it’s “but she’s only a teenager!” a little while longer and it’s “but she’s only a woman!”

  76. skl1 April 19, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    Donna – I don’t know the answer, but I will say that from the info I read, the head coach was not the one deciding whether or not the kids could get “off” the bus (and presumably go get some food). They called him when the kids refused to get back “on” the bus (presumably after some time had passed). Of course I have no business to “presume” anything, but the kids were “off” the bus before the head coach got involved, right?

    I dunno. School is not prison. Being bused for a sports event is certainly not prison. The teens proved this by escaping the bus rather easily. If you aren’t in prison and you want something to eat, you can go get something to eat. Why do we have rules that treat such grown people like babies? Again, these “kids” have same-age peers on active military duty. Does their military boss get a spanking if they don’t get dessert? I doubt it.

    My kids are 5 and if they don’t do the right things, they miss breakfast, and sometimes their dinner gets delayed by more than an hour. Life happens. A little fasting is good for the body and mind. Maybe teens should do more of it.

  77. skl1 April 19, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    About the 6yo – my bigger question is how the heck did we get to this point? Kids thinking they can throw furniture at teachers? School personnel having no right to restrain said kids? Parents throwing public tantrums because their child’s tantrum was not considered acceptable? The media rewarding said parents by picking up the story?

    My kids have a classmate who gets into trouble every day, and it often involves physical violence, including hurting classmates. At least one of my kids has been bitten by this child, among other things. Once my daughter got disciplined because she didn’t want to be this child’s reading buddy after said child had hit a classmate. But this brat has all the rights. So what if my kids get bitten in school? At least their teacher isn’t allowed to touch them.

  78. Donna April 19, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    They may not even be football runners. The school year is winding down. This has got to be near the end of track season. There may be no more meets. As seniors, you can’t threaten next season. These kids future is already set at this point. They’re already going to college or not. They’re already graduating or not. It takes more than acting up on a bus to derail them now.

    Or maybe it was just kids being kids and not thinking about consequences. If kids were good decision makers all the time, they wouldn’t need parents. They wouldn’t be the first kids in the history of the world who got kicked off of a team they loved because of their own stupidity. And they won’t be the last.

  79. Donna April 19, 2012 at 6:24 am #


    I don’t know if the head coach was made aware of everything or just the last bit. It is clear he knew about the end, but it is also possible that he was informed all along.

    You can escape from prison too. I’ve seen people do it as easily as these boys (from jail anyway). I’m not sure that the fact that the kids were not physically tied to the seats and could actually break out of the bus through an emergency exit is a good argument that they were not confined to the bus and could eat if they wanted. That would be like me arguing that the fact that my client slipped out a police car window means that they were not really in police custody, and thus, not guilty of escape. And military personnel cannot legally be denied MEALS as punishment either. In fact, while an employer need not provide meals, it can’t deny an employee access to them by denying breaks. Nobody said anything about dessert. That is kinda the issue – whether this stop was a MEAL or dessert.

    School kids generally have no more right to leave campus and get a meal than a prisoner. My kid can’t leave school to grab lunch. If she did, there would be punishment to her for leaving campus. I bet there would have been suspension if these boys had walked out of the track meet to get food. I bet there was (or should have been) punishment, beside being left for getting off the bus, against the orders of the coaches. I think the point of the law is that people who can’t get meals for themselves without suffering some punishment for doing so should be provided those meals, not that meals only need to be provided if there is no humanly possible way to get said meals.

  80. Donna April 19, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    The kid who threw the furniture was a tantruming kindergartener who wasn’t thinking she could throw furniture. She wasn’t thinking at all; she was raging. She clearly has mental/behavioral issues that far exceed the normal kid and needs some help.

    The parents are mad because their 6 year old was handcuffed and arrested, not because her tantrum was not acceptable. They know that (although I think they are minimizing the problem). They appear to be mediocre at best parents but they are not upset simply because the tantrum was deemed unacceptable. I’d be absolutely LIVID if my kindergartener was handcuffed per procedure to be arrested. I don’t care what she did. You don’t handcuff and arrest 6 year olds. They aren’t even competent to stand trial for anything at that age.

    Don’t get me wrong, my kid would be in serious trouble for her behavior. My anger at the school and police would not negate the anger at her or her punishment for her behavior. There would be plenty of anger to go around. It would land all over my kid, the school and the police. EVERYONE’s behavior was inappropriate.

  81. pentamom April 19, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    “They may not even be football runners. The school year is winding down. This has got to be near the end of track season. ”

    Don’t know what it’s like in Texas, but my son is at his second meet of the year today, with about four more weeks of competition to go. The beginning of our season was a bit delayed because of funding cuts in our district, but we’re by no means at the tail end.

    Again, just a point of fact, not disputing what you’re saying otherwise.

  82. Donna April 19, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Schools in Texas only have a month or so left. They need to be getting near the end of all things or the season will outlast the school year.

  83. Kay April 19, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    This really ticks me off. All it taught these kids is that their coach has absolutely no authority and would actually get in trouble for any kind of reasonable discipline, which would include leaving their overgrown toddler a__ as what was done here. A prime example of how all of this parent paranoid and school fear of litigation type of society we’ve evolved to today. Just wonderful.

  84. Emily April 19, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Just wondering, did the coach in question have a reasonably good working relationship with the athletes? Because, now that I think about it, a big part of the reason why we didn’t act out in band was because we honestly liked our teachers, and we knew they felt the same way about us, and their high expectations (musically and otherwise) were just because they wanted us to try our hardest, and work together as a community. If the only way this coach could get through to the runners was through escalating punishments, which ultimately didn’t work, then I don’t know that any kind of punishment would have been effective–not being denied a meal/snack/bathroom break, not being left behind, not being forced to sing or dance for others or wash smelly sports equipment, not being banned from future meets, or even having their college plans potentially sabotaged. I’m not saying it was the coach’s fault, but I’m thinking now that the problem started long before that whole showdown on the bus.

  85. skl1 April 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Donna, re the 6yo, why be angry at the school? What should it have done differently, assuming they had no prior warning that this could happen with this child? I’m told they were not allowed to touch her in order to get her to stop.

    As for what the parents are or should be angry about, the fact is that t hey sent to school a child who was out of control and they don’t see how they have set the school up for failure with this child. Even if the parents did not create the behavior problem, they should feel responsible for fixing it or mitigating it. “I know she has mood swings” doesn’t cut it.

  86. Donna April 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Emily – If I remember correctly, you don’t have children. I think that may be the problem you are having with understanding that kids just do bonehead things sometimes. My well-behaved and generally compliant child will occasionally hear me ask her not to do something, hear me detail the consequences if she does it and DO IT ANYWAY. She doesn’t want the consequences. We have a great relationship. She is just a KID and sometimes her wants overtake her rational thinking. The brain doesn’t fully develop until 23. Underdeveloped brains sometimes do bonehead things for no reason other than they are underdeveloped brains.

    For example, my senior year our class valedictorian and several other members of the beta club (honor society) all managed to get themselves suspended for 3 days. I’m not sure of the details but it involved sneaking out of hotel rooms after curfew during a beta club trip, drinking and playing poker. If you are going to pick out a group of kids who SHOULD make stellar decisions all the time it would be these kids. And they did make good decisions most of the time. There was no underlying reason for this behavior other than sneaking out of hotel rooms, drinking and playing poker sounded like fun at the time and the “that sounds like fun” portion of the brain overrode the “this is not a good idea” portion of the brain at that moment.

    All the things that you are talking about could be possible. It is also completely possible that the kids involved were just jerks. It is also completely possible that they were good kids who just did a bonehead thing. It really doesn’t matter in the long run. They shouldn’t have been a pain on the bus. Failing that, they should have put on their big boy britches and accepted their punishment for being a pain. Failing that the coaches did exactly what they should have done.

  87. Donna April 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    skl1 – The police shouldn’t have been involved in matters involving a 6 year old. Even if, and that’s a huge if, the school had justification to call them, the child had calmed before the police arrived. The police should have been removed from the equation at that point. The girl was under control and there was no need for police involvement unless an arrest was intended and the arrest of a 6 year old is ridiculous.

    Why do you assume the parents knew their child was capable of this behavior? The child may never have raged this violently before. The parents may truly have seen nothing more than “mood swings” prior to this. The fact that the school was unaware indicates that this was not common behavior for this child. We are not in the first weeks of school. The school has been interacting regularly with this child for 8 months now with no similar behavior. If the behavior was a shock to the school, it may have been an equal shock to the parents. She is only 6 and we have no idea what set this off.

    We don’t know if the parents previously sought help for their child for her “mood swings.” Maybe they dropped the ball. Maybe the behavior wasn’t so serious that the parents sought help. Maybe they couldn’t get help. These are not people with resources and education. It is damn near impossible to get a 6 year real treatment for mental/emotional issues if you have a wealth of resources. It’s virtually impossible when you have to rely on medicaid and Advantage Behavioral (Georgia state mental health clinic). I’ve had many juvenile clients who, after years of trying, finally receive treatment because they were brought into the system and the court forced it.

    These parents are not parent of the year. They clearly don’t get the extremeness of their child’s behavior. That may be because they weren’t there, have never seen anything similar from their child and really believe that it was nothing more than the “mood swings” they are used to. It could be because they are rotten parents. Regardless, handcuffing the child was wrong and the parents have a right to be upset about it.

  88. skl1 April 19, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    Well, let’s just say that if I heard that that scene had gone down with my child, handcuffs or not, I would not be in the media spouting off about it. I would be taking responsibility as this child’s PARENT for her well-being. We can’t demand parental autonomy on one hand and then blame it on “the village” when things go wrong. And since I’m unwilling to give in on parental autonomy (absent clear abuse/neglect), I believe parents need to take more responsibility than the parents in this case did.

  89. Amanda Matthews April 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Donna, have you ever been in a school with a child throwing a violent, throw-desks-around tantrum? A 6 year old can indeed hurt others, even adults, and especially the other children. Yes she calmed down, but she could easily have raged again and majorly injured someone. I had a classmate that was prone to tantrums like this. After such a tantrum, it literally was not safe to have her sitting in the office waiting for her parents to come pick her up, or to let her go back to class and resume the day. We learned that the hard way, after (it was thought that) she had calmed down and then later, as I was focused on my work and didn’t notice in time to jump out of the way, she threw a desk across the classroom and happened to hit me.

    This child was attacking adults that could legally not restrain her. She may have calmed, but if she raged again there would be nothing they could do that they didn’t do the first time. If no one could predict she would do that the first time, they couldn’t predict when/if she would do it again, and obviously her mood was extra volatile that day. Yes, this child needs help, but that has to come later. At that time what they had to do was make the child and the people around her safe. The only way to do that at that time was to involve the police.

  90. pentamom April 19, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    “This child was attacking adults that could legally not restrain her. ”

    This is what the Emergency Services division of social services is for, not the cops, when you’re dealing with a child who CAN be physically restrained (and I’ve yet to see the six year old who can’t be restrained by two health adults with the authority to do it.) They have the power and ability to restrain someone if necessary, and if the child was really that dangerous and unpredictable, she could have been short-term committed to a mental health facility on a time-limited basis until her case could be dealt with. If she was NOT enough of a danger to herself or others to do that, the cops were not necessary.

  91. Tsu Dho Nimh April 20, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    Emily … what you don’t seem to understand that this had turned into a pissing contest between the two students (male, 17, and testosterone poisoned) and the adults on the bus. They had pushed it so far that they weren’t going to back down. Egos were at stake.

    My brother’s way of dealing with this – when he was coaching soccer – was to call the parents of the misbehaving players and hold the bus where it was until the parents had retrieved their children. They got one chance per season to talk their little snowflake into behaving, because the next time it was drive as far as necessary to get the kid. On the third offense, the child was barred from the bus – they could still play, but their transportation to games had to be arranged by the parents. Riding with my brother was a privilege, not a right.

    He also called all the OTHER parents to tell them the bus was going to be late because other players were being too obnoxious to be allowed to stay on the bus and they were waiting for the parents to come get them.

    Once launched, that particular bomb was not canceled – pleading, whining, groveling and promising to never do it again didn’t work. They had had the rules of the road explained to them, and had signed a copy of them before the season started. So had the parents.

  92. Emily April 20, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    Okay, none of my peers in the band in high school were perfect, but our version of “acting out” was more like, someone wearing a baseball cap to rehearsal, even though our teacher didn’t like us to, or someone putting shaving cream in their roommate’s hair on a band trip while he was sleeping–you know, tame stuff. We didn’t get into power struggles with our teacher, because, generally speaking, troublemakers didn’t sign up for band (since it was an extra-curricular activity outside of normal music classes), and they wouldn’t have fit in with the rest of us if they did. The troublemakers were mostly in the “open” music classes (for example, the combined-level vocal class was a huge problem, mainly because of one disruptive girl in particular), and we knew that, if we ever DID get into a power struggle with either one of the teachers (they were a couple, and the husband-figure taught junior band and jazz band, while the wife-figure taught senior band), then they’d win, not us. We mostly got along great, but there were definitely rules in place–and, since we got along well, we mostly WANTED to make the right decisions–and, if we did screw up, we’d know they were disappointed in us, but we’d get a chance to make it right–and,even when that happened, the prevailing attitude was, “You’re a good kid who made a mistake. How do you think you can fix it? I suggest X and Y, and–good idea, I agree; Z sounds good too.” They knew we were still developing, and we’d occasionally mess up, and they didn’t let us get away with things, but they were definitely prepared for when it happened.

    Anyway, I know that teenagers sometimes make dumb, impulsive decisions, but I just think that it doesn’t always work to respond to one dumb, impulsive decision (acting up on the bus) with another (denying kids dinner, and then leaving them behind). It wasn’t that it was “too mean,” but wouldn’t the coach have had some idea of the fallout that might ensue?

  93. CrazyCatLady April 20, 2012 at 2:15 am #

    Skl1, how did we get to this point? It used to be first, that kids did not enter school until 1st grade. 2nd, kids with “issues” did not used to go to public schools, prior to the mainstreaming efforts.

    But, I do know that this did happen in the past. A man my age (45) as a kid used to throw tantrums like this. His older brothers were called and they held him down until his mother came to the school. He is probably on the spectrum, and could/can not control his temper.

    Now we have internet telling us about how bad everything is, but, have you heard about what is or is not happening at your own local school? This kid is not the norm for schools even now. Which is probably why most of the staff and teachers do not know how to handle a kid like this.

  94. CrazyCatLady April 20, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    Emily, I think a few of the football players who did track were on the lacross team in the spring. We were in a pretty small area, the only pool was at the college, and the patrons there (older and giving the college money) didn’t want to swim with minority teens. (Yes, the place sucked. That is why I don’t live there anymore.)

    In general though, when the football players acted up, it was like going nuts on the playground at McDonalds. Maybe bring some alcohol (once) and involve some girls in some petting in the back of the bus in the dark. Those who did not want to be involved, sat up front.

  95. Emily April 20, 2012 at 2:41 am #

    I have to agree with CrazyCatLady. Mainstreaming and integration are all well and good, UNTIL they start ruining school/summer camp/swim class/whatever for able-bodied kids. For example, when I was 13, I went to the same summer camp I’d attended since I was ten, and one girl in my cabin was mentally handicapped. She slept in the bunk next to mine (we had four sets of bunk beds, two by two, then the two counsellors slept on single beds in the front corners of the cabin, and the back corners just had shelves), and she kicked me all night, bracing her hands on the bedposts so she could kick harder. When I complained, and asked to be moved, I was labelled “intolerant” by my counsellors, who were unwilling to switch beds with me, or rotate who slept next to that girl, or arrange for her to sleep in the infirmary or something–and, because I was 13, I sort of believed that my counsellors were right, and I was the one at fault. I’m not saying that kids with issues should be denied a “normal” childhood, but tolerance is a two-way street. Yes, the general population should make some adjustments for those with special needs, but the caregivers of said people with special needs should teach their charges to behave appropriately before exposing them to situations where their negative behaviours can adversely affect others.

  96. skl1 April 20, 2012 at 4:37 am #

    My dd exasperated her KG teacher the other day by horsing around until she accidentally spilled her milk. Teacher moved her to yellow “warning” status and she was horrified. Next morning she went immediately and apologized to the teacher (obviously there had been some discipline in-between) and the teacher started apologizing to me for getting my daughter all worked up over spilled milk. I said, “don’t worry, I heard enough about it. She knows she’s not allowed to be naughty in school. I’m pretty sure it won’t happen again, right, Dd?”

    Meanwhile, the class “behavior problem” (Miss Biter) was looking at me with dread. I think she wondered if I was going to spank the whole class. LOL.

    Not sure why they tolerate Miss Biter in KG (she was an early entrant). One would think the teacher would have better things to do than discipline that child and protect the others from her all day. But whatever. As long as nobody is seriously hurt, it’s between her parents and the school.

  97. Amanda Matthews April 20, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    “They have the power and ability to restrain someone if necessary, and if the child was really that dangerous and unpredictable, she could have been short-term committed to a mental health facility on a time-limited basis until her case could be dealt with. If she was NOT enough of a danger to herself or others to do that, the cops were not necessary.”

    But the school staff does not have the ability to determine if she needs to go to a mental health facility. And I don’t know if things are different elsewhere, but around here the Emergency Services department of Social Services will tell you to call the cops if the child is an immediate threat or in immediate danger. Social Services will work on the case quickly, but the cops do the immediate removal of the threat. Maybe public schools (I know for sure private schools don’t) have a secret hotline to Social Services where they will arrive as quickly as the cops can and take care of such a situation, but I doubt it.

    Either way the result is the same; adults with the legal ability (yes physically most adults can restrain most 6 year olds, which is why I said legally) to do so restrained the child and removed her from the situation. The parents should be thankful she was taken to the police station where they could pick her up, rather than committed to a mental health facility.

  98. Donna April 20, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    @skl1 – And I would be raging at the school and police – and to media if asked – about my child being placed in handcuffs. I would also take my child to task. One does not negate the other. It is possible to be mad at both the actions of the school and police and my child at the same time. I’m not sure why some have to insist that it is one or the other – that if you speak out against the actions of the police, you are somehow negating any responsibility and anger at your child for her actions. I can be mad at my child for acting in the fashion that she did. That doesn’t mean that I have to accept everything that came after it as okay because she was wrong to start with. My child was wrong but so were the school and police.

  99. Donna April 20, 2012 at 6:56 am #

    Emily, you have to understand that how you acted up is not how EVERY kid acts up. In fact, it’s probably not how most kids act up. You are holding the entire world to the “band geek” standard of behavior (I say as a fellow band geek). The world is not made up of only band geeks. Maybe troublemakers DO sign up for track at this school – at least 2 of them anyway. Or maybe these are good kids who were just full of themselves one night. Or maybe they were just average kids whose acting up is worse than wearing a hat.

    What do you suggest that the coaches do if the kids won’t shut up? Hold up the entire bus on the side of the road while they all sing until the miscreants give in? (I suppose that is one possibility but why should the non-offending kids have to be delayed). Loud obnoxious behavior on the bus is distracting to the driver of the bus and unsafe for everyone on the bus. It has to stop or the bus has to stop.

    The coaches acted very much in accordance with common practice at my school during my high school days. If we got too loud and wouldn’t calm down, the coaches threatened missed McDs to get it quiet before the bus wrecked and everyone died. The bus would then get deadly quiet because we wanted our McDs. For some reason, these boys didn’t shut up and decided to lock into a battle of wills with the coaches instead. Who knows why. Could be jerks. Could be feeling wild oats of the tail end of senior year. Could be because the head coach wasn’t there. could be because of a million reasons. 17 of the 19 kids acted responsibly so it is something with these particular kids and not a result of overall coach behavior. If 17 of the kids got locked out of McDs, then I’d wonder what the coaches were doing wrong.

  100. Donna April 20, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    @ Amanda Matthew – I disagree that the police needed to be involved once the child was calm. I don’t believe that she should have been left in the classroom. Everyone needed a break from each other at that point. But she easily could have been taken somewhere to wait for mom where freaking out again would not have harmed anyone. If there is not a “quiet room” (many schools have them now), there is someplace in a school with no other kids where she can sit and wait and not be a threat to anyone regardless of what she does. All it takes is a little putting the best interest of the child before the best interest of the school to think of a place.

    What most seem to be missing is that the child was NOT restrained for anyone’s safety. Read the comment from the police chief (or whoever). He specifically states that the child was placed in handcuffs because she was being transported to the police station and everyone, regardless of age, who is transported to the police station is done so in handcuffs locked behind their back. It was purely procedure that placed this child in handcuffs.

  101. Amanda Matthews April 20, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    And why was that procedure put in place? For safety reasons. And safety or not, as I said before, an exception should not be made for anyone.

  102. Donna April 20, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Yes, exception should be made for a 6 year old. If a cop cannot control a 6 year old without handcuffs, he should not be on the police force.

  103. Emily April 20, 2012 at 10:47 am #


    1. Band students are not necessarily geeks. My high school band was the only ensemble of that level (as in, regular public high school) to be mentioned in the Canadian Dictionary of Music, because the music program there is really good, but more than that, the band reached out to the school and the community, by playing at game days, dramatic productions, and parades and charity events around town. Playing in the band didn’t carry the kind of social stigma you see on Saved By The Bell and whatnot, and the band was as well-known as our (undefeated) rugby team. Also, several band students were also athletes. They still knew how to behave, and honestly, I don’t even remember the non-musical athletes causing trouble either. They all got good grades, and were nice to EVERYONE around school, popular or not, because they respected their coaches as much as we respected our music teachers, and all of those people stressed the importance of being the best person you can be both on and off the court/field/stage/whatever. The worst I can remember anyone doing is maybe sneaking an underage beer here and there at a party outside of school (myself included; I drank at the West Side Story cast party), and none of us would have dreamed of purposely getting our entire group in trouble over a power struggle with a teacher or coach who we liked and respected.

    2. What do I suggest for a disciplinary impasse on the bus? How about this: Assistant coach or team manager/team parent, or maybe the principal takes an extra vehicle, under the pretext of transporting the Gatorade/first aid kit/extra uniforms/whatever. This person follows the team bus, and any players who misbehave are exiled to that vehicle, and then disciplined further later, if necessary–maybe washing stinky jerseys or jockstraps, maybe kicked off the team temporarily or permanently, depending on the severity of the infraction.

  104. Donna April 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Emily, the point was that not everyone is well behaved, not that band students can be popular. Our drum major was also prom queen my freshman year. That wasn’t the point.

    And now you want the school to pay for gas for an entire extra, unneeded car in case someone acts up? I’d be a helluva lot more pissed about that waste of money in our already way cash-strapped schools than I am about leaving 17 or 18 year olds at a restaurant if I were on that school board. My local school district had to cut 9 million from it’s budget for next year. Sorry kids you can’t have computers anymore because we have to fuel a car to follow around the bus for every away sporting event.

    These kids wouldn’t shut up when told, stay on the bus when told or get back in the bus when told. How the hell do you think you are getting them off the bus and into another car? Magic fairy dust?

  105. pentamom April 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    @Emily —

    If I were the parent of a non-misbehaving kid, I don’t think I’d want his expensive uniform (for which I’d have to pay if it were not returned undamaged) placed into the custody of another kid to be washed as punishment.

    Even if you could somehow make those kids pay for any damage, MY kid missing the next meet because the OTHER kid didn’t get it washed and safely returned on time is NOT an appropriate price to pay for THAT kid’s misbehavior.

    Besides everything Donna’s said — the point isn’t that band kids are better behaved than these kids because they’re less cool. It’s that your experience of fairly well-behaved band kids who could be brought back into line with a few words OBVIOUSLY DOES NOT APPLY to kids who wouldn’t get back on the bus after being threatened with being left behind, and who were in the position they were in the first place because of blatant misbehavior.

  106. pentamom April 20, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Also, the idea that discipline problems are anticipated to come up so often that anyone would consider having an extra vehicle for discipline purposes is an indication that some people should not be on the team — it’s not a good reason to actually *have* that extra vehicle. These kids should be threatened with being kicked off the team for this behavior — but that doesn’t solve the problem of what to do at 11 p.m. when everyone needs to get home. IMO the coach’s behavior was entirely appropriate. Yes, there should be a policy saying that the coach should not leave kids behind without transportation while he’s responsible for them, but there should be enough flexibility to recognize exceptions, such as times when that’s the only way to get everyone else home.

  107. skl1 April 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    It icks me out to hear people talking about “disciplining kids” as if they are 10 years old. These are young adults in my view. If they don’t know how to behave in this type of situation, as far as I’m concerned, that’s their problem. I just wouldn’t have anything to do with them on a school excursion (sports or otherwise) again.

    There may be something to the argument that the coaches were not treating them like young adults in the first place. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. Maybe there was a better solution, but hindsight is 20/20. What I picture is a group of exhausted, exasperated players and coaches wanting to go HOME already. And two seniors with cell phones who cared more about their theatrics than anything else at that moment. Who were NOT endangered by being left there until the coach arrived. Worthy of review at the next staff meeting? Sure. Desrving of firing? No.

  108. pentamom April 21, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    skl1, when the kids are under 18 and/or their living and education and participation in sports are still entirely being paid by other people, there’s a gray area about how much you treat them like adults and how much they still need to be treated like the kids they are still functioning as. I’m not saying you treat them like six-year-olds, but until they actually ARE adults, I don’t think they get quite all the rights and privileges of adulthood. And every group situation requires “discipline” of its members in some form — you can’t have any kind of team effort without it.

    Besides, if they were treated like adults, there would be no issue here at all. They’d have been left behind for not catching their arranged ride home, and kicked out of the McDonald’s to find their own way home when the McDonald’s management decided they’d verged into trespassing. And nobody’s job would have been in trouble.

  109. skl1 April 21, 2012 at 5:28 am #

    Speaking of how we treat young adults . . . I am reading a book about longevity, and it occurred to me that maybe the dumbing-down of our youth is due to the fact that our lifespans have gotten so much longer in the past century.

    I may look at things differently from many parents since I am 40 years older than my kids. Who knows how long I’ll have the luxury of supporting them or covering their asses, even if I want to? I have to proceed on the assumption that they need to function as adults as soon as they can be legally treated as such. It’s a good motivation to make sure my kids taste reality as soon as they are ready.

    Not so long ago, parents knew they would be lucky to live long enough to become grandparents (even with early marriages the norm). I’m sure it would never cross their mind that someone should be constantly supervising their 17yo son. For that matter, most probably would have considered it flagrant spoiling to allow a 17yo to play sports instead of working.

  110. Emily April 21, 2012 at 5:31 am #

    Okay, some kids just act up sometimes, and sometimes, there’s just no way to mitigate that without ruffling some feathers of parents, teammates, teachers/coaches/other adults. But, I wasn’t suggesting an extra vehicle just for discipline purposes; it could have also been used to transport an injured athlete home, for example, or to transport extra supplies that might not fit on the bus with the athletes–although, I understand that track requires much less “stuff” than other activities, like football, hockey, or band–for us, it was fairly normal for the back three or four rows to be filled up with percussion instruments, tubas, string basses, extra stands, etc.; or else we’d have a separate van (ideally a Dodge Caravan or similar with flip-down or removable seats) just for that purpose. But as for this story, fair point–sometimes, there’s just no good solution.

  111. Steven Harper Piziks April 21, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    I’m a teacher. Here’s what was going on.

    The reason the coach was in trouble isn’t that the students were unable to supervise themselves for an hour. It was that during the time period when the students were unsupervised, the students were legally still on a school-sponsored trip. The law therefore recognized them as still being at school, which means the school was legally responsible for their safety.

    If one of these dumb-ass athletes had gotten hurt by even slipping and falling on a recently-mopped floor or had left the restaurant and gotten hit by a car while crossing the street, the parents would have had a whooooole lot of legal right to sue the school for negligence. Doesn’t matter that the students were jerks or dumbasses or snots; the parents could sue and they would win. =That’s= why the coach was in trouble.

    The legally proper response would have been for the coach to call the parents and make the entire team wait until said parents showed up. Once they did, he could turn the brats over and be free of legal liability. He could also kick them off the team and be assured the whole team would hate them forever.

  112. pentamom April 21, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    “I’m sure it would never cross their mind that someone should be constantly supervising their 17yo son. For that matter, most probably would have considered it flagrant spoiling to allow a 17yo to play sports instead of working.”

    True enough, but since the setup is now that nearly all 17 year olds ARE in fact still wholly supported by their parents and provided a free education by everyone else, that has an effect on their need for supervision. If they’re allowed to live as kids, they will act as kids, at least to some degree.

    Mr. Piziks makes a good point about legal responsibility, but that’s probably something that needs to change, somehow, instead of being accommodated. I can see a lot of pain and suffering to the innocent being potentially created by that kind of policy being inflexibly enforced. For example, it has happened before that my 19 year old son has driven himself to school to catch a meet bus, while we (his parents) went out of town. In fact, we’re planning to do the same thing next Saturday. Suppose one of those kids had been in this situation — there wouldn’t have BEEN any parents to come pick him up — unless somehow someone thinks it really is tenable to let all the other kids sit in a McDonald’s until three a.m., which is about how long it would have taken for us to come back from out of town, drive to the restaurant, and pick up the miscreant. There is NO reasonableness in insisting that that situation MUST occur regardless of the inconvenience to dozens of other people.

    Has it been discussed before why leaving an assistant coach was not an option?

    Rather, it’s like I said — the *policy* should be that the kids must remain under supervision, but the board should recognize that policies shouldn’t be allowed to create completely untenable situations. Which does seem to be what ultimately happened here, but firing him in the first instance was still wrong.

  113. Emily April 22, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Scott, don’t quite agree that it’s necessarily “spoiling” to allow teenagers to play sports/participate in extra-curricular activities, and we don’t know that it wasn’t in ADDITION to working a part-time job. A lot of universities favour applicants with some kind of extra-curricular involvement over those without, and a lot of people say that a Bachelor’s degree these days is like a high school diploma was a generation ago. Also, there are long-term benefits from these activities–socialization, teamwork, physical fitness (for sports/dance/cheerleading), so we can’t discount these benefits, and treat all after-school activities like a pointless indulgence for young people, as if they were just sitting and playing Wii for hours on end.

  114. Emily April 22, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    I mean, I don’t quite agree–stupid keyboard.

  115. Ms. Herbert April 22, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    About the McDonalds thing. At 11 pm in Giddings that might have been the only thing open.

  116. Ms. Herbert April 22, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    You are right this would not be an appropriate place to walk home. It is a 2 – 4 lane in most places black top US Highway. The speed limit is 65 actual speeds 70 – 100 mph. It would have been pitch black that time of night, and they would be traveling in areas with no houses or business. Just the back ends of farms/ranches. There is a wide shoulder but it is frequently driven on by traffic going the speed limit to allow faster traffic to pass (legal and expected in Texas). I have traveled it pretty regularly. When going the speed limit or even a little over I am frequently passed like I was standing still.

  117. Ms. Herbert April 22, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    If the child is older than the age of reason in your state – you go to the cops and press assault charges against the bully. Get a TRO to keep the brat out of school.

    If the child is under the age of reason – press child endangerment charges against the principal for not controlling the situation.

  118. CrazyCatLady April 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    An extra vehicle? Um, you are kidding right? Yesterday I took my 7, 9, and 12 year old on a school trip that cost us $50 each from their learning budget. Yes, we had some high functioning autistic kids. But an extra vehicle in case someone acted up? Well, do we have to double the price of the trip? For a one day trip to a kids science museum? We left the school at 6:45 am and got back at 11:30.

    Many sports are now paid for by parents. Truely talented kids lose out, because they can’t pay. Doubling the costs doesn’t help.

  119. Cass April 24, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    @ Emily.
    Struggling in veing not to get involved in this debate. You are not listening to people who actually know.

    In the light of day is very different to on the bus at 11pm. Instead of trying to give inexperienced advice maybe just listen to the comments and see if you can really get your head in that space…. It was always going to be a no-win situation, only a very skilled teacher could have handled it… and only a few teachers in a staffroom have that skill.

    Your experience as a girl at band camp holds nothing over the behaviour of a senior male athlete on a bus full of other male athletes late at night after an event. It does not compare. Ask a thousand teachers if they would rather the bus full of band students or the bus of these boys and almost without exception they will choose the band camp bus… They are two very different types of students, and two very different crowds for a teacher to lead.

    I am a teacher. I have been there. I have dealt with amazing students who comply, students who cant be threatend, conjoled, requested etc. I have also experience a hot-headed backed-in-the-corner rookie-mistake argument with a student… There is no backing down. I am reading these comments and so many of the response are from teachers, parents, leaders who know that this is true.

    Here is my advice… Go lead a group of these boys. Experience it. Prepare to be laughed at and scorned though, because the moment you make the mistake of asking a boy to sing to a bus… well you will never ever ever have control of that group again… that is how the pack works. So in the heat of the moment, at 11pm, after a long day keeping these young men in line, when you have been pushed way to far…. make the right call…You suggested quite a few, don’t throw them all at the kid.. just pick the right one… and then stare that kid down as you enforce it… don’t give in… and don’t make the wrong call or not only will you lose the respect of the team and you job, but some people on the internet will start picking your decisions to pieces.

  120. Amanda Matthews April 25, 2012 at 1:14 am #

    @Donna “If a cop cannot control a 6 year old without handcuffs, he should not be on the police force.”

    But you said this wasn’t about control. And by the way, I’m talking about the safety of EVERYONE involved, not just about the police protecting themselves from the 6 year old. A 6 year old can definitely hurt themselves raging in the back of a police car.

    An exception should not be made, because that opens up the door for discrimination and claims of discrimination. Why did they make an exception for this person, but not that one? Etc. It also opens the door for misjudgements; the cops may think it is safe to leave THIS person out of handcuffs because the previous person like them (in age, or whatever) was fine when left out of handcuffs… but they may be mistaken.

    If you don’t want 6 year olds in handcuffs, don’t allow them to get into situations where the school is calling the cops.

  121. Emily April 27, 2012 at 9:48 am #


    1. I actually have worked with kids of all ages, including teenage boys. The most difficult group would have to have been the open grade ten drama class I peer-assisted during my last year of high school. “Open’ meant open to students with learning disabilities, behaviour problems, you name it–and, on the other end of the spectrum were the really bright, engaged, enthusiastic kids who really wanted to learn, but often had to take a back seat while the troublemakers were being reined in. On the other hand, they were all very concerned with being “cool,” so mild public humiliation (or, the fear of appearing “uncool”) was an effective deterrent with them, but YMMV.

    2. While working with these students, and other young people, I rarely got backed into a corner, because I chose my battles. Hat in class? Fine with me. Teasing another student? Deliberate cruelty, absolutely not fine. Hitting on me? Harassment. Backflips off slippery theatre blocks? Potential spinal injury, so go to the office before you end up in the E.R. All those things really happened, but the teacher was more likely to get backed into corners than I was (at 18 years old), because I chose my battles, but she chose EVERY battle.

    3. For the record, I’ve never once been to “band camp.” Even band kids teased each other about that (mildly), since the advent of “American Pie.” There was no social stigma attached to going on band TRIPS during the school year (maybe because we were roaming around Rome while others were stuck in school), but for some reason, going to “band camp” in the summer crossed the line into true “band geek” territory–it was one of our many running jokes. But, main point, there is a difference.