Did you hear about the impetuous high school senior who hung his invitation to attend the prom on the school wall and got in trouble? The girl said yes to the date, and the principal said no to the prom but later reversed her decision. There is a lesson we can learn from this story that has been boosted by media and social network publicity.
The guy, while basking in his fifteen minutes of fame, has been suspended and can’t attend the big dance, because he hung large letters on the school wall asking a classmate to go to the senior prom. He did this in the middle of the night, which meant he was trespassing on school property. The girl was impressed, and the principal was upset.
It’s difficult to run a high school these days and provide an atmosphere for learning without having the support of the parents, the school board, local politicians and all the other factions that think they know how to motivate, educate and control the students. Well-meaning people flocked to the support of the young man and his date. Some are romantics, others believe that rules are made to be broken, there are the opportunists and, of course, a sprinkling of folks who think anyone in authority must always be wrong.
Hundreds of thousands of people from around the country let their displeasure be known on a Facebook page devoted to the prom issue. Most believe the original punishment was too harsh for this simple offense, which they say was goodhearted in nature and did not hurt anyone. Their attitude is no harm no foul.
However, the school principal countered by saying, “There has been a practice at the school for many years that any student receiving an in-school or out of school suspension after April 1 for any reason would not be allowed to attend the prom.” School board and outside pressure resulted in a change of heart and a new policy to decide such issues on a case-by case-basis, which amounts to no policy at all.
Two state representatives, both Republicans, have drafted legislation that would require schools to come up with alternative punishment for youthful pranks rather than banning students from school-related activities. Where is the wisdom in this? Don’t these politicians have more important things to do, such as keep the state afloat financially?
Isn’t the idea behind school policies to be consistent in punishing offenders as well as discourage others from engaging in inappropriate behavior? If we don’t teach our youth that their actions have consequences and that laws are there for the good of everyone, how can we expect to be a nation governed by the rule of law?
This story is already yesterday’s news, but there is one thing to remember from this incident: the United States is a republic and not a direct democracy. We can thank the Founding Fathers for this. Otherwise, there will be more knee-jerk reaction to the whims of those who want to override policy as they did with the principal who is, in the final analysis, the peoples’ representative. Too bad they did not let her do her job.