Derby Schools consider lessening punishments for racial slurs

Derby High School - file
Derby High School

DERBY, Kansas – The Derby Public School Board is set to discuss changes to its policy on how it punishes students for using racial or derogatory slurs at its Monday night meeting.

The board is set to discuss changes to the student handbook. One of the proposed changes is lessening the punishment for a first offense for racial harassment or intimidation.

KSN reached out to the school district to ask why they are considering the change. They told us they couldn’t make someone available Monday for an interview. So we reached out to parents to get their take.

“It’s everywhere unfortunately, but I think it needs to stay harsher on punishment on that. Enough is enough. It needs to end,” said Derby parent Jeremy Nix.

Nix thinks keeping a stern response is best when it comes to punishing kids for racially-motivated comments.

“If they tend to do it with a warning, it’s not going to teach anybody a lesson,” Nix said. “You learn lesson in life by harsher punishments.”

Monday night, the Derby School Board is set to discuss changing its policy. Right now, a first offense resulted in a three-day, out-of-school suspension.

The board is considering changing that. A first offense would require “corrective learning components” like writing a report or attending a class.

One parent says changing the policy could be a good thing.

“I think that it would be a good thing instead of suspending them for a few days,” said Derby parent Michelle Couch. “So they’re not at home probably doing nothing instead of being in school and make it actually something they can learn from. Instead of something that wouldn’t really accomplish anything.”

Some parents say it’s time to respond to language that’s become all too common for students.

“Kids and looking at their social media. Some of the racial slurs that come about aren’t even ata white person or at a black person, they just think it’s ok to use,” said Nix.

He says punishment should come from both the school and the parents.

“If it starts at the school, then they need to tend to it. As parents, we need to educate too.”

Proposed Changes to Derby Public Schools Handbook (as listed in the school board agenda)

The language recommended to be removed is indicated by a strikethrough and language added is in italics.

Elementary Handbook Changes:

District employees and students shall not racially harass or intimidate others by name calling,using racial or derogatory slurs, wearing or possession of items depicting or implying racial hatred or prejudice. District employees and students shall not at school, on school property or at school activities wear or have in their possession any written material, either printed or in their own handwriting, that is racially divisive or creates ill will or hatred. (Examples: clothing, articles, material, publications or any item that denotes Ku Klux Klan, Arayan Nation – White Supremacy, Black Power, Confederate flags or articles, Neo-Nazi or any other “hate” group.
This list is not intended to be all-inclusive.)
Violations of this policy shall result in disciplinary action by school authorities. For students there will be a three-day out-of-school suspension for the first offense with a required parent conference prior to readmittance. The second offense will result in a three to five day out-of-school suspension with a possible expulsion hearing. The third offense will result in a suspension from school pending an expulsion hearing. Those violations listed below are no tolerance minimums; the principal or designee shall have the discretionary authority to add corrective learning components and/or additional penalties should this be considered appropriate.

1) First offense. The pupil will participate in corrective learning components aimed at eliminating the offending behavior. These components may consist of learning units such as written/oral reports; participation in a structured class and/or guidance activity; and/or participation in a community-based program, approved by the principal or designee aimed at correcting the offending behavior. In addition, the principal or designee may require an in or out of school suspension and a parent conference prior to the re-admittance of a minor pupil.
2) Second offense. An out of school suspension, with a possible expulsion hearing, and corrective learning components as determined by the principal or designee.
3) Third offense. An out of school suspension pending an expulsion hearing.

Employees who violate this policy will be dealt with in accordance with applicable district policy and procedures.
Any student who believes he or she has been subjected to racial harassment should report the problem to his/her principal, or another certified staff member. Staff members shall refer all complaints of racial harassment or intimidation to a building administrator. Complaints regarding racial harassment or intimidation shall be investigated under the district’s discrimination complaint procedure identified in policy JCE, which provides for immediate investigation and disciplinary action where appropriate. Initiation of a racial harassment complaint will not adversely reflect on the student. The initiation of a student’s complaint will not adversely affect the job security or status of any employee or student until a finding of fact determines that improper conduct occurred. Strict confidentiality will be maintained throughout the complaint

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