Two week’s ago, outgoing Dist. 200 Supt. Attila Weninger urged his school board to examine its discipline policies concerning students who are punished for using drugs and/or alcohol. In particular, he said, as it involves seniors who are not allowed to participate in graduation for such infractions but who had a clean record up to their final year.
Weninger cited a case from this past school year involving a senior. Last week, the mother of that student addressed the board and administration at a school board meeting.
Patty Boblick’s son didn’t participate in the June commencement because of an alcohol-related offense. He also received other consequences, including not participating in varsity baseball and multiple days of out-of-school suspension. Boblick said her son should have been punished but argued that the consequences imposed in his particular case were extreme.
Boblick appealed her son’s case all the way up to OPRF’s school board.
“Please, don’t misunderstand our stance here,” she told members at their June 24 meeting, “We’re not looking for [him] to be exonerated. On the contrary, we felt [he] was due appropriate punishments. He broke the rules; he needed to have appropriate punishments brought upon him. Our issue is with zero tolerance, which throws the same punishment at every student regardless of their past record.”
Speaking during the public comment portion of the meeting, Boblick maintained that her son’s previous clean record should have been taken into account. She also insisted that withholding participating in graduation was “overkill.”
“We believed it was reasonable and appropriate for [him] to walk in graduation,” Boblick said. “He had a wonderful four years at OPRF both academically and extra- curricular-ly. Yes, he made a mistake, and he paid for it. The problem with zero tolerance is it presumes that everything is black and white; and we all know this is never the issue.”
The board listened during her roughly five minute statement, and afterward, a couple of members responded.
Terry Finnegan told Boblick that Weninger had in fact encouraged the board to reexamine its policies with respect to ‘zero tolerance.’ That likely will occur as part of a larger conversation this fall once the Citizens’ Council brings forth its recommendations to curb substance abuse among students.
“This is something [the superintendent] was asking more as a parting desire, that we really look at that and say where is the fairness in a system that doesn’t take into account four years, and is there a situation with a graduating senior that we need to look at differently,” he said.