Does decision on Coach Jordan undermine teachers?

My high school principial had a paddle, which he used judiciously to maintain discipline. We didn’t have a lot of discipline problems at my school.

Fear of a paddling, while definitely a scary thought, paled in comparison to what waited for me at home. Dad, an Air Force veteran, and mom, a teacher, fully supported the decisions of the school and reinforced disciplinary action with punishment of their own. That usually took the form of a tongue lashing, and loss of privileges.

That’s because parents and schools used to be on the same page when it came to discipline.

My how times have changed.

Take for example the curious case of Conway High School football coach Chuck Jordan.

The longtime coach recently lost his job when he tried to handle what he considered to be a dangerous situation at the school.

Jordan was accused of putting his hands around the neck of a student, thus violating a rather vague school district policy, according to the interpretation of Horry County Schools Superintendent Rick Maxey.

Not only did Jordan lose his job just before the start of the football season, he was arrested and charged with assault. Charges against him and the student involved in the fracas were subsequently dismissed.

Without going much deeper into the merits of the case, Maxey’s handling of the situation should give every teacher, administrator and parent cause for great concern. Students, on the other hand, can rejoice. Open season for bad behavior has been declared.

Seriously, the message the superintendent sent to his staff by firing Coach Jordan is leave the kids alone. If there is a problem, leave it to the professionals who know best how to deal with discipline (Teachers are no longer considered to be that).

Jordan recently wrote a letter to Maxey to deny the accusations made against him. I found myself nodding in agreement with a section of his letter that talked about the impact Maxey’s decision could have on educators in Horry County.

“Your insensitivity to the threatening circumstance that was present and the duty and responsibility of a teacher to protect others in the school from threat and violence is quite shocking. You do a great disservice to others who will be in a situation like I found myself. I hope you will find, going forward, that the teachers who respond to the request of a student to protect them or see to a matter of this nature, will be fully protected, especially when they do no harm or cause no injury to the offending student. This is important for all of our students and faculty members in every school in Horry County,” Jordan wrote.

The disposition of Jordan’s case sends a chilling message to school district staff. I imagine many teachers will think twice before getting involved in conflicts between students, even though they may be disrupting school or endangering other students.

To make matters worse, the Horry County Board of Education recently began using a private security firm for school resource officers instead of the county police. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

It seems to me discipline in schools has become an afterthought.

And, that is an invitation for further disaster.

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Steve Robertson is owner and publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers

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