Re: DSM: a lot of questions

Joseph Roach (
Wed, 02 Feb 2000 18:19:15 -0500

Greetings to Martin Wilke!

Joe Roach from The New School in Delaware here. I'll give you answers
for our school.

> 1. Is there any minimum age for seeking a diploma? Or could a
> 13-year-old just try? What is the earliest age a student ever left the
> school with a diploma?
We do not specify a minumum age in our law regarding diplomas. We have
granted 4 diplomas so far (3 in June 1999, and 1 in June 1998). Our
youngest diploma winner was just under 17 when she was given her
> 2. How often students were expelled? And what do they have to do for
> being expelled?
So far, we have expelled 2 members of the School Meeting -- 1 last year
in May, and one in Oct. or Nov. 1997. The most egregious offense at our
school is failure to comply with a JC sentence -- that implies a denial
of wanting to work in the system at all. We had one young man a few
years ago who would sign in at school, then go off campus and steal
cars. That fella was apprehended by the police, and arrested. His
family withdrew him from school.
> 3. While Sudbury Valley has more than 200 students, the others are much
> smaller. What is the "usual" number of students and staff for a Sudbury
> School? Are specific problems for rather small schools, for example with
> age mixing (because there aren't so many people you can mix with)?
We seem to be steady right now at about 50. We have 4 full-time staff
members, and 2 part-time staff members. We do have some problems
because our age distribution is not even. We have admitted many
teenagers, and would like to see more children in the 7-10 year range.
> 4. How often does it happen, that a staff member fails to be re-elected?
To date, we have not had this happen. 4 years ago, a woman volunteered
to be a staff member and the School Meeting did not recommend her to
School Assembly, and School Assembly did not elect her. She was the
mother of 4 school age children, and she had a decidedly fundamentalist
Christian agenda. The students did not like or trust her at all.
> 5. What is your experience with children who have attended a Sudbury
> School and then rather suddenly have to change to a traditional school,
> because their parents are moving to another region?
Schooling is flux in our region, and so students do not seem to be
adversely affected when they change (although we have not heard much
from some of these families).
> 6. What is your attitude towards alcohol, tabaco and pot in school?
We have to follow the state laws of Delaware, so alcohol and pot are not
allowed on campus. This restriction goes for everyone, students and
staff as well. Smoking is permitted in an outdoor area. At this point,
minors are not permitted to purchase cigerettes, but may smoke in this
state -- that could change at any time.
> 7. Is there any violence in Sudbury Schools?
Some of our children are very aggressive, and sometimes they express
that aggression through violence. So far we have not had any serious
incidents because other school meeting members are not willing to let
people hurt each other around here. We have had no problems with
weapons here. We have had rare threats, but JC tries to be sensible and
deal them case by case.
I hope this is helpful. Best regards,

Joe Roach

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