RE: DSM: Sudbury Schools in an Urban setting


Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Sun, 4 Feb 2001 23:36:45 -0500


Hi. I'll try to reconstruct what happened to the best of my and Linda's
(aging) memories.

The student in question was five years old. Halfway through his first year
he angrily took off from campus, heading home. He lived 12 miles from the
school; he would have been walking along the shoulder of Maryland State Road
214, a two-way, speed-limit-55 highway frought with tractor trailers for ten
of those miles.

We cannot remember how he got back that first time, he ran away so many
times; once a neighbor saw him and called us, once a neighbor saw him and
called a cop and he brought him, once or twice folks from school saw him and
drove him back, etc.

Following that, as SM was *highly* concerned with his safety, he was charged
with 1-10-10:

"Activities which present a real or potential danger to anyone's safety are
prohibited."

This law was passed within the first few weeks Fairhaven opened. It was not
passed in response to the boy fleeing, but it would have been an appropriate
item had it been. As a matter of fact, not passing such a resolution in
response to such a situation would have been entirely unreasonable by any
measure. But I digress: the rule predated this situation.

As a result of this charge, he was restricted to campus.

The next two or three times he left, he was charged with 1-10-10, and
probably (a little fuzzy here) 5-60-01, Contempt of Sentence. He was
suspended.

Finally, a couple of incidents, suspensions and parent conferences later, we
remember that the parents pulled him. The parents and the school were quite
concerned for his safety, and the parents decided he wasn't ready to be
there.

He returned the following year and there have been no reoccurances.

A couple of comments:

The open campus policy is codified in the Lawbook, 4-71-10:

"The school's official policy is to allow all students to come and go freely
to and from school all day, except as provided for by School Meeting or JC
decisions..."

In other words, all students can come and go freely unless another law is
violated, like the dangerous activity law, the 1-00-10 Illegal Activity law
(the extreme example of a five-year-old walking a highway alone could and
probably would be construed to be illegal in Maryland through the state
Social Services Regulations, which I personally researched in 1997 regarding
a previous open campus issue) or the 0-20-02 Endangering the School preamble
(by engaging in these dangerous adventures, the student brought community
and official pressures to bear on the school in a way that had the potential
to threaten it). However, to my memory he was never charged with either of
these.

As a matter of fact, though his actions presented a danger to the school,
this was not one bit a criterion for his convictions for engaging in a
dangerous activity, as evidenced by, to the best of my memory, not even
being charged with endangering the school

I hope this adds relief to the vacuum which has surrounded this conversation
about Fairhaven's experience, and I apologize for some of the details being
fuzzy - I'm not looking at the boy's record, nor do I care to.

Incidentally, we talked about the fact, of which I was only peripherally
aware, that our JC records are considered "public records" (a la the "public
documents", e.g. by laws and charter, that a non-profit is required to have
available for public review). Clearly this is wrong, that student records
are in an altogether different category than corp docs, that student records
should be private. We will soon push for a law making them private. Thanks
to Bruce for shining his ever-vigilent flashlight on that seam.

V/R,

Joe Jackson
Fairhaven School



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