City principals say permanent expulsion warranted
The emotional debate over whether the Baltimore City schools should be able to permanently expel students continued at last night's school board meeting with principals coming to testify about their experiences with incidents that involve fires and explosive devices.
Laura D'Anna, the principal of Patterson High School, recounted an incident that happened a year ago when two boys put cleaning fluid in a bottle, shook it up and caused an explosion. The incident, she said, occurred in a hall outside the cafeteria and near the door of a day care center that is operated in the school.
Because no one was sure what was in the fumes, several public agencies came to the school to investigate, including the fire, police and a Hazmat team, she said. The result was that students spent two hours outside the building after a diffiuclt evacuation. "This was really, really traumatic for my school community. It tore at the fabric of the community."
D'Anna supports permanent expulsions, she said, particularly for students who don't seem to feel remorse for their actions. She said the two boys were the first to be permanently expelled from the school system.
But PECAB presented another view, saying that most parents and community comments have suggested that expelling a student and not allowing them to continue their education in any setting, including an alternative school, is a drastic step. While the organization supports it in rare circumstances, they said parents should be given multiple chances to appeal. In addition, a system should be in place that makes sure there are no quick, arbitrary expulsions. A final public meeting on the issue will be held Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at the school board meeting room.