I can't decide if I should be applauding a school in Wauwatosa, WI, for taking a tough stand on student discipline or appalled at a lack of reason in the case of a girl arrested for texting in class on February 11th. I think I'm appalled.
I've been in the classroom. Texting is a problem. Any teacher who denies that students text in class is either blind, old to the point of senility, or simply not that smart. However, when I caught students sending texts in class, I used our zero tolerance policy, confiscated the phone, and sent it to the office. The kid got Saturday school or a 3-day suspension for repeat offenses. If the kid refused to turn over the phone or denied it, I sent them to the office for an automatic suspension. Piece of cake. No muss, no fuss, just straight-forward discipline outlined in our student handbook.
This was obviously not the case in Wauwatosa. According to the police report published by The Smoking Gun, the 14-year old in question repeatedly denied using a cell phone to send text messages in class. In a brilliant bit of investigative police work, the school resource officer spoke to the girl's friends and teachers and determined that she had, in fact, been using a phone in class, after he had been called to remove her from the room when she refused to stop texting.
The police report borders on the absurd at points:
[Student's name obscurred] was advised that she was under arrest for disorderly conduct. She was told her disruption in class with the phone out, the refusal to obey the teacher, and her not telling us the truth is what got her arrested. [Student's name obscurred] was asked again about the phone and she was told that she would be searched incident to the arrest. She stated she did not have a phone and she was not going to stand up to be searched. These words alerted me with her zipper open and he [sic] refusal to stand up and be searched she was concealing the phone under her pants
He's sharp isn't he? A female officer later retrieved the phone from her "buttocks area" and confirmed that she had sent a text message to her father. Bail was set at $298.
Give her a detention, suspend her, whatever, but arrest her? Really? Around here, we save our arrests for bomb threats, teacher assaults, and drug dealing. Maybe we're just too liberal here in Massachusetts.