Friday, December 14, 2007

“Interesting Situations,” Discipline Forms & Capital Murder

Jennifer, my BFF who teaches over yonder on the east coast, and I battle weekly over who has the most “interesting situation.” (In my mind, “interesting” translates as CRAZY and “situation” roughly translates in varying degrees of one, two, three and four-alarm calamities.)

I think I won this week.

I went to the office to grab a disciplinary referral form because I used the only one I had, and it was left over from last year which shows you just how often I write referrals. Kids just tend to behave in my classroom. If I have a problem, I'll mention the liver thing (“Don’t make me pull your liver out your nose”), or the glass thing (“I really don’t want to have to talk to my children through glass”). Those two statements pretty much stop them. The liver one because it grosses them out, and while they’re trying to decide if it’s possible, they stop their bad behavior. The glass thing stops them because it takes them awhile to figure out that I’m talking about prison glass. Either way, in both cases, they wonder if I’m crazy enough to do either one, and well, in the meantime, the problem just disappears.

But let’s get back to the “interesting situation.”

So I grabbed the new-and-improved disciplinary form, and as I’m walking back to my classroom, the words in the lower left hand corner of the 5-part form grab my attention…

Item No. 17–“Murder or capital murder…”

[You can click on the image below to see a readable document. Proof in quintuplicate that I’m not making this stuff up.]

Well, alrighty then… How amazing is that? Does anyone else find that mildly disconcerting? I have in my possession a form–a 5-part form no less–that has a little spot to check capital murder (as well as all other kinds of penal code violations). Needless to say, I trotted speedy quick back to my room and grabbed my newspaper editor who is constantly threatening to slay slothful staffers.

“Katelyn,” I said, “you can’t kill anyone.”

“What? Why not,” she said a bit exasperated because she hadn’t fully recovered from our most recent newspaper deadline.

“Because,” I said with a bit of drama and emphasis, “I’ll have to write a disciplinary referral.”

“What?” she said.

And, then I whipped out the form and pointed to Item No. 17.

“No way,” she said. “Well then, you can’t set your hair on fire either."

“What?” I said.

“Yep,” she said with a bit of smugness. “I’m pretty sure it’s arson. Look at No. 16.”

“Oh,” I said, reviewing the form again. “But is it really arson if you set your own hair on fire? Does it count if you’re the teacher?”

Interestingly enough, my BFF’s “interesting situation” involved smoke and fire, but that’s a story for another day.

I think a check off spot for capital murder sort of trumps that.


Paul said...

Yeah, the form thing used to drive me a bit crazy sometimes as an elementary school counselor. A child who was in no way emotionally disturbed might phrase things the wrong way - "I'd like to kill him!" - and you really had to sit down and do this whole assessment interview and file it.

In a way I could see the point, because if a child made a threat against self or others in the hearing of a staffer who didn't know that child well, better to be safe than sorry. But the loss of the ability to apply common sense with children one knew well and to take into account tone of voice, facial expression, mannerisms etc. in deciding whether to file an assessment could end up in some ludicrous situations where I'd be doing this serious sounding interview with a child who'd just said something completely casual.

I'd then try to do the interview in as casual a manner as possible so as not to REALLY upset the child!

Ruth said...

Good grief! That is one scary form. You hereby win the award for interesting this week.

Anonymous said...

good grief couldn't we just pretend you dont know about it...


Anonymous said...

Oh now, you didn't mark off number 17. What'cha complaining about? ;-)

Or did you? Was that it?

loonyhiker said...

Ours also list rape and sex acts. I bet my teachers 30 years didn't have that on their referral forms. Oh wait, they didn't have referral forms. All they had to do was give me a spanking, tell my parents, and I got another spanking!

Devonia said...

Parent's Point of View: Well, there you go- Texas schools have disciplinary forms which include the word "murder, rape, and sex acts". Are these the same schools that have police stations on campus? Probably.

Homeschooling or vouchers for the schools who can screen out emotionally disturbed children looks awfully appealing.

Teachers, solve the problem for parents who care. You aren't any safer than our children. Refuse to work in a public school. Help us shut 'em down.