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Students treated like prisoners? Parents complain charter school goes too far with new disciplinary program

The Excellence Boys Charter School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn was defending itself Tuesday against parent complaints that its new, “Scoreboard Behavioral System” was discriminatory and treating disciplined students like prisoners.

“We  have a college prep school and everything we do here is about getting students ready for college,” said Head of School, Samantha Tweedy, on Tuesday.  “The discipline is helping students get back on track and focus on learning.”

A father of two sons who attend the Middle Academy, grades 5 through 8, contacted PIX 11 about a memo sent out by the school in early January.  The memo explained the Middle Academy would allow students to earn—or lose—achievement points, based on their behavior.  Starting each school week with 50 points, any student left with 0 or less points by week’s end would be subject to five days of detention–and designated “Out of the Brotherhood”.  This means they would be placed in a separate room for breakfast and lunch—and ordered to wear a light green Polo shirt, instead of the blue Oxford shirt boys in the Middle Academy typically wear as part of their uniform.  Other scholars, as the school refers to students, would not be able to interact with the disciplined  boys.

“It’s offensive,” said ‘Jason Vincent’ (not his real name), who e-mailed PIX 11 about the practice,  “because, first of all, they’re all young, black men, and I don’t feel that I should have to be concerned  with a school seeming like a prison.  That’s not what I send my children to school for.”  Vincent told us his sons are honor students but were already designated “Out of the Brotherhood” for one of the weeks in January.

After complaints about the name, the school changed it to “In School Reflection.”

One of the mothers who’s upset about the new system did allow herself to be identified.  Chanon Judson-Johnson has a son in 5th grade.

“It doesn’t promote excellence,” Judson-Johnson said.  “What it promotes are feelings of inferiority….feelings of shame.”  She added, “What about the focus on academic points in Math and Science?”Excellence

The Excellence Boys Charter School boasts on its website that its 540 students score higher than most pupils in the city and state in Assessment Testing for math and reading.  The school day starts at 7:30 am and doesn’t end until at least 4 pm.

Two mothers who called PIX 11 after we visited the school wanted to voice their support for the new system.

Karen Austin has one son in the 8th grade.  “It seems to be working excellently with my child,” Austin said.  “Before, he used to be in detention quite a bit.  With this, he hasn’t been in detention at all.  This is a new baby.  We have to give it a try.”

Austin pointed out to PIX 11 that her son has been with the charter school since it opened nine years ago.  “The teachers are really working hard to raise a different kind of boy in our community,” she said.

Another mother, Selma Smothers, has a son who’s now in 6th grade.  She likes the system, too.  “It teaches children there are consequences to your actions,” Smothers said.  “You also have the chance to gain points back,” she noted.

But Henry Butler, director of Community Board 3 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, doesn’t like the policy.  “If the end result is making a child feel like an outcast, that I don’t agree with,” Butler said.  “Making that child an outcast could make that boy withdraw from the other students.”

Chanon Judson-Johnson told PIX 11 she’s now thinking of removing her son from the school.

But Head of School, Samantha Tweedy, said to PIX the program is moving in the right direction, and tweaks are being made along the way.

“The lion’s share  of those adjustments have been incredibly well received by the school community,” she said.  “What we’re doing here is about getting our kids to college.”

 

 

 

 

VIEW & ADD COMMENTS

180 Comments to “Students treated like prisoners? Parents complain charter school goes too far with new disciplinary program”

    Anonymous said:
    February 1, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    Some parents discipline may differ from that of administrators. So, is true regarding rules at home and rules at school. Like it or not its life. Do you try to change your employment policies that don’t fit your liking, and have you been successful with it? It’s the school policy and it needs to be adhered to. Theres always the option of sending your child to another school.

      Parentadvocate1 said:
      February 1, 2013 at 11:40 PM

      Excellence is not an employer but a public charter school that receives public funding to educate children. Humiliation is not something that children have to adhere to.

      kima said:
      February 2, 2013 at 6:33 AM

      nor is it a factory. btw, isn't the school bus strike doing exactly what you feel employees don't do. this couldn't be the only time you've heard of employees protesting against unjust policies? or could it?

      cconcernedparent said:
      February 2, 2013 at 7:33 AM

      And people who don't like the second amendment should leave the country???
      All the women of India should leave India???
      Or how about women leaving this country because of a lack of rights???
      Should people of color go back to Africa?
      According to this solution we should have never fought for INTEGRATION OF of schools.
      As was said before some of the perks your children have enjoyed is/was because certain families work and have worked to make Excellence and this world a better place. Your solutions are not solutions at all. Differing is not grounds for flight. Anonymous seems to have decided to ignore all those who fought in the past for rights that your family currently enjoys. Following the deep advice of FLIGHT might have this country in an entirely different state if we were to follow it. Since when is defending your child a crime??? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH POSITIVE CHANGE. I find it entertaining when those who do not know all details… Have Solutions…that can be summed up in 5 sentences. The issue is longer than the solution?? Entertaining

        Parent2 said:
        February 2, 2013 at 8:33 AM

        Cconcernedparent stay focused on the change that you are trying to acheive. There is alot of unnecessary chatter that doesn't help your child. Many of you parents are looking for a fight and you may get one but the longlasting affects may haunt the child you are trying to protect.

        ParentAdvocate1 said:
        February 2, 2013 at 9:56 AM

        Obviously, concernedparent is focused and the "chatter" is necessary because it seems as if some don't understand how change comes about. People that are doing the wrong thing whether intentionally or unintentionally normally don't just wake up one day and have a change of heart on their own. Your message of a child being haunted should be directed at the parents that will allow their child to be humiliated at the expense of getting a "good" education that is currently a C rated school. The parents that are contesting are informed and involved parents that are advocating for their children and yours and will monitor their children and the school closely.

        Parent2 said:
        February 2, 2013 at 11:13 AM

        I can advocate for my own son. I will not allow him to be humiliated at any expense. If you want to make change then come with concrete suggestions. Don't make yourself a part of the problem. Every student is not having the same issues . Again, stay focused, if you are looking for a majority of support from the parents of the student body to address the disciplinary actions, speak with a level head and don'i attempt to insult them.

        cconcernedparent said:
        February 2, 2013 at 10:48 PM

        Insult whom???

        cconcernedparent said:
        February 2, 2013 at 10:46 PM

        Parent2 you go ahead and advocate for your son but I see your perception is that parents want to fight. Not sure where that came from and I would appreciate not placing that stigma on me. This is about OUR kids NOT YOURS. What's wrong with my chatter about our kids (not yours) again… by the way damage is and has been done. That's why I ADVOCATE for our kids…we advocate differently… Exercising Rights is Good…Where was the problem??? You sound like you have Intel on HAUNTING.. Share : )

      ParentAdvocate1 said:
      February 4, 2013 at 6:11 PM

      Parent2 Respectfully speaking- you really do not make any sense. Are you in favor or against the policy? Because it seems that you are not in agreement but since it doesn't affect your son, It is no concern of your if others are affected by it. It is a behavioral policy that is set in place for any student your son included. Here is the suggestion when looking to put in a behavioral policy don't put one in place that will humiliate or ostracize the chid. If it is a policy that the administrator, teacher or staff member in that school wouldn't want to be subjected to by their superior then it shouldn't be done. So you continue to stay on the side line and make back room deals when you "advocate" for your kid because as you may know those are the parents they will bend the rules for when you confront them and say you don't agree and constantly stay on them which on a case by case basis they may give in some way with some other form of punishment since they don't want others to come together. They will also not own that what they are doing is wrong. It needs to be a fair policy in place for all.

    kima said:
    February 2, 2013 at 6:28 AM

    The inflicting of emotional distress, mental distress, or mental injury on another person constitutes psychological abuse. If intentional psychological abuse causes harm, it could be actionable as a tort. While the latitude allowed teachers in selecting teaching methods may make the intentionality of abuse difficult to determine, professional negligence may also be charged. first, determining the relationship between the children's physical complaints and the teacher's actions and, second, establishing the credibility of the children through an appropriate form of examination. The extent to which students are accorded legal protection from psychological abuse may be comparable to the extent of their protection from physical or other forms of punishment in the school environment.

      YGB said:
      February 2, 2013 at 9:07 AM

      Are the parents afflicting emotional and mental distress on their children? What is your suggestion within all you have stated?

        kima said:
        February 2, 2013 at 6:57 PM

        abuse comes in many forms. such harsh disciplinary tactics have an adverse psychological effect. I don't want this to go unaddressed to then hear about all the victims of this type of damage on Oprah 10 years later. No one has seen the white paper on these methods. Where did they come from? Or is it because they are being administered by Excellence the God of Education we are all suppose to walk by faith?

        ParentAdvocate1 said:
        February 4, 2013 at 6:17 PM

        The school is in a position and is thought to be qualified to educate and ensure the physical and emotional well being of a child while in their care. This policy clearly violates the emotional, the fact that it is emotional abuse doesn't make it any less detrimental than physical nor does it excuse the school from inflicting this kind of distress on a child. This is an educators field of expertise and study and to do something that is not in accordance with the child's well being is an intentional act and negligent on their part.

    natasha said:
    February 2, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    good, bad or indifferent, discourse informs the decision making process. how nice it would have been if Excellence would include those who the children belong to about decisions that will impact their lives. The Excellence community AINT never had so much to say about anything this substantive. Change WILL come!

    Annonimous said:
    February 3, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Dear Parents!

    Please continue to fight for your children! There’s no needs to change your son from any schools. The school has to change for our children!

    If it wasnt for just few individuals who stood strong with their believes some of us, including President Obama would of been someone’s slave.

    Dont ever, ever give up!

    “Find something you really love where you think that you’re making a difference and your existence on the face of the earth is justified by your doing something that’s really made the world a better place for some other people.”

    David Rubenstein

    Esq said:
    February 3, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    I am well known with this school. Extreme administrative, teacher and school attrition! get an atty.

    Esq said:
    February 3, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    I am well known with this school. Extreme administrative, teacher and student attrition! get an atty.

      kima said:
      February 4, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      r u volunteering your services

        Esq said:
        February 7, 2013 at 12:36 AM

        How can I get in touch with you? How many parents are gathering together?

        Esq….

        kima said:
        February 7, 2013 at 5:09 PM
        Enough said:
        February 15, 2013 at 3:11 PM

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    Parent said:
    February 15, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Not shocking at all

    Teacher said:
    February 15, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Parents need to go and put and end to this! I am sure all the teachers are white also. I will be writing a letter to the CEO & Mayor WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO!??

    esq said:
    February 15, 2013 at 3:15 PM

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    Esq said:
    February 25, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    The school just told us that they are not backing down and to find another school

    Jamey said:
    April 19, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Yes! Finally someone writes about New City relocation services.

    Alisabrooklyn said:
    April 29, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    I think that's an awesome disciplinary system . If they behave better they will not be isolated and filled with shame . Once they experience this they will work hard to never be in that situation again . Great training for the real world . Plus a charter school is a privilege have some class and behavioral restraint otherwise enroll in public school .

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    charter parent said:
    October 13, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    Rules are rules and if parents have a problem with the way the school disciplines bad kids then they need to put them back in public school and allow another child who wants a better life to take their slot. Life is about rules and all rules must be followed reguardless of age.

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