Many SHS parents were surprised to receive a September 29 letter from Principal John Klemme discussing a fight that had occurred at a private party over Labor Day Weekend where two students were seriously injured.
Though no one is talking, the story on the street is that up to 30 students, including some members of the football and boy’s soccer teams were involved in a brutal fight at a private home. One student’s nose was shattered and another had injuries to his ribs. Both were taken to the hospital for treatment, though police were not called and no incident report was filed.
Since the Scarsdale High School Athletic Code dictates that students who misbehave on or off school grounds will be punished and may lose their privilege to participate on the team, Principal John Klemme and Assistant Principal Fred Goldberg interviewed suspects and attempted to find out what happened and who is to blame.
From his letter, it is clear that no one wanted to talk, including the students who were battered or their parents. According to Klemme, “Perhaps more disheartening for our school and its relationship with the community, however, is that while we teach and rely upon honesty, respect, trust, and integrity, some students and adults have adopted a "code of silence" that protects the guilty and sends disturbing messages to all.
Unlike the infamous homecoming event in 2003 where drunk students were taken straight from the high school to the hospital, this event occurred off campus and there were no official witnesses. After the homecoming incident, Klemme made extensive inquiries and some students were suspended from school, based on information gleaned from other students. As the suspensions appeared on student’s transcripts there were many heated exchanges between angry parents, students and the administration at that time.
In this case, there was a brutal fight and perhaps someone should be called on the carpet rather than sweeping the entire incident under the rug. No one seems to want to be caught in the glare of the police headlights or be held accountable in the principal’s office. The Athletic Code does not appear to be enforceable when students and parents refuse to cooperate with coaches and school administrators.
By shielding their children from any disciplinary action parents may be doing them a disservice. When bad behavior goes unchecked, children can be empowered to continue to act out and get into even bigger trouble, assuming their parents can bail them out.
Rather than simply let this blow over, should the school enforce a punishment for the two teams that were involved? Even though the entire teams were not present, should the school let students know that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in the future? How about canceling a game, scheduling a face-to-face meeting with the two teams or requiring a day of community service? This would give students the opportunity to ponder what happened, diffuse the anger and hopefully give them pause before engaging in another brutal exchange.
What do you think? Is what happens outside of school a private matter or should the school take action? Please share your thoughts below.