Friday, November 13, 2015

9/16/15 Incident At St. Augustine High School: Thanks to St. Johns County School Supt. Dr. Joseph Joyner, Ed.D. for Protecting Civil and Constitutional Rights

Dr. Joseph Joyner, Ed.D., St. Johns County School Superintendent

Dear Dr. Joyner:
1. Thank you for your reasoned, measured response to the September 16, 2015 incident at St. Augustine High School, for standing up for the civil and constitutional rights of both students and school employees, and for protecting due process.
2. You've afforded three school employees their hearing rights, while protecting student rights to safe schools.
3. Your naming separate hearing counsel for the Board and the Superintendent shows prudent judgment.
4. Students have a right not to be assaulted or battered in the name of "discipline."
5 Use of a whistle in school -- other than by athletic coaches, referees or in gym class -- seems primitive and lacking in charisma and good pedagogy.
6. Expecting high school students not to giggle in their cafeteria during their lunch seems unreasonable. It's a school, not a prison.
7. Three school employees wrestling a dissenting student into a wheelchair -- that's wrong. It's excessive use of force.
8. I've read the witness statements, and I reckon that you've made the correct decision, both legally and ethically.
9. The reported settlement with the two school employees -- fifteen days without pay, transfer to another school -- is reasonable and promotes healing, and respect for the reasonable expectations of probity from public school employees in a civilized society.
10. As Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis, dissenting in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 485 (1928), wrote:

Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.
11. I am writing this e-mail because I've read and heard some undeserved, uninformed criticisms of you and our School Board.
12. Some people lack legal and moral reasoning and critical thinking skills. I believe that y'all will not be intimidated by their ranting cant (e.g., emotional invective emitted by reckless, feckless, authoritarian "Anonymice" writing anonymously on The St. Augustine Record website).
13. Thank you, Dr. Joyner, for your wisdom on St. Johns County student and school employee rights and responsibilities.
14. "Character counts!"
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

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