Prince Charming Expelled From Virginia School For GOOD Manners

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Okay, let’s start with this: you’re not going to believe this story. I don’t believe it. And since I am a writer, it would be an easy leap to think I’m making it up. I promise you that I’m not, and you’ll need to take my word for it. I found the story in The Week, a news magazine that sums up reportage around the world. I suppose they could be making it up. I have, however, confirmed the story at several sites on the Internet.

Our grim fairy tale takes places in Southampton, Virginia, in a middle school in their proud school district. I must preface this by explaining (for the very little that it will be worth) that Southampton’s schools apparently have a rigid security policy regarding their school’s front doors, not a terrible thing in itself I suppose, given public school’s miserable track record for security and safety. However, this is a story about far too much of a not-so-good thing.

It would seem that a young man in that middle school just wasn’t using his head. Seeing a woman at the door to the school who had her arms full, the young man had the bad idea of doing the gallant thing and opening the door for her.

As of March 2nd, the boy was expelled from school for this dastardly act.

Stop laughing, it really isn’t funny. not that funny. Okay, it’s funny, but for all the wrong reasons. It gets funnier, so hang in there.

Enter the wolf. (I do not mean to imply that the young man is Red Riding Hood, merely that he is unquestionably the hero in our tale.) School Superintendent Charles Turner, an educator to the end (and may his years as an educator end soon) explained that good manners are simply no excuse. “You have to have a system and that system has to be consistent.”

Okay, you should be laughing now. Schools, consistent? Since when? In what manner? About what? Certainly not security. School shootings and innumerable acts of violence might tend to make a bit of…um, a joke…of Mr. Tanner’s comment. But we should be laughing for other reasons as well.

What are schools for? In fact, let’s dig closer to the center of the issue, what is the purpose of education? Isn’t it to build bright, moral, intelligent, capable young adults who will confront life feeling that they can make a difference for the better? I mean, isn’t that why we spend all those BILLIONS of dollars on education? Isn’t that why tens of millions of children are entrusted into the care of the wolves…er, Tanners of the world? Don’t we trust educators to make decisions regarding our children that will assist these young people on the road to becoming as described above?

The young man, whom for lack of a name I shall dub Prince Charming, did exactly the moral, helpful, smart thing. Master Charming observed a problem, a maiden in (admittedly mild) distress, and he promptly took care of her problem in a simple, non-threatening manner. He opened a door.

Imagine the meeting he must have had as he was being expelled. “My, what big teeth you have, Ms. Principal”. (He was expelled by Principal Allene Atkinson, who was quoted on an Internet site as saying “parents have been overwhelmingly supportive of this system because our whole objective is to keep students safe.” Yes, while that may be so, I think she and her fellow members of the pack have missed the point, something to do with common sense.)

Imagine the poor Prince explaining to his lordly parents what happened, and why he was expelled from the kingdom. (I will assume their lordliness, since they have clearly raised a good, moral and Charming lad.) Were they confused? Did they laugh? Have they considered consulting with the royal attorney?

Look, Ms. Atkinson, Mr. Tanner, put the metal file down. You’ve proven the sharpness of your teeth and the bigness of your eyes to the world. We can all see that you mean business. We’re just not certain what sort of business. It certainly cannot be the business of education, since you are not serving the ends of that once noble profession with moronic moves like this one. This young man should have been held up as an example of the right and good. He set the system aside when common sense and manners called for it. We want ALL of our children to do that!

Perhaps you see yourselves as very well-paid baby-sitters? You know, a baby-sitter’s job is to invite her girlfriends over, make a mess, eat some food that does not belong to her, party, use the house phone to call Tripoli, and um, keep the children in her care sort alive and not-too-injured until mom and dad return home, then collect her wages and go meet her boyfriend. Yes, I do think that’s probably a fair idea of how these people view their job descriptions.

In the end, what do we have here? We have a paranoid and inflexible system created by scared and rigid people and born of desperation and failure, and we have a young man who did the right thing, and so he became the victim of that system.

I knew big bad wolves were scary. I just didn’t think until now that they were also stupid. Don’t you people know that you just don’t treat Prince Charming this way? Word might get out, and then the entire kingdom will see you for what you are – wolves in administrators clothing.
_____

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22 comments on “Prince Charming Expelled From Virginia School For GOOD Manners”

  1. Okay, so what exactly was the “system”? What boundaries did Prince Charming supposedly overstep in holding open that door? This is insane, and I am officially flummoxed.

    Yolanda

  2. And me. That’s why I wrote the article. But perhaps we should not be confused at this point. After all, given the thousands of stories each year of abuses and bone-headed decisions and actions by school administrators and “trained” teachers, this is starting to sound more like the very sad norm. A school where this sort of abuse never happens will soon be considered a miracle, I suspect.

  3. Reminds me of when I was in school and nearly suspended from the bus for slouching in my seat.

  4. Is there a security policy against holding open doors? Against allowing unknown people into the building? Against boxes that have not been searched?

    Not quite sure what security – or other strictly enforced policy – could account for this decision. Seems if there is a security violation it would be with the person walking in with the box, which is always quite threatening.

    Would be interested to know what the reaction of the family is going to be. Can’t imagine they would send him back.

  5. I hope they do not send him back! There should never be a policy that replaces common sense and decency!

  6. When I went to brick-and-mortar school, we had the same policy. Everyone had to be buzzed into the school. And no matter how cold, wet or otherwise distressed the person was, we were in no circumstances to open the door. Even if we knew them, we couldn’t do it. I get the concept of keeping bad people out of schools but raising kids in a bubble like that is never a good thing. Sadly prince charming can’t help the damsel in distress because god forbid she could be a pedophile, terrorist or otherwise bad person. *sigh* #ridiculous

  7. Why didn’t you link to the articles, instead of saying you read them & you are sure it’s real?

    But when kids get shot in school, the schools are told they’re not doing enough. Can’t have it both ways.

  8. Hi Kelly,

    There were many articles in many papers, it was well covered at the time. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know that most of the harm taking place on campuses is not brought by visitors, but by students harassing students (46% of all students surveyed in 2011 said they were harassed this year), and by faculty and staff abuses of children (6-10% of all students will be sexually abused, per the Dept. of Education’s 2004 report, during their years of school). Yes, some amount of abuse might come in the front door…and walk by the secretary and staff, etc. But the vast majority of things to be afraid of are allowed in with open arms. This was a woman carrying packages. Women rarely shoot students, I’ve never heard of any case of it. Have you? This young man’s acts were common sense, period, and the school’s response was ridiculous. Do you find it at all hard to believe that this happened? If so, please read more of the posts here.

  9. Yes, the schools policy does need to explained & say what rule he broke. In my sons school people can only enter after having their drivers license scanned at the door & being buzzed in. This has in fact kept sex offender out of the school- it went into lockdown & parents were notified. Person arrested in parking lot. For that I’m thankful. If some kid had let let this person in because they had their arms full then we’d all be in an uproar over where the system broke down. Since when do perpetrators of crime go by integrity & manners? They trick little kids by asking for help & depend on kids helpful nature & manners to take advantage. While everyone wants to tout how these schools personnel are ridiculous & lack common sense- they are damned if they do & damned if they don’t. Cause if something happened to a child they’d be strung up in the media too.

  10. Hi TJ,

    Your point is well taken, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, to a point. BUT once it was clear what this woman was carrying as she entered the school, and once it was clear the young man had actually done a service, isn’t that a good time for cooler heads and common sense to prevail? Yes, I agree that a school’s FIRST priority (and a parent’s) is the safety of those children in their charge. Other priorities follow, but safety comes first. Yes, schools have a rough time with this one. I would have thought a talk with the young man in question would have sufficed. Don’t you agree? An explanation of why the school did not let people in? Seems like a better approach with an obviously well-intentioned young man than the draconian response the school took. Ridiculous! They forgot their mandate – to care for and instruct young people, to open the world to their eyes, to help develop the next generation. All they saw were rules. “We were just following orders” no longer is an acceptable answer for bad decisions, and it has not been since WWII.


  11. Bill Dilworth says:

    The boy was not expelled, but suspended – and depending on the school, that might mean an “in-house” suspension.

  12. Bill,

    WHO CARES. The school was dead wrong. Their reaction, regardless of “expulsion” or “suspension – and I’d like to see the proof as my info came from interviews at the time – was ridiculously wrong and over the top. Let’s please stop defending teachers and administrator and schools who abuse children! They were put there to service children, not make their lives into mud.

  13. It’s perfectly sensible. We can’t ensure that gun cabinets are locked, because that would infringe the constitution of something. So let’s lock the schools. That will work.

    My daughter’s school is wide open. I could take a nap on the sofa in the hall and no one would bat an eye.

    Dog bless Canada.

  14. Hi Gabrielle,

    Okay, I laughed. Then I thought about moving to Canada… 🙂

  15. So, aside from all the other things they have taken away in schools, now, they put ” good manners ” on the chopping block. If a student back talks a teacher out of not having good manners – he gets detention, if he has good manners and helps someone in the school he gets expelled. No wonder the kids of today think everything is a$$ backward. As for me, this just reinforces why I homeschool. It’s tough but in the end, worth it. Schools today are taking so much ” common sense ” away and they are also taking away the parents right to parent and be involved in their child’s education. Right before I pulled my kids from school, I was getting calls every other day from the school nurse. My daughter was fainting.After thousands of dollars of tests later it was determined that my daughters teacher charged what she called ” Boland Bucks ” for the kids to use the bathroom. My daughter STOPPED drinking so she wouldn’t have to use them ( kids earned them and they could use them at the end of the week for treats etc )and go to the bathroom. She was dehydrating herself. Doctor had to write an RX for my daughter to drink Gatorade throughout the day and NOT be punished when needing to use the bathroom. The teacher would dump the Gatorade and put water in it saying when my daughter spilled the Gatorade it would create a mess, although she never had a chance to prove she would spill it or not. I went to administrators, the Super and was told ” It was her classroom and they would not intervene ” So after a concussion from passing out and hitting her head on PAVEMENT it’s okay the teacher and school, put our kids in danger and I am not suppose to be upset over that ?! Yet, if my daughter was dehydrating herself in my care, Social Services would have been all over me. I don’t get it ! This wasn’t my only nightmare – if you have a child with any type of disability – forget it ! My son has an auditory processing disorder, had an IEP, I don’t think they ever looked at that thing, they only wrote it to stay within the law. The school felt ” Ritalin ” would be a cure all. Not a chance !

  16. Hi Melissa,

    I agree with your assessment, all of it, of course.

    As to your story, WOW!!! That is simply horrifying! They are truly nuts, and the system originally intended to educate and care for children is obviously and completely broken. I’ll send many people to read your story. If you’d like to write it in full, I’ll happily publish it here on this blog. Send it to me at cttauthor@aol.com. Thanks for sharing some of the ugly truth of how schools operate.

  17. Interesting story but the kid was suspended for one day. The school rule was to not open the door until the person is identified by school security. This keeps crazies out and kids safer.

  18. Where did you get your info? Who cares how long he was suspended for? The point is that the school personnel should a lack of common sense, and frankly, even decency. The story is merely typical of a system that has lost its goal, its perspective and its mind.

  19. Dear Steven,
    I don’t believe in the mindless enforcement of zero-tolerance policies, but I do believe there is a difference between expulsion and suspension. According to WTKR (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/va-boy-suspended-for-opening-door-at-school/), the student was suspended. In either case, I do not believe in schools being proxies for prisons, nor students treated like inmates. Keep up the good work!
    Sincerely,
    Kenny Dill

  20. Hi Kenny,

    Thanks, the reports at the time said otherwise, but I appreciate the update if it’s so. And we’re of one mind on the school/prison thing, of course. Thanks for writing in!


  21. paul henry says:

    so why couln’t you link at least one of the articls on this subject?

  22. Look them up, Paul. You found this blog, you can find the articles. If you’re interested, you’ll make the effort. I’m not writing some kind of college thesis. I do the research when I write, the info is out there.

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