As a principal, interacting with teachers and students is not only part of an obligation but an honorary gesture as the school father. It becomes very unfortunate when one has to deal very harshly with any of the students, especially first graders. However, for the safety of the whole school, strict measures always have to be taken. This research paper shows how to best deal with stray students of different ages involved in the same situation.
Situation number 1 where a first grader brings a pocketknife to school can be dissolved easily. According to an example given by (New Jersey Department of Education, 2003), A first grade student brings his grandfathers pocket knife to school to fulfill a show and tell classroom assignment (p. 90). This is the case that as the principal I would like to deal with.
It is hard to imagine and believe that a first grader can bring a knife to school with the clear intentions of using it to harm other students. Even where a serious case of bullying is involved, a normal first grade student would be expected to be withdrawn, shy and afraid of coming to school. The human mind does not think and sought to do such evil deeds at such a tender age.
Further reading the article shows that the student had a valid reason for bringing the knife to school as they wanted to demonstrate in a classroom assignment. Not much action will be taken as a principal. If anything the teacher has to take the knife and give it to the principal for safe keeping until the grandfather comes to school to claim it.
Case number 2 that involves a middle school student bringing a pocket knife to school demands more attention. As students grow, they find motive and enough courage to actually use weapons. For example, the Newark case involving teacher Jose Cotto being threatened by a student with a pocketknife. A report by the Star Ledger author for New Jersey News, (Queally, 2012) relates an incident where James Olbert a 13 year old eight grader told the teacher (Cotto) to keep quite in a disrespectful manner. This kind of incident was neither the first nor the last in Newark. If anything, more teachers came forward to tell their gruesome stories.
Following the court proceedings after Cotto was for apparently making too much noise concerning the incident; the school lost $225,000. As the principal, this is too much money that could have been used to get new materials to enhance the education of the students. Thus more effort has to be put in ensuring that such incidents are not repeated again.
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The laws of New Jersey State aim to protect everyone within the state. According to the (New Jersey v. T.L.O., 1985) case, students have the right to do anything as long as they do not harm other students nor disturb the teachers. However in such cases, students take it for granted that the law is behind them and as a law abiding principal, I have to use the power vested in me to protect the other student from the few corrupt ones.
Situation number 3 where a high school special student brings a pocketknife to school will require not only the principal but the school psychologist as well. The best way is not to scare the student because for starters they are armed and secondly there is no telling to what anyone can do and worse still a student with special needs.
According to (Department of Education) of New Jersey, any authority who confiscate a weapon from a student should keep it safe so that it is not stolen or reported missing in action before the authorities come for it. When it comes to special students, they have a way of thinking that seems to deviate from the way everyone else thinks.
As the principal in charge of this issue, the first and most important step will be to involve the school psychologist and try to get them to have a one on one session with the student in order to understand the motive behind the act. Taking the pocketknife immediately is most commendable but this can be a tricky situation to handle as the student is in high school and obviously big enough to have the physical strength to manhandle the principal. This is a highly delicate matter and very few such cases have been recorded earlier.
The scholarly article by (David, Cramer, & Edward, 2013) focuses on knives and the constitutional laws surrounding them. It comes to attention that the Second Amendment needs to be revised and students and teachers be protected from students with knives.
In conclusion, the State of New Jersey has had a numerous number of cases involving students being found with knives on school grounds. As America becomes more and more open for change and advancement, the safety of every citizen should be prioritized. According to the cases and reports a lot has to be done to ensure that the environment is safe and favorable for students to freely learn and teachers not feel threatened while standing in front of their students. These cases have more to do with ethics and doing what is right. As true as it is that the human nature has some savageness to it, with the right aid guidance parentage, students can be the most amazing people to be around. The Laws of New Jersey State have to be revised and made firm enough so that minors are afraid of going against the law because they know that the punishment is stiff.
- NEW JERSEY v. T.L.O. | Supreme Court | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
- Teen charged in Newark slaying threatened teacher's life in 2009, records show - nj.com