Ed students learn from local incident

by Peter Kaspari & Tara MaurerStaff Writers

Two recent high-profile incidents at Iowa high schools have Simpson College education majors discussing all of the controversy.

In Indianola, high school principal John Monroe was charged with assault after confronting a student at a football game. The allegations stated that Monroe caused injury to a student after pulling his hair and holding him against a fence at Simpson’s Buxton Stadium during a high school football game.

Monroe said he was trying to find out the student’s name and was not intending to pull the student’s hair, but rather was trying to prevent the student from leaving.

Students at another high school in Atlantic were forced to undergo a strip search after being accused of stealing $100. Charges have also been pressed against school officials in this incident.

Situations like these have not only cast school administrators in a negative light but have also brought up questions as to how to handle disciplinary measures after alleged crimes in schools.

Simpson’s faculty in the education department work with their students in hopes that situations like these won’t arise in their own classrooms once they enter the teaching world.

Senior education major Amanda Carson, co-president of the Education Club, said professors teach their students proper measures to take when occurrences like these arise.

“If a situation arises, we are taught to get the students out of the classroom and to get someone else, like another teacher or an administrator, to help handle the situation,” Carson said.

Senior education major Mike Christensen said he believes both situations need to be looked at individually.

“In the Monroe situation, I tend to side with the stories I have heard and read in the Des Moines Register,” Christensen said. “It is not very likely that a principal with his experience, training and reputation would intentionally grab a student by his hair. I feel sympathetic for the student, but I also get the sense that the student was not innocent.”

On the other hand, Christensen said he disagreed with how the incident in Atlantic was handled.

“It is clear to me that ethical, physical and privacy boundaries were crossed,” Christensen said. “A good educator would have been able to take control of that situation without having to perform a ridiculous strip search.”

Senior education major Allyssa Cusimano also believed the Atlantic situation was improperly handled.

“They never should have resorted to such measures,” Cusimano said. “All in all, I don’t think it is right for people in the education system to resort to violence or cross personal boundaries.”

Christensen said many professors try to instill the correct procedures in students by sharing their own experiences.

“It may not always be a part of the planned curriculum, but Simpson education professors are terrific about sharing experiences and giving their students advice on all classroom situations,” Christensen said.

Despite some concerns that events like these discourage people from entering the teaching profession, Simpson’s education students disagree.

Carson said that she won’t change her career path based on incidents such as the ones in Indianola and Atlantic.

“I still aspire to be an educator because situations like these are very rare, and (teachers) need to know how to protect (themselves),” Carson said.

Christensen said that there are many steps to take in order to prevent events like this from getting out of control.

“There are ways to protect yourself as an educator in these situations,” Christensen said. “It’s simple things, like keeping your door open at all times, CC’ing your e-mails to a friend or administrator in the district and keeping close contact with administrators.”

Additionally, Christensen said that different organizations will help teachers protect themselves from being accused.

“Belonging to a teacher’s union is probably one of the best ways to protect oneself,” Christensen said. “With all of these tools, the teacher can better focus on actually teaching than worrying about lawsuits.”