Behind closed doors: what happens when someone gets expelled

November 16, 2009 — by David Eng and Karthik Sreedhara

Drugs. Weapons. Harrassment. It’s not a good thing to be sitting in assistant principal Joe Bosco’s office for any of these disciplinary reasons. The administrator may given a student minor penalties like a suspension, but in some cases, he is not as lenient. He has the power to recommend expulsion. But what really happens when he opts to enforce these extreme measures, whether it be a suspension or expulsion, and just how effective are these methods in stopping teens from causing trouble?

Suspensions vary in effectiveness

When Bosco encounters a suspension situation, he sends home a letter in addition to meeting with the student and the student’s parents. After the student spends anywhere up to a week away from school, it’s back to the books. However, suspensions can produce varied results among different students.

“Suspensions are not always effective, it’s individually based,” said Bosco. “For other students, being suspended has a lot of repercussions because of college and issues with that.”

Expulsions become “last resorts”

The repercussions of a suspension, although admittedly detrimental to one’s high school career, are nowhere near the life-altering effects of an expulsion; in the event of an expulsion verdict, the prosecuted student is forced to attend a different school.

Of course, expelling a student is no easy decision, and the school administration takes careful measures to ensure that any accused student receives a fair punishment. After Bosco “lays out the facts” of the transgression, three-person panel comprised of district administrators and office personnel make the final decision. Many different circumstances are taken into account.

“The panel is seen as an impartial entity, and they make a ruling on what’s best for the student and the school,” said Bosco. “I try to make these options last resorts when I do my job, but it’s not always about me.”

Although each case of severe rule-breaking is handled on an individual basis, some transgressions can almost certainly spell out an automatic expulsion.

“Basically it boils down to bringing a knife to school, selling drugs, bringing guns, bringing weapons [to school], harrassment, sexual crimes, arson and explosives,” said Bosco. “Those are the main things that usually get you expelled. [There are] a lot of other circumstances which are all individually based.”

Fortunately, Bosco noted that serious disciplinary issues are not as prominent here compared to other schools in the area.

“We average one or two expulsions at the most [annually]. Sometimes we go without any—we don’t have a whole lot of expulsions,” said Bosco. “Suspensions, 30 or 40, maybe [a year], depending on the class and depending on the other issues that are going on.”

For most students, the threat of expulsion and other punishments is effective in keeping them out of trouble.

“[The offense] obviously goes on their permanent record, so it’s an incentive to not do whatever they did again,” said senior Laura Boden.

Like some, Boden also believes that sometimes the administration goes overboard with its punishments.

“I think they were obviously a little hard on the drug dealers from the incident last year,” she said, referring to last year’s scandal in which several drug dealers and users were either expelled or left for another school.

However, the administration is overall doing a good job in enforcing the rules, she said.

“Teenagers are naturally rebellious and its really hard [to keep them in line],” said Boden. “But I think the school is