PHM explains disciplinary process following fight at Discovery Middle School

The Penn Harris Madison School District has been receiving phone calls from concerned parents and community members about information that has been shared on social media regarding the fight at Discovery Middle School.

They want to dispel rumors while still maintaining the privacy of any students involved.

As part of the process to inform parents, PHM sent the following letter with an explanation of the disciplinary process and how suspension is often just the first step in the process.

We understand that angst and anxiety has grown over these past few days after Monday’s incident at Discovery Middle School and that social media has exacerbated the situation. It is important that all of our families understand that Discovery Middle School, and all of Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation, takes the responsibility of providing a safe learning environment for all of our students very seriously.

As was stated in Discovery Principal Sheryll Harper’s parent email on Tuesday morning while FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act-please click this link for more information on FERPA) prevents the district from disclosing details about disciplinary actions, we can share again Penn-Harris-Madison’s range of disciplinary consequences that can be issued when a student is in violation of our Code of Conduct. Our disciplinary actions are outlined in our Student Handbook.

“Violations of the Code of Conduct may be punishable by suspension, expulsion, or other discipline as determined by the administration. Violations may also be referred to law enforcement agencies where appropriate. The word “school” refers to all corporation properties and activities. Students engaging in conduct punishable as a felony on school grounds, while attending school-related events, or traveling to or from school or a school-related event will be recommended for expulsion.” (taken from the P-H-M Middle School Handbook, page 22).

Step one of our investigation process once a violation has been confirmed is to immediately place students on suspension. This does not mean that this is the end result of the disciplinary process. This is only the first step. This allows school administrators and our Safety Department time to conduct an investigation, which includes but is not limited to talking to other students, parents, staff, and sometimes police investigators.

Discovery Middle School administrators have been working with P-H-M Administration this week conducting a thorough investigation following all of district protocols.

We ask for the community’s understanding that the school or district cannot under federal law disclose any part of a student’s record, including disciplinary actions. This applies to every student in the district. We have sought out legal advice on this matter.

P-H-M makes the safety of our students a number one priority. It is our duty to provide a safe learning environment for our students and we are handling this matter accordingly and will issue all the appropriate consequences to ensure the safety of all our students.

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