WO students have too many chances

Austin Book

A student got in a fight and was subsequently suspended. Just a week after returning to West Ottawa, the student was suspended again for something else, entirely different and entirely avoidable. If the student got in a fight and then cussed out a teacher, would the student be expelled? What if the student got into another fight? Would that warrant an expulsion? A few students at West Ottawa truly fall into this endless cycle of referrals. While giving second chances is important, it’s also important to ensure the best possible learning environment. In order to decrease the number of referrals, inside and outside classroom problems, and the amount of time dedicated to a small number students, WO needs to expel students quicker.

  Numerous WO students who walk the hallways earn multiple referrals. These students are the same ones that will end up getting referrals the next week. A constant cycle of suspensions follows which just eats up the time of hard-working administrators.

  Unsurprisingly, the people receiving weekly referrals, AKA “ref kids”, wreak a lot of havoc throughout the school. Many of those referrals start in the classroom. Whether the ref kid is speaking loudly and obnoxiously for the entire class duration, arguing with the teacher over missing assignments, or even cheating on a test, these ref kids are creating unnecessary, problematic environments that the staff and students have to put up with daily.

  Sure, the class won’t have to put up with the student for long because an inevitable suspension will sneak its way in. But, when the student returns, the issue isn’t solved 99% of the time. The ref kid will show up again and will cause more drama. “Sometimes I feel like asking, why are you here acting up? I’m here to get an education,” Sr. Rasini Chitphaiboon said. Learning is nearly impossible when a ref kid consistently disrupts the once healthy educational environment.

   An astonishing amount of time is wasted when the student actually shows up. “I estimate that these kids interrupt about 10 minutes of each class,” Sr. Lexi DeRoo said. That is 10 minutes per class which adds up to 60 minutes per day. Luckily, the ref kids are frequently absent due to skipping or suspension, so the interruptions aren’t always present. And, there isn’t a ref kid in every class. Still, when anyone wastes 10 minutes of a class’s time, there is a serious problem. In this case, the problem warrants an expulsion.

  Unfortunately, the ref kids do not create problems exclusively in the classroom. Many ref kids pick fights in the hallway and even steal food in the lunchroom. This behavior is completely childish. “It’s sad when you see a senior fighting a student in the hallway because they’re so close to finishing school. I don’t understand [the behavior],” Sr. Connor Panse said. Ref kids aren’t just seniors, but are students of each grade slowly deteriorating WO’s environment.

  So, what should the referral limit be? Well, creating an exact limit is problematic. The number of referrals handed out vary in seriousness of the problems created. Several students get constant referrals from showing up tardy to first hour. These referrals are remarkably less severe than a referral for getting into a fight. Adding a specific limit of referrals before expulsion is unnecessary. Instead, after each referral, school leaders must carefully review the severity of the referrals, and grant expulsion quicker when the issues do not stop.

  While the criticism of students who receive tons of referrals may seem harsh, the harshness is wholly necessary. These students are abusing the system that West Ottawa has in place. The West Ottawa staff works very hard to sustain the promised educational, safe environment, and letting some kids stay after 100 chances is in violation of the promised educational, safe environment.