Breaking the Silence

Students opinion on the boards decision over Stessman

Oliva Talbert

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Following the arrest of Dr. Martin Stessman, students at the high school have gone into a lull silence regarding the consequences given to our superintendent. This lack of reaction seems to be the result of the nonexistent communication regarding the situation from our teachers, administration, or Dr. Stessman himself. Our student body and community deserves more transparency in the process.  

We as an editorial team also believe that the conditions of Dr. Stessman’s employment moving forward are too sparing in light of the scene. Although these consequences show students that second chances are given mistakes can bring positive change, the seriousness of a DUI far outweighs the consequences given to Dr. Stessman.

Additionally, despite the fact that the arrest occurred off campus during non-school hours, Dr. Stessman still leads the district. The situation still boils down to an adult, who represents the Shawnee Heights district and community, knowingly breaking the law. We coincide that Dr. Stessman has good character and is a great superintendent, but all actions have consequences. His high ranking status should only make the stakes for Dr. Stessman higher, instead of implementing a politicized immunity. This issue is not about who he is as a person. The consequences he received should have been based on his position of power.

We believe that alternative, more fitting consequences could involve the following:

  1. An unpaid administrative leave until the start of next school year instead of only eight weeks off the job, half of which is being paid for.
  2. Prohibited consumption of alcohol until next school year, going above the alcohol assessment that is required by the state.
  3. And collectively working alongside the interim superintendent to resume control over the course of a few months instead of immediately regaining his position June 1.

The current consequences should also be more specific rather than the vague statutes put in place by the board. For example, the promised “teachable moment” is extremely vague. It should include an open forum assembly with Dr. Stessman and the Board present in front of the entire high school student body. We believe that students questions and concerns should be answered in a public manner. It should also occur before the end of the school year so the seniors are able to share their opinions on the situation that is directly impacting their graduation ceremony, deservingly.

The people of our district also deserve a statement from Dr. Stessman taking responsibility and openly apologizing to the student body and parents, which is a “teachable moment” of accountability in itself. As of today, no official apology has been presented, only the formal reprimand that never took ownership of the situation.

These consequences could reinstate the lost reputation of the board and Dr. Stessman within the student body and the district, and help move forward in a more transparent manner.

 

Same

  • Got off easy
  • Needs to answer to students and parents
  • The “teachable moment” is very vague should include an open forum with board members present
  • Stessman needs to take responsibility and openly admit and apologize to student body and parents
  • Higher spanks for higher ranks

Opposing

  • not necessarily should have fired him vs. let off easy, but it’s a good thing everyone messes up once in life and his whole career shouldn’t be ruined after one mistake
  • his arrest is not related to work vs. he is a direct reflection of our district

 

New

  • a superintendent in another district would have received harsher punishment
  • What it should have looked like
    • put on leave until the start on next school year
    • put in classes and show change (too broad)
    • prohibit any alcohol until next school year
    • work with interim superintendent to resume control over the course of a few months
    • teaches us both sides – can teach students that second chances are good
  • not a good role model for students of the district
  • this is not a ‘teachable moment’ it is an adult knowingly breaking the law
  • The student body doesn’t know how to respond considering there has been no formal address to the students about the situation
  • Just because he’s a “good guy” doesn’t mean that there are no consequences
  • His punishment should be more severe ,this isn’t anything like a parking ticket but a big deal and he needs more than just a slap on the wrist
  • This “teachable moment” should include the board, administration and support staff along with stessman to address the comments questions and concerns of students publicly
  • Seniors should be able to hear him; he should talk to the school before the years over
  • no one is talking about it, even though it is a big issue regarding the politics of the school

 

Key

Same

Contrasting ( 1 v 2 )

New

 

Olivia:

need to have open forum during speaking to students

-he needs to answer to students and parents

a superintendent in another district would have received harsher punishment

-no one is talking about it, even though it is a big issue regarding the politics of the school

 

Colton:

got off easy

not necessarily should have fired him

should have received harsher punishment

-20 days paid/20 days unpaid vacation

needs to be more information on what “teachable moment” means

-off school grounds, non-school hours

his arrest is not related to work

-not aware of what superintendents do

-knowing what the superintendent does would be helpful

 

Isaiah:

let off easy, but it’s a good thing

everyone messes up once in life

-whole career shouldn’t be ruined after one mistake

put on leave until the start on next school year

put in classes and show change (too broad)

-prohibit any alcohol until next school year

-work with interim superintendent to resume control over the course of a few months

-teaches us both sides – can teach students that second chances are good

open mic should also apply to the board of education

 

Ethan:

zero paid days

one out of five is actual consequence

-3 and 4 are the same thing

not mad he’s not fired, but should have been punished more

-”speak to students” could just be a tweet – need to have specifics

-needs to take responsibility

-seniors won’t get to hear the apology

 

Rebecca:

upset he didn’t receive a more suiting punishment

people make mistakes but when in a position of power, you should know what not to do

not a good role model for students of the district

-although it was not on school grounds, he is a direct reflection of our district

apology should be issued asap, not only to students but to teachers and community

this is not a ‘teachable moment’ it is an adult knowingly breaking the law

 

Andrea:

  • Should offer a formal apology to the student body
  • Let off too easy
  • Take ownership for his actions
  • If it were anyone else the consequences would be much greater
  • The student body doesn’t know how to respond considering there has been no formal address to the students about the situation
  • Just because he’s a “good guy” doesn’t mean that there are no consequences
  • His punishment should be more severe ,this isn’t anything like a parking ticket but a big deal and he needs more than just a slap on the wrist
  • This “teachable moment” should include the board, administration and support staff along with stessman to address the comments questions and concerns of students publicly
  • Seniors should be able to hear him; he should talk to the school before the years over

 

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