Triad Parent Alleges School District Violated Rights

GRAHAM, N.C. -- A Triad father is outraged at administrators in the Alamance-Burlington School System because, he says, his son was questioned about an incident, made to sign a written statement and suspended all without him being present.

Paul Maloney says the school district not only dropped the ball--but also violated his right as a parent and his son's rights as a student.

"This is about, they have a right to speak with their parent. A child is never too old to say 'I want my mommy or daddy'," he said.

Maloney says his 10-year-old son never got that chance while he sat in the principal's office at Southern Middle School in Graham.

"I was called to pick him up from school and to explain what they had already done. I had no knowledge of the process while it was going on. That is wrong," he emphasized.

Maloney acknowledges that his son was horsing around on the school bus with other kids on September 18th while holding a pencil and says by the time the bus got to the school, a student had been stabbed.

Maloney's son was suspended for 10 days.

"I understand rules were broken. There should be consequences for breaking the rule," he said.

The father of three says he has no issues with the punishment his son received but it's the process that troubles him.

"At that moment, my son said I need to speak to my dad. And was very polite about it. They refused. He asked a second time, they refused a second time. He then stood up, walked around to the back where the phone is and tried to call me because this is a 10-year-old child, scared," Maloney explained.

He also says administrators made his son sign a written statement about what happened on the bus with an officer present -- but without his supervision.

"If the child wants the parent involved, why aren't you calling?" he said rhetorically. "I believe not only should I get a say in it, but at the very least the courtesy of being allowed to be there especially when [the child asks]."

The school district maintains it handled the situation appropriately based on its policies.

A district spokesperson told WFMY News 2, multiple administrators talked to Maloney more than once and if he is still not satisfied, he should formally appeal.

The appeals process is outlined in the Student Code of Conduct and is online for parents and students.

But Maloney retorts, that's just another complicated way to drag out the process instead of just fixing the issue.

He says been two weeks and he just wants the district to change its policies and allow parents and guardians to be included in long-term suspensions/punishment of their kids.

The district has since reached out to Maloney to ask him to come in on Monday to talk further about his complaint.

WFMY News 2 checked other districts to see what their policies are:

In Guilford County:

(Out-of-School Suspensions/OSS of 10 days or more)

The following procedure will be utilized when a student is recommended for a long-term suspension by the principal:

1. The principal or designee shall investigate the alleged violation as it relates to the student;

a) A conference will be held with all parties involved in the situation including parent(s)/guardian(s), if they can be reached within a reasonable time,

b) The evidence related to the situation will be presented and reviewed during the conference,

c) If the investigation is complete at the conclusion of the conference, the parent/student will be informed of the long-term recommendation and given appeal information, and

d) If the investigation is incomplete at the conclusion of the conference, then the principal will render a decision as soon as the investigation is complete.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools say, parents do not have to be present when their child is being questioned in the principal's office. If the child does ask a parent, that answer is determined on a case by case basis.

Related article: Miranda Rights and Questioning Children


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