SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Schools are sometimes forced to take disciplinary action and even expel students who misbehave.
It’s no secret that the teenage years are a crucial developmental time for student, but going through the most recent copy of the Shelby County Schools handbook, it seems like students are handled on a subjective, almost random, basis.
WREG recently obtained the expulsion paperwork for a student at Overton High School — suspended 164 days, an entire school year, for fighting.
The student’s parents said he was defending himself and a friend from being jumped, and they warned officials ahead of time.
“So we go to the school; we tell them everything that’s going on," father Rick Chiles said. "They aren’t taking it serious. So after school, they jumped him. Twenty kids on my kid.”
According to the most recent SCS handbook on the district's website, SCS breaks student offenses down by category, from the most serious Category A all the way down to E.
Fighting would appear to fall into the Category C, which simply lists a penalty of in-school or out-of-school suspension. The handbook does mention expulsion – any suspension over 10 days – can be applied for Categories A, B or C.
Multiple families told WREG that after a group-attack last week, about 20 students have gotten the same expulsion from Overton.
“I want them to look out for them," Ruthie Tuggle, grandmother of a suspended child, said. "Don’t be there just getting a paycheck, or how many students are enrolled for the principal to get paid. I want them to look out for the kids. That’s all I ask.”
We reached out to SCS about their suspension policy and for options for alternative schools but have not yet heard back.
On the expulsion notice we obtained, it allows 10 days for appeals and has a listed office number to call. The district's website offers the same number.
As for one of the students facing a calendar year outside his planned public school, they’re worried there’s only one way to be heard.
“An attorney. A lawyer," Rick Chiles said. "That’s the only thing I can say, a lawyer. I hope the school changes its mind and makes it better for these kids.”
As we mentioned, we have reached out to SCS, and we’ll update this story as we receive new information.