Disrespectful pupils miss crucial lesson
June 04, 2000

Iím writing in support of an outstanding and respected principal, Jeffie Frazier, and her attempt to teach a valuable lesson to misbehaving fifth-graders at Helene Grant School. Iím writing because her attempt to instill discipline on this chronically disrespectful few has come under such intense scrutiny from their loving but ill-advised parents and the press.

I firmly believe in the autonomy of our school administrators in general, and in that of our school principals in particular. Frazier was placed in her position because she has earned trust and respect throughout her career in education, propelling the Helene Grant School to prominence as the highest regarded and respected grammar school in the city. She should be given the benefit of a doubt in disciplinary matters such as this.

Who are we, as lay people, to second-guess her decision? Who better than Frazier ó who had been monitoring the situation for months and who had more information about it than anyone ó to provide guidance to the students of the school she was chosen to lead? And if ever one of her policies is to be revisited or reconsidered, the Board of Education has ample provisions and procedures for such review.

In addition, Frazier has the total support of the president and members of the parent-teacher organization.

But, in the face of pressure, Frazier agreed to include even the undeserving students in the schoolís graduation ceremony.

I donít see any victory for the misbehaving students. On the contrary, I think theyíve lost an important opportunity to learn the consequences of their disrespect. I think this lost opportunity will manifest itself down the road in one of two ways. They will either learn at some later date ó when the stakes are higher ó that they canít get away with that behavior, or worse, theyíll never learn that rude, obnoxious, and disrespectful behavior is inappropriate.

If that turns out to be the case, we all lose.

Howard C. Scipio
New Haven
Editorís note: Howard C. Scipio is a state representative from the 93rd District. He is a Democrat