Discipline outlined in BHS policy
Baldwin High School Principal Allen Poplin said the district isn't trying to be secretive about disciplines that have resulted from recent incidents at the high school. But he said there are things the school can't disclose to help protect the privacy of the students.
"We're not allowed to share confidential information about students," Poplin said. "As we're dealing with specific incidents at school, we simply can't identify students on the front page of the newspaper and the consequences that apply."
School officials have declined to discuss any discipline taken against the student who allegedly had a shotgun on school grounds after hours or the student who allegedly harassed another student by rubbing his face in his groin. Both incidents were reported to Baldwin police earlier this month. The Douglas County District Attorney is currently deciding whether charges are warranted on either incident.
Poplin said though the school won't release information on individual students, the consequences for any inappropriate action are made clear to the students, parents and patrons each year.
"Our policies are all laid out in the school handbook," he said. "The consequences are straight forward.
"And I assure everyone, those policies are followed," he said. "Consistency is the key."
For example, Poplin said, should a student bring a weapon on school grounds, the handbook states the student will be suspended for an entire school year.
"That's what the law says," he said, "that's what we do."
According to policy, if a student is caught with a weapon on school grounds, the student is given a 10-day, short-term suspension. During that time, Poplin said, a hearing is convened, a hearing officer is appointed, both sides are represented and the facts are presented. Then, if the student is found guilty, a year's suspension will follow.
The same process is followed, he said, for other, more serious incidents, though it can vary depending on the situation. But, he said, the consequences for actions are clear in the student handbook.
Not only does the school go over the policies in the handbook with the students at the beginning of each year, he said, the school also places an emphasis on helping students make the right choices and taking responsibility for their actions.
"We want to be proactive," he said. "We want to do things before they happen. We've been doing these things for years."
Melody Hoffsomer, BHS counselor, said the school teaches lesson during student seminar and has assemblies about respect for and tolerance of others, leadership and character. The students also learn about freedom of choice, self discipline, self respect, empathy and personal responsibility.
"We've hit it pretty good," she said. "We could probably hit it harder, like anything else, but I think the kids have been pretty receptive to it."
Poplin said the school's statistics, including the number of violent acts committed against students and teachers, attendance and graduation rates, and felonies and misdemeanors committed, are available to the public through the building report card.
"That information is out there for public knowledge," he said. "We're proud of it.
"There's never been an attempt to hide anything at Baldwin High School," he said. "There are just certain things we can't share because of confidentiality."