Suicides are never associated with a single cause, experts say. But Nick’s difficulties – based on interviews with family, friends, experts and school officials, and more than 100 pages of case documents – allow a close look at how consequences intended to help a student correct course instead can fuel a growing despair.
His story follows patterns described by parents in at least a dozen other Fairfax cases with similar disciplinary consequences. Even first-time offenders are out of school for long periods – a month, two months, longer if an appeal is filed. When they return, more than half are not returned to their original schools and can face difficult transitions – new teachers, new friends and new classes.
Phi Beta Iota: We grieve for this family, and this post is a contribution to the public dialog. In Fairfax County, the school is an extension of the police, not an extension of the family. Originally inspired by the spread of very young Hispanic gangs into the schools–the police did a phenomenal job in shutting that down–today the police are an alternative to intelligent internal discipline. The schools have failed to evolve and adapt to digital natives to the point that the brightest students are dropping out or turning out, with the schools becoming advanced child care. This is not a new problem, but these suicides do offer an opportunity for re-examining what we regard as very poor administration of the Fairfax County school system philosophy and practice.