TPSD bullies may get long suspensions

TUPELO – Tupelo students involved in a pair of bullying-assault episodes last week appear likely to face long-term suspensions.
A video posted on Facebook last week showed one Milam Elementary student kicking another in the head while both students were at a bus stop. Another video posted on a social networking website showed one student fighting with two non-students at Ballard Park.
Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver said that he is prohibited by law from discussing specific disciplinary actions taken against individual students.
But he did say that in the example of the student kicking the other student in the head, the district’s maximum penalty would be spending the remainder of the school year at the alternative school.
In any such situation, he would recommend the maximum penalty.
“Any time there is an assault with an innocent victim, my position is that we always need to pursue the maximum penalty,” Shaver said. “I will have zero tolerance for assault or bullying.”
He added that Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill and Milam Principal Travis Beard each visited the bullied student at his home.
Meanwhile, in a case like the fight at Ballard Park, Shaver said students who participate in a fight face a maximum suspension of spending the remainder of the school year at the alternative school. If a weapon is used, the student could face expulsion.
“We have the jurisdiction in assigning punishment for off-campus behavior especially if the student goes there directly from school and plans the fight while at school,” Shaver said.
Both incidents were filmed by students using their district-supplied laptops. The videos allowed the district to learn the facts of both incidents, Shaver said.
However, by posting them on social networking sites, the students were improperly using the machines. Shaver said it would be different if a student brings such a video directly to administrators for use as evidence.
Students posting video of assaults could have to forfeit their laptops for the rest of the year and face an out-of-school suspension for up to five days.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal