Students, staff weigh in on new school policies


Klair Vogel

Photo by Klair Vogel

Dyllan Jones, Editor

Expect to see some big changes this year. Rules and regulations are set in stone to protect students, regulate their behavior, and even reward them when appropriate. Students are especially keen on the rules now, because they’re not all the same as they were last year.

Returning students are especially concerned with restrictions imposed as a result of some egregious behaviors that occurred during the last school year. They have proven especially controversial both due to some teens’ fear of change, as well as their more rational and measured fear: potentially losing a degree of liberty.

In a recent poll which saw 88 unique, anonymous responses from all grade levels, only one participant believed that no revoked privileges or policies should be reinstated, while the other 87 suggested that at least one policy — such as freedom from drug testing or a student’s non-extant ability to travel to other classrooms during seminar — should return.

Students were relatively optimistic about Principal Scott Crenshaw’s rewards incentive program, the Mustang PRIDE card. This tiered system is intended to encourage positive student behavior rather than punish negative behavior. When asked how they felt about this new approach, 67% of polled students were receptive to the idea, 21.6% said they were unsure about it, and only 5.7% said they disliked it. The remaining 5.7% had differentiated responses.

One poll participant clarified their response in the “Other” category of the question, which provided a space for additional thoughts.

“I think if you have a gold card you should be able to have an open lunch, because most of the kids who care about their grades will come back to school. You could even just make this available to juniors and seniors,” the anonymous student stated.  

The last survey question gave responders the opportunity to elaborate on their choices.

One person felt that new dress code standards (such as those that ban certain shirt and pants lengths) “unfairly target females.”

Another said, “Students who have difficulty getting to school, or those that are often absent due to family affairs, illnesses, and other personal issues would feel discouraged from The Mustang Pride card program. Many students would be unable to attain a Gold Mustang Pride card not because they are bad students, but because they have a busy personal schedule. Students who have one detention and two tardies wouldn’t be able to attain a Gold Mustang Pride card, and would also feel discouraged from this. A better way to handle the Blue Card and Gold card standards would be to allow students to earn their Blue or Gold Mustangs Pride cards, with the ability to earn them again if lost, rather than giving students entitlement at the beginning of a school year only to later take them away as a result of mishap. Students who earn their Mustang Pride card would be able to remedy their mistakes by completing reasonable tasks to nullify the consequences of tardiness, absences and detentions/suspensions/referrals. This will encourage students to go one step further in amending their mistakes.”

Senior and Student Council member Katie Bauer was reached for interview. “I think our students will continue to resist the policies. People will always find a way around it,” responded Bauer when asked if she felt that policy changes would be effective.

Principal Crenshaw and Jaime Westervelt of ACMAT (Allen County Multi-Agency Team) hoped to better explain matters and make students more aware of the thought processes that led to some of the more controversial ideas outlined in the student handbook.

“They [IHS staff] didn’t make these things up, they reviewed student handbooks from 6 to 8 other schools, and they looked for what, in education, we call “best practice.” So they deleted some of our things and added others, and there were several “aha” moments. The school board approved it,” Crenshaw stated.

Specifically addressing new drug policies that have caused their fair share of aggravation among certain circles in IHS upon its announcement, Crenshaw commented, “From the research I’ve done, many of the schools in our league do the random drug testing. The reason that it became a priority here was a result of the drug dog activity we had last year. The number of indications we got from those endeavors and my interactions with law enforcement in town led me to believe there was maybe more of an issue that we should look into.”

In reference to the drug policy, Westervelt explained, “Don’t be scared if you are somebody who knows you’re not doing anything wrong. Don’t be afraid of it; it’s not a scary process when they’re doing the mouth swab, and you will not get criminally charged. If you do have a positive test, then there might be a problem, so we see if you need help. And that’s a part of it too: if there’s a problem, then we want to help,”

Crenshaw wished to impart some advice for all students, especially those upset by recent policy modifications.

“Don’t be angry at change,” Crenshaw stated. “Take a moment and look at what it really is doing and what the purpose is. Look below the surface of change. It’s not really change for the sake of change, it’s change based on what other schools have done successfully, or what research has done successfully. So don’t think there’s any intention to make this a more restrictive school or less fun school. The concern of all the staff who worked on these things is how we can make a better school. Change is emotional, change is hard, it’s just different. It’s not necessarily bad.”