Tag Archives: schools

Zero Tolerance Victory: Md. Board of Ed. Reverses Suspension of H.S. Lacrosse Players for Possession of Deadly Weapons (Penknife, Lighter)

(Easton, MD) The Maryland State Board of Education has reversed the suspensions of two Easton High School lacrosse players for possession of “deadly weapons,” namely a penknife and lighter found in their lacrosse bags. Although it was understood that the penknife and lighter were tools used by the boys to maintain their lacrosse equipment, the police were called and one player was actually handcuffed, fingerprinted and charged with possession of a deadly weapon. In reversing the suspensions, the Maryland State Board of Education noted that the students had voluntarily told officials they possessed the items, that use of the tools to maintain lacrosse equipment had been tacitly approved by coaches, and that it was the actions of school officials themselves that had caused any “disruption” to the educational process. Ordering that the students’ academic records be completely expunged of the incident, the State Board explained, “This case is about context and the appropriate exercise of discretion, in full consideration of all the facts involved in the case, including whether to suspend and whether to call the police.”

“This is a huge victory for students everywhere,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “It’s a victory of reason and fairness over the kind of hysterical, irrational exercise of authority that teaches children to fear those in power.”

According to Laura Dennis, the mother of one of the suspended boys, school officials reported receiving an anonymous tip that there may have been alcohol on the lacrosse team’s bus on April 13, 2011, when the team was headed to an away game. Based on this so-called “tip,” school officials boarded the bus, told the players to identify their bags, and removed the players from the bus while they searched the bags. During the search, officials discovered a lighter in Casey Edsall’s bag and a number of small tools, including scissors, a penknife, a screwdriver and pliers, in Graham Dennis’s bag. School officials reacted by calling law enforcement officers to the scene. Dennis—whose bag contained the scissors, penknife, screwdriver and pliers—was handcuffed, fingerprinted and charged as a juvenile in possession of a deadly weapon. School officials ultimately suspended both boys from school: Edsall for one day and Dennis for ten days.

Coming to the students’ defense, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute argued that the suspensions violated fundamental principles of due process of law because the lighter and penknife were not clearly prohibited under the school’s policies. Moreover, neither item could reasonably be considered a “dangerous weapon,” Institute attorneys insisted, because the only applicable definitions of “dangerous weapons” make no mention of lighters and specifically exclude small penknives such as the one Dennis used to maintain his lacrosse equipment. Despite an outpouring of public support for the players, the Talbot County Board of Education subsequently elected not to reverse the suspensions and expunge the players’ academic records. Upon appeal to the Maryland State Board of Education, Institute attorneys pointed out—and the State Board of Education agreed—that Talbot County’s policies authorize suspension only as a “last resort” for repeated disciplinary infractions or where a student’s presence is a danger to the school community. The suspension of Edsall and Dennis was therefore “illegal,” as it was in direct conflict with those provisions. Affiliate attorney John W. Garza acted on behalf of The Rutherford Institute in its defense of Dennis and Edsall.

Ohio’s Public Union Collective Bargaining Reform (SB 5) Issue

If you drove down Dayton Avenue last Sunday, you may have noticed the traffic in and out of the Fraternal Order of Police parking lot. You may have also noticed the little sign inviting the public to sign the union-initiated referendum petition against Ohio Senate Bill 5. This is the recently passed law forbidding public employees from striking and limiting collective bargaining.

Notice, the bill does not end collective bargaining. Rather, it places considerable restrictions on the procedures and content of public union bargains. It also includes limits on employee benefits such paid sick leave, accrued vacation days, and the percentage of employer contribution to employee health care. The new law even prohibits public employers from paying employee pension plan contributions.

Offensive to members of NEA is the end of mandatory time off as sick days and the end of tenured contracts. The new law requires school boards to provide the specific number of paid sick days thus ending mandatory time off. Except for teachers with existing tenured contracts, the law ends continuing contracts.

In addition to reductions of benefits and certain perks, the new law will make public employees earn increased salaries. That is, the SB 5 makes employee pay based on merit not union seniority, time of service, or statutory pay scales. To unions, that is probably the most grievous evil of all.

SB 5 provides two additional benefits for taxpayers: public employers are now able to modify an existing bargaining agreement when such is in fiscal emergency or fiscal watch, and the new law prohibits a bargaining agreement from limiting a public employer’s ability to privatize operations.

It appears public union collective bargaining reform (SB5) law is meant to bring public employee pay and benefits in-line with the public sector. By doing so, the cost of government will be reduced.

Whether or not public employee unions get the required signatures to place the new law on the November ballot, the next reform on the public agenda should be the hierarchical reduction of government spending and subsequent taxation.

See a complete analysis of SB 5 at http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/analyses129/s0005-ps-129.pdf

Ohio government is too big to pay for its employees pensions, taxpayers should pay for no more

By Daniel Downs

Ohio public employee pension fund are suffering the same fate as their employers revenue streams. They are dwindling. Partly to blame is our spend-thrifty government; the other part is the financial industry that was willing to follow the lead of their liberal politicians.

According to an excellent report by the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio public pensions cost taxpayers $4.1 billion annually. Those costs are directly related to the size of government payrolls, which continue to grow. As noted, government employees get higher than average retirement incomes. These are guaranteed by law.

Because 401K and other sources of pension funds are subject to stock market volatility, the Ohio budget is now revealing another part of its budget shortfall.

To make up for the loss, Ohio public employee union-negotiated pension funds are asking taxpayers to foot the bill.

What is wrong with this picture?

As noted at the beginning, the growth of government bureaucracy outpaces the private sector. Socialistic and special interest programs along with related federal mandates drive much unnecessary growth and its costs to taxpayers. The answer is in cutting them. Ohio government should follow their private sector partner and downsize. Cut departments, programs, employees, and cut related expenses. By downsizing, the executive branch the savings would cover most, if not all, of the current budget deficit, which means covering pensions too.

And, what about all of Ohio’s private sector employee who are suffering either declines or loss of their retirement pensions? If taxpayers should maintain retired employee pension because they pour billions of dollars into Ohio’s economy as argued Democrat Rep. Todd Book and the unions, retired private sector employees pour in many more billions. It would be more profitable for the economy if taxpayers funded their retirement funds.

Then, there is the frequent practice of allowing double dippers to burden Ohio taxpayers. As with Xenia Community Schools Supt. Lewis, many government employees receive pension income as well as taxpayer funded paychecks. Why should taxpayers pay double for such employees, and pay double or triple amounts for bailouts, and pay double for levy debts to schools and to investors? Public corruption obviously is very profitable.

Ohio government is just too big and corrupt to pay for its employees’ pensions. That is why taxpayers should refuse to pay more.