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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Research => Topic started by: Michelle DP on August 07, 2013, 06:39 PM

Title: School penalties...
Post by: Michelle DP on August 07, 2013, 06:39 PM
For anyone who works in a school, what would be the penalty for a student who broke into a teacher's office and was caught snooping on the teacher's computer?
Suppose after the student snooped the computer no longer worked, and the next day a computer virus spread through the whole school.
And, finally, suppose the principal suspected, but could not prove, that said student had pulled the fire alarm to gain access to the office in the first place.

For the first action, I have been told that the penalty ranges from simply calling the parents to one-week suspension, and everyone I talked to seemed anxious to convince me that they would be careful to prove a student's involvement before issuing any sort of punishment. Still, I can't help wondering if that was an official line given to me as a parent. Realistically, would the accumulation of circumstantial evidence make the punishment harsher? If so, how much harsher? Please help.
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: ChristineSarmel on August 07, 2013, 07:41 PM
If the student is old enough to use the computers at school, loss of privileges is common. For something that severe it could be as long as semester before you get to stop writing in longhand.

Depending on your local/state laws, the principal might not be the person who deals with who did or did not pull the fire alarm. Scheduled drills are activated by key so if someone pulled the lever, both the school and the fire department already know. Firemen or local law may investigate since it is a violation of the law. If you're talking about high school, they may have cameras that cover hallway or common areas and would allow them to see who accessed the fire alarm.
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: HollySweet on August 07, 2013, 07:49 PM
If it is set in a large public school, there are cameras in almost all hallways.

Also, most sizable public school districts have an alternative school where students are sent who commit major infractions (breaking into a teacher's computer and spreading a virus would be an offense worthy of getting sent to alternative school).

At the very least, suspension of at least three days and loss of computer privileges for possibly the remainder of the year.

And yes, the school would have to prove the student's involvement before meting punishment or contacting parents.

Other considerations:
If the teacher's personal belongings were tampered with, the teacher could press criminal charges with the police.
Campus administrators often use other students as witnesses.
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: GraceRouth on August 07, 2013, 07:56 PM
If a student is actually caught breaking into a teacher's office and using a computer, I'd say the penalty would be severe. First, all of our students sign an acceptable use policy that outlines acceptable uses for technology - the penalty for breaking the pledge is normally loss of privilege. Unauthorized use is a "no no".
The second punishable offense would be breaking into a teacher's office - definitely an offense worthy suspension.

As far as the fire alarm goes - I agree with Christine - this may be in the hands of law enforcement (school resource officer for sure). And cameras are prevalent in both junior high and high school in my area (though I suppose it could happen off camera). If no one could prove that the student pulled the alarm - he might get away with it. At least it's been known to happen. However, there are lots of eyes (and mouths) in schools and this type of thing tends to get solved...Just my experience! :)

Good luck!
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: Bobi Martin on August 07, 2013, 09:49 PM
Are we talking about a real incident here, or a possible plot for a novel?

There are differing outcomes of the proposed scenario depending on the school (elementary, middle, or high); whether this is a small town or larger city; and which state. An elementary student might only be suspended, but a high school student could be expelled and have to enroll in an alternative school or even finish his/her GED at an adult night school program.

Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: MVP on August 08, 2013, 06:36 AM
It's not just middle and high schools that have security cameras in the hallways.  The elementary school that I work at does, too.  But our building is quite new (opened in 2006).  I don't know if older elementary schools would have that.

Suspension and loss of privileges would likely be the consequences here.  Getting sent to the alternative school is usually a lengthy process that requires a carefully documented paper trail of attempted behavioral interventions--it wouldn't normally happen for a first offense, even a severe one.
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: Jaina on August 08, 2013, 06:56 AM
Breaking into a teacher's office would result in criminal charges around here--probably of breaking and entering. (BTW, you don't need to "break" anything--just opening the door is enough, from what I recall). Pulling a fire alarm is a minimum three-day suspension, I think.

Husband, a H.S. teacher, says don't forget the student would have to have a password to get on the teacher's computer, too.
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: Michelle DP on August 08, 2013, 10:03 AM
Thank you for all your responses. I hadn't thought about cameras. I'll have to factor that in when my MC is planning the caper.

As for the fire alarm, my MC does not pull the alarm, but she does get someone else to do it so she can get a glimpse of the teacher's computer. Unfortunately, her accomplice gets carried away, and the resulting havoc gets blamed on my MC because she got caught with the computer. That's why I'm interested in the whole escalation factor. No one can prove my MC did the things, but she cannot prove she didn't do them either. Plus, she's acting guilty because she set the whole thing in motion.
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: andracill on August 08, 2013, 11:04 AM
I actually had a student who had done something along these lines (I don't know all the details, but she broke into a school computer/system and changed her grades).  Obviously she was caught, and she was given the option between the alternative school or finding a new school district to call her home (ie, expulsion from the district).  That's how she ended up in my care (I was a private school).  This was 15 years ago, so I don't know if the penalties are stricter or not (seems like they're getting weaker, in many ways).  And I have to say, if she'd spent as much time on her studying as she did on trying to find ways to break the rules (even at my little school), she could've been pretty successful.  ;)
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: Lill on August 08, 2013, 12:33 PM
Okay, first I'm confused by the term "teacher's office."  I never knew teacher's had offices, unless they were college professors. My "office" was my classroom. Maybe things have changed in the last 20 years.
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: HollySweet on August 08, 2013, 02:59 PM
No teachers don't usually have offices. But in some large schools, where there are not enough rooms for each teacher to have his or her own, several teachers might share an office space where they keep their supply carts and have a workstation.
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: andracill on August 08, 2013, 10:26 PM
In my high school, each department had an office for all the teachers in that group, and although they didn't have computers back then (ack), that's where all the teachers kept their records and such (and the doors locked).
Title: Re: School penalties...
Post by: Michelle DP on August 12, 2013, 04:01 PM
My daughter's middle school has a glass-walled office/storage space at the back of each classroom. I'm basing my fictional school on that layout.