May 17, 2017 USA (SUN)
In regards to the articles by H.H. Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja, Saunaka Rsi das, and especially one comment from Vedarishi dasa, where he noted that: "Thus Prabhupada, from the beginning, suggests "sending him back" to his parents 3 times, so that he does not spoil other children." It's this comment I want to emphasize.
The Solution is the Parents: No More Hands and Feet
While pertinent quotes from Srila Prabhupada stand as a foundation for establishing varna-ashrama in His gurukula system, it still mystifies common, ethical sense why those in charge fail to involve the parents in a systematic procedure for dealing with misbehaving students. In the decades leading up to 2017, it's the importance of parenting that has been left out. School teachers and administrators have taken over the position of parents in decision-making for discipline, overstepping their fiduciary limits, and illegal conduct has continued to result.
It's a RICO (racketeer- influenced, corrupt organization) operation, and the CPO is a monkey court, without any legal authority, who pretends to have jurisdiction and judgment powers over egregious illegal conduct leveled by adults, on children and their parents.
All parochial, public, or charter schools create policies for teacher and student conduct expectations. These policies are within the mission or purpose for the educational system. When followed, they protect all within civil and legal parameters. Create a time-tested policy and bring a near immediate END to these frustrating and illegal incidents that continue to plague the gurukula school system. It's not rocket science, and boggles any intelligent adult mind why leaders are failing to enforce a legally required safety and behavioral code-of-conduct -- spelled out, posted, discussed with students and parents before each student is admitted.
Parents are aware that after three in-school suspensions, the child is sent home. OUT of the school. NO ifs, ands, or buts. Place the onus for the misbehavior back on the parents. Parents and students should be made aware that attending an ISKCON gurukula school comes as a special opportunity, carrying good conduct and safe behavioral expectations, as well.
Before a parent enrolls a child in any of the gurukula schools, whether for a daytime campus (no boarding) or for a boarding school (live-in), some of the following should take place:
Parents sign an application with at least three phone contacts, where they can be reached at any hour to hear what's going on with their misbehaved student. FIRST action taken by the administration: Call the parents and tell them what's going on. Parents are put on notice.
Parents also know before agreeing to enroll their student that there will be a procedure which teachers and school management will follow in regards to steps taken to correct the student's behavior. Counseling by a qualified professional school counselor, for taking positive steps to help the student to correct himself, will also be part of the procedure. Counselor will document in a formal written report, each and every incident and topics of discussion and student will sign the formal document after the counseling session is completed. Parents are sent a scanned copy by email or delivered a hard copy.
Next infraction, in-school suspension. Student is sent to a room for suspension. School work, books, writing materials, go with the student to the boring, plain, nothing interesting room with a designated school administrator to monitor the student for separation from the regular classroom and activities. This practice is common and should be miserably silent, just schoolwork. Parents, again, are immediately notified by phone and email, for this SECOND infraction.
THIRD infraction, in-school suspension, same procedure, separation from classroom and activities with students. Parents again notified, and as they had previously been aware of the school's policy, they are now on notice, along with their student, that the student is OUT for a designated period of time to go home. It can often be three days or more. If parents are far away, then the student must be separated from the school campus, classes, and activities.
This is commonly known as in-home suspension. Parents work; parents have more children at home; parents often care for elderly relatives; parents don't like this. Parents take the child home and deal with their student. Let them do the punishment. School is relieved of this unsafe, and likely further escalating misbehavior, that mostly erodes the classroom social scene, the teacher's ability to concentrate on the lesson, the classmates' ability to concentrate, etc.
Save the integrity of the teachers, the administration, Srila Prabhupada's name and His mission, as well as the student atmosphere, by sending home those students to their parents. No hands are laid upon anyone, no one is kicked or pulled. Just sent home.
Finally, there's a procedure for expulsion. Parents and their students are signing the application to enter the school, knowing well that expulsion is the next step after exhausting formal counseling, three in-school suspension periods, and documenting of each incident. No one is surprised. There's a trail of evidence, and often school districts have a procedure for allowing re-entry after a set standard for a period of time. District exceptions for expulsions are also made, allowing the parents to petition re-entry, but only after a social service worker has opened a case on that sent-home student. Further documentation is made and supplied to the superintendent of the district, and the headmaster or principal (as called in America). A hearing is held (could be online by webcam), and a new contract is signed for better behavior.
Now, parents who live in another city, another state, another country, have to be aware of these behavioral expectations before leaving their child in a boarding school environment. To place the child in a boarding school arrangement comes with a host of risks: safety, health, educational standards, administrative procedures, out-of-pocket travel costs, just to name the usual ones.
Parents will know before the above procedures begin to play out, that (and let me say this loudly in all caps): THEIR STUDENT IS COMING HOME IF THEY DON'T BEHAVE. Boom. Sorry, that's the way it is.
Teachers who misbehave are out, immediately. No more teaching. Police reports filed, turned over to law enforcement. If teacher infractions are deemed 'minor' by law enforcement, then render other services without associating with children. Finished. Done.
So many states have what's called "distinguished school" awards for schools who have nice achievement by teachers and students, and our gurukulas can be receiving state or national grant funds for spiritual and academic achievement according to established criteria. But until the administration code-of-conduct is improved – by immediate expulsion of teachers who depart from teaching and mentoring duties – then we will continue to read of incidents, tragic and illegal, tolerated by neglect, and falsely "adjudicated" by the monkey court of devotee mishandling.
Quotes from Srila Prabhupada are foundational pillars, and details of procedures are (or should be) common sense according to time, place, and civil circumstance. There is no need for any further incidents or patterns of illegal behaviors by teachers, and parents should do the disciplining.
Stop the back-and-forth articles, and make conduct procedures. Make them, renew trainings for them, follow them, and stop physical punishment. Today, now. Involve the parents, and stop trying to be the parents.