Board to vote on students’ expulsion

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 1999

A committee of school administrators has recommended expulsion for eight students charged with fighting at Natchez High School last month.

Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis had no vote in the decision, but he thinks the public is asking schools to take a stand against such violence.

&uot;I think the public demands we follow the law and we make sure the schools are safe,&uot; Davis said. &uot;These boys put themselves into the position to be disciplined in this way.&uot;

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The eight students, ranging in age from 15 to 18, were arrested Aug. 31 and suspended for nine days for allegedly participating in a gang-related fight at the high school.

The students, including 18-year-olds Chavis Dent and Travis Luster, were charged with disturbing the peace by fighting. The names of the other students could not be released because they are juveniles.

The committee recommended last week that the district expel the students until the end of the school year. The school board still has to take action on the item, but the students are already barred from campus.

Davis said some of the students are talking about appealing the decision because of its severity. &uot;One of the students said there had been fights before at the high school and they had (only) gotten the nine days,&uot; he said.

Three of those who could be expelled are seniors on track to graduate in the spring.

Davis would not give an opinion on the ruling because he had not heard all the facts, but he said he supports the decision.

&uot;(The students) made a choice for whatever reason to bring that type of activity to campus,&uot;&160;Davis said. &uot;They knew they were seniors.&uot;

What will happen to these students’ education is uncertain. The district is not required to offer educational services to 17 and 18-year-old expelled students. It will have to offer some type of service to those 16 and younger but they will not be able to earn credits toward a traditional diploma while expelled, Davis said.

The students were entitled to due process under the law and each case had to be treated individually.

&uot;We were obligated to go through the process,&uot; Davis said.

The students, parents and witnesses each had a chance to speak before the committee.

The committee included at least three administrators, but could not include staff from the high school or Dr. Wayne Barnett, former high school principal and the district’s hearing officer.

The committee was also balanced to have a majority of its members the same race as each student involved, Davis added.

The students have 10 days from receiving notice of their expulsion to appeal to the school board.

If the school board overrules the committee’s decision, it may ask him to come up with an alternative punishment, Davis said.