Davis: Incidents differ in handling

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Natchez High’s expulsion of eight students last month is much like a situation in Decatur, Ill., that led to the arrest of the Rev. Jessie Jackson Tuesday.

The difference lies in how the two districts handled the situation, said Natchez-Adams Schools District Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis.

Instead of expelling the students from the district, the Natchez-Adams school board softened the punishment by placing the students at the alternative school last month.

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Davis thinks the parents of the eight students who took part in the group fight were pleased with the outcome.

&uot;The parents were ready for (the students) to accept some punishment,&uot; Davis said.

But the Decatur District initially voted to expel the students for two years before succumbing to pressure from Jackson and some state officials. It reduced the punishment last week.

The six students cited for fighting at a football game are now only expelled for one year and can attend alternative programs.

Davis said he has seen the tape of the Decatur fight and was bothered by it.

&uot;It was frightening,&uot; Davis said. &uot;It was an environment that could have injured a lot of innocent people.&uot;

But like in the Natchez situation, he thinks an alternative program would have been a better solution in Decatur.

&uot;Two years was too much,&uot; Davis said. &uot;But I&160;do believe an alternative form of education for those kids is the best policy.&uot;

The Natchez-Adams School District is standing firm on its no-tolerance policy on fighting and supports the Decatur School for doing the same.

&uot;I applaud that school district for making a stand,&uot;&160;Davis said. &uot;You cannot have violence on a school campus at anytime.&uot;

And he doubts that Jackson’s involvement in Decatur is helping.

&uot;I think its a school matter and needs to be dealt with by the school district,&uot; Davis said. &uot;When you go national like this, it’s probably not going to be in the best interest of the kids.&uot;

Of the eight expelled Natchez High School Students, two were sent to the alternative school for nine weeks and the other six were sent for the rest of the year.

Davis said he has checked on them and will reconsider their punishments in December.

&uot;Our boys have been doing really good at the alternative school,&uot; Davis said. &uot;I think the kids have to have some hope — not necessarily a guarantee, but some hope.&uot;

Jackson wants the Decatur students reinstated as early as January if they do well in alternative school.

The Associated Press contributed to this reports