Sometimes the plain words of the school officials on the front lines better explain the attacks of the ACLU on local school districts than any analysis that the American Civil Rights Union might offer. We need add nothing to this statement by the Superintendent of the DeSoto County School District in Mississippi.
This is the first occasion on which we use no excerpts, and add no explanations to the source article. This statement by Milton Kukendall, Superintendent of the DeSoto County School District, stands by itself and speaks for itself. His is the fastest growing District in his state. He is also President of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. His statement explains what his District has accomplished, and how the ACLU is trying to cost his District out of court, and tear down the discipline and safety which are critical in his schools:
by Milton Kukendall, Superintendent
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is attacking the Code of Discipline in DeSoto County Schools. The ACLU has just filed the 3rd lawsuit against our school district. What some may not realize is that they are challenging our safe and orderly environment–the one characteristic that separates our school district from districts near us.
The ACLU can make charges against the school district saying we have done something to a student. We cannot respond because of privacy issues.
In May of 2008, the ACLU ran ads asking students who were displeased with DCS disciplinary proceedings and their parents to come to a meeting in Olive Branch. I am told approximately 30 people attended.
As superintendent, I do not want any child mistreated. But I do believe in rules and regulations. We don’t allow baggy pants, cell phones used during school, drugs, guns, knives, cursing or foul language. Our teachers and administrators work very hard to make DCS as good as it can be. We cannot have an outstanding school district if we ever lose the safety at school. Our number one priority is safety for our students and staff. I believe in first amendment rights, but I do not believe that this gives the students the right to curse the teacher or principal, or not respect the rule of law.
Gangs exist in the world we live in today. We have to face this fact. We do not, however, have to allow gang activity to enter the front door of our schools. Weekly, principals and administrators make announcements that no gang signs, clothing, photos or behavior will be tolerated at school. Of our 31,228 students, 99.9% want rules, want regulations and want a safe learning environment. We cannot allow that .1% to run our schools. When we do, DeSoto County School District, as we know it, will no longer exist.
The problem in fighting the ACLU, is that they have unlimited money and they do not care how frivolous the lawsuits are–if they can get a headline, they file a suit, and they always say the suits are racially motivated. DCS is dedicated to treating all students fairly regardless of race, but everyone must obey the rules.
Our school district has grown by 8,000 students in six years. Ninety-nine percent of these kids are the greatest kids in the world. However, a small percentage of these students have been involved in gangs and dangerous behavior in schools they last attended and they want to bring this behavior to our schools. If we allow that activity to exist, we will lose the safety of our schools as well as the high performing achievement level our schools enjoy. The ACLU is so eager to file lawsuits, they are not properly investigating before they file.
The ACLU is well-financed. Every dollar DeSoto County Schools has to spend on lawsuits is one dollar we could spend on educating students. It is a shame that the ACLU can file one suit after another without any accountability. I have one message that is echoed by the Board of Education: Everyone has the right to do what he wants at home; when he comes to the school house, he must obey the rules just like we did when we went to school. We are going to take the time to teach children right from wrong. We are going to enforce our Code of Discipline, and we will do everything within our legal rights, to keep our campuses safe. It is my prayer, and yes, I said prayer, that the ACLU will not chip away DeSoto County School’s Code of Discipline on my watch.
Sources on the Net:
The Superintendent’s Statement: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2370092/posts
Desoto County School District website: