UPDATE ON THE UPDATE!! Post-It Prank Leaves Superintendent Unglued! Now 67 Kids Suspended

Hi Folks! Here’s an update on today’s story about the five seniors suspended from Indiana’s Cascade High School for decorating it, at night, with Post-It Notes. Now a whopping 67 students have been suspended, because they were protesting the suspension of the Cascade Five.

As you can hear in the TV report — presented by the stations “Crime Beat” reporter (making you wonder what exactly constitutes crime in Indiana) — the kids who did the “prank” got permission from a school board member and the head custodian. And even if they didn’t, I agree with one of the commenters on my original post: While it’s being labeled a “‘prank” it could just as easily have been labeled a beautification effort, or a morale booster.

Come to think of it, it IS a morale booster. As Anthony Canaday, the young man interviewed by the crime reporter, put it: “During the week we may not be friends, but when small things happen in a small community like this, we pull together.”

That boosts my morale right there: People uniting to fight stupidity, rigidity and an inflated sense of danger. Right on! — L.

UPDATE: Get a load of this! Superintendent still a stickler, but everything else has changed for the better! No — best!

63 Responses

  1. The update link just goes to the original story.

  2. Wow, if that is a crime in that area they really need take a step back and be thankful for living in an impossibly safe place.

    Wouldn’t a school board member’s permission trump the principle’s desire for punishment. It did when I was a senior in high school and actually saved a handful of us from being expelled. Looks like 67 students are getting some hands on learning about civics in the real world.

    (on my phone today so I can’t check out the source stories for either post on this)

  3. Seriously, that principal needs to get a life. What they did was a bit naughty & wasteful of post-it notes but come on. No one should have been fired or suspended or anything. The custodian probably should have double-checked that it was okay but they did have a key & considering the kids weren’t sneaky about it…

    These ppl have no clue what REAL safety management is. Its not about following some flow chart they downloaded from ‘being a principal for dummies’ & inserting the issue of the day into it & following the recommended steps to take.

  4. Or how about performance art as a label for this “prank?”

  5. Principal sounds like a control freak on a power trip. FAIL.

  6. Or superintendent, rather.

  7. This story is so ridiculous. I believe that the superintendent is the one handing down suspensions. I’m happy to see that the kids are peacefully protesting to get their voices heard.

    FYI the Crimebeat reporter is from Indianapolis ( you know the 12th largest city in the US) and actually does report on crime in our lovely city. The story takes place in a very small community just outside of the city.

  8. Here’s the updated story link.

    http://www.wthr.com/story/18435385/more-cascade-high-school-students-suspended

    Looks like the superintentent is doubling down on stupid.

  9. Wait, I’m confused. Isn’t it the superintendent, Patrick Spray, who’s pushing the suspensions? I’ve seen him quoted in all the articles but don’t recall anything coming from the principal….

  10. I am from Cascade, today 80 people sat in the gym and almost all were given suspensions. The students are in the board meeting now. I’ll comment the final decision.

  11. If I were on the school board, I’d vote for the superintendent to get a psych eval.

  12. When students congregate and refuse to return to class, suspension seems appropriate. BUT the whole situation would never have arisen if people weren’t being idiots. The obvious solution would be for the principal to take his lumps and admit he was wrong and reinstate the original five. But I’m not sure after that — do you let kids off the hook for doing something that really should not be permitted, i.e., staying out of class to protest? Maybe reduce the suspensions to detentions, but I’m not sure you should set the precedent of allowing kids to congregate in protest without consequence, during school hours. It’s a tricky one.

  13. Are the students protesting the suspension or the firing?

    I don’t care about the suspension, but it seems kind of mean-spirited to do it during final exams, over something done in a good-natured way. The firing is worse, though. So, is it understandable to suspend kids who peacefully protest the firing of a school staff member for this type of thing?

  14. Ok, so the superintendent is the one suspending people. Still not sure how that works if the kids had permission from a school board member. It does make more sense that the superintendent is the one doing it as a harsh consequences stance feels very political and doubling down as students protest even more so. I have to agree with pentamom, if the protesting disrupted classroom time then there should be some punishment (as there would be for any of us who skip work to protest) but suspensions don’t seem right. In light of the cause of the protests detention or some kind of community service seems appropriate.

    Cole C, looking forward to the update. However if the suspensions stand with the sheer number (or the ridiculousness of the first ones) I don’t think this board meeting will be the end of it.

  15. Just disussed this with my teen. She shook her head and said “The problem is with the superintendent, he has a bit of a control complex.” In that position, I probably would have come to the school, walked around, talked with students, and pasted the post-it notes on myself… while wishing them the best for their final exams. Our local school principal was regularly tp’d after graduation. She’d find out when it was and put out donuts for the “miscreants.”

  16. skl1, that is another issue too. How does it make sense to fire a janitor when her boss (the head custodian) and the boss’ boss (the school board member) signed off on the activity? I don’t know that state’s labor laws so I wonder if it could even hold up in court?

  17. Whether it’s the suspension or the firing they’re protesting, I’m still not sure it’s a good idea to allow kids to protest in school hours without consequence. It’s not that what they’re doing is terrible, but there have to be rules in a school, and you know what school kids can do with a precedent, “Hey, we were only protesting an injustice, you can’t punish us!” when the next time, they were just concocting an excuse to skip class. If they had been protesting after school hours or otherwise not breaking very basic school rules in order to protest, I would absolutely say they should not be punished for it in any way. But letting kids violate the basic order of the school day based on their own moral judgment can get real ugly, real fast. Part of civil disobedience is taking the consequences, and sometimes that’s the right thing to do, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the consequences should go away.

    That said, I do agree that the firing is the worse injustice, regardless. And if it’s actually the case that the janitor who was fired was told by her superior that she was allowed to do this, it’s absolutely unconscionable. I wouldn’t agree with firing the superior either, but even that would be MORE appropriate than the firing the person whose superior told her to do this!

  18. Wow, sounds like the superintendent misplaced his big boy underwear yesterday morning.

  19. I hate to tell you, but this story did not really surprise me. I sincerely think this is indicative of the trend in disciplining kids at schools. I see a similar, zero-tolerance style in several schools where I live. The primary goal seems to be to control kids (at whatever cost).

    Our current educational system is not working. It is especially not working for the kids who are ahead of the curve. Read about Steve Jobs and tell me how he could make it through high school today. Same with Tom Shadyac. The out-of-the-box thinker, creative, free spirit, who is probably diagnosed with ADD or ODD or similar, is becoming more and more common. It’s how kids are, and how kids will be. Yesterday’s educational system doesn’t know how to handle these kids.

    When our current system and its rules aren’t working, the first thing it does is try to enforce the rules HARDER. A cycle is created where they have to impose tougher and tougher consequences, but it just doesn’t help. They punish more and more kids, even for minor infractions, but it still doesn’t work.

    The question will be, how far does this have to go before educators wake up and admit that they need to rethink the whole system? I am SO glad to see the students protested. Too often, people shy away from getting involved to save their own skin.

  20. I can only imagine what would happen to a kid at this school who sang “I’m Sexy and I Know it”.

    Post it notes? Were they recycled, at least?

    My class prank was unloading 1000’s of crickets in the school hallways. The year before, the class put an entire classroom on the ceiling of the school. Another class (which went down as the worst) freed the mice from the science labs.

    Perspective is sorely lacking in this school district.

  21. @pentamom, I suspect the kids were aware of the potential consequences of their protest. Which actually adds weight to their action, imo.

    If nothing else, it’s a valuable lesson in people power which is a vital part of our democratic system. Of course it would have been wiser to first mount a “legal” protest and then progress to civil disobedience if that didn’t have the desired effect.

  22. It seems that the prank students will have their suspensions reversed. The students suspended for protesting will remain suspended and the custodian will remain fired.

    http://www.fox59.com/news/wxin-suspensions-revoked-for-six-students-involved-in-postit-note-prank-20120516,0,2544658.column

  23. Can we use the ole paddle on the superintendant? You remember the paddle, the one with the five holes drilled in it to improve the speed in which it swats behinds? A few schools still have them floating around.

  24. Heather G.- Thanks for the link. Interesting comment on that link about the Superintendent Spray…

    “Dr. Spray obviously exhibits questionable behavior and exhibits poor decision making in his personal and professional life. He lacks morality and should not be in a position of being an example for our children. He is married to one of his middle school students and she babysat his kids. At the time, the assistant superintendent at Cascade was let go because of a “lack in budget”. Funny thing is that when he became involved with the daughter of Jill Jay (who was a principal at the time) Spray hired his lovers mother to be his new assistant superintendent. (Suddenly there was enough money in the budget???) Isn’t it a conflict of interest to have the Super and Assistant Super related????”

  25. And still more info- it seems the protest students will have their suspension reduced to one day or an after school detention. And since the superintendent didn’t have the authority to fire the janitor, it’s up to the school board where 3 members support her.

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20120516/NEWS/120516022/Post-note-senior-prank-suspensions-lifted?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|IndyStar.com

    (hubs has been keeping up with this since I told him about it)

  26. linvo — that’s all I’m saying. And I’m really glad it’s being reduced to detention. I’m not saying “throw the book at them,” just that I think that letting them entirely off the hook could have its own bad consequences later.

  27. @pentamom – I really like your thinking! No consequences often comes back to ‘bite you in the butt!’, especially when dealing with teens. I teach HS students, and the saying “give them an inch; they’ll take a mile” has happened to me more than I’d like to admit in my first year of teaching. So I agree with you – there HAVE TO be some kind of consequences.

    But the consequences should be appropriate to the action, and should ideally be disciplinary, not purely punitive. And just because a ‘good’ kid does something inappropriate does not mean they should not receive some discipline. (I’m probably just repeating what everyone else has already said!-)

  28. Reminds me of a “News Report” of vandalism at my old high school. The students were wrapping it (same as TP).The reporter had no idea why the police hadn’t responded to calls.

    Except the reporter was an idiot. Behind him in the shot were several adults including the police chief in uniform, others I assume were the principal, coaches, and other faculty. I know the golf coach/art teacher was there – he is my cousin. This tradition started within the first few years of the school being open (The father and mother of the golf coach/art teacher had wrapped the same school and they were in one of the first few graduating classes )

  29. @Pentamom–When I was growing up, students left classes and congregated to protest the war in Vietnam. Sometimes you have to break the rules to make a change.

  30. If students in my school had done this, I’d have hoped my classroom door was one of those artfully decorated. It’s funny, not malicious. The superintendent needs to take a few valium and relax. The firing of the custodian is beyond reprehensible, in my humble opinion. But that seems to be how things go-regular classroom disruptions such as students swearing at teachers often go unpunished or minimally punished by administrators, while “big” things like this seem to be when they feel the need to step in and “send a message”.

  31. This is nuts what ever happened to punishment that fits the “crime”…the kids should have had to clean up, maybe pick up trash on campus (early on a Saturday morning if they wanted it to be more punitive)…or maybe plant some trees!

  32. I agree that sometimes you have to break the rules to make a change. That doesn’t mean that the rule-breaking is free. Martin Luther King broke the rules for great reasons that contributed to the fact that we currently have a black man in the White House (like him or not that is a huge step for this country). He also spent a lot of time in jail. Civil disobedience is not for the weak of heart.

    That doesn’t mean that they should throw the book at the protesters, but I’m with pentamom that they shouldn’t get off without punishment. I’m not even sure that the first five should get off without some punishment since they have been identified. But the punishment should fit the crime. Detention makes sense. Causing the kids to miss exams and damage their grades for all of the crap, not so much.

  33. All the kids, including the underclassmen, should walk around with post-it notes in support of the fired janitor. And they all (those who can) go to the meeting where it is discussed. With post-it notes on them. I suspect even the teachers would start wearing the post-it notes too.

  34. This is off subject, but either I can see into the future or the date on this is wrong. It’s saying the 17th but I’m pretty sure it’s the 16th.

  35. I wish the school board member who gave the kids the key would speak up already…..

  36. I have a strong dislike for the school system and it’s getting stronger all the time. Ugh.

  37. The headlines should read: “Superintendent goes POSTal over good-natured prank.”

  38. I went to a private prep school for high school, and maybe that makes all the difference, but if the Headmaster had pulled a stunt like this, he would have been visited the next day by a combined group of parents and alumni and given The Word. And if he didn’t back down fast, the next Words would have been “clear out your desk by the end of school today”.

  39. Who DID clean up the original post-its?

  40. I wonder that too. The kids who should clean it up were suspended. The janitor was fired. Maybe the superintendent got stuck doing it and that’s why he’s being such a turd.

  41. […] UPDATE: Post-It Prank Leaves Superintendent Unglued! Now 67 Kids Suspended (freerangekids.wordpress.com) […]

  42. “@Pentamom–When I was growing up, students left classes and congregated to protest the war in Vietnam. Sometimes you have to break the rules to make a change.”

    And sometimes it’s important enough that you take the punishment. Sometimes you have to enforce the rules so that the school doesn’t descend into utter chaos, even though what the students are doing is important.

    In this particular situation, there was no reason they couldn’t have waited until after school hours, so I don’t believe they “had to” break these rules. In your case, maybe they did, so they did the right thing. But the school still can’t let going to class become optional based on allowing the kids to decide what’s important enough and what’s not important enough. I mean they could, but then they might as well give up on educating the kids, which is what they’re there for.

  43. @Donna-
    He probably was so pissed because he had to do the clean up himself (in the photo with the story, it showed the post its covering a computer screen).
    I can just imagine him cursing the computer screen that he had to uncover so he could type up an email suspending and firing everyone involved.

  44. Skipping class does not disrupt all the students that chose to go to class. Don’t let them make up the tests/work, and that’s punishment enough, as well as a LOGICAL consequence. If an adult skips work to protest they don’t get paid for that day, but they don’t get more APPROVED days off. They want to skip class, so let’s say they don’t have to be in class for a few days – how is that a punishment?

    Protesting after school would just be breaking the same rule the first kids did, being at the school after school hours, which is what was supposedly dangerous in the first place.

    Going to class, and in fact going to school IS optional. Schools like to pretend it is not, since they get paid based on how many kids are in attendance. But it is, and more people need to realize this and be willing to not go/not send their children to class/school when the school officials are overstepping boundaries. If the false belief that it isn’t optional is the only thing keeping the school from descending into chaos and/or the only thing making students come to class, there is a huge problem at the school that goes far beyond this issue.

  45. About the suspensions, I think the kids should be allowed to take their finals. That’s all. I don’t care about it otherwise.

    Someone above commented that the school needs to be able to suspend the protesters so they can get back to their proper job of educating kids. Well, it seems to me the superintendent has already gone so far out of that job description – by causing massive distraction and demotivation over the firing of a janitor etc. – that it’s really moot to talk about “education” at this point. The school needs to right a wrong and move on.

  46. The Superintendent needs to be fired. Period. Stop. He has displayed ostentatious lack of judgement, and rampant inability to realize when he is at the bottom of a deep hole, and it’s time to stop digging. The janitor should be re-hired. In fact, considering his (her?) reaction to the prank vs the superintendent’s, maybe he should be offered the superintendent’s job.

  47. I think the graduates’ caps should be covered in post-it notes🙂

  48. The school board has lifted the suspension of the original 6, reduced the suspension of those that protested and said the principal had no authority to fire the custodian.

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20120517/NEWS/120517018/Post-note-prank-Suspensions-lifted-Cascade-students

  49. I love how the supe talks about the “healing process.” In my experience, talk of the “healing process” by authorities who’ve done outrageous things is code for “get over it so I can continue in my rise to ultimate power.”

  50. OK, let me get this straight. A few kids get permission from the school board for an after school activity. They arrange for a staff member to supervise the activity.

    The superintendent finds out about activity, comes unglued, and without apparently checking the circumstances of said activity hands out punishment to the students.

    Who’s in the wrong here? Who acted rashly and without good judgement? Who demonstrated a lack of communication and management skills?

  51. I love how the supe talks about the “healing process.” In my experience, talk of the “healing process” by authorities who’ve done outrageous things is code for “get over it so I can continue in my rise to ultimate power.”

    Got that right. There would be no need for “healing” if he hadn’t metaphorically beat a bunch of people up, but now he gets to talk about how we all need to “heal.”

  52. “Going to class, and in fact going to school IS optional.”

    Once you are enrolled in school, going to school is not optional. And once you go to school for the day, going to class is not optional.

    And no, it is not disruptive not to go class once. What is disruptive if when everyone finds out that all you have to do is claim you have some moral principle at stake, and nobody has to go to class if they don’t feel like it.

    If you have a way of dealing with that problem while still not punishing these kids even a tiny bit, I’m all for it. But I don’t see my way past that one.

    And I did in fact say that I thought the punishment should be reduced to detention. I just don’t see how it makes sense to simply allow kids not to go to class whenever they feel like it, with *no consequence whatsoever,* without setting a really disruptive precedent.

  53. “Protesting after school would just be breaking the same rule the first kids did, being at the school after school hours, which is what was supposedly dangerous in the first place. ”

    Not if they stood outside the school on a public street. Or not if they protested at or outside a school board meeting, which is actually the appropriate venue for such a protest, if the opportunity presents (i.e. a meeting is scheduled within a short time frame.) It is simply not the case that the only way to protest the stupid actions of a school official is to skip class. And actually, their protest may have been disruptive if the gym was needed during that time. I don’t know about that, though.

  54. What do they have to heal from with this “healing process”? Post Traumatic Post It Note Removal?
    I personally can’t stand post it notes but never had an injury from them. We gave post its to our kids to have them write down questions instead of interupting a phone call or coversation. Now they stick them all over the place, some cute notes, most are whiny “When’s dinner?” or hard homework questions. Even the new every day Math questions don’t require healing….I hate to see how this school handles actual traumatic incidents.

  55. “Going to class, and in fact going to school IS optional.”

    I don’t know where you live but there are compulsory education laws in, I believe, all 50 states in the US. Going to school and class are not remotely optional unless you are 16 or older AND have officially unenrolled in school. You can choose to homeschool but you can’t choose not to go whenever you feel that the administrators are “overstepping boundaries.” I’ve represented a number of people – adults and juveniles – who have found themselves in jail because they to believe that school is optional.

  56. Donna – what do you mean adults are in jail because they believe school is optional? Are you saying 18yos in your jurisdiction are legally required to attend school (assuming they haven’t already graduated)? AND the authorities bother to enforce this?

  57. Anyhoo, I thought they said these kids (the protesters) went openly to the school gym, which is not the same as being truant in my opinion.

    I don’t mind a mild punishment for this, along the lines of other minor disruptions. I agree that order in school is a fragile balance.

  58. sk1 — parents who believe that “school is optional” to the extent that they don’t abide by whatever compulsory education laws are in place, whether that’s just letting their kids be truant, or not complying with homeschooling laws, or not bothering to enroll their compulsory-aged kids into any educational program for whatever reason, do frequently find themselves in jail. I imagine those are the adults Donna has in mind.

  59. skl1 – No, the parents. We’ve had a few parents arrested for their truant kids or for not enrolling their kids in school at all.

  60. OKay firstly let me start with the fact that in 8th grade I led a minor protest invovling a particular teachers teaching and Romeo and Juliet. Mind you it involved a well written response to the teachers action, a signed pledge of support for the affected students signed by all the 8th graders and a particular twist on the classroom protest that involved placing our heads down on the desk while the offending teacher taught. What wound up happening was a wonderful meeting with the school principle who called my parents. My parents then asked me to show what I did and my reasonings. My parents took my side and asked that they be told what rules I actually broke and how placing my head quitely on my desk was inappropriate. The principal looked at me and said nothing. He had called them in so they were aware and then informed us that the teacher would not only be issuing an appology and that he would then grade the students reports.

    My point with this long story is that even students have a right to protest when they see an injustice. We teach our children to stand up for others and that is what they did. I could see the disruption if lets say there was a class actually using the gym that day. But in this case I really feel the students were right and if anyone of them were my kid I would be right there supporting them and probably handing out snacks to them.

  61. Thought you might want to know — I shared this story (and the original one) in my Best of the Blogs post this week: http://www.bloggingboutboys.blogspot.com/2012/05/best-of-blogs_18.html

  62. I am an alumni from cascade, and I was apart of the protest but you guys still don’t know the half of it

  63. Jonathon, tell us more. We would like to know.

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