Heil hopes to bring down the number of community violations
The discipline council began its operation at the beginning of this school year and held its first case on Monday, Oct. 31. While the council is new this year, Head of Upper School Henry Heil has been wanting to implement it since he first started at ESD in 2017.
Heil hopes that the council will crack down on common misbehaviors that teachers see in the student body. In a perfect execution of the council, they would run out of cases because the repeat behaviors are non existent.
“There was a tangible frustration last spring because we were back to normal essentially with the relaxation of standards,” Heil said. “So, [the faculty] had a conversation [at the end of the year]. And what came out of that was that a discipline council could address a lot of the issues the faculty were frustrated by.”
Talks about establishing the council started in July and it was implemented in August. This year’s council is being treated as a trial run because there was no time to hold elections for leadership positions. The council members are representatives from each grade that were elected the previous year. The council consists of seven seniors, four juniors, one sophomore and one freshman.
“They are going to hear [community violations] and [disciplinary violation] cases that Mr. Heil and Mr. Laba are going to send to the council or recommend that they look at,” upper school math teacher and disciplinary council sponsor Lisa Bottoms said. “They are going to send recommendations to the administration on what they think the consequence should be. These students have already been found ‘guilty.’”
The discipline council will not handle every case, as some might be too sensitive. Heil and Laba will have the final say and will also be able to follow the council’s recommendations or decide the outcome based on their own personal opinion.
Heil predicted an uptick in cases for the council during October and November, because teachers would be confident that their community violations would be dealt with, which was one of their concerns last year. As of Dec. 6, the upper school had accumulated 1050 CVs and 21 disciplinary violations. The number of cases for the council could, potentially, be very high. As of Dec. 7, the council has reviewed five cases.
“I am a little worried only because with the workload that a lot of us have, waking up early and then having to hear these cases is a bit overwhelming,” senior Linda Edwards*, a Disciplinary Council member said. “It definitely takes a lot of dedication to be on the discipline council, but I think we’re all up for the challenge.”
However, the Disciplinary Council holds an important job. It is meant to uphold the idea of having fair judgment by peers.
“I think it’s important to hold everyone accountable [for] their actions, especially with CVs or tardies but it is a little concerning that we have to be the ones to discipline our peers and not an adult figure,” Edwards said. “I’m worried about the divide that it would create between the students. I do think it’s important to have a discipline council because people need to face consequences to their actions, especially irresponsible ones, but all in all I think it’s difficult to be the person to bring down the hammer.”
Some students, however, do not agree with the council’s existence.
“Personally I don’t think the discipline council is necessary,” junior Tucker Robertson said. “I think that the Honor Council was enough but the discipline council is giving too much power to students. Disciplinary violations should be handled in the original manner where they go straight to the grade deans and Mr. Laba.”
*These students names have been changed at their request for privacy reasons.
Life of an infraction
1. An infraction takes place
2. The infraction is reported
3. The case is looked at by Assistant Head of Upper School Jeff Laba or by Upper School Head Henry Heil
4. Laba or Heil decide whether or not to send the case to the Discipline Council
5. The Council sets a meeting time and place
6. The Council reviews the case
7. The Council decides a verdict
8. The verdict is sent to Heil or Laba, they evaluate it and make a final decision
9. A decision is put into place and the student is made aware of the consequences