Sunday, January 24, 2016

Texas eighth-grader suspended for rescuing classmate during asthma attack

 It's perfectly possible that a girl in Killeen Independent School District faked a health emergency in the case reported below, but the district is wrong to compromise safety in order to maintain control. The district tried to make sure that the next time there's a possible health emergency, students will be more afraid to take action. But, with all the negative publicity the school has endured, perhaps students will be emboldened to create fake emergencies and to respond aggressively to apparent emergencies. The district may have achieved the opposite of what it was trying to achieve.

The apparent asthma attack may not have been a genuine health emergency, but it needed to be treated as such. I have sympathy for the teacher, who, I suspect, may have had a longstanding problem with students faking health emergencies.

If the girl had a genuine problem with asthma, I think her mother would be outraged that her child was allowed to collapse instead of being sent to the nurse. I think the girl's mother would be talking to the news. Instead, she's not making a peep.

Still, suspending a boy who carried the girl to the nurse's office wasn't the right response.

Texas eighth-grader suspended for rescuing classmate during asthma attack

Anthony Ruelas watched for what seemed like an eternity as his classmate wheezed and gagged in a desperate struggle to breathe.

The girl told classmates that she was having an asthma attack, but her teacher refused to let anyone leave the classroom, according to NBC affiliate KCEN. Instead, the teacher emailed the school nurse and waited for a reply, telling students to stay calm and remain in their seats.

When the student having the asthma attack fell out of her chair several minutes later, Ruelas decided he couldn’t take it anymore and took action.

“We ain’t got time to wait for no email from the nurse,” a teacher’s report quotes him as saying, according to Fox News Latino.
And with that, the 15-year-old Gateway Middle School student carried his stricken classmate to the nurse’s office, violating his teacher’s orders.

The teenager later texted Ruelas to let him know she was fine, according to KWTX, but that didn’t stop school officials at the alternative school in the Killeen Independent School District from punishing him. Ruelas was written up by his teacher and eventually suspended for two days, according to KCEN.

“I was like what?” Ruelas told the station. “I’m suspended for this? Like, I was trying to help her.”
A teacher’s report documenting the incident appears to correspond with Ruelas’s version of what transpired:
“During 5th period another student complained that she couldn’t breathe and was having an asthma attack,” the report states. “As I waited for a response from the nurse, the student fell out of her chair to the floor. Anthony proceeded to go over and pick her up, saying ‘f—k that, we ain’t got time to wait for no email from the nurse.’ He walks out of class and carries the other student to the nurse.”
...John Craft, superintendent of the Killeen Independent School District, released a statement on Wednesday addressing the incident:
“The District is unable to provide details related to the matter as it pertains to information involving student discipline and/or health records,” the statement said. “In an effort to protect students’ rights to confidentiality granted under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the details of the investigation and/or disciplinary actions may not be provided by the district at this time. The Killeen ISD maintains the safety of our students, staff and campuses as a priority and applauds the efforts of students who act in good faith to assist others in times of need.”
Ruelas told KCEN that he’s more concerned about his classmate’s health than his suspension. Asked whether he would make the same decision again if he was given the chance, he sounded confident.
“Most definitely,” he said.