RAHS educators tackle discipline

Sheri Byrd
Kaiserslautern American

Over the December school holiday break, parents of students at Ramstein American High School received a five-page letter from their children’s principal, outlining increasing problems in disrespect and discipline in the school.

The letter, from Dr. Barbara Ferg-Carter, outlined specific discipline issues on the rise and also asked for the help of students, parents and the community at large in finding solutions to the problems.

“We appreciate the stress that families are facing these days,” said Dr. Ferg-Carter. “However, we need parents’ help in making necessary corrections in students’ behavior.”

Now, three months later, the principal has sent a second letter to all parents, thanking them for their support of her policies and outlining definitive steps that parents and school staff have taken to improve student behavior.

The December letter pinpointed increases in rudeness and disrespect to peers, teachers, school administrators, parents and substitute teachers. It also mentioned escalation in problems of theft, litter, bad language, substance abuse, inappropriate attire, trespassing in base housing, lying, and breaking both school and base regulations.

“There are more than 1,000 students in too small a space. They are also reacting to the fallout of current military events, and they miss their deployed parents,” said Dr. Ferg-Carter. “However, there are too many of them who are their own bosses, who make their own rules, and they need strong intervention from parents who will establish ethics and set guidelines.”

At the school, the principal has instituted more frequent and longer after-school detentions, as well as silent, bag-lunch detentions supervised by a parent volunteer. Repeat and extreme cases may face disciplinary hearings, resulting in suspension or even expulsion.

Students have also been held accountable for breaking school rules off their own campus, such as smoking on the elementary school playground.

Security Forces are working more closely with the schools, watching students throughout the community.

“I am delighted to see very positive changes in behavior,” said Dr. Ferg-Carter. “Students are displaying better manners. They appear to be nicer to their classmates, too. At a recent wrestling match, I was very impressed by the way our athletes behaved. At our Air Force JROTC military ball, our cadets and their guests conducted themselves wonderfully.”

“It takes a village – or, in this case, our KMC community – to raise our children,” said Brig. Gen. Rosanne Bailey, KMC commander. “The KMC has committed to a new level of partnership with the school to share information, improve enforcement actions and develop policies that work well together.”

Dr. Ferg-Carter also said that the mutual efforts between the school, parents, students and the community cannot stop now.

“We need everyone to pay attention and to be alert to students and their behaviors,” she said. “If you feel uncomfortable approaching a student, let us know so we can take action. If we continue to strive for excellence in all they do, our students will live up to our highest expectations.”