Letter: Student claims retaliation for speaking at meeting

Posted

To the Editor:

My name is Alexis Secoy, and I recently spoke at the Sept. 18 school board meeting on behalf of the Quantum Leap Exhibit Program. Being a former student in 9th grade, I spoke on how I felt about the Quantum Leap Exhibit Program being discontinued at MAUHS. Having alternative education is important. By taking away alternative education you are setting so many kids up to fail. You can't expect every child to learn the same. Every child is different!The next day (Sept. 19), I went to school as normal. At approximately 10 a.m., I went to my guidance counselor's office to have a conversation with her about a meeting I had after school. During our conversation I had to ask another guidance counselor a question about a meeting on Friday (Sept. 20). While I was talking to the other guidance counselor, Christopher Barnes, the assistant principal at MAUHS, approached me and asked me what class I was supposed to be in, I answered, and told him I was in the middle of a meeting with my guidance counselor. He told me I need to go to class, and so I let him know I would go once I grabbed my things and finished my conversation. He then told me if I wasn't going to go to class then he would suspend me and have the police escort me off campus.

I told my guidance counselor what happened and she tried talking to him on my behalf, but he told her that I was suspended and that there was no further conversation. So I grabbed my things and was about to leave when I remembered I had to grab a paper from Nancy Vanderbuilt.

She started explaining to me that I had hurt her and Barnes's feelings because of what I had said at the school board meeting. She explained to me that Barnes was hurt about what I had said. I thought, why? I didn't criticize the administration at the meeting (Mrs. Crosier wouldn't have wanted me to do that). At the school board meeting, when I spoke, it was about how much I was cared for in Quantum Leap, and how we were all confused about how it was dismantled. When I spoke, I didn't mention anybody's name, nor did I bash anyone. I was particularly careful with my words. I said that there really is not any alternative education being offered. The alternative education being offered is sending kids to the Tutorial Center, or having us sit at a computer doing online classes through another organization.

I thought about what was said to me, and what Barnes did, and I thought, granted they spent a lot of money on my education and me personally. That is what schools are supposed to do, and I appreciate that and understand that. but what I had said at the board meeting wasn't just about me, it was about the other hundreds of kids that are just like me. They didn't get what I got, so yes it is a real big problem for everyone. But him acting out of anger and hurt over what I had said and suspending me over absolutely nothing is unbelievable and unprofessional. This is the problem that no one can see and no one is talking about.

What happened to my First Amendment rights? Why are we all afraid to talk? Why are the teachers, like Mrs. Crosier, afraid to talk? Why are teachers always leaving Mount Anthony? Freedom of speech at a public event that our school board held to hear input from the community on the problem of the Quantum Leap Exhibit Program being discontinued is really important. Because I was willing to speak out I'm being punished and had my education taken away for the day because people's feelings got hurt. I hope you publish this. We shouldn't have to be afraid, and people need to start paying better attention to whats going on.

Alexis Secoy,

North Bennington

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