Dr. Russ Fasolino: Expulsion is unethical

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This editorial is regarding the May 31 article about the Steamboat Springs School District superintendent and School Board expelling a 17-year-old senior with a 3.8 GPA for having marijuana in her car. I think the vast majority of Colorado residents have made it clear that we are tired of young lives being ruined over marijuana. However, this injustice seems to be the very intent of Superintendent Brad Meeks and the school board.

I understand the student made a mistake. Does this mean she should be denied the opportunity to graduate from high school and go on to college, which apparently was her dream? This was not the recommendation of Judge Mary Lynn James, who oversaw the expulsion hearing. If she is living with her aunt and uncle, it sounds as if she grew up in a dysfunctional situation. Yet she has a 3.8 GPA. Shouldn’t we be encouraging her to continue “pulling herself up by her bootstraps” by pursuing her academic career instead of making it impossible?

It feels as if this superintendent and School Board is making an example of her. OK, I get it. However, to threaten a child with destroying her future dreams is just plain wrong. It is unethical, immoral and mean spirited.

Even if the School Board has proof of her intent to sell marijuana to her friends, which it seems they don’t, the punishment would still vastly outweigh the crime. I understand that I don’t know all the facts, but this stinks of a bully beating up on a little kid. It makes me sick. I can assure you I will not be voting in favor of any future funding for the schools as long as this current board is in power.

It seems the only adults here concerned with this child’s future are her attorneys, Grant Bursek and Clark Davidson, who have taken on this lengthy case in exchange for the girl volunteering hours for the Steamboat Arts Council. Thank God there’s some good guys left. I have adult children who have graduated from our schools, and I can’t say enough about the excellence of our teachers. But thankfully, my kids are grown and don’t have to face the tyranny of this current school administration should they get into trouble.

I encourage my fellow Steamboat residents to demand our superintendent and school board stop intimidating our children and give this girl back her future.

Sincerely,

Dr. Russ Fasolino

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Ken Mauldin 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree. Mr. Meeks should reconsider the young lady's expulsion while there's still time to handle this in a more professional and ethical manner.

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john bailey 7 months, 3 weeks ago

this is a load of horse hockey pucks, Mr. Meeks thinks he is some kinda local D.A. ?

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Wow, How times have changed.

Used to be adults stuck together and the kids got discipline. Nowadays they attack the disciplinarians in favor of the lawless kids.

Was she unaware of the rules? Of the consequences? If she was aware then it was her choice to put pot ahead of college and she doesn't think as highly about her future as some of her defenders think. If she's as bright as you all say then she knew all this going in.

College just may not be her "thing". The world needs ditch-diggers too...

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Mark Rueff 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree. Reminds me of Kerry St James and the dumpster diving incident. I just sent Mr Meeks an email and we should get as many people to do the same before we end up on national news, because you know this is on its way there, after it hits Denver news or the cannibis section.

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Sally Kavanagh 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree. As a mom I believe the punishment of suspension would be humiliating and shameful enough to clearly get the message across to a kid who has never been in trouble before, a more fitting punishment for the profile of a kid who had earn a 3.8 GPA after having come from what appears to be a very sad and difficult childhood without her mom or dad there for her. The adults sitting in positions of power not giving this child a path to graduation, thus limiting her future options in ways they will never see play out, does not seem reasonable. Please reconsider: it's too late for this girl to go back and correct her mistake, as is usually the case in life, but in this unique situation it is not too late for the School Board to do so.

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Mark Rueff 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Doesn't matter. First offense should not be this harsh.

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John Weibel 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Even if guilty, a more suitable punishment would be suspension and an agreement that the school can randomly search her car, locker self (as it is a first offense). Send a message, that it is not to be tolerated.

Get information as to any others doing similar with worse drugs as part of the deal.

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Pat West 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This is just a small bump in the road. I don't support the Super's decision, it seems harsh, and meant to show power over the high school vs. punishing this student.

The real evidence of her character will come with how she acts in the future, not the Super's decision. The best thing this student could do is go on to be a successful adult, and flip the bird at the system by showing that this incident isn't going to hold her back, or define her life.

This will only limit her future if she allows it to.

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Liz Cecil 7 months, 3 weeks ago

True that she can make it a small bump in the road, but abuse of power needs to be called out. And expulsion on your record is something much more than suspension. No matter how guilty she may be, what the super did is just heartless toward a 17 yr. old on a first offense, Mr. Hartless. I'm new to this town and a part-time resident. But I've seen similar scenarios when school administration gets too big for their britches. Often parents (and teachers) who have kids in school get scared to speak up about anything for fear it will affect their kids. I've also been told that Mr. Meeks and other administrators just got big raises in the last year or two - an average of 30% - and yet it was never printed in the paper. Haven't you been making big cuts to your school district in the last few years? Why would the school board approve those kinds of salary increases and did anyone complain?

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Mark Rueff 7 months, 3 weeks ago

one thing being missed is where did she get the pot? I'm sure it's fairly easy to obtain similar to alcohol, but there should be some ramifications for the person selling to a minor.

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Aly Dee 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The way this situation was handled solidifies my decision to put my children in private school in Steamboat, at least while the current administration is still in control. Stifling this young girl's ambition with three months left of high school will only produce more negativity not help her learn, kids will still make mistakes...they always do.

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Robert Huron 7 months, 3 weeks ago

If we treated Congress the same as this person we would have to throw out more than half of Congress. Our last 3 Presidents all admitted to using some form of drugs when they were young and stupid. I wonder if the people that made this decision did the same thing when they were young. She should be punished but expulsion is way too far.

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Fred Duckels 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Meeks only had one decision, taxpayers and parents don't expect this standard in their schools and the response would be significant. Tough love and wisdom often coincide.

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Fred Duckels 7 months, 3 weeks ago

To change the expulsion would indicate to every student that they need not take responsibility seriously. Teachers are taught to hold students accountable and this would destroy all that.

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, if the school district was expelling a few dozen students for drug, alcohol and tobacco violations then maybe the school district could say they were maintaining some standard.

But this student is just the one that was unlucky enough to be made an example.

For the rest of the students, an expulsion vs long suspension are both bad enough that it doesn't really make a difference. I wonder if any other student is not going to use pot or drink at a party this weekend, or if they are discussing the importance of not getting caught, of not parking on school grounds if there is anything in their car and so on.

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rhys jones 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Far be it for me to suggest that the 3.8 GPA was assisted by cannabis...

It sure helped me understand computers right quick.

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rhys jones 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Several cliches occur: One man's poison is another man's cure. A good teacher knows the rules; a good student, the exceptions. Different strokes for different folks. Judge not lest ye be judged. Walk a mile in her shoes.

Our last ballot initiative was to make it legal. Our next one will make it MANDATORY. HA HA HA!!

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Fred Duckels 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Scott, Obviously you have not run a business with many employees, your thinking would cause the operation to come crashing down around you.

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Melissa VanArsdale 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with the premise of Russ’ letter. But I feel a need to speak on behalf of the teenager after reading some of the implications made in reader comments. First off, I too know this girl. I’ve known her since daycare. She has always been an active child involved in sports with her family, friends and on sports teams. She was never a girly girl: She hung tough with the boys because of her competitive spirit. And yes, she did come from a loving family. However, for no business of Pilot readers the parents did separate and eventually divorce. And it’s no surprise that divorce is difficult on all those involved: parents and children. But it should be made clear that her parents love her very much.

Her mom went back to school and landed a job out-of-state. This teenager lived with her mom. But she wanted to return to Steamboat for her senior year to be with her friends. It’s not easy starting a new school your senior year in another state—we all have warm fussy memories about our high school years, right? As hard as it was for her mom, she supported her daughter’s decision to come back to Steamboat to live with family and attend school.

This teenager was accepted to DU yet the defamed comment by Mark Hartless is “heartless”. Even if she selects not to go to college does that make her a lesser person (“ditch-diggers”). There are several successful people without college degrees: Get on Facebook much? How about POTUS Abraham Lincoln, and who can forget sweet old Dave Thomas the founder of Wendy’s. Oh yeah, didn’t he support adoption and foster care--hmm?

Also, it is in very poor taste for any adult reader to slander a child: Trudi’s comment was no more than a form of bullying. And it was in the worst form from an adult to a child. No one ever said this teenager was innocent: They are merely asking for a lesser punishment. I’m sure most every Pilot reader got their hands dirty once or twice in high school. Maybe some of us while living with separated parents or other family members. Yet somehow most of us have moved on to become outstanding citizens in our community. Yea, she screwed up but shouldn’t we as a community show support and steer her in the right direction with fewer debilitating consequences?

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

So ditch diggers are "lesser persons, Melissa???

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Deana Damiano 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Sweet Melissa...it has been years, but a great stab at the circumstances! No one seems to be aware that I hired a lawyer to handle the legal issues. But after waiting for an outcome, there were NO CHARGES filed, but meanwhile I was NOT notified by the school of her suspension or her options. I don't understand why Mr. Taulman and Mr. Meeks fake like they are police officers rather than an educational administration. My daughter had been out of school for 54 days when the final hearing happened and it took two weeks for Mr. Taulman to release information for my daughter's alternative educational options after he stated he did not receive email from lawyer.

I was also surprised to find out that despite SSHS reputation for drugs that my daughter was practically the first one to get caught. Really?

Taulman and Meeks have one the battle, but not the war.

I am grateful for Grant Bursek and Clark Davidson for their diligence and compassion!! Yippeee for good guys and the good people who are forward thinkers, with common sense and compassion.

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john bailey 7 months, 3 weeks ago

great post , Melissa..~;0)..Rhys , how bout glass houses ?...jeje

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rhys jones 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Sacrificial lamb... Let he who is without sin cast the first stone...

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Deana Damiano 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Lesson learned? Taxes? Attorney fees? Job accountability? Parents accountability? This could of been resolved almost two months ago with Principal Kevin Taulman...Taulman@sssd.k12.co.us. I am the parent. My 1st wish would be that all children, especially teenagers, were perfect. My 2nd wish would be to have options to be solution oriented. My hope for this incident is that kids and adults need to learn about the cultural shift that is happening in Colorado...in schools and beyond...Support the School Board if you would rather pay the superintendents attorneys fees rather than education on the effects legal marijuana is that is now easily accessible to our children.

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Deana Damiano 7 months, 3 weeks ago

See my (slightly more edited) comment below...if anyone would like more clarity...there is a 12 hour hearing that was recorded, but not transcribed with more of the facts and powerful statements from the hearing officer and the attorneys Grant Bursek and Clark Davidson. Bmeeks@sssd.12.co.us. If you want my unsolicited opinions or my emails to Mr. Taulman and the School Board...ddamiano64@gmail.com

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

"Our last ballot initiative was to make it legal. Our next one will make it MANDATORY..."

I swear I believe you guys actually will, Rhys. I really do...

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Deana Damiano 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Lesson learned? Taxes? Attorney fees? Job accountability? Parents accountability? This could of been resolved almost two months ago with Principal Kevin Taulman...Taulman@sssd.k12.co.us. I am the parent. My 1st wish would be that all children, especially teenagers, were perfect. My 2nd wish would be to have options to be solution oriented. My hope for this incident is that kids and adults need to learn about the cultural shift that is happening in Colorado...in schools and beyond...Support the School Board if you would rather pay the superintendents attorneys fees rather than education on the effects legal marijuana is that is now easily accessible to our children. And I hope our children can become adults with great integrity and values, like Melissa, rather than "Hartless". Moving forward with honesty, love and light...

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brian ferguson 7 months, 3 weeks ago

...how many millions of people smoked a bit of weed in H.S? People that are now doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers, judges, business owners, government employees, senators, presidents, and ditch diggers... I'm not saying smoking during H.S is a good idea, especially on school grounds (not that she was) but when I was in H.S in New jersey I smoked with the senior class president, the center and right tackle of the football team, multiple soccer players, and countless other well respected, well liked students, many of which I'm certain turned out to be outstanding citizens.(unlike my ski-bum self) I also remember a few of these kids getting in trouble for having weed on campus (and liquor), yet I did graduate with them, they were not expelled...and this was in jersey in the 80's....smack dab in the middle of the Reagan "just say no" campaign

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

We've come a long way from "Just Say No", haven't we??

Not that I equate the two, but for the sake of argument and consideration of "zero tolerance" and rules applying equally to all for all infractions, consider this... I wonder how many of you who would be silent or in the other corner if it had been a gun, instead of weed?

And didn't the paper say: "...with the intent to sell."? To sell to who??? Some of YOUR OWN KIDS??

The hippies are definitely running the asylum, methinks.

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe that's the reason for my disagreement with many posters. I don't see this as an issue of "somebody wanted to smoke a little weed-big deal". I see this as an issue of "the school had some easily understood rules. Those rules might have been about fighting, bullying, guns, cheating on exams, etc".

The punishment is not because this person had the same weed as most of you have in your possesion. The punishment is because this person disobeyed a "zero tolerance" rule.

None of you agreed to not posses weed. This person WAS under such a "contract"; and they violated that contract... PERIOD.

I'll say it again- if it had been a gun instead of a sack of weed many of you folks would be taking the EXACT OPPOSITE position..

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Liz Cecil 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Mark: yeah except it wasn't a gun! And the world is not always black and white. It's not a "zero tolerance" rule anyway - The typical punishment for 1st offense possession of pot at school is a 5 day suspension, not expulsion. And I'm not one who thinks pot and alcohol are no big deal - they both are very harmful to the developing teenage brain and can actually change its structure.

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Paula Salky 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I have seen what happens when school activities and expulsions happen to our kids in Steamboat Springs. They are left with absolutely nothing. Nothing to be accountable for their actions. Nothing to look forward to especially sports that these students love. Would it be possible to look at these situations differently? To say, "In this situation, our policy is expulsion but we are willing to give you a chance because we believe in you!"

Idle hands, idle time is the worst thing for our teenagers. Keep them busy! If the disciplinary action/option is kicking them off a team, why not tell them that if they really want this they need to earn it. Make them do something for the school, the team. Make them stay before school and clean up the grounds. Get the equipment ready. And then stay after and make sure everything is back in the locker the room and clean the gym. Then make them study what it was that got them in trouble and write a paper on it.

Or maybe in this student's case, give them an opportunity to learn from this and earn their diploma/graduation back. I think having to take a drug and alcohol course, mandatory drug test, counseling, write a paper on drug use and community service. If those criteria are met by June 1st, then she could walk and graduate. If she did not comply, then at least our district leaders and high school administration made an effort to help a student that needs direction, guidance and our support.

Every student is different. Clearly this is an exceptional student and I know that this is a very difficult situation for the Superintendent, School board, and High School Administration. I do believe that it is possible to make a HUGE difference in a student/childs life. The school district has this power and we CAN always do better. It takes a big person to admit to a mistake, make amends and give chances. It's not too late. Let's do what we can to give this student a chance.

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Russ Fasolino 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Deana and Zoey I appreciate your comments as the 2 people who actually know the child. I encourage you to help her see this as just one of many challenges she will inevitably face on her long journey to her career goals. All experiences in life can be seen from a victim perspective, or as a challenge to work with, which helps create a stronger, more resilient and compassionate person. The latter is the kind of people who will steer our world society through the serious problems that lie ahead. I own a Chinese Medical clinic in town, and I would like to help your daughter, for free if need be. She would surely benefit from some stress reduction and hormonal balancing with which this medicine is so effective.
Dr Russ Fasolino 970-870-8888

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Deana Damiano 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I appreciate the sincere attempt to have this issue publicicized to get attention and seek helpful solutions. How lucky Steamboat is to have you, rather than traveling to China. Some of these commenters appear miopic and shallow and would rather reguritate their ignorance. This continues to be frustrating. I hope my daughter and many would utilize many options for stress reduction. I appreciate you. I have not had time to call. This is my number for anyone who is creative enough to offer solutions 970-846-7424. You are a blessing and a sincere thank you.

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Fred Duckels 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Permissiveness seems to be the prevalent attitude here. This thought process will only breed problems such as this. This student made a mistake and holding her accountable is the only way that she will grow. Those willing to pull her weight have the "need to be needed" syndrome which is another problem in itself.

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Dan Hill 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Fred, the next time you or Mark Hartless or someone in your families make a mistake how will you feel when the whole community piles on, screaming for the harshest possible punishment to be applied? What goes around comes around.

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Fred Duckels 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This blog looks like the minutes from an enablers anonymous meeting.

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This is not a case of permissiveness gone mad because no one is saying it was fine to have pot in her car. This is a case of punishment far exceeding the crime.

Seems to me that now the bigger risk to students is an arbitrary expulsion than being exposed to tobacco, alcohol and pot. A parent should expect their child to be exposed all of those and can hopefully prepare their child for that.

But how does a family prepare for an arbitrary expulsion when the offense should have been 5 days suspension? I think most people would be surprised to learn that 6 one gram bags of pot, or presumably a six pack of beer or a pack of cigarettes in a car is considered the same as carrying it into the classroom. Is a student with a hunting rifle locked in the trunk of his car during hunting season at risk of expulsion for "bringing a gun on campus"? Apparently so.

And an expulsion doesn't just effect the expelled student because now any friends see the school as being unfair and mean spirited. And so they become less motivated at school.

Seems to me that parents now need to have alternate plans of GED and CMC in case their child or a child's good friend is arbitrarily expelled.

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

"Is a student with a hunting rifle locked in the trunk of his car during hunting season at risk of expulsion for "bringing a gun on campus"? Apparently so."

That's why I said many of these folks would never open their mouth if it had been a gun.

Hey, you folks are the one's who seem surprised. Not me... After all... It's a government school.

More powerful gubbamint with more arbitrary decisions is what many of you seem to want... now that you're getting it right here at home you cry foul... Funny.

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jerry carlton 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Oz Run for school board. Then you can help determine what is a reasonable punishment. I stay away from Doctors when at all possible and I will certainly stay away from a practitioner of Chinese medicine. If I wanted that, I would move to China. I will be dead when this young lady graduates from medical school but I currently try to stay away from doctors who smoked pot as teenagers.

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

My father had heart surgery this morning- 3 stints. He went home this afternoon. Amazing. As we spoke he related to me that his doctor was giving him a debriefing and prognosis when he was called away not once, not twice, but 3 times for emergency phone calls and conversations with other doctors and nurses. Typical day in the life... I couldn't help but wonder along those same lines, Jerry. How energetic and self-motivated and utterly committed one would have to be to do such a job. And would a pot smoker hack it??? I seriously would NOT want to be under their knife either.

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

You wouldn't, necessarily; but if I did know, I'd probably steer away.

My point was it takes some serious commitment and focus to be a doctor. Certainly more than I've got, and possibly more than this person has.

This person may indeed become a good doctor; I hope she does. But she will have to learn to focus and to ABSTAIN from some of the things in which she currently engages.

Now, I would actually still like to know 1) If Melissa thinks ditch diggers are "lesser people"?? 2) How Zoey knows the method by which this person obtains marijuana. And 3) How do so many of you reconcile your fondness with all things gubbamint VS your attacks on a gubbamint school administrator?.

Additionally, I think it does your kids a dis-service when parents/ adults defend lawlessness in kids and attack authority figures.... especially right in front of those kids! You send your kids to these people and charge them with their education (something you should do yourselves anyway) Then, you lash out at the adults and defend the out-of-control kids; Frankly, I think it's piss-poor parenting.

Finally, I have said many times that if you give a hoot about your kids you'd get them out of government schools. If this dust-up has accomplished anything, I hope it has convinced others of that as well.

Cheers,

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Fred Duckels 7 months, 3 weeks ago

If the school reinstated in this case and later we had a fatality related to MJ in the school, the lawyers would have a field day with the condoning of MJ.

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Ken Collins 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Was she expelled because of possession or as the ICE boys claim, "intent to sell"? Simple possession of so little amount should be suspension. But I happen to think that intent to sell is an unsubstantiated claim. I was a jury member a while back with a cocaine addict as a defender. It was obviously a situation of an addict that had no intention of distribution, yet the ICE gang pushed it for all it was worth. Was there anybody who they found that was going to buy the weed? Six I gram bags is hardly even a "stash". To go to extremes in a case like this is unfortunate, especially when the judge even wanted suspension. I have no respect for Meeks or the board and the power they apparently love to wield. Too many people still have a Reefer Madness mentality.

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mark hartless 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Yet you fall all over yourself regularly trying to give even more power to even more distant and less accountable "power weilders"...

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Fred Duckels 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Ken, Helping people avoid the bitter pill is a tried and proven tactic for winning elections. maybe this girl will join the party.

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jerry carlton 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Too many people have a Let's get drunk and/or stoned mentality.

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Ken Collins 7 months, 1 week ago

Jerry, Mark, Fred, you all would apparently be very shocked if you ever found out how many of the doctors, truck drivers, nurses, teachers, politicians, well, actually most anyone out there smoked a little dope "back in the day". If none of you have EVER toked a bit, I'm surprised, but not shocked. Nothing wrong with going into a drunken stupor while in college, or as young guys at a ski area in the 70's or 80's? It's not what you do as much as how you do it. In fact, maybe you three should take an occasional toke and contemplate more and react less.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 7 months, 1 week ago

Ken aka Mr. Obvious, I think Jerry, Mark and Fred and all the other "knuckledraggers" you have to tolerate on this blog will be appreciative of your enlightenment, I know I did. "how many of the doctors, truck drivers, nurses, teachers, politicians, well, actually most anyone out there smoked a little dope "back in the day"." WOW, who knew there was drug use "back in the day". I don't recall any of them advocating for any use of drugs/alcohol including a "drunken stupor", so other then not liking their comments and I suspect their political leanings and wanting to throw something in their face I am not sure what point you were trying to make and what it has to do with the topic.

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 1 week ago

There are high school students who illegally smoke cigarettes. Often one person has the pack and gives cigarettes to other students. A search of that person's car parked in school parking lot would find that pack of cigarettes.

So why aren't school official inspecting students returning from lunch for smelling of having smoked cigarettes? And then searching those student's cars for evidence of having brought illegal tobacco on campus? And then expelling those students for distributing cigarettes to other students?

And the claim that a suspension of more that 25 days requires expulsion appears to be a misreading of the law which actually states there just needs to be an expulsion hearing. I see nothing preventing an expulsion hearing from recommending additional suspension.

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jerry carlton 7 months, 1 week ago

Ken Collins I have never smoked anything. My mother, father and grandmother smoked cigarettes and I got more second hand smoke than I cared for. My father died of a brain tumor before lung cancer could kill him. Lasted through about 6 months of misery while having radiation and chemo. Guess what caused it? The thought of sucking hot gases into my lungs laced with whatever never appealed to me. Since you think it is such a good idea, maybe you should go down to the high school and pass out free joints and twelve packs of beer. Let me know how that works out for you. Back in my day was the 60's. The was dope around but about 5% of the kids used it, not the 50% now. We have come a long way baby!

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 1 week ago

Pot usage has been around 5% claiming to have used it in the past month and 50% claiming to have tried it during their lifetime.

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mark hartless 7 months, 1 week ago

Ken,

I doubt that I would be shocked. Nor have I ever denied smoking pot in my past (by God's grace it IS in my past). Niether have I ever opposed marijuana use by responsible, consenting adults.

However, this particular event has almost NOTHING to do with marijuana. Instead, it pertains to a minor, willfully and illegally possesing a substance that she was strictly forbidden to posses.

It has to do with her willful disregard of rules she clearly understood.

It is about a person in a position of authority and scrutiny who has been given responsibility for the well-being of EVERY OTHER STUDENT IN THAT SCHOOL; not just the lawless one.

Most importantly, it is about a local populace which to me seems far too willing to rush to the defense of a lawless and willfully disobedient student while disregarding the well-being of the remaining student body and condemning the chartacter of an administrator who desperately needs the support of the parents if he is to have a snowball's chance in Hell of keeping order in that nut-house called a school.

It is pathetic and reprenhensible to see parents and other adults, not just here but across this nation, increasingly jump to the defense their little hellions and trash the teachers they expect to educate their kids.

You people create these little ner-do-wells with your coddling and refusal to discipline them. Then you send them off to school for someone like Meeks to deal with. They know they will be supported by the parents when they get in trouble, so they have no motivaation not to make it all but impossible for the other kids who actually WANT to get an education to do so.

Then when someone else DARES to do even a WEE BIT of the job the sorry-assed parents didn't do, you crucify the man. Shame on you...

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 1 week ago

Mark,

So then where are all the expulsions for students that smell of tobacco smoke when returning from lunch and have cigarettes in their car which they shared with other students? I've seen high school kids get out of a car smoking cigarettes so if school officials have to be willfully blind to not notice it.

To suggest the school is treating all prohibited substances the same is obviously not true.

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mark hartless 7 months, 1 week ago

I didn't suggest that the school was detecting, aprehending and adjudicating every infraction with perfect equality. Any idiot (even the students) knows that's not gonna happen.

Not all bank robbers are caught; should we impose a moratorium on punishment for any bank robbery until we devise a method for caputring ALL of them??? Stupid.

You are saying "what about tobbbacco smoke?" I'm saying "exactly" and what about guns?? Stop trying to re-defin lawlessness based on the "metond" or "caliber".

This person understood the rules, wanted the diploma, but refused to do their part to pave their road to that diploma.

The students that "got away with.,.." should consider themselves lucky. Those that get caught should learn to either obey the rules or become better criminals... maybe one day they can even graduate from criminals to politicians...

Who the heck wants a doctor that thinks they can ignore hard and fast rules about drug distribution??

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 1 week ago

The standard is not perfect equality. It is as if they sentenced one bank robber to 20 years and are refusing to investigate every other bank robbery in town. The issue isn't being unable to catch others, but willfully ignoring others that are violating the same laws.

And your comment about the doctor is so idiotic that it answers itself. The whole point is that the school district has not be treating these as hard and fast rules, and the punishment far exceeds the severity of the infraction. Overall, I think the doctor gained more support for showing common sense.

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Ken Collins 7 months, 1 week ago

I asked this earlier and saw no response. If the student passed the field tests given to her by a qualified(?) person who is NOT a drug official or police person, why then did they search the car, which wasn't even hers? Where was the probable cause? How many students would SHS have if they searched every car for drugs/tobacco/alcohol? And to compare mj to cigarettes is ludicrous. 400,000+ people die every year from tobacco related use, and as yet none from mj. Don't bring up the Denver accident. That's a long reach. What else had that kid done?

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 1 week ago

Ken,

On school grounds the school officials do not need probable cause. They pretty much can do as they wish by claiming they are protecting other students.

It isn't accurate to say that none have died from mj. Coroner's inquest in England concluded that a young woman's heart attack had heavy mj usage as a contributing factor. Previous coroner inquests have blamed mj in a few deaths of men. So it is not zero mj deaths, but a small few.

According to the school district's own survey, if they consistently enforced their substance abuse rules then they'd lose about a third of their students.

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Pat West 7 months, 1 week ago

This (or any) student could have refused to allow the search and only lost the ability to drive and park on campus.

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jerry carlton 7 months, 1 week ago

Ken Collins You passing out free joints, 6 packs or cigarettes at the high school yet?

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mark hartless 7 months, 1 week ago

Ken,

Do you really expect the kind of power you regularly suggest we give to those jack-booted thugs will voluntarily stop at the schools front door? Or your own?

You would empower many branches of government far beyond their Constitutional constraints, yet here you flap about people's individual rights. You are hillarious...

It is stupid and hypocritical to cut the leash on the crocodile and then complain when it eats something dear to you.

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Deana Damiano 7 months, 1 week ago

I only add my raw personal side... I appreciate the powerful suggestions to make this world a better place. Even Hartless blatent ignorance is a red flag and an obvious candidate for higher education. No pun intended

3/21/14 Mr. Meeks & the School Board

I hope that you can make the time for me after the hearing on Monday to discuss the many questions and concerns. I am concerned with the remiss of communication from you and Mr. Taulman, officially as well as after I cried and begged after being notified by the school counselor. But let's not lose the focus of the expulsion. She has three college applications pending & needs to complete 6 classes in 2 months after being removed from school 51 days ago.

One of my questions that went unanswered was how much to pay for the 12-hr recording into a transcript? There were many powerful statements from Mary Lynne James, the outside hearing officer, Mr. Bursek & Davidson, Attorneys for my daughter, beyond the statement of facts. Did you listen to the 12hrs before your diminutive decision without explanation for my daughter’s expulsion. I hope the School Board has the ingenuity to fix the school-system without breaking the school-girl.

I told Mr. Taulman that I worked for VNA as a Advocate for Children with Special Care Needs for 5 years before nursing school. This is where I learned to empower many struggling parents to seek out available resources & opportunities.

When I first heard of her offense, it was described as a "small" amount of mj, 1/29/14. In the Statement of fact, 3/4/14, it is described as a "large" amount. This is a FIRST: (My daughter, Mr. Taulman, Mr. Alt, Mr. Hensen, Mr. Meeks) with this kind of situation. No matter how we look at it, this first time in this small town, it is a big deal. No pun intended.

I'm scared for my daughter, how can she be so stupid? I can only hope that by integrating my daughter back into classes could be an example that could benefit in so many ways. She will continue to suffer despite any outcome. I am confident that Mr. Taulman can find a way to incorporate trust so that she can complete the last two months at SSHS with her peers and Lacrosse team. She has been feeling defeated, but trying to study for her requirements, proactively taking drug tests and has started intensive private counseling, participating in her diversion program, continues with her counseling, but also isolated in Hayden with her aunt and uncle.

I beg of you to try to be creative in this situation. I am willing to commit to research opportunities to help combat the drug issues for the children in Steamboat as well as hope to promote a system of educating children of the dangers and consequences of mj.

I appreciate your dedication to the children & their future. Let me know if there is anything that I can do for the success of children & community.

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mark hartless 7 months, 1 week ago

"...Even Hartless blatent ignorance is a red flag and an obvious candidate for higher education..."

I might be "blatantly ignorant", but I smoked weed all through high school without getting busted !!

I waived college and earned a 6 figure salary 2 years out of high school in the '80's; when 6 figures was still a decent living.

I'm now 46 years old and retired. My "blatently ignorant" ass never has to work another day of my life...

Here's hoping you and your kid are as "blatantly ignorant" someday, Mr Damiano...

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Jim Kelley 7 months, 1 week ago

....And your extensive experience raising kids???

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mark hartless 7 months, 1 week ago

Me... opinionated...??? I was gainfully AND legally employed... it was hard, dirty but honorable work.

I think it's "rearing" kids...

Look, I will admit it might be a little too harsh attributing all teenagers' behavior to proper or improper parenting, so I'll concede that. But I absolutely believe we do kids no favors when we attack people like Meeks whom we have selected to help us rear and educate those same kids... especially when we do it right in front of the kids.

Not every person needs college and not every one needs to be a doctor. I believe that if a person has sufficient character then being expelled from high school can be a learinig experience and stepping stone far more valuable than college and infinitely more valuable than learning the very dangerous lesson that others will always come to her aid, even when she was clearly wrong.

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jerry carlton 7 months, 1 week ago

Mark Interesting how a 46 year old and a 69 year old can agree on most things. I am glad weed did not fry your brain in high school. I am more happy for you that you have quit My two sons, about your age, have made fairly productive members of society but I still feel that they would have set their goals higher had they not partaken of the "loco weed".

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mark hartless 7 months, 1 week ago

Washington Post, this past week:

"A study in The Journal of Neuroscience says even casual marijuana smokers showed significant abnormalities in two vital brain regions ". USA Today, Forbes, and CNN among many others that picked up that story.

Translation: Doctors say people who want to be doctors should consider avoiding pot, not distributing and smoking it.

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Deana Damiano 7 months, 1 week ago

Heartless..please make yourself useful...get a job digging ditches. You are blatantly annoying and useless to society.

Fyi...This was my first letter to Mr.Meeks on 2/19. It will take a few posts...just to share information that the world is not black and white.

Dear Mr. Meeks,

I wrote this letter yesterday. I have been waiting patiently for you to make a decision about my daughter, Kayla Voeltzel, get back into school immediately.

She has been suspended since 1/29/14. I heard that she will not be able to get back into classess until 3/10/14. I feel that you are setting her up for failure.

How can you show me that you are doing all that you can to give my daughter an education?

Please call me as soon as possible.

I am taking a flight tonight and will be in Steamboat on Friday. I would love to meet with you personally. Should I bring my lawyer?

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Deana Damiano 7 months, 1 week ago

Continuing with last post. Again, I'm the mom, this is ordeal has been real painful, especially digesting opinions of people who do not know the facts and who judge without a heart or a brain...grrr to Mr. Hartless, but this is not for you. This letter has been cut...Again, this is for Mr. Meeks and Mr. Taulman...I'm still waiting for my response...from them, not Heartless. 2/19 I am currently in Hawaii working as an R.N. I came to Hawaii in July 2013 for a nursing job. I was intending to return by Oct or Dec. 2013

I have lived in Steamboat for over 21 years and call Steamboat home. The community is my family and have helped me raise my children with solid integrity and strong values. I had moved to Grand Junction in 2011 for work and away from a hostile environment from my divorce. My ex-husband has little to no contact with her, who still lives in Steamboat.

School has been the only constant in her life. It is the only thing she can control. It is the only thing that makes her believe in herself. She has maintained all A's & B's, with a 3.8 average despite her many setbacks. She has applications out to CU, DU and Dartmouth (her grandfather's alma mater). She is involved in Lacrosse which has also been one of her only solid avenues for support and encouragement.

She has endured a hateful divorce and rejection from her father since she was eight. She has had three heart surgeries from 10 months old to age thirteen. She struggles socially as she is immature , young and small for her class. I was encouraged to start her in school at a young age as recommended by John Devincentis, back in the day.

She is currently in counseling with Shelby DeWolf and Jen Trimurti. Shelby stating her extensive need for guidance and treatment, issues of depression, maladaptive coping patterns, black and white thinking and unrealistic expectations of herself, overwhelmed, feelings of hopelessness, desperation, need for more family support, unresolved conflict with parents which make her feel more isolated and overwhelmed.

I am pleading for mercy that she can learn from the consequences without taking away her education. She has independently taken a drug test and has an appointment psychiatric evaluation recommended by our PCP from YVMA

I plead to let her finish high school with all the pressures and consequences that she will learn from this incident and hope she can endure her focus and remain true to herself and her goal to graduate high school, attend a college university and to lead a respectful honest life. We all need to believe in our children. Please don't give up on her. I believe in her and I want you to give her a chance to show you that she will not let you down. She has the ability to overcome adversity and make us all proud. I beg for your compassion, humanity and benevolence.

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Iris Behr 6 months, 2 weeks ago

How much more extreme can we get? Destroying the hopes of a bright future of this young girl, who managed a 3.8 GPA regardless of her possibly difficult family situation? Who is going to get what out of this, and who is being kept “safe” from whom? Are we protecting ourselves from the honest people, while giving the real criminals the best legal defense to allow them freedom if not proven guilty? Mistakes are made in life to learn and grow! Give this girl a chance to recognize her misstep by making her volunteer work become a positive learning experience for her, and a contribution to the community as a whole. There are other ways of “punishment”, which do not need to destroy a promising future of an otherwise bright girl! This is medieval philosophy and does not belong into our caring, intellectual community! Thank you Russ, for your eloquent points of discussion. I will be sending an email to Mr. Meek on this matter also!

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