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Schools right about finals

| June 16, 2010 9:00 PM

You can't blame a father for wanting his family together at special times, particularly when one of his children is home for a brief visit while serving his country in the armed forces.

But when the father of a Coeur d'Alene High School student was initially thwarted in his attempt to pull his son out of class early during a final examination last week, he wrote in a letter to the editor that school administrators had gone too far in rebuking parental rights. He wrote that he may file a formal complaint to the district, protesting his treatment by "gestapo administrations." He emphasized that as a parent, he - not school officials - should have final say on when it is appropriate for his children to be allowed to leave class early.

"The bottom line is my reason does not matter," the father told a Press reporter following up on his letter. "I'm a parent, and I have my rights."

When it comes to final exam schedules, we respectfully disagree. The reason does matter.

In this particular case, Principal Randy Russell explained that students are generally prohibited from leaving final exams early for several reasons, not the least among them test security. Students should remain in class during final exams out of fairness to other students who deserve a disruption-free environment. When Russell was finally told the circumstances of the father's request, the son was immediately allowed to leave class, which had fewer than 15 minutes remaining.

We're in no position to suggest which reasons for student removal during finals might be warranted versus those that might not. However, because final exams represent a significant proportion of student performance, we side with school officials who are looking out for the integrity of the process. Early removal of one student affects all the students in that class.

We also think this unfortunate situation provides a learning opportunity for the community at large. Parents by all means are responsible for their non-adult children, but when they enroll those children in a school they are agreeing to abide by the school's rules. If reasons why those rules should be bent or broken are expressed to school officials and the parent is still not allowed to remove his child, then it is a matter for district administration and the school board to review.

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