Discipline at Blair Academy

Consequences at Blair can vary on many occasions. Observations give way into the system to decipher any and all controversy within the community. Interviews with the head of school, Rules and Discipline committee, and multiple students on the committee give way to the behind-the-scenes actions of when a student is or is not dismissed from the Academy.

Head of school Christopher Fortunato informed us that when a student is dismissed from Blair, it is for the good of not only the community, but the individual as well. “We’re not trying to be a court of law here, it’s a school. Our mission is to teach you and support you. We don’t do our jobs well if we don’t go over all the circumstances. We’re all in with every student for as long as they’re here. I don’t want to run a school where we’re there for you but not really there for you.”

Students may find some cases unfair. In some situations, consequences vary, and as a community, students will inevitably form their own opinions when it comes to the consequences of their peers. However, Mr. Fortunato finds that people tend to judge before they know the full story. “There’s usually more to the case…  so people think we’re being unfair or unjust but in reality they don’t know the full story. We’re trying to do right by everyone involved and sometimes it’s awful. One of the worst things I have to do is sit across from someone and say you’re great but you can’t be here.”

Mr. Sykes, head of the Rules and Discipline Committee, was very open on discussing the way the committee runs and what aspects are looked upon when a case is presented to them. The number of cases that are presented in front of the committee vary from year to year. Last year the committee was presented with eight or nine cases regarding suspension or removal of students. Mr. Sykes responded “We look to see what’s best for the community, and is it best for that person or people to remain at Blair or not. Would this case make people of the community feel as if they cannot trust others that are a part of Blair? That’s something that plays a role.”

Later in the interview, Mr. Sykes was addressed if whether or not race, gender, financial status or activity they partake in effect their punishment. “Race, gender nor financial status play a role in a student or student’s punishment. I don’t even know what a student’s financial status is unless I have a close relationship with them. But what activities a student is a part of is taken into consideration when figuring out their punishment. For example, if we have a case with a student that is a prefect, captain and a part of community service, we know that he/she loves this community and attempts to put forth an effort to make Blair a better place. But compared to another student who isn’t involved in the community, then maybe we look at their case differently.”

A student who currently resides on the Rules and Discipline Committee gave information regarding suspensions and dismissals from a youth’s perspective. “I was on a case for a dismissed student a few weeks ago. Basically a student participated in the alleged circulation of an inappropriate video of another student and that’s kind of all I can talk about! The kid who shared the video got dismissed.”

Discipline at Blair is a topic the whole community is curious about. Whether it’s suspension, dismissal, conduct probation, or any other punishment, the students of the Academy want to know the truth and the process behind deciding someone’s fate at Blair.

(Copyright 2016 Andra Espinoza-Hunter)