(Editor's Note: The Sendelbach case became known nationally, with the family's appearance on Good Morning America and Fox News. In the Houston area, several articles appeared in the Houston Chronicle and all major news stations had at least one report on the story.
The Sendelbach's were successful in getting an appeal to have the four-month punishment in the DAEP overturned. KISD has had a long history of overzealous disciplinarians which has resulted in a negative opinion of an otherwise stellar school district. With the retirement of Leonard Merrell, who for 12 years oversaw this tough disciplinary system, Alton Frailey has stepped in and reduced the Sendelbach punishment to something more in line with what the child did. Further, Mr. Frailey has stated publicly that he is willing to step forward and work with the state legislature to begin to bring common sense back into the disciplinary system.)
Our 12-year-old daughter with ADD, who attends Mayde Creek JHS, was taken into the principal’s office to meet with the 6th grade principal and KISD police. She was immediately read her Miranda rights which she did not understand, all for writing I Love Alex in 1 inch letters on a wall. She was asked to "sign here, initial there, do you understand" by the KISD officer. She was scared and did what she was told as we always taught her to tell the truth and follow the rules. Neither her father nor I were notified until I placed a call the next day, being told that the investigation is over and because she is a good girl and doesn’t cause trouble she is only being charged with 2 misdemeanors instead of a felony. She will not be suspended because it is the end of the school year.
She will have to go to court and perform community service. However, Later on that day I was notified that this was incorrect and that, per the principal himself, my "good girl who had made a simple mistake that we all have made, would have to start next school year at an Alternative school for Real Criminals". This I was told came from the District office and his hands were tied. The officers refused to give us a copy of this coerced under duress confession telling us if we want it then get a lawyer. I am appalled that her rights were so violated. She may be a child but doesn’t she still have rights? No child’s rights should be null and void just because they step onto school property. We were also told that we should feel lucky that she wasn't charged with a FELONY. A FELONY for something so small? It was not gang graffiti!! Which is what this supposed law was enacted for. The school districts zero tolerance attitude is warped beyond belief. I am disgusted, heartbroken and just plain ANGRY that this is happening to mine or anyone else’s child. I am going to do as much as I can to get this story out there to the public.
Nothing we can do. There is an appeals process.
(Note: The appeals process in KISD is limited to the administrator who writes the Discipline Management Plan for School Board approval each year, creating a fiefdom for this person. KISD Board policy makes no provision for disciplinary cases to be appealed to the Board.)
I cannot believe our student have no rights when they step on campus and they are dealt with as criminal no matter how minor the offense.