Washington Post: Teen Suicide, Fairfax Schools Disciplinary Policy

Gripping Story of a Family Caught in the Disciplinary Process

The Washington Post presented readers with a gripping story Sunday morning about an issue that the neighbors are talking about --- the suicide of a second Fairfax County student in two years "amid the fallout of a disciplinary infraction in Fairfax."

Nick Stuban bought what was a legal  synthetic compound "but he soon discovered that he had made a mistake with consequences bar beyond anything he expected" for himself and his family. His mother suffers from Lou Gehig's disease.

Josh Anderson, a student suspended from Langley High School for a drug violation, committted suicide in March 2009, the day before his second disciplinary hearing.

The Post story talks about the Stuban family, the Fairfax disciplinary policy,  and how other area school jurisdictions treat similar infractions.

No matter how you feel about the disciplinary policy, you cannot help but be moved and informed by this story.

Ellen Stoupa February 21, 2011 at 09:48 PM
The story of Nick Stuban is a tragic one. The punishment did not fit the crime. He was not a repeat offender. He sounded like a good kid. This policy needs to be changed. My prayers go out to his parents.
Greg Brandon February 22, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Isolation from one's support group can lead to depression and depression to suicide. Nick had a great group of friends at Woodson but he was cut-off from them by the one-size-fits-all FCPS disciplinary policy. John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute (self-described as "a non-profit conservative legal organization dedicated to the defense of civil, especially religious, liberties and human rights") has "Voic[ed] the concern that Fairfax County students and their families are being subjected to inhumane, impersonal and overly harsh administrative hearings where the Fourteenth Amendment requirements of due process are neglected [and] is calling on Dr. Jack D. Dale, superintendent of the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), to address glaring deficiencies in the way school officials carry out their disciplinary processes and procedures. The Institute's critique follows in the wake of the suicide of Nick Stuban . . ." See Mr. Whitehead's letter to Dr. Dale here: http://www.rutherford.org/pdf/2011/02-21-2011_Jack_Dale.pdf
Barbara Shinrock February 22, 2011 at 06:00 PM
FCPS and Jack Dale's comments regarding the lack of connection between ZTP and suicides is aggregious and ignorant. As an MSW candidate, my research focus for the past 2 years has been on adolescents, mental health, ZTP and teen suicide. It is frightening that the county apparently has so little knowledge about adolescent development, the teenage brain, depression , and suicide. There is considerable and consistent evidence based research on risk and protective factors for teen depression and suicide risk. The Top 3 protective factors are family, schools and peer group. The ZTP process and expulsion policies effectively remove all 3 of these protective supports from our teens in one stunning and what has proven at least twice, to be a lethal blow of shame and hopelessness for our children. The school system should consider reinvesting/redirecting the $ 1 million a year the expend shuffling kids they have severed from their very most critical supports into education on child development, the wealth of brain science on the not yet complete brain that effectively cannot integrate "consequences" nor completely control the impulsivity that has long characterized the formidable teen years. Seems oue educators need a great deal of education themselves.


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