There’s a bit of disagreement concerning what measures school officials took against Briar MacLean, the 13-year-old Canadian student who intervened in a potential knifing inside a classroom recently.
MacLean and his mother, Leah O’Donnell, say Briar was reprimanded for his actions because it’s against policy at Sir John A. MacDonald School in Calgary for students to get break up fights; they should tell teachers instead.
O’Donnell told the National Post (in an article titled, “No heroes allowed: Calgary student, 13, reprimanded for defending his classmate against a knife-wielding bully”) that after the altercation, the school “phoned me and said, ‘Briar was involved in an incident today’” and that “he decided to ‘play hero’ and jump in.”
More from the National Post:
Ms. O’Donnell was politely informed the school did not “condone heroics,” she said. Instead, Briar should have found a teacher to handle the situation.
“I asked: ‘In the time it would have taken him to go get a teacher, could that kid’s throat have been slit?’ She said yes, but that’s beside the point. That we ‘don’t condone heroics in this school.’ ”
Instead of getting a pat on the back for his bravery, Briar was made to feel as if he had done something terribly wrong. The police were called, the teen filed a statement and his locker was searched.
But that’s not how things went down with MacLean, according to school officials.
In a letter to parents and guardians, school principal Michael Bester writes that the two students involved in the initial conflict were suspended but that “the student who reportedly intervened was asked to remain in the office to explain what happened but was in no way disciplined.”
Bester’s third point in his letter is curious: He writes that students intervening in physical altercations is “not recommended” in order to ensure their safety. But he makes no mention of school policy forbidding it.
Further in that same point, Bester notes that “there was a teacher nearby who could have been asked to assist.”
MacLean has stated that the teacher was on the other side of the room, and it would have taken him about 30 seconds to get the teacher; that was too long under the circumstances, he said. MacLean told the National Post that “I was in between two desks and he was poking and prodding the guy.” Then things escalated:
“He put him in a headlock, and I saw that.”
He added he didn’t see the knife, but “I heard the flick, and I heard them say there was a knife.”
The rest was just instinct. Briar stepped up to defend his classmate, pushing the knife-wielding bully away.
The teacher took notice, the principal was summoned and Briar went about his day. It wasn’t until fourth period everything went haywire.
“I got called to the office and I wasn’t able to leave until the end of the day,” he said.
It’s unclear if such action constitutes “discipline,” but the school has stated that, in fact, Briar was cleared to return to class after questions were answered “without any discipline or punishment.”
Here’s how school officials explained things:
Briar’s actions are apparently nothing new, his mother stated.
“We used to get phone calls home from the elementary school saying Briar’s been in a fight, but he was always defending someone,” she told the National Post.
“What are they teaching them?” O’Donnell asked. “That when you go out into the workforce and someone is not being very nice to you, you have to tattle to your boss? You’re not going to get promoted that way.”
“What are we going to do if there are no heroes in the world? There would be no police, no fire, no armed forces. If a guy gets mugged on the street, everyone is going to run away and be scared or cower in the corner. It’s not right.”
Here’s a news report on the incident, including an interview with MacLean, via Sun News:
TheBlaze asked the Calgary Board of Education specific questions regarding school policy on students intervening in fights, but the board’s press arm offered only a copy of the 19-page student discipline guide.
TheBlaze reviewed the guide, and there’s no specific language prohibiting what MacLean did…although one of its broad prohibitions, “conduct which endangers others,” could fit the bill.
(H/T: The National Post)