Mother questions ETX school's punishment - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Mother questions ETX school's punishment

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NEW DIANA, TX (KLTV) -

An East Texas mother says her son's punishment for fighting is excessive, and now she's taking her grievance to the school board.

The mother tells KLTV her son, Colby Phillips, was given a year in alternative school as punishment for a fight, even though he had no prior disciplinary problems. Holly Cooper says going to the school board is her son's last chance to get his senior year back.

Colby says he understands what he did was wrong.  

"He turned around and hit me in my jaw. It hurt pretty bad. I came up with a bad idea on Monday to get vengeance and ended up hitting him in the eye," Phillips said. "I am really sorry for it."

Colby was immediately booked into the Upshur County Jail on assault charges and as school punishment, he was sentenced to serve the rest of the school year in New Diana ISD's Alternative Education Program.

"It's just really depressing being in DAEP," Phillips said. "I have to sit in a cubicle all day long and don't get to talk to anybody and rarely get taught anything. I'm just hoping to finish out my senior year and do good."

Phillips' mother, a teacher at New Diana, says she was suspicious when her son received 161 days in alternative school, instead of the 30 or 45 days she says students had been given in the past.  

"I didn't think that 30 to 45 days was necessary either if were not going to punish both of the kids. When she said 161 days my heart just sank," Cooper said.

So far, Phillips has served 41 days of his punishment, but his mother is not giving up.

"I have spent countless nights waking up and just trying to understand. Trying to find a way that he deserves this. But I just can't understand it," Cooper said.

Cooper made a grievance against the school asking for them to rethink their punishment, but the administration have upheld their punishment stating Title 37 of their school code, which states the school has the right to use their discretion when assigning punishment on a case by case basis.

"Every situation stands on its own as far as the merits of what took place," said New Diana ISD Superintendent Carl Key. "In the investigation, we will determine lots of different things like the severity of the offense."

Key says because of privacy laws, he cannot tell us why the school believes Phillips deserves the 161 day punishment. He says that in the end its all about safety.

"Safety and security is absolutely our number one priority," Key said. "Certainly teaching is an affect of that. And I will tell parents that getting children here safely in the morning and sending them safely home is absolutely our number on priority."

Cooper says the school has no reason to give her son that extreme of a punishment, taking away his senior year.

"I just want the punishment to fit the crime. I want it to be fair and I want Colby's good record to hold some weight," Cooper said.

Cooper is taking her grievance to the school board on Dec. 4 to try to lessen Colby's punishment. She says that will be his last chance.

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