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School: Expulsion of Venice High 'Honors' Student in Drug-Purchase Arrest by the LAPD

March 05, 1995

The Times' characterization ("Punishments in High School Drug Sting Stir Dispute," Feb. 12) of the "honors" student who was expelled from Venice High School as a result of a Los Angeles Police Department undercover drug-buy arrest does a disservice to those students who are enrolled and participating in Venice High's Honors and Advance Placement courses.

Had your reporter bothered to do his homework, he would have learned that none of the students caught breaking the law were, in fact, honors students in the school's most rigorous academic program. Students taking these types of classes are too busy reading, writing papers and studying for exams to be engaged in the illegal and disruptive activities that lead to arrests and expulsions.

Furthermore, while a few vocal malcontents and spineless unidentified district officials feel that the punishment of expulsion is too harsh, many teachers, students and community members fully support the effort to rid our public schools of those individuals who bring violence, intimidation, disruption and illegal activities to campus. Failure to provide a safe, orderly and disciplined school environment gives legitimacy to the even more popular view that the only solution to our public schools' problems lies in vouchers and private institutions. In attempting to create a positive campus atmosphere, the Los Angeles Police Department, Venice High School Principal Bud Jacobs and the Los Angeles School Board should be commended.

The Los Angeles Times could do greater community service and print more accurate information by highlighting the accomplishments of outstanding teen-agers, instead of focusing on the small number of students who get into trouble and their complaints. For example, during the same time your reporter was researching and writing the drug-bust article, Venice High honored 93 of its students who received recognition by the state of California for their performance on the Golden State Exams in economics, U. S. history, algebra, geometry and biology. Are your reporters and editors familiar with this innovative testing program? Are they aware of the different levels of achievement on these tests? Do they care?

FRED SIEGEL, Science teacher; School Based Management Council Member, Venice High School

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