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Editorial: What’s the principle in bringing the law to class?

She threw paperbacks at four teenagers – and the law threw the book at her and her boss. Along the way, common sense was thrown out the window.

Santa Fe’s Marcy Slaughter, an eighth-grade teacher at De Vargas Middle School, was out of line. Her last-period class became unruly and rowdy after returning from a fire drill. When the final bell rang, she told the students to sit down and that they weren’t going anywhere. One boy reportedly replied, that was “illegal,” and headed for the door along with three other students. Slaughter summoned her inner Nolan Ryan, and tossed a trio of paperbacks at the group, striking eighth-grader Infinity Sanchez-Vigil on the cheek and shoulder, and also hitting another girl.

Heckuva a toss. And a heckuva blunder.

In a day-and-age when the PC police are cracking down on teachers for yelling at students in some cities, tossing a paperback probably doesn’t cut it anywhere – but it shouldn’t be a felony anywhere, especially if there is no injury.

Slaughter has been charged by Santa Fe’s real police with a pair of third-degree felonies – punishable by up to three years in prison and fines up to $5,000 on each count – for child abuse not resulting in death or great bodily harm.

De Vargas principal Marc Ducharme, decided he would handle the situation like, well, a principal. That apparently made too much sense, so the police charged him with a misdemeanor count of obstruction of reporting or investigation of child abuse.

Slaughter is on administrative leave and deserves administrative punishment. By the school system – not by the law. So, too, should the school punish the kids who bolted from class when they were told to stay put. An after-school lesson in respect and self-control, perhaps?

Ducharme? How about letting him do what he’s paid to do? Be a principal, and not have to wonder if he needs to call the cops a dozen times a day if kids roughhouse, slap a book out of someone’s hand or use a slur.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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