Yarmouth’s student code is designed to “reinforce Yarmouth’s Core Values”: honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, loyalty, fairness, caring, respect, citizenship, pursuit of quality and positive self-esteem.

YHS parents or students often find pictures of other students in compromising poses, on Twitter or Facebook, and drop off said pictures at YHS, anonymously. YHS administrators then interrogate the juvenile, using the anonymous “evidence,” and berating the child until he/she “confesses.”

These interrogations are often about violations of law: under-age drinking or drug use. YHS doesn’t notify parents of the interrogations. YHS administrators conduct these forensic interrogations even though they have received no training in such procedures. No Miranda warnings are given. Incidentally, Maine law prohibits police officers from interrogating juveniles without a parent present or without explicit authorization from a parent. Once YHS forces a confession out of the child, it disciplines the student, pursuant to the code.

Encouraging students and parents to “rat” anonymously creates a “Mean Girls” culture. You don’t like someone? She is too pretty and popular? Just find a picture of her with a beer or a joint in hand, print it out and leave it at the school office. Then lick your lips and watch her fall from grace, as YHS forces a confession and disciplines her.

Shouldn’t YHS be modeling its core values, not acting in a manner which is dishonest, which lacks integrity, which is not trustworthy, loyal or fair, which does not reflect caring or respect, and which does not promote positive self-esteem?

Michael J. Waxman

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