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    Letters to the Editors

    Punishment for students should fit the offense

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2001

    When does the nonsense stop? When does common sense and reason come into play when disciplining students? We fully agree with the essence of your editorial.

    No one is saying that students should not be punished for disobeying rules. What we are saying is that the punishment should fit the offensee.

    Recently, at a Pasco County high school, students (including some seniors), willfully and maliciously vandalized school property (approximately $3,000 worth of damage). After careful deliberation, the principal said that these seniors could not "walk" at graduation with their classmates. Even though these students were remorseful and apologetic, they did go to the school with the intent to destroy property.

    In the case of the senior baseball players from Palm Harbor University High School, all they did was wrestle over a bag of pretzels, holding down one player to get to the pretzels. They did not do bodily harm to the student. They did not attack him with intent to hurt him. It was pure and simple horseplay.

    We cannot understand why the principal of Palm Harbor University High is out to get these boys. The coach and chaperones on this trip did not even know that this incident occurred until days later.

    The principal or the Area I director of operations can change the course of these events and the consequences for these two honor students at Palm Harbor University High. How can the student body at that school have respect for a principal who is unyielding and lacks compassion? Why can't the principal reconsider after hearing all the facts? Why can't principal Alec Liem find it in his heart to reconsider and come full circle and make the graduating class feel complete and harmonious?
    -- Marilyn and Elliot Satinoff, Palm Harbor

    Students' punishment too severe

    Re: Educational intolerance, editorial, May 14.

    The editorial did not go far enough. The decision of principal Alec Liem and the School Board to punish the two students from Palm Harbor University High School so severely is truly a tragedy. Even our criminal justice system punishes criminals less severely for first-time offenses. The students' crime did not fit the punishment.

    Please, principal Liem, let them at least walk!
    -- Sally Laufer, Palm Harbor

    Are civil rights forgotten?

    Re: Student removed from class because of drawings, story, May 11.

    I read the article word for word. All I could see, however, was: Agents of the government today seized drawings from a student at an elementary school. Because said drawings were deemed to be unacceptable by government standards, the student was taken into custody and banned from the school.

    Hello, America! This is what we call a "free country." Is that a foreign concept to some people? You see, in a free country, it is not against the law to draw things others may find unacceptable.

    I just wanted to point all this out, as this extremely basic principle of freedom seems to have escaped some people -- i.e., agents of the government.

    By the way, referring to using handcuffs on an 11-year-old boy as being "normal procedure" doesn't make it right.
    -- Wil Clair, Clearwater

    Accident victim was real person

    Re: Man killed in fiery truck crash, story, May 12.

    On May 11 there was a tragic accident on U.S. 19 in Hudson. The following day, an article appeared in the newspaper giving graphic details about this accident, which will remain in our memory for the rest of our lives.

    Ricky Ray Davis was the man killed in this accident and I would like to tell you about his life and his family, no mention of which was included in the article.

    He came to live with his father and myself when he was 11. Shy and withdrawn, he blossomed into a son any parent would be proud to have. He was kind, compassionate, very family oriented and the type of person who would be there for any family member or friend who needed a helping hand.

    He enjoyed, from an early age, building model airplanes and continued that enjoyment into later life, building remote control planes of a much larger scale. He liked to fish, bowl, and, as I did, made an attempt at golfing because his father loved to golf and his youngest brother was on the golf team.

    He had three nieces and two nephews whom he adored and who will truly miss him as their uncle. He was there for his brothers and sisters through good and bad times, as all families have, but he was the oldest and always there for them. His sister Sherry in California, a brother Robert in California, a sister Lisa in Clearwater and a brother Matthew in Largo all will have a hard time coping with this loss, but will go on one day at a time.

    His biggest dream in life was to have children of his own someday. That dream came true in a second marriage 10 months ago, with a stepson Christopher, a stepdaughter, Hannah, and finally, one of his own, Shawn Ray, who is 21/2 months old. She will never know her daddy personally, but in our memories and those of our friends, will know the wonderful man he was. And, as she gets older, she will know in just the short time her father knew her, how he felt about her.

    So many times in life we read about tragic accidents, but we do not actually think about the person's life that was taken until it happens to you. This, my son, is a loving tribute to you from your father, Cecil, and your mother, Connie.
    -- Connie Davis, Largo

    Sunset Point crossroads needs overpass

    Re: State to pay for U.S. 19 overpass, story, May 10.

    Well, let Pinellas County rejoice at the fact that it is receiving another windfall from the state in order to build an overpass for U.S. 19. However, I can already see the bloopers and blunders of Pinellas County government clearly, with the plans set forth to invest this cash in the wrong intersections.

    Last time I checked, there was one intersection in Pinellas County that was considered one of the top 10 worst intersections in the United States, and instead of finally correcting the monstrosity of an intersection that is Sunset Point Road and U.S. 19, officials are earmarking the money received from the state to fix intersections north and south of Sunset Point.
    -- John Fontana, Palm Harbor

    U.S. 19 sidewalks a sorry idea

    To county officials: sidewalks on Killer U.S. 19? Dumb idea. Nobody walks U.S. 19 in north county! You must think it is still a farm-to-market road or 34th Street/U.S. 19 in St. Petersburg.

    The purpose of U.S. 19 is to carry people in cars and buses as quickly as possible to their destinations, not to cater to pedestrians. Build sidewalks and watch out for flying body parts as mothers pushing baby strollers and we elderly folks try to cross from Walgreens to Publix, whether at intersections with stoplights or somewhere in between. Be prepared for longer traffic light stops and slower traffic with more road rage.

    The last thing drivers need is another diversion on Killer 19! Might as well build sidewalks on Interstate 75.

    Your $4.5-million of federal freebies must be burning holes in your pockets or befuddling your minds. U.S. 19 needs to be an elevated highway all the way from Ulmerton Road through Tarpon Springs.
    David Grimm, Palm Harbor

    Keystone Road needs a flyover

    Have you ever traveled Keystone Road between U.S. 19 and East Lake Road around rush hour? The problem isn't the width of the road, it's the tie-ups at the traffic lights.

    Since everything is wide open at East Lake Road, why not make Keystone Road a flyover at East Lake Road? This would sure move the traffic and eliminate the frustrating backups both ways at the light.

    It's only going to get worse. Widening Keystone will only mean more vehicles sitting at the light polluting the air. Why not move them through there? Adding a left turn lane where needed on Keystone would help, but let's address the real problem!
    Jim Bridges, Palm Harbor

    Shallow well program unfair

    If Pinellas County has a shallow well program, then why is it not available to all citizens who have a shallow well and live in Pinellas County? I spent over $3,000 to put in a shallow well. When I asked the City of Clearwater, they told me that because I pay my bill to the city and not the county, I am not eligible for the shallow well program.

    I am a taxpayer in this county, and this is a case of discrimination.
    -- Al Crisp, Clearwater

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