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logistician24

Guidance on Discipline

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12 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

As I and others have said, you'll want to engage your District Executive and Unit Commissioner for support, and potentially your unit's Chartered Organization Representative.

I agree with those who say the CR should be contacted, and the DE should certainly be told.  I personally would skip the UC, first of all in my almost-20 years as an adult leader, as far as I know, no UC has ever been assigned to either of the units.  Even if there is one, I would not feel confident enough that that any member of the commissioner's staff is going to know the right answer on something like this.  They probably would refer you to the DE (or straight up to the SE) anyway when a violation of the law is involved.

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7 minutes ago, NJCubScouter said:

I agree with those who say the CR should be contacted, and the DE should certainly be told.  I personally would skip the UC, first of all in my almost-20 years as an adult leader, as far as I know, no UC has ever been assigned to either of the units.  Even if there is one, I would not feel confident enough that that any member of the commissioner's staff is going to know the right answer on something like this.  They probably would refer you to the DE (or straight up to the SE) anyway when a violation of the law is involved.

Well, maybe. But, your experience doesn't reflect all UCs. We had a very good UC whose opinion was highly regarded in these situations, even by the DC and DE. 

Barry

 

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I reread your post a couple times to make sure I understood the facts as you're reporting them.  

I definitely think you should hold a committee meeting, and you're within your rights to suspend the scout if that's what you as CC want and/or if that's what your committee reaches a consensus about.

I would add some cautionary notes for you. 

First, I would be leery about involving anyone outside the unit until you have decided as a unit what you want to do.  Because if you do involve outsiders than you may lose control over the situation and end up being forced to do something that is counter to what the troop leadership wants to do, and this could go either way, the troop may want to be more punitive or the troop may want to be more lenient in its reaction than what a DE or UC or Council would want.  I would note that the Chartering Org is not outside the unit, and I leave it to you to decide if this is something they would feel strongly about being a part of the decision making.

The reason I caution about going outside is because you have somewhat shakier facts than you may believe.  

You have an accusation from one parent that they saw this scout smoking pot.  What exactly did they see?  How much of what they reported was direct evidence and how much was a conclusion arrived at from some things that may have been more equivocal?

Second you have what's called hearsay.  You can fully believe that he told the younger scouts that he had THC and stole from the trading post, but that's not the same as knowing that he had THC or stole; it might well be braggadocio on his part and both things could just be made up.  That doesn't at all make it OK, and saying those things is sufficiently unscoutlike and worthy of punishment in and of themselves.  I'm not at all down playing them.  But it's because of some of the ambiguity of what exactly you know that I would say handle this in the troop first and only go outside if you can't resolve it within the troop and believe that outside intervention is necessary for the sake of the troop's cohesion.

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Posted (edited)

I you decide to hold a committee meeting, invite only those who absolutely have to be involved. The more people involved, the more complex the discussion becomes.

I don't agree with not inviting anyone outside the unit. If this situation was easy, you wouldn't be asking faceless keyboard jockeys for advice. My experience is that folks in general will make a wrong decision simply because they don't want to face conflict. District and council have monitored and dealt with many of these situations. How many has your unit handled? Things may have changed or you area is different, but my experience is that district and council policy is stand back and let the unit make the decisions, so the unit is held responsible for the decisions. However, if you don't know any of the outside members enough to trust them, then go back to my first point, keep the meeting participants to an absolute minimum. 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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@logistician24 you are already in over your head or you would not be asking faceless strangers on a web forum for advice, right?

At the end of the day, this is a unit issue —and will be a unit decision—however you obviously need some guidance. If you don’t know your unit Commissioner, contact your district commissioner. If you don’t know them, contact your Council Commissioner. One of them most likely has been through this before and can offer guidance. (I have been through similar situations as District Commissioner). Anyway, you, this Commissioner, the SM and absolutely the COR need to meet. Leave parents out of this.

If you do contact your District Executive (paid professional), they will refer you to a Commissioner. That person can update the DE and possibly Scout Executive after they meet with the unit.

Finally, as others pointed out, the SM may have input but the final decision is yours—working in lockstep with the COR

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A few other key points ... 

  • Involving others can trigger things beyond your control.  You may or may not need to do this, but be warned.  Things can take a life of their own.  
  • Does the kid want to be a scout?  Parents often push scouts to try to offset other behavior issues.  
  • Sometimes youth are interested in exploring the darker side of life (drugs, alcohol, theft, etc).  If so, their interests are not compatible with scouting.  Period.
  • Suspending does not have to have a time limit.  In this case, a time limit serves no purpose.  The real need is for the youth to lose the interest in drugs and want to be a scout.  I would simply in as friendly a way as possible say ... The path you are choosing is not compatible with scouts.  We want to support you as we can, but at this point your interests are not compatible with scouting or our troop.  You are welcome to come back if you change your ways.  But until then, it is best if you find somewhere else to spend your time.
  • "If it were me" ... if a scout brought pot to a meeting (even if outside) ... and that scout had other dark behaviors too ... then I'd remove the scout.  Period.  If they want back, I'd consider it through conversation with him and my view if he really was changing his path.  
  • Watch out for people saying "if any kid needs scouting, that kid needs scouting".  The kid might, but at what cost.  Other scouts?  More incidents?  Killing recruitment for five to ten years.  From my experience, our troop has always been worse off going with reasoning of "if any kid needs scouting, that kid needs scouting."
  • If he stays in scouting, you are accepting responsibility to protect others.  You know he's a risk and will introduce other bad habits to the troop.  Do you really accept that risk?  

BIGGEST POINT ... You will lose good kids and you will scare away families if you don't handle this and handle it now.  You already lost one kid from summer camp.  Your troop could earn a label as having troubled scouts and new families will avoid your troop because of it.   

Bad behavior needs to be dealt with immediately.  Especially if it is a pattern of bad behavior.

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Something else to think about is what you want the end result to be. The people that say let him stay see some redeemable aspects of this scout. Those that want him thrown out of scouts either don't or don't really care. When I dealt with a similar case my first question was did the scout feel bad because he got caught or because he realized he did something wrong? If the latter case then I'd have something to work with. If the former, I wanted him out immediately and I didn't want him back until he changed (for the exact reasons @fred8033 mentioned). Unfortunately he never saw the problem and I got him to leave. 

BTW, my council wanted to give him another chance. I said fine, just not in my troop. Eventually they did throw him out of scouts. The point is, the troop knows this scout better than anyone at the council. Unless the council has dealt with something similar before, and positively, I would listen to what they have to say but I'd also take it with a grain of salt.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/8/2019 at 12:20 PM, logistician24 said:

I think that also is because they are friends of his parents 

I think the OP may have given us one possible reason for unit leaders' response (or lack of response) to the situation. I think we all agree that a scout should be judged on his own conduct. His parents' popularity should have nothing to do with it.

Edited by David CO
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On 7/9/2019 at 10:49 AM, Eagledad said:

But, your experience doesn't reflect all UCs.

I understand that.  But on what is really a legal matter, and one that can implicate the council and/or BSA if not handled properly, I would have a tendency to go to the pros anyway.  Not necessarily because a 22-year-old DE knows the answer, but because he can walk down the hall and talk with the person whose desk it is ultimately going to end up on.

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22 hours ago, David CO said:

I think the OP may have given us one possible reason for unit leaders' response (or lack of response) to the situation. I think we all agree that a scout should be judged on his own conduct. His parents' popularity should have nothing to do with it.

I think there's a difference between "parents' popularity" and "friends of his parents", regardless and SM or CC is no friend of any parent if they can't be plainspoken.

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7 minutes ago, NJCubScouter said:

I understand that.  But on what is really a legal matter, and one that can implicate the council and/or BSA if not handled properly, I would have a tendency to go to the pros anyway.  Not necessarily because a 22-year-old DE knows the answer, but because he can walk down the hall and talk with the person whose desk it is ultimately going to end up on.

It's in who you know I guess. My experiences with UCs has been very good. In fact, more professional than the DE, which seems to come and go every couple of years. We owe our UC for helping us out of a situation similar to this one.

Barry

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3 hours ago, NJCubScouter said:

I understand that.  But on what is really a legal matter, and one that can implicate the council and/or BSA if not handled properly, I would have a tendency to go to the pros anyway.  Not necessarily because a 22-year-old DE knows the answer, but because he can walk down the hall and talk with the person whose desk it is ultimately going to end up on.

Being a UC, I would say that this fits within our wheelhouse.  The truth is, this isn't actually a legal matter yet.  You have a scout who is accused of violating the law, but this isn't a police matter.  No LEO would be able to act on the information here.  This is primarily a mission issue.  

If this were brought to me, I would advise a meeting between the CC, COR, and SM and NO ONE ELSE.  Primarily this kind of issue lies within the preference of the CO. Because, this is a potential legal matter and certainly a recruitment and relationship (and probably safety) matter this should be where the COR steps in to exert the opinion of the CO. This doesn't really have anything to do with the other members of the CC and will invite more debate than is necessary.  This should be the decision of the CC and COR. 

If my opinion was asked - suspend the scout.  Don't suspend him for any length of time, but tell the parents that their son is suspended until they have a legitimate action plan in place to correct these issues.  

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Posted (edited)

I am surprised that no one is stating the obvious. The scout should have been searched. It would seem strange to me if people were to feel that the unit leaders didn't have enough cause to conduct a search (back when the incidents were first reported), but that they do have enough to go ahead and suspend the boy.

 

Edited by David CO

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5 hours ago, mds3d said:

... I would advise a meeting between the CC, COR, and SM and NO ONE ELSE.  ...

All I can speak to is how we did act. Obviously the key-three did touch base on this. But, they decided that it was imperative that all parents understood what we knew, what we did not know, and what actions we could and could not take. Some of our parents were LEO officers and Juvenile caseworkers. It would have been foolish not to bring them all to the table. The dozen folks who attended were courteous to the CC and SM and very helpful. The parent of the offending scout did not come, but I think he would have been welcomed if he did. (But for the grace of God, it could have been our kid.) He was surprised when the CC and SM and a couple ASMs later met with him and offered a suspension and not an expulsion.

My experience with "small body" decisions, is that they fall short of getting everyone where they need to be in terms of trust.

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7 hours ago, qwazse said:

 It would have been foolish not to bring them all to the table. 

At my school, it would be illegal to bring them all to the table. There are laws and regulations which govern disciplinary procedures at a school. I am not saying that scout unit should be required to follow all the complex procedures of a school disciplinary hearing, but I do think a certain amount of privacy should be expected.

I am not surprised that the parent did not show up to this meeting. It was too public.

In the OP, the parent was very willing to engage in a conversation with the scoutmaster, even to the point of volunteering information about the family doing home drug testing on the son. I doubt that the parent would have done so at an open meeting that might more resemble a public pillory than an honest and caring conversation amongst friends.

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