The sometimes snippy public debate between High Point police and county school officials over campus discipline may, thankfully, have come to an end.
After a series of closed-door meetings, the parties say they have mutually agreed on a plan to handle future incidents.Good. There would have been no small irony in adults not getting along in their efforts to address why kids aren't getting along.
Friction had mounted in recent weeks between Guilford school leaders and High Point police over how best to handle fighting in the city's high schools, where 10 students have been arrested in recent weeks. Meanwhile, in their search for lasting solutions, the grown-ups obviously hadn't always heeded what they'd preached on conflict resolution.
In one corner were High Point city leaders and police, who understandably had committed not to take disruptive students lightly. In an unusual move, High Point City Manager Strib Boynton even questioned school officials' approach to incidents at Andrews High School.
"Kids push things until they're stopped," Boynton said on Dec. 3. "Sooner or later, unless the schools work with us, a teacher, student or administrator is going to be seriously injured or worse. They need to look at something different because what they're doing is not working,"
In the other corner was Guilford County Schools Superintendent Terry Grier, who complained more than once that High Point police were in some cases overreacting to campus fights. For instance, Grier asked, were six police cars really necessary to respond to a robbery that had occurred near the Andrews campus on Dec. 2?
"Sorry, they're going to be there," Boynton said to a News & Record reporter.
Some school board members also had expressed frustration with what they saw as a growing rift between school officials and High Point police.
But more open communication seems to be closing that rift.
For the short term, High Point police have agreed to work with the courts to deal decisively with those students who have had repeated brushes with the law.
Longer term, school officials will resume talks with High Point-area colleges about possible alternative learning settings for at-risk students.
Such approaches have worked successfully in Greensboro at GTCC, Bennett College, Greensboro College, Guilford College and N.C. A&T (*see correction*). The A&T program exclusively targets males while the Bennett program is designed for females.
As High Point Police Chief Jim Fealy has noted, this hardly means that everybody now agrees on everything.
"We still differ on the magnitude of the problem," Fealy said. "But we all agree that it's a problem."
A problem that requires that we adults set better examples for youth by resolving our own differences more constructively.