DCHS responds to ISS incident involving student

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
DCHS senior Kendra Turner (l) sits with Dyersburg First Assembly of God Youth Pastor Becky Winegardner during a press conference held at the church on Tuesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Dyer County High School officials spent the morning fielding telephone calls concerning the In School Suspension (ISS) of a student. While school officials declined to answer specifics surrounding the case due to privacy laws concerning the student involved, some light was shed on the situation during a Tuesday morning interview.

"We can't discuss discipline issues because of right to privacy of students, but I can say there are two sides to every story," said DCHS Assistant Principal Lynn Garner. "Sometimes people spin things and turn them to make them seem one way, but I cannot discuss anything specific in order to protect the child."

The incident involved 17-year-old Kendra Turner, a senior at the high school. Turner was in class on Monday morning and said 'bless you' after a fellow classmate sneezed. The phrase was listed on the chalkboard as one of several students were not supposed to say during class, according to Turner.

"We're not allowed to say bless you, my bad, hang out, dumb, stupid, stuff, and things like that," said Turner.

Garner acknowledged the respective teachers at the high school are given the opportunity to set classroom rules as long as those rules fall within the guidelines of the student handbook.

"We allow the teachers to set rules in the classroom that work best for them and I think that's fair," added Garner. "We really stress what we call reasonable request. If a teacher asks his or her students to do something reasonable to avoid a distraction in the classroom, then we expect the students to follow the rules. If it's not a reasonable request then we'll sit down and talk about it to get it right."

In the incident on Monday, when the teacher, a 40-year respected veteran of the school system, stood up and asked which student made the 'bless you' comment, Turner acknowledged it was her who did so.

"She asked why I said it, and I told her I was being courteous and she asked me who told me that it was courtesy?" added Turner. "I told her my pastor and my parents taught me to say it."

Shortly after, Turner was reportedly instructed to go to the principal's office, where she was placed in ISS for the remainder of the period. The decision by the DCHS administration to place Turner in ISS was one normally followed on a daily basis according to Garner. Once classes changed, Turner was allowed to attend her next class.

"The majority of the time, when a student comes to the office either voluntarily or was sent by a teacher, they are placed in ISS until the end of the period because we have two supervisors in there to watch them," said Garner. "Also, it gives us a chance to find out what the situation is and what happened in the classroom for them to be in the office in the first place. In this case, this was not a religious issue at all, but more of an issue the teacher felt was a distraction in her class."

On Tuesday afternoon, at a press conference held at Dyersburg First Assembly of God, Turner wanted to end the incident and move forward in a positive manner while putting God first.

"I want God to be able to be talked about in school. I want them to realize that God is in control and they're not," said Turner. "I also don't want the teacher being bashed because that's kind of harmful and disrespectful."

While Garner also acknowledged his readiness to put the incident behind him, he remained confident in the role of the teachers at the high school.

" I think this has really been blown out of proportion on social media, but I will say this in regard for our teachers. There is not one here I don't trust my own kids with and my kids are here and other relatives are here or have been here. I trust the teachers and beyond a shadow of a doubt all of our teachers have the students best interest at heart," added Garner. "They treat the kids with respect, and I think the majority of the students believe the teachers genuinely care about them."

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  • This was blown way out of proportion. She knew the rules and then she proceeded to break them. Plain and simple.

    -- Posted by ThreeShoes on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 8:53 PM
  • Bless you

    -- Posted by c9bcc on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 8:57 PM
  • Maybe I need to remove my child from the Dyer Co School System if she is not allowed to say Bless You. I say it to people everyday. Everyday rights are being taken away from Christians yet you don't see us trying to change the laws or rules for Athiest. This is rediculous live and let live if you don't like me to pray don't listen nor watch I certainly don't care if you pray. God bless this child for standing up for her faith!!! And God Bless You All!!!

    -- Posted by Dyersburg citizen on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 10:17 PM
  • What if she had said stupid instead of bless you? Then would breaking a rule make sense? If a teacher asks you not to do something, Christian or not, if you are a rule follower, you follow the rule. If you are not a rule follower, you don't. People break rules all the time. If breaking a rule is important to you, you accept your punishment and move on. Notice, God isn't mentioned in bless you at all.

    -- Posted by tammym11 on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 10:28 PM
  • Bless you, and you, n you n you n you.

    -- Posted by Tonbrepre on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 10:52 PM
  • I don't care if my child is being made to repress her Christian values at school whether it's breaking a rule or not I'd be proud of her for standing up for her beliefs.im so sick of having to watch something I say because it might reflect God in it and worry about offending someone. Whatever that's just how our wicked world is now.

    -- Posted by Dyersburg citizen on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 10:53 PM
  • I agree it has been blown out of proportion but let me ask you this.... how many times has anyone said "bless you" when somebody sneezes? Do you think you think about it before you say it? Or does it just come out without thinking? I was raised to say yes, no, thank you, and bless you when someone sneezes... All I can say is "Bless that teacher's heart and those school officials hearts" for they have made a mistake with these two words.

    -- Posted by it'sjustme on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 10:56 PM
  • Its not like she said it with the sole intention of breaking the 'rule'. Its just a habit. When someone sneezes, you say "Bless you". It's just natural for some of us to say. All of the other phrases that the teacher has on the list of things not to say make sense to me except for this one! It's the only one that doesn't sound negative or disrespectful. Not being allowed to say this is the same to me as not being allowed to be respectful to others! I wonder if 'Excuse me' is on the list or 'I'm sorry'. This world is going crazy! I agree with the other poster. If someone is offended by something someone says, they need to simply ignore them. Don't worry about what they say if its not something rude or disrespectful then whats the big deal??? Also, the only reason this was 'blown out of proportion' is because of how ridiculous this 'rule' is!!! DO NOT SAY "BLESS YOU" IN MY CLASS ROOM ... OR ELSE!!! Teachers should be more focused on other issues if you ask me! I mean, wasn't this entire ordeal much more DISTRACTING than the student simply saying "bless you" after another sneezed?

    -- Posted by Hadley007 on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 11:10 PM
  • Imagine 10 or 20 kids saying "Bless you" in a classroom every time someone sneezed. It was during a keyboard test and it was clearly written on the board, "No talking".

    -- Posted by tennmom on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 11:51 PM
  • It doesn't matter if the phrase was "Bless you" or "F you".. It was on the list of things not to say and she said it. End of story.

    No need for it to go any further.

    -- Posted by troofdat on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 1:50 AM
  • It's one thing if the rule was "no talking," but the asst. principal stated that it was not that rule which was broken, but that a phrase from a list of prohibited phrases was uttered. What school administrator allowed "bless you" to be included with "stupid?" That's just stupid.

    -- Posted by MayorofRoEllen on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 5:07 AM
  • GOD bless Kendra!

    -- Posted by The Watcher on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 5:33 AM
  • God Bless You All!!! And if that offends you then don't feel blessed. This really ticks me off whether people think it's been blown out of proportion or not. When my children have to suppress they're Christian values in school that tells me I need to enroll them in a Christian school. If someone doesn't like the kind things I say then don't listen if you don't want to see or hear me pray then don't. I won't mess with your rights if you don't mess with mine. Like I said though that's just the wicked Godless world we live in now. And Mr. Garner might want to rethink supporting that rule when he sits in church Sunday.

    -- Posted by Dyersburg citizen on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 6:44 AM
  • I think something else that needs to be addressed is the assistant principal's passive aggressive slurring of the student: ("Sometimes people spin things and turn them to make them seem one way, but I cannot discuss anything specific in order to protect the child.") So he does not openly call her a liar - just implies it. This is intimidation not only for this student but any student in the future that may disclose something negative about the school. I think it is important for students to follow rules but I do have a problem with "Bless you" being listed as a bad word to not use in school. Maybe the response from the assistant principal should have been, we are looking into the "list" and the teacher's rules to determine the basis for them instead. He should have responded that we value all people's rights - teachers and students and will do anything in our power to guard and respect this rights. Too bad - he had an opportunity to put Dyer County in a good light and in my opinion he did not!

    -- Posted by bsmeme on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 6:51 AM
  • The day my child got in school or out of school suspension for saying "Bless You" would be the day they would be pulled out of school. Considering all the bullying and trash that comes out kids mouths these days, I find a child who has Christian values a breath of fresh air.

    -- Posted by personwithvoice on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 8:29 AM
  • Well spoken personwithavoice. Amen to that!!!!!

    -- Posted by Dyersburg citizen on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 9:17 AM
  • And yeah I can imagine 10 or 20 kids saying Bless You what a wonderful thing that would be to hear instead of the filth and smut our Godless world and media had taught them. This kind of things no longer bothers society and that's disturbing. Wake up Christians our rights everyday are slowly being taken away, but alway remember try not to fall into the way of the world for that is what sets us apart and never judge another human being love them as God would. But shame on you dyer co schools for supporting such rediculous rule.

    -- Posted by Dyersburg citizen on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 10:31 AM
  • Bsmeme, personwithvoice- I couldn't agree with you both more! Absolutely, well done!

    -- Posted by Tonbrepre on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 10:32 AM
  • And tammyn11 that way of thinking is the problem with our society yeah don't be kind and hide your Christianity because it's a rule. Nice try, but I don't believe that.

    -- Posted by Dyersburg citizen on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 10:39 AM
  • the phrase "bless you" should not have even been on the board with the words "stupid, my bad, and such" What is wrong with this teacher? love to know exactly why she included the phrase "bless you". And to Three Shoes: if the teacher had the rule on the board that a student may not sneeze or cough or move, you know, things that come automatically for some people, and she does, I guess according to you, she broke the rules "plain and simple".

    -- Posted by momspoppies on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 10:42 AM
  • I disagree, @personwithavoice. There are many children with Christian values that bully, lie, cheat and spout trash. And pulling your child out of school and throwing them into a new environment where he/she knows no one, is behind in classes, and has a reputation for running away from a problem only harms the child. You'd do that just to prove a point?

    Christianity is alive and well in Dyer County - there are prayers before football games and there are FCA chapters everywhere. If you admit to being anything other than Christian, you get looked at funny. Not saying "Bless you" during a test is not the same as renouncing your god. The Atheists get a lot of flack (deservedly so) for some of the things they complain about, but so should Christians. This is one of them.

    -- Posted by K Ray on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 10:44 AM
  • I am completely shocked at this. I am a DCHS alumni and now have to proclaim that with shame. To get any type of punishment if she only said "bless you", is a disgrace. You try to teach kids to be respectful and to do the right thing and then something like this happens. That's why the world is the way it is. Our country was based on moral,respectful, Christian values and now it is anything but that. Are you really surprised that you have kids fighting, doing drugs, performing sexual acts "AT SCHOOL" and acting out? You are promoting this type of behavior if you are disciplining a child for saying something positive. Lynn, if this is not how it happened then someone needs to clarify because right now the integrity of your administration is in jeopardy. I will pray for this administration because it seems like they are in need of it. And in closing:

    "GOD Bless You"!!!!

    -- Posted by nothinglikehome on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 12:12 PM
  • I actually apologize for some of my comments. My father knows this teachers very well, and there is a side of this story that is not being told by this girl or her mother. Bless you was just an example of you shouldn't speak out in class this teacher is very strict. Prayer is alive and well in the schools. This was an isolated incident that happened with a student who neither she not her mother is telling the whole story. I and many more should know the whole truth before we post. And the paper and news as well

    -- Posted by Dyersburg citizen on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 12:56 PM

    -- Posted by lloyd49 on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 12:57 PM
  • OOOOOOh yes Dyer County's administration is in need of much prayer...if that will help!!! How about the sagging, no belt, no shoe lace flopping shoes attire that they allow, which I have personally witnessed. Yet, they place someone in ISS for saying Bless you, Bless them!!! In case you didn't know, Dyer County High School is a neighborhood, good ole boy, best friend, Auntie-sister-brother-mama-daddy, & have you been playing barefoot basketball all your life vs education run school. Some of them may care a little about the kids, but don't be fooled, It's all for appearance sake. The main spokesperson speaking only cares about when he will be able to get out of there and to his next drink!! Who would have they would put a child in ISS for saying an all too familiar "Bless youu". Dyer only tries to have the look of fame, but they don't walk the walk of fame...one big herd of disorganization. Everyone please that the Lord will truly "BLESS THEM" for their ignorance and in the mean time, TAKE YOUR CHILD AND RUN to a better choice of school for your child. Dyer County has no TRUE discipline for those that TRULY need discipline. Bless you, bless you, bless you, bless you.

    -- Posted by poeboy on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 1:08 PM
  • Many of you chuckleheads keep talking about "rules". Did this young girl even know all of these nonsensical "rules"? Teachers are supposed to use "God-given" common sense too! How many of you attacking her for not "following rules" drive over the speed limit & then get mad b/c a cop pulls you over for "just a few miles over the speed limit"? How many of you break all sorts of petty "rules" everyday (like not using the internet for personal reasons at work)?

    This is ridiculous & is getting national news. How embarrassing for the school district to allow this to go on. And why is the teacher referred to as a "40 year respected veteran"? Why isn't the student referred to as a "model student with no previous disciplinary action"?

    -- Posted by Dude2010 on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 1:34 PM
  • If this is incident is about God where is the respect. The rules was listed on the board and she knew what was expected. The disrespect for authority she showed with her actions was not very Christian like the slander of the teacher and her authority shows this seemed to be a personal vendetta than standing up for religious speech. Let actions show faith.

    -- Posted by Newbern Citizen 1 on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 2:50 PM
  • is the teacher a muslim? maybe it would be politically correct if the student had said 'Allah bless you'. after 40 years, THIS teacher should be retired.

    -- Posted by junior samples on Wed, Aug 20, 2014, at 2:51 PM