Harlem Field Trip

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

A stateline teacher is out of her job tonight, after she brought a group of Harlem High School students on a field trip where they bought weapons, last August. So what's next for the students?
The field trip to an auction in Chana was supposed to teach students about supply and demand. As part of the lesson, the teacher, SandyTheiss, told the kids they could buy whatever they wanted.
"She said that if there was anything questionable of buying whatever that may be, that it was between us and our parents," says Harlem Senior Matt Schafer. He was on the field trip but says he did not buy any weapons.
Some of the teens went ahead and bought those questionable items, including three large swords and two small "airsoft" guns that shoot little plastic pellets. They say they all had parental permission.
Harlem Junior Nick Torzeski was also along on the trip. He says, "Some of the students did call their parents and said can I buy this weapon, yes."
Other parents were along as chaperones, they bought some of the weapons and transported them back from the trip. The teacher's parents were there too, students say her parents took the rest of the weapons.
"They weren't brought into the school, they weren't transported on the bus, everything was handled by the parents," says Schafer.
But the Harlem School Board decided that's not good enough. That's why they voted unanimously to "release" Sandy Theiss and approve separation of her contract. Superintendent Pat Deluca says a field trip is considered school grounds and the district's discipline policy states any student found with anything that even looks like a weapon can be expelled.
"There was some poor decision-making by some people, but I think if people use common sense they'll see there was no intent for harm, there was no intent to scare, it was just a simple mistake that anybody could have made," says Schafer
Expulsions are handled on a case by case basis. So the students can only wait and see what happens.
The school board did not discuss punishment for the students at all tonight. The superintendent says Harlem High School will choose how to discipline the teens, in a confidential manner.


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