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Occasionally, things do turn out right

Could it be that even as we read about the many things that go wrong around here, we see the occasional attempt to right them?

In the case of the Good Friday school calendar mess, make that a definite maybe.

The issue-that-shouldn't-be-an-issue has dogged the Hillsborough School Board for years as it struggles with a non-religious calendar that makes Good Friday a school day.

But it's a holy day, some say, though for the record, many spend it at the beach or on other spring break-like endeavors. Others contend that if one religion gets its holidays off, what about other religions and their holidays? Yes, separation of church and state tends to get lost in this one.

When the board stood up to political pressure and made Good Friday a school day in 2008, disaster city, with 58 percent of students and 38 percent of bus drivers not showing up. This year was better — 42 percent of students and 19 percent of drivers out — but still not a good, functional school day.

So in talks about next year, some figured the board would back down. But members instead showed some moxie by, as one put it, refusing to be bullied. It was like there were grown-ups in charge.

If you think a Good Friday school day can't be done, look to Pinellas. In 2009, 17 percent of students were out that day and all bus routes covered. Somehow, officials got across the message that on a school day, you go to school.

Before you yell at me (or the School Board) for disrespecting anyone's faith, remember that a Hillsborough student can take the day off without penalty for religious reasons.

The board revisits the calendar issue later this month, but it's a start. Maybe before then members can make that call across the bay to see how it's done.

The most embarrassing story of the week has to be the Largo grandmother jailed for slapping her 18-year-old granddaughter who, my favorite detail, had already been kicked out of high school after foul-mouthing a nun. (Good thing the nun didn't get out the ruler for some old-fashioned knuckle-rapping, or Sister might have landed in the hoosegow.)

The story: Theresa Collier, 73, argues with her granddaughter about finishing her school work, among other things. Granddaughter Felicia mouths off to grandmother, in her own words, "cursing like a truck driver." Grandmother slaps granddaughter across the cheek. Granddaughter calls 911.

Grandmother goes to jail.

To be fair, before we make jokes about the big, bad 125-pound retired homemaker with no record being chained in a police van and jailed overnight, some history might help.

Domestic violence was for too long considered a private family matter, with police reluctant to get involved. Then the pendulum swung, maybe a bit too far, with some agencies going zero tolerance. Someone would go to jail.

Largo policy says the initiator of the violence gets arrested. But in this case, some discretion and judgement would have been nice.

In the end, cooler heads (not to mention common sense) prevailed and the charge was dropped. While the tale makes for a great can-you-believe-this-latest story, maybe it will mean a considered change in policy with an emphasis on common sense applied to all of us — grannies, nuns and the rest.

Occasionally, things do turn out right 05/06/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 7, 2010 8:31am]
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