WNKY Investigates: Warren Central student suspension
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – On Jan. 15, the Warren Central High School boys basketball team visited South Warren High School for a District 14 regular season game. The game resulted in an intense, highly-competitive 76 to 74 overtime win for the Spartans.
The biggest story from that night, though, was something that took place off the court.
Warren Central junior Keylin Haynie attended the game that night, a school-sponsored event/activity. At one point, he walked over to and sat in the South Warren student section, catching up with friends he used to play baseball with.
After sitting in the Spartan student section for several quarters, multiple Warren Central teachers came over to Haynie on several occasions. What they had to say to him, though, wasn’t something he was expecting.
“They brought up the fact that I need to move and the principal was going to give us a referral if we didn’t move,” said Haynie. “I’m just sitting here socializing. There’s nothing wrong going on.”
Haynie stayed put. He did, however, call his mother to inform her about what had just happened, and asked if he should, in fact, move back to the Central side of the bleachers.
“He wasn’t doing anything, and he still has that right,” said Stephanie Tracy-Bundy, Haynie’s mother. “If he’s not doing anything, [the teachers] should’ve never approached him in the first place.”
One of the teachers from that night said she got involved as a matter of avoiding any potential problems that might arise between the two rival schools and their fans.
“We want to do everything we can to eliminate any possibilities of issues,” said the educator, whose identity could not be determined in a recorded meeting between Haynie, Central Principal Mike Stevenson, Haynie’s uncle, and several other county school employees.
Since Haynie decided to stay seated in the Spartan student section and not move, he learned he would have to meet with Central Principal Mike Stevenson two days later.
During that meeting, and through an audio recording from their discussion obtained by WNKY through Haynie’s attorney, Stevenson said Haynie had shown explicit defiance in this situation.
“Matter of fact did he not do what the authorities said multiple times, he flat out told them ‘I ain’t doing it,'” said Stevenson in the recording.
Following their meeting, Haynie received a 30-day suspension from school, thus needing to attend Jackson Academy while he served the suspension. The punishment length, though, is what really caught Haynie off guard.
“They’re giving me a punishment for something I didn’t even really do,” Haynie added. “If I was over there and I was fighting somebody or having an altercation, then I would’ve been like, OK, I need to eliminate myself out of the situation.”
Haynie’s attorney, Carlos Bailey, backing up his client’s statement.
“We also believe that the punishment is too severe at this point,” Bailey said. “They could’ve handled this a different way.”
Stevenson felt otherwise, stating in the recording that the punishment length was due to a pattern of behavior that Haynie has demonstrated in high school, not just this lone incident.
“This is not the first time of defiance,” said Stevenson in the recording. “This is defiance in a looser setting of a ball game.”
Stevenson is referencing Haynie’s contact behavior log, which keeps track of any good or bad incidents a student is written up for during their time in high school.
WNKY obtained a copy of Haynie’s contact log from his lawyer, and while it showed that Haynie has had prior incidents involving what the school deemed disruptive or defiant behavior, he’s never been suspended for a period of time as long as this. Haynie’s suspension also bans him from all school activities for the rest of the year, which included being kicked off the baseball team and suspended for the Junior ROTC program.
“His whole high school career has changed, and he will never get those days back,” said Tracy-Bundy.
“Just one of those times you gotta keep pushing no matter what,” added Haynie.
According to the Warren County Public Schools Student District Handbook, and their suspension policy (WCBE 09.434) found on Page 89, the Principal or Assistant Principal/Dean may suspend a pupil up to a maximum of 10 days per incident.
Since Haynie shared news of his suspension on his Facebook page, a petition was started on Change.org to ask for the suspension to be revoked – one that has garnered more than 4,000 signatures.
Warren County Public Schools released the following statement:
“We are aware of the change.org campaign initiated by the family of a Warren County Public Schools’ student. The safety and security of our students and staff at any school sponsored activity is paramount, and school officials have an obligation to maintain a safe and orderly environment. Part of this responsibility involves anticipating potentially volatile situations and taking the appropriate actions to prevent them. The night in question resulted in a number of people, both students and spectators, becoming very emotional throughout the evening. If in the interest of maintaining order, an individual fails to follow a directive from school officials, the safety and security of those in attendance may be compromised. Although we are not at liberty to discuss specific details of disciplinary actions involving students, we are committed to upholding all governing Board policies and the resulting consequences when an individual fails to adhere to them. Our community can trust us to continue adhering to all Board policies in an effort to ensure schools’ activities are safe and enjoyable for all involved.”
A final decision on Haynie’s case will be made when he meets with the school board on Feb. 28.