Founders of an exchange program between Newton Public Schools and China said the program they have worked more than 30 years to build has been jeopardized by an immature student who didn’t understand the ramifications of his self-serving actions.
Claire and Dick Kanter said Newton North senior Henry DeGroot should have been sent home from Newton Beijing Jingshan School Exchange the moment officials found the prodemocracy phrases he had written in the notebook of a Chinese middle school student.
The Kanters’ comments follow critical remarks by Newton school officials in a Globe article that reported the incident Friday.
“Until this week, we have never had an incident with a student disobeying the written code of conduct that they all sign,” Claire Kanter said from her home in Florida. “And then he refused to apologize in person. He refused to take a 30-minute train ride to apologize. I can’t tell you what I feel about this, we are an educational exchange, not a political exchange.”
DeGroot was not sent home; instead Newton North administrators barred him from attending the senior prom after returning home from the semester-long exchange. He was also given a five-hour detention at his school in China after writing “Democracy is for cool kids,” “It’s right to rebel,” and “Don’t believe the lies your school and government tell you” in the student’s notebook during a visit to a school in a small town outside of Beijing in the spring.
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