Inside LEO

Students walk through a metal detector into a threadbare building with off-white walls and harsh fluorescent lights. Nothing but the sound of footsteps is heard as students walk in stick straight lines with their heads down to the classroom where they will spend their whole day. With a strict dress code of black t-shirts and blue jeans, everything looks the same. The whole building is painted in shades of gray.  

This is LEO— our school district’s secondary school for students who have broken LISD rules or laws. It is meant to punish those students, as well as ensure they get back on the right track.

Last year, we made up the mass majority of students in LEO, topping five other long established high schools as a first year school. With this sharp influx of students, it is important to consider LEOs effectiveness.

“Some people went in and learned their lesson, but others went in and kept going back,” Student A said. “Leo didn’t help everyone. They’d go in there and didn’t care if they straightened up.”

Many students go to LEO simply because they prefer it to their home campus.

“Some people for sure prefer LEO over [our school],” Student B said. “They just keep going back, or keep getting days added. This school sucks, and LEO was really fun for some people.”

Other students may prefer the structure and style that LEO offers.

“[The teachers] were really nice,” Student A said. “They aren’t there to be mean or anything, they’re trying to help you go in the right direction. The teachers had to make sure we didn’t draw on our work and check our computers. I think we needed [the rules]. I did break LISD rules so I had to face the consequences for it.”

It is also important to consider why students are sent to LEO. Not everyone is there for the same reasons; there is a difference in the severity of the rules broken.

“There were some people there that would yell at the teachers and cuss at them,” Student C said. “I was so scared of the other people because I didn’t belong there. I was a good kid, I just made a mistake. There were most definitely worse things and people more deserving.”

However, every student sent to LEO is affected in some way, and many students leave having learned a valuable lesson.

“Whenever I went in, I grew as a person,” Student A said. “It helped me mature. I did what I did to make other people happy, so going to LEO helped me realize I should think about myself and my future before others.”