I Still Get So Angry at Zero Tolerance stories! Let’s start with the story that made me angry this week:
If You See Something, Don’t Say Something
An unnamed 13-year-old girl at Lakeview Middle School in Lewisville, Texas, overheard a boy at school tell a classmate, “Don’t come to school tomorrow.” The 8th-grader couldn’t help but think of the elementary school shooting in Uvalde less than a year before, where a former student killed 19 children and 2 teachers. On the way home, she texted a few friends: “this is genuinely scaring the sh– out of me. lets see if i can tell my mom without crying.” After she got home and told her what happened, her mother picked up the phone to call the school, but it rang before she could: it was the assistant principal, who had heard the gossip. A school police officer investigated the boy and discovered he had no access to guns. That would be the end of the story, except we live in a Zero Tolerance world: the next day the girl was called to principal Beri Deister’s office to determine her punishment for what Deister called “a false accusation.” While being interrogated, the girl commented, “There’s no part of me that thinks this whole situation is rational.” Deister sentenced her to 3 days of suspension and 73 days in an “alternative” school — the rest of the school year. Her mother refused to send her as it was the start of the school-to-prison “pipeline” — the girl and her mother are Black — and let her study online instead. After two formal appeals by her mother, the district relented and let the teen come back to school. “If I heard something else that could be a threat,” the girl told her mother, “honestly, I just wouldn’t tell anyone.” (RC/Dallas Morning News) …Then they got what they wanted: silence.
From This is True for 23 April 23
Not a Small Town Situation
Lewisville is a Dallas suburb. The Independent School District there has more than 52,000 students and 3,600 teachers, making it among the Top 100 districts by size in the nation. For the 2020-2021 school year, it had a budget of $579,110,000. This isn’t some little town like Uvalde.
The story was already too long so I didn’t squeeze in one more little fact: what of the unnamed boy who started it all?
“I said don’t come to school tomorrow because I wanted to scare them” — the other students — he admitted in a written statement. “I wanted to because I think that it was funny. I expected them to tell.” He later contradicted himself, denying he said anything at all to the other students.
He was similarly suspended and sent to the alternative school, but it’s unclear how long he was supposed to stay there. Good thing the girl wasn’t there to be bullied by him!
“Police quickly determined the boy alleged to have made the comment did not have access to a gun,” the Dallas Morning News reported, and thus, “There was no threat to campus.”
Because we all know that the only place for kids to get hold of guns is at home, right?
“We are teaching kids: If you see something, you say something,” the mother said during one of the appeal hearings. “Kids are kids. They may not always get it right. But she heard something that was concerning, and within a 21-minute span of mentioning to a friend, I was in the know and I was speaking with [assistant principal Sharla] Samples.”
School officials thought the girl should have told them first. You know, text an adult from the school bus when she doesn’t have their cell phone numbers? Yeah, sure. I think their real embarrassment was they couldn’t control the rumors, which of course run rampant in such an environment, especially in Texas. Uvalde is just over 300 miles away — a relatively short distance in a state that large.
Because the girl’s “sentence” was overturned, though only after her mother pressed for a second appeals hearing, District Director of Student Services Rebecca Clark said, “The district’s process worked as intended.” Yeah, that’s exactly the problem! Also, she said, it would be “grossly inaccurate to say the district has ever punished a student for reporting a safety concern.”
Stopped in My Tracks
As the girl herself said, “There’s no part of me that thinks this whole situation is rational.” Smart kid; she clearly gets it from her mother. I hope she can get over the trauma she suffered at the hands of so-called professional educators.
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