Story Archive

Zero Tolerance, Zero Thought

Casey Harmeier, 10, a student at Beckendorf Intermediate School in Tomball, Texas, responded to a “dare” by another student to open the cover on a fire alarm pull switch. Everyone agrees that he didn’t intend to actually pull the alarm — and he didn’t. But opening the cover set off a horn designed to scare children against pulling the alarm, and when that went off an adult rushed over to silence it — and accidentally pulled the fire alarm. Principal Dolores Guidry called police, who hauled the boy away without notifying his parents. He was charged with setting a false alarm — a felony. When it became clear what really happened, the principal told prosecutors they were overreacting. The district’s assistant superintendent also asked that charges be dismissed. But prosecutors refuse, instead thinking that reducing it to a misdemeanor is sufficient. (RC/Houston Chronicle) ...In their quest to save face, prosecutors are willing to sacrifice a child. How proud their ethics professors must be.
Author’s Note: Prosecutor Cari Allen did finally drop the charges — days before the boy’s felony trial was to begin. Casey’s parents, furious over their son being under criminal indictment for more than six months, sued the school; the district settled for $5,000. This story is also the basis for a post on my blog, at
Original Publication Date: 25 February 2007
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 13.
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