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Sean In The Middle 730

Last week Sean, a 16-year-old computer geek and gamer who has never been in serious trouble, was thrown out of a Texas school and ordered into "alternative education" for responding to a year's worth of bullying and harassment, some verbal, some physical. His crime was to fantasize out loud about revenge. He got as much due process as Chinese dissidents get. His father, a Slashdot reader and graphic designer, has pulled his son out of the system and into home schooling. He asks for help and advice. This is a story about life in America's schools these days for people who are "different," who live at the mercy of jerks and cover-your-butt administrators. (Read more.)

Last week, Sean Sheeley -- computer geek, gamer, and high-school junior in the McKinney Independent School District north of Dallas -- was confronted by a group of students in one of his classes. They'd been tormenting Sheeley for much of the school year, he says. He'd been jabbed, ridiculed, baited, had disks stoken from his computer.

Sheely's father Patrick, a graphic designer, says the incident unfolded this way: one of the kids in his class came up to Sean while others were taunting him and said aloud with others present, "One of these days, he's going to bring a gun to school and shoot us."

Patrick Sheeley, a Slashdot regular, says that "my son, being a little sarcastic, took out a small case that he carries his keys in and pretended to be loading a gun. The same student then said, 'Look, he's loading his gun.'

At some point, says Patrick, one of the other students joined in with some additional comments, further upsetting Sean, who then responded:

"If this had been a real gun,you'd be dead now." One of the kids turned him in.

Sean was called into the principal's office where he got suspended for three days and sent home. School officials then notified his parents that Sean was being removed from the high school and sent to an alternative school for kids with learning and other problems. He was no longer fit for mainstream education, the school had decided.

The decision was "unappealable" to school administrators, Patrick was told. He could appeal to the school district, but not until May, when the school year was virtually over. None of the other students involved have been disciplined, nor, to the Sheeleys' knowledge, even questioned. Patrick says officials told him that the school has a statement from a single student who overheard the remark and reported it.

Sean says that he'd like to forget the whole day, but here's what he remembers:

"There was much of the usual taunting, mocking my intelligence, mocking things I hold interest in, etc. Then one of them said, 'You know, one of these days he's going to bring a gun to school and kill us all.' And that is, so to speak, what knocked over the first domino. I also remember one of them trying to take the computer disks out of my backpack... the same person who went through my backpack accused me of being gay."

Sean said he'd prefer the high school to an alternative school. Othwerwise, he says, "why would I want to go back to a school that lies, breaks state laws, and gets rid of bright students who finally snap, merely to 'make the school feel safer?' All the school is doing is satisfying a few parents' false sense of insecurity, brought on by the intense media attention to the recent school shootings, by giving them a false sense of security, at the expense of students like myself. The ONLY reason I'd want to go back is to see my few friends again, and I can keep in contact with them without going to school."

Sean's comment was foolish, his father says, especially in the post-Columbine environment where candid speech about schools is dangerous. And he isn't averse to some milder form of punishment.

I wonder if Sean deserves anything more than a useful speech on sensible responses to morons. Perhaps he should be called into an office and told that one of an individual's noblest callings is to make fools reveal themselves. There appear to be mitigating circumstances, to say the least, and Sean was defending himself, reflexively and verbally, if not wisely. Patrick is surprised by the profoundly anti-democratic, Banana Republic policies that govern public schools in America, where there is no Constitution, protected speech, or due process for citizens under 18. Thousands of kids like Sean won't be the least bit surprised.

In fact, school officials across the country may be chasing the wrong kids out of school. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than 2,000 school age children 19 or younger take their lives each year in the United States, many citing depression, social cruelty and bullying and other forms of harassment. That means that many more kids harm themselves as the result of social cruelty than harm other kids.

"I just don't know what to do," says Patrick, who can't afford a lawyer, and who wants to protect his kid. Sheeley is aware that this kind of record could have implications for Sean down the line. "...I would appreciate any suggestions as to what recourse we may have, or where we might find some help."

In the meantime, he and his wife have pulled Sean out of the district rather than submit to his being shunted to an altenative school. The Sheeleys are home-schooling him, an increasingly popular alternative for individualistic kids facing creative suffociation or social isolation and persecution in larger schools. "What's the lesson for him?" his father asks. "This wasn't a fair process. The kids who provoked him were not disciplined equally, or at all. It could have been me," Patrick says, of the incident. "I felt the same way when I was in school. I probably even said the same thing." It could have been lot of people.

Even though administrators have deemed Sean too dangerous to stay in high school -- perhaps he triggered one of their dangerous-kid-profiles -- the junior has never been in trouble of any sort, his father says, inside or out of school: never been arrested, disciplined, suspended, or even involved in a fight.

I called the school district to ask if there was any comment. A secretary in the administrators' office asked me if I was kidding. "No," she said. We don't have any. And what is a Slashdot?"

Sean provides a nearly classic example of kids in the middle of an increasingly insane social situation. We know this story. Sean and his father are both self-professed computer geeks. Sean has a few friends who are into computers and gaming, and who generally feel isolated and excluded at school. Sean finds many of his classes boring, although he has met academic requirements, and spends most of his time in his creative other life, building computers, programming, networking, writing games, especially RPG's.

His experience shows that a culture of harassment remains tolerated in many educational institutions; where kids can be taunted and bullied at will, sometimes into retaliatory statements or actions.

Patrick Sheeley has some decisions to make and could use some help. Should he try to get Sean back into school or walk away? Should he take legal action to force due process? (Many Slashdot community members are familiar with home schooling, judging from my e-mail). He would appreciate hearing from lawyers with expertise in cases like this. He's contacted the ACLU, but isn't sure whether it can or will represent Sean. He knows that irrational policies and the post-Columbine hysteria are all closing in on his kid, and he wants to do something about it.

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Re:Oh please yourself

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    NEW Numbers: Superintendants office: 469-742-4070 Safety Director: 469-742-4096 Special Populations(Ed):469-742-4081 Old Numbers (Slashdotted?) McKinney I.S.D. 1 Duvall St McKinney, TX 75069 Phone: 972-569-6400 Fax: 972-562-8751 P.S. They blocked slashdot as a referral link. Use Open in new window to get there: (right click)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:03AM (#279372)
    I currently am employed by an elementary school (happens to be my alma mater) and witness first hand the cruelty that young people can express towards those who are "different". When I was in high school (5+ years ago, eg. Pre-Columbine), I came close to snapping myself many times, getting into a (very minor) skirmish or two, even. I didn't make things easy on myself, either. I would often put down "less intelligent" students answers and would (unintentionally) egg them on by giving them the reactions they wanted to get out of me. I did have friends, and I never felt that the "whole" school was out to get me, but I consider myself lucky for that. A former student of my high school, a few years younger than me, recently killed himself because of the torture he had undergone in high school. He never managed to recover.

    It is time to educate the educators. School officials and teachers need to learn to recognize the signs of bullying and "torture", and to pro-actively prevent it. Starting at the Kindergarten levels, students need not only to be encouraged to be respectful of diversity, but to appreciate it as well. If (for example) schools can pass on to students that a geek and a jock working together could accomplish much more than either could alone, then perhaps the boiling-point temperature that we've recently hit in America's schools could be cooled somewhat.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:48AM (#279373)
    The District's webpage: Dr.David Anthony Superintendent 469-742-4070 Ted Moore Assistant Superintendent Campus Services 469-742-4041 Dennis Muizers Director of Secondary Education 469-742-4093
  • Wow. You should check out the book The Fourth Turning. The authors set out to look at your very ideas. They show how history is cyclical and then look at how those cycles operate. Your thinking is right on target!

    GenX, or the "13th generation" as the authors put it, are underprotected and undervalued as children, grow up as a nomad generation. They start as free agents, are pragmatic and independent, and must be increasingly tough and resolute as they age in a time of crisis.

    "Millenials", of which Sean is one of the first examples, are increasingly protected as children. They come into young adulthood and drive the society into crisis by challenging the crusades of their elders.

    (The authors believe that this changing of generations and generational attitudes leads to an inevitable crisis cycle. Past crises in US society have included the revolution, the civil war, and the depression/WW2.) Each turning of the generations leads to predictable approaches, and the fourth turning is the crisis cycle. It begins in 2005. Be prepared.)

    Sean's ouster, then, is a predictable overreaction from baby boomers during a period when individualism is stregthened and institutions are increasingly weakened.

    Anyway, can't recommend the book more highly.

  • Damn. "Get over it. Accept your problems. Learn to adjust." Nobody told me that before. Gee all my problems are now magically gone! Thanks, Mr. Class Vice-President, Mr. Most Likely To Be Famous! If only everyone had such wonderful insight into all the problems of the world!

    Let's see now, is the victim responsible if s/he is physically abused, not just mentally abused? I just want to make sure I get your approach right.

    In fact, shouldn't we honor the tormentors for giving the abused a chance to succeed? I mean, if it worked for you, obviously it'll work for everyone, right? (I know those fourth graders can be merciless, I don't know how you survived.)

    And the damned uncaring father, co-dependently giving the son an opportunity to fail by retracting him from the environment where he would be the most challenged. What kind of father is that? He should have just told the kid to buck up and stop whining. Nobody likes those whiners! Why, they're some of the least popular people in school.

    And that's important, because one measure of success is how popular you are in high school.

    I could go on, but that would put me in line for being moderated down as flamebait. But wait, if that happens, it'll be my fault, and the resulting lesson will make me a better person. OK, moderators, do your worst! I refuse to accept your negative opinion of my message!

  • If you choose to trumpet the fact that you enjoy Dungeons and Dragons, or decide to wear goth clothing, you have also chosen to accept the stigma attached to it.

    I see, aggressive stereotyping and stigmatizing other children is expected and is entirely the fault of the victim.

    You can not punish someone for not liking someone else.

    I see, brutally tormenting people you don't like is expected and acceptable.

    The fact remains that this innocent child threatened the lives of others.

    Bullshit, he threatened no-one. Compared to the actions of his tormentors, his action was probably the least threatening.

    His biggest fault was taking his oppressor's stereotyping and using it against them. He wasn't violent, nor did he use violence. He used suggestion and a simple statement.

    Your hypocrisy, sir, is utter. Months and months of physical and verbal abuse by tormentors is supposed to be a learning experience. One single statement in reaction, and you call it threatening and unjustified. If the tormentors were to take your advice, they would not go snivelling off, reporting it to authorities. Liking D&D expected to result in abuse? How about after months and months of abuse you might expect a little threatening aside! You should be telling your fuckup Texan teen circle-jerk buddies that if they can dish it out, they had better fuckin' take it like men, no whining to the principal. Hey, it's just commen sense, right?

  • by bmetz ( 523 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:28AM (#279378) Homepage
    Come on. I doubt a typical day went like:

    Dad: So Sean, how was your day at school?

    Sean: Well, I got bullied and it was really humiliating. I'm thinking about threatening violence tomorrow.

    Dad: That's nice. Now go back upstairs and play everquest!

    Something tells me the dad had a rude awakening that life wasn't jim-dandy for his son when all of this happened. Kids stick to vague comments like 'school sucked today' and 'just some guys at school being annoying' or something. Any parent who isn't looking won't see that his son is getting shit on with impunity.

    As always, if you need to waste your time, I suggest [].
  • Exactly. And that's the problem. If you live in your own little fantasy world until you're 18, how do you expect to know how to deal with bosses, coworkers, etc. who may be jerks, idiots, or egomanaics?
  • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @09:26PM (#279382)
    I wish I'd gotten in on this topic sooner but it's been a wild day.

    Kids will be kids. There will be picking. There will be discipline problems. In the past, discipline was meaded out with a paddle. I strongly favor a return to corporal punishment. It works better for most miscreants than anything else. Throwing kids out of school or charging them with felonies is counterproductive.

    As for the picking, if a kid is getting picked on he needs to be trained how to fight effectively. He must be able to handle bullies. Any kids identified as being picked on should be given training in boxing, wrestling, karate, jujitsu, judo or other martial arts. Strength training is also likely to be of benefit. This will empower the one being picked on to defend themselves. Bullies will find an easier mark. The school system should provide such kids with stipends.

    Do I have a vested interest in this? You bet. I teach kids like this all the time.

    Will training kids in self defense and returning to corporal punishment prevent Columbines from happening? Probably. Growing up today ain't no easier or harder than it was then. Kids probably had better access to guns 30 years ago. Heck, I had 2 rifles, shotgun and a pistol when I was 13. There's no way I'd have taken them to school. The threshold for a butt whuppin' was real low. Nobody shot up schools then. I carried a pocket knife then. Still do. But any kid with one today gets arrested. If anyone had cut someone else with their pocket knife, they would have gotten 2 whuppins. One right then and there and another at home.

    It's like the little old lady with the shopping cart who wheels grocery sacks full of money through the ghetto. Nobody knocks her over because they know retribution will be sure, severe and swift.
  • Well, when my mom was in school they got 3 bomb threats in a month. Each was taken seriously, but for the last one they just made all the students stay in the parking lot, and held class (such as they could) outside. they never got anouther bomb threat because it was no longer a way to go home early.

  • Exactly. I tried making this point last time we had a story like this. It's always your word against at least 3 other people it seems. Guess who ends up winning?

  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @02:23PM (#279386)

    He calls the freaking secretary, who *CAN'T* say anything to the media because that'd cost her her job

    Why doesn't the secretary refer him to someone who CAN say something?

    Bullying has been a part of schooling since schools were invented. Hell, read the "Almanzo" book from Little House on the Prairie.

    The problem is that kids didn't used to get kicked out of school for responding to bullies. THAT is the issue here.

    That's right: claim that he's a gun freak who's gonna kill everyone.

    And why the hell should they be allowed to do this kind of crap? They can claim he's a killer, but he can't play along with it?

    I'm not trying to excuse the bullies, but want to point out that there are two sides to the story, point out that Sean is not completely free of blame

    Like hell you aren't. Kids are in school to learn and shouldn't have to put up with this kind of bullshit from assholes that don't have anything better to do than harrass people who are weaker and/or less popular than themselves. They should expell the little dipshits that like to make life hell for others instead of the kids that have to put up with it because the administrators don't give a flying fuck about it! Yes, Sean is partly to blame, even his father said that, but look at what happened! He gets kicked out of school and the bullies get nothing! If the bullies were being as "clever" as you think and trying to get him kicked out of school, then they should be the ones being kicked out.

  • I wish everybody at the gun range knew basic gun-safety rules. Because that is definately not the case. When I've gone shooting, I get guns pointed at me, waved past me, all the time, loaded, unloaded, whatever.
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @01:02PM (#279389) Homepage
    last month, there was an interesting article in Scientific American, about agression. The author states that the current widely held belief that agression is caused by low self esteem is flawed.

    He cites his studies that state that agression is more likely caused by people that have too-high self esteem. Baseless self-love, and when that self-love is threatened, they lash out. When applied to the model of the "geek" who's being teased, it makes a lot of sense. There certainly is a rationalization of superiority. These kids, we geeks, believe that we are superior to others, because we are smarter. And when it is proven to us that just being smarter isn't enough, you also have to be stronger, faster, better looking, and more socially adept, (and probably richer), that superiority complex is threatened.

    Of course, that goes for the bullies too. When they feel threatened by someone smarter than them, they lash out similarly, to demonstrate that their attributes are superior.

    If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

    The author of this article faults the current system, the way we raise our kids, afraid to criticize or judge too harshly, lest we crush their frail egos and turn them into homocidal maniacs. When in fact, we are building up their egos too much, to the point where they get this 'tude, and then, they are basically ticking time bombs, waiting for a threat to their egos.

    Makes ya think.
  • the district superintendent:

    Due to federal law, FERPA, I cannot discuss the facts regarding this issue.

    Er, I didn't ask you to discuss the facts regarding any issue. Please be assured that your response will be duly noted in any lawsuits brought as a result of any violence which results from your deliberate decision to ignore my concerns.

  • No. You've pretty much nailed it on the head.

    You did leave out an important translation of the following part:

    I noted that the parents did not indicate that they were given information regarding the next level to express their concerns, nor have they called back to discuss the results of my second inquiry into the matter.

    Which should be translated as: "I will lie at will about the parents who revealed my actions even though those I am lying to have read the article in which the parents did, in fact, indicate they were given information regarding the next level to express their concerns."

    One could also add something about the legal liability this guy will be facing if he does end up with a Columbine-like situtation when it is discovered that he ignored warnings that he was recreating a situation very much like the one at Columbine which helped to produce the killings. When one adds this to his slanderous sniping from behind FERPA ("privacy concerns prevent me from telling you why I think this parent is dirty-bad-nasty"), I would not like to be holding his libel-slander-gross-negligence insurance.

  • Although I had to put up with some harrassment in school, I was fortunate that it wasn't anywhere near as bad as Sean's. But like Sean, I found most of my classes incredibly boring. I wanted to get a GED, skip the rest of high school, and start college. However, the teachers and counselors at the high school LIED to me, and told me that it was not possible to get a GED until I was 18 years old.

    I dropped out anyhow, but because of their lies, I waited before getting my GED. I should have taken it immediately. In fact, in hindsight it is clear that I should have done it when I was in junior high!

    It sounds to me like Sean should have absolutely NO trouble passing a GED (they're very easy). I'd advise taking that and the SAT or ACT, and applying to colleges and universities. That way he can actually get an education, instead of simply "doing time" in the public school system.

    Some people have told me that a GED doesn't look good on one's record. My experience is that if you have good SAT scores, no one cares.


    "Never let your schooling get in the way of your education" -- Mark Twain

  • What students really need are hidden cameras in the schools. [...] Is it an invasion of privacy? Yes, but so are metal detectors, drug tests and searching lockers. Why not have video cameras?
    Oh yes, by all means, let's make our schools even MORE like prisons.

    The more we make the schools like prisons, the more we'll make the students like prisoners. Are you sure you WANT the schools to turn out people with a prisoner mindset?

  • by sinnergy ( 4787 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:41AM (#279402) Homepage
    What students really need are hidden cameras in the schools. If parents of bullies would actually see their little darlings tormenting and harassing they way they do, I can guarantee that some (not all) of the bullies would get a serious butt whipping and would *quickly* change their ways. Parents are so oblivious most of the time to what their kids do in school. The schools themselves are far too impotent to actually be able to do something about, and, when they do act, they act improperly and contrary to what logic would tell any educated person.

    Is it an invasion of privacy? Yes, but so are metal detectors, drug tests and searching lockers. Why not have video cameras?

    Oh, now I remember, because no one really wants to see how bad some of the TEACHERS in public education are. Of course, I have no way to back this up in fact other than my experiences when I was in junior high and high school.

    In lieu of cameras everywhere in schools, intelligent and bright young students who are being bullied should resort to the skills they have... geeky nerd hacker skills... and should go about tape recording and video taping their ordeals with hidden cameras with the bullies. Videotaping has worked wonders for police departments (both to catch crooked cops and to prove that there really are a lot of assholes on the road.)

    Something to ponder, at least.
  • by sinnergy ( 4787 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:02AM (#279403) Homepage
    No, I think your question is really good and should be addressed. Without knowing the father, I can only speak speculatively and will make broad generalizations and assumptions that will render my point moot, but I might as well make it anyway...

    For anyone that's ever been bullied in school, what do your parents usually say when you report it, "Dear, when I was in the school the kids did the same types of things to me. Just ignore them and they'll go away."

    However, what parents fail to realize is that for some reason, kids today are more agressive in class then they ever have been before. While in the past a spat between two classmates might result in a quick and akward fisfight behind the gymnasium, nowadays with a lack of school administration caring, fights are taking place everywhere, with more deadly weapons and voracity.

    If you ponder the idealized schools that parents attended "back in the day", behavior problems wre easier to deal with because there was always a group of troublemakers and bullies that could be singled out for punishment. Of course, the victim would still get the, "Just try to ignore them" explanation that parents still give today. However, nowadays I strongly believe that anyone can be a bully. It is almost like a hierachy of abuse exists. The darwinism of it all is really astounding once you realize it, especially if you're living through it. The kids in these Slashdot articles, while certainly at the "top" of the hierachy in terms of grades, intelligence, skills or creativity, are often cast down to the lowest levels of the food chain when it comes to social respect and decency. The point I'm trying to make is that the bullies at the top tend to make their victims bullies themselves until you reach the bottom where those individuals would love to bully everyone above them for lack of having anyone lower to bully themselves.

    Is it a brash overgeneralization? Yes.

    Is this post a long winded rant? Yes.

    Do I think I have a valid point in here someplace? Yes.

    This is a weighty issue that is becoming worse and worse. The difficult part about this discussion is that there really is no "right" and "wrong". Both sides are wrong. The bullies are wrong for being abusive and the victims are wrong for not being a little more levelheaded and creative in dealing with bullies... and for not holding their tongues and incriminating themselves. Now, arguments can be made for whom is more "wrong" than whom, but the point is that to most people, it doesn't *matter*. It makes people uncomfortable. When people become uncomfortable about the situation they revert back to the basics they learned about the human condition, especially in their schooling, which is exactly why parents today tell there children as they've done for generations, "Dear, when I was in the school the kids did the same types of things to me. Just ignore them and they'll go away."
  • (Reposted because Slashdot got confused and decided I was an Anonymous Coward.)

    What was the father doing while Sean was being bullied? Did he go to the school then? Did he report the bullying? Did he demand that the bullies (if they actually touched Sean) be charged with assault?

    What can the father do? Sure, he can report it to the school. Will the school do anything? Can the school do anything? If no adults saw the incidents, they effectively didn't happen. It becomes a "he hit me" "no I didn't" disagreement, which kid do you believe? Similar for pressing assault charges, without evidence or credible (adult) witnesses, it will never fly. If you try (and fail) to stop the bullies through these methods, you've simply encouraged the bullies to continue their behavior.

    Worse, often these victims are being singled out by the system for engaging the "disruptive" behavoir. Not fighting, or threats, but publishing independent student newspapers, complaining about other students behavoir, protesting school attitudes. The only crime is thinking against the system. Soon it becomes clear that the school, the teachers and staff, and in some cases your parents, are a danger to be avoided, not allies to seek out.

    I lived through this. I was lucky, my experiences weren't as harsh as many reports I've heard, but it still hurt at the time. There are several teachers and administrators from my high school for whom I still hold grudges against. It's hard to feel that a school will support you when the principal threatens you with lawsuits for printing (with your own money) an independent student newspaper (Hi Robert G.!) It's hard to approach a teacher who threatens fail you if you continue to question the value of their tests (even though you scored excellently on the tests) (Hi Ms D!).

    Schools are trying to deal with the perception of increased violence in the simplest, easiest, cheapest manner. Actually solving the problem requires more adults keeping watch and investigations of reports. These take time and money, most schools have neither available. Until these fundamental problems are addressed, the bullies have an edge. The best we can do is support the victims.

  • by PizzaMan ( 6633 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:35AM (#279412)
    Come on, post the district's web page, they'll find out what a Slashdot is.
  • I think home schooling is the best choice one can make. I feel that the human soul is designed to learn from loving parents and NOT from a third party.

    As for social development, children who came before the collectivist "assembly-line" method of education did just fine.

  • WTF does "the human soul" have to do with learning? And since when were parents not "a third party"? And given the amount of cruelty in any Dickens book, which provides pretty decent insight into a era before formalized education, what's this "social development... did just fine" bullshit?

    You are the one person least qualified to teach your children anything useful. Please, give them over to someone who knows how to think!

  • No, not at all.

    Standard procedure is to not talk to the media. It's a legality issue: shooting off at the mouth is a fantastic way of making oneself or one's organization open to a losing lawsuit.

    Both the secretary and the principal are explicitly *NOT* allowed to talk to the media. They are not lawyers, and can not adequately judge which information is safe to reveal, and which information makes the organization vulnerable to lawsuit -- let alone judge whether a particular turn of phrase is a hazard.

    Katz should have contacted the school board directly, and asked to talk to the board's lawyer or superintendent.

    Both of whom would, in all likelyhood, tell him to bugger off. He is, after all, Katz, not a legitimate reporter.

  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @11:58AM (#279426) Homepage
    Katz is such a moron.

    He calls the freaking secretary, who *CAN'T* say anything to the media because that'd cost her her job, and then mocks her for not knowing about what is, really, a pissant little website known only to geeks.

    He gets *NO* information about the other side of the story. All we have is an extremely biased and, frankly, untruthful accounting of what happened.

    Untruthful? Hell, yes, because the Sean's *perspective* of the story is not the truth of the story: it is distorted by his recollection, biases, self-interest and all that rot.

    And, come now, is this at all *news*? Bullying has been a part of schooling since schools were invented. Hell, read the "Almanzo" book from Little House on the Prairie. Ask your grandparents: they went to school when teachers could be bullies. Ask your parents and uncles -- in my family, I've an uncle who was effectively the mob boss for the school!

    And let's give the bullies some credit for having some smarts, okay? They were picking on Sean, sure -- and when push comes to shove, what's the biggest and baddest "pick" they can do? That's right: claim that he's a gun freak who's gonna kill everyone.

    I mean, hell, what a triumphant bit of bullying that is! Harass the weak and dumb right out of the school!

    Sorry, Sean, but you walked fully and cooperatively into a trap. Smart geek? I don't think so.

    I'm not trying to excuse the bullies, but want to point out that there are two sides to the story, point out that Sean is not completely free of blame, and point out that this is generations-old news.

    You-all want to make a difference to your school systems, then you better haul ass into the school board meetings, PTA, and run for a board position. Whinging on in Slashdot about how fucking unfair it all is, isn't going to make one goddamn bit of difference.

    Quit being losers, and start taking power. Get involved.

  • you better haul ass into the school board meetings, PTA, and run for a board position

    chances_of_getting_anywhere = hell.snowball;

    Jumping up and down in PTA won't help either, not that anyone with a clue would stand a chance of getting on the board.

    The big reason is school is doing what it's designed to do [] - it's working - so trying to fix it is futile. Sean's just plain lucky that he's escaped the system - sorta - and will be miles better off being home educated, as long as his parents don't try to turn their home into a replica of school.

  • I was kicked out of Computer Science for what i knew, they said i had the potential to hack and therefore a threat

    Yah, but the real reason is: you're a threat to the status quo. School exists to deliver courses. Actually enjoying the course subject and running ahead of the messenger breaks the lock-step rhythm of the class progression, and also upsets the nice information heirarchy of experts->eddept->headmaster->teachers->students.

    Welcome to the place where we're all equal, and every else gets booted out (well, maybe some are more equal than others). The school chorussed ``we're all individuals'' and your response was ``I'm not!'' (-: Good upon ya :-)

  • Every home schooled person I've come across (warning! sample size of one!) has had problems interacting with people.

    All of the independent tests done so far show HS kids either interacting better, or being indistinguishable from their State schooled peers - unless you count beating up other children as ``interacting'', which I don't.

    The one exception that I personally know of was a Mormon boy, and the social difficulties were obviously associated with his parents' interpretation of LDS doctrine (many apparently plain English words mean different (usually odd) things in LDS land) in their everyday life.

    All of the other HS kinder I know (maybe 30 or so) are more eager to converse, ask more intelligent questions, and are more likely to constructively use the answers on the spot than ``your average'' child.

    • How To Line Up Neatly
    • How To Wait Without Causing Too Much Mayhem
    • How To Vegetate While Looking Busy
    • How To Avoid Asking the Wrong Kinds of Question
    • How To Relate To Others Your Own Age Only In A Regimented Situation
    • Rigid Class Structures And How To Fit Into Them
    • Politics Of The Fist
    • Selective Ostracism As A Political Tool
    • How Brawn Can Substitute For Brains In The Blackboard Jungle
    • How To BrownNose Without Being Seen To Do So
    • The System Trumps The Content
    • The Bell Is More Important Than My Work
    • Limits To Mental Growth
    • Limits To Ambition
    • Limits To Creativity
    • How To Accumulate Bad Habits From Others
    • How Many Children Can We Hang Off One Teacher?
    • Bulk Babysitting - Pay Nothing Now (But Through Your Nose In Taxes Later)

  • Does Sean's father really believe that putting him in home school will solve the greater problem.

    For Sean, it does. Or at least, it limits the problem to occasions when he meets his tormentors on the street. And of course, his home curriculum could include assorted martial arts...
  • Bullying is a constant of all school systems in the world, it is something you've got to acknowledge. Two kids thrown together will first fight, then maybe develop a friendship.


    Two kids who have either learned to first-hand at school or been pre-conditioned by others (e.g. siblings who have learned as above) will. Elsewhere, this is not a given. In home education, for example, bullying depends on the parents' attitudes and actions.

    My number 1 son's interaction with a family of 3 boys (his cousins) is instructive: there is abrasion between he and the school-age oldest, and with the next one down, but not with the youngest - the oldest was de-schooled recently, and the second didn't go to kindergarten like the oldest, so the youngest isn't getting anything like the same amount hand-me-down attitude erosion that the middle child did.

    I would suspect the regimented environment of intensifying the aberrant reactions, on top of this.

  • I simply don't believe that the majority of people are qualified to be effective home teachers.

    Actually, several studies have show that teaching qualifications impair your effectiveness as a home educator.

    One example had mentally handicapped teenagers educating their children at home and producing noticeably better results than State schools.

    Lay your fears to rest, Brian.

  • Spot the non-sequitur:
    Under a purely atheistic framework, it is indeed true that the concept of moral absolutes goes out the window, but that's about the only thing you got right.

    the philosophy and religion of Atheism and Evolution says that murder, theft, rape, etc. are okay

    They certainly do not say they are ok.

    Really? Then why is it bad/naughty/wicked to murder a six-month-old child, but OK to murder that exact same child kicking and struggling [] eight months earlier?

    You can't have your moral cake AND eat it too, Brad.

    That holds just as well for religion, by the way. One major religion has been more or less directly responsible for 60 million definitely documented deaths, possibly an order of magnitude more and almost certainly more than double, PLUS more deaths from starting both world wars (lending a big hand to the Axis in the second), the American Civil War and sundry others.

    And if you think that the licence for wholesale butchery on ``moral'' grounds is an exclusive possession of conventional religion, consider the Reign of Terror in France, and nearly a century of Atheistic Communism in the USSR. (It's 2AM in Stalingrad: ``Knock-knock.'' ``Who's there?'' ``You have to ask?'').

    Now, consider murdering children post-partum. It happens right now in China to lots of baby girls, a consequence of their one-child policy. And it's being proposed as a legitimate activity in the USA by an Atheist group. Meanwhile, euthanasia is eating into our brains trust at the other end of the age spectrum. How long until it meets in the middle?

    Moral relativism at its best. ``Thou shalt not kill,'' a moral absolute, is much safer.

  • Evolution is not a religion, it's a process.

    Religion is a process; it's a process of exercising a belief; it's a belief in the process of life, possibly also afterlife and/or beforelife (although not so in the case of Atheism). Humanism, a subset of Atheism, is a belief in your own life process.

    Faith in evolution [] requires belief without proof [], often in the face of proof [], so it's even a religion for those dimwits who insist that religion requires the absence of proof, or belief only in unprovables.

    Evolution is a religion. QED.

  • Still I deserved it as I am a slut and now my biggest turn on is being treated this way.

    Good punchline. Pity that practically none of the people who really need to read it would ever clock on to SlashDot. At least, not until they don't need to read it any more...
  • Good post. Possibly even great post. Not earth-shaking, but right on the money.

    Almost makes me wish I was moderating, but I seem to attract a lot of bad karma. Something to do with not being politically correct, I think...

  • Well, many a year ago, I was in the same kind of position that Sean was in. I.e. at the bottom of the pecking order, and everyone thought it would be good to pick on me.
    As a result, I have several scars from attacks by stick, broken bottle and various other items, and these physical scars are with me over 20 years after I left this school.
    If my parents had found out about it, I'm sure they'd have intervened. Or tried something.
    But, when you're threatened with more, by many people, then.. You learn to keep things hidden.
    I did. And I got rather good at it.

    Now, years later, my younger brother attended the same school (well after I eventually told my parents what had happened at this place), and they assumed that things would be different.
    They weren't.. My brother is another free thinker, and different to the herd.
    This time, when my folks spotted the 'signs' (and yes, you _really_ have to look hard in a lot of cases), they confronted the school board.
    The solution?
    The School Head suggested that my parents "Invite the bully in question around, take them both out for a day, or a weekend, and 'let them get to know each other better'.."..
    In other words, my folks should pay for the bully's entertainment and food and what not for a weekend or so, just because he beat up my brother.
    Since that day, I lost all respect for the politicos and ass convering administrators across the world.

  • by Raptor CK ( 10482 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:15AM (#279444) Journal
    Dude, I'm *so* with you on this one. Granted, the idea that I wouldn't have had any privacy at all in school would've sucked, and bullies would have found where to go just out of sight, but it's a start.
    Simply put, momma doesn't believe that her perfect little angel (even at 16) would *ever* beat up another kid. It's just not the way she raised him. The instant that they get busted on tape, well, hell hath no fury like a disappointed mother. I'm not even talking about a butt whipping, I'm talking about a mother just going ahead and no longer enabling the little bastard to get away with that kind of crap.
    If that doesn't work, though, there's always option #2. File charges, and get the kid sent to reform school. Make sure that security keeps an eye on him. Consider expulsion if he slips up again.
    There are certainly issues with video cameras anywhere that I'm not entirely comfortable with (the bathrooms come to mind), and students do occasionally need privacy (to an extent that probably has no right to exist with minors in a school), but there's probably a way to work that out properly.

    Of course, I'm not sure if this is the answer or not, but it's certainly not a troll.

  • Stop sending your kids to the government schools.

    They're teaching to the lowest common denominator, and the attitude (not all of them, but enough, and this is the attitude you need to succeed, so the administrators are even more likely to think this way) is that kids will "even out".

    If you don't want your kid to "even out", you'd prefer he *STAY* smart, send him to a private school. They're not that expensive; here in Orlando, it's no more expensive than a year of day care.

    If you can't afford private school, stop and think about whether you can afford to live on one paycheck more than you can afford to have stupid, indoctrinated kids.

    Or move to a state where the government recognizes that if you aren't *USING* the government schools, you shouldn't be *PAYING* for the government schools.

    The bottom line is, don't be so selfish that having a nicer car or being able to eat out every night is more important than getting your kids an education that isn't mass-produced.

  • I agree wholeheartedly. Did the parents ever sign a waiver giving up their right to sue? I doubt it. Their son has a right to Public Education, and has rights to due process (even though people and courts more and more refuse to acknowledge anyone under 18 as a "person", unless of course they kill someone, in which case even 8-year-olds are "adults" and worthy of capital punishment or lifetime imprisonment, but I digress).

    They should definitely get a high-profile lawyer invovled and sue the principal for the suspension, the district for providing no appeal or due process, and the state for failing to provide the support the students need.

    Better yet, how much trouble do you think it'd take to get the students mobilized in his defense? I mean, even if they don't like the kid, do you really think they'd turn down a protest strike? If the whole school came in one day and didn't leave homeroom until they readmit Sean, or if they all just stay home -- what then?

    The thing that scares me the most about this sort of thing is not that it happens, but at how quickly and easily parents and kids roll over and take the punishment. Sean ought to just ignore the suspension -- go back to class. Let the police forcibly remove him from the school, with the cameras rolling.

  • by Kope ( 11702 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:09AM (#279449)
    Kids who break real, existing laws remain unpunished while those who break no law are made to bear the responsibility for having been victims.

    School administrators, it is time for you to WAKE THE FUCK UP! It is illegal in this country to verbally threaten someone with harm. It is illegal in this country to touch someone without their permission. It is illegal in this country to molest other people's belongings without their permission. It is illegal in this country to band together in a group for the purpose of engaging in other illegal activities. All of this, and more, is illegal, everywhere but inside of a school! There we teach the criminals that it is ok to do all these things, for the only people who get punished are those that you do this crap TO! They get tossed out if they show the slightest little bit of interest in defending themselves.

    One of these days a really bright kid is going to snap and we will have an event that will make Columbine look like a walk in the park. Some day, and I fear it is not long off, some kid will really want revenge and his home-made bombs will denonate when they are supposed to, and hundreds of kids, and their families, are going to pay for the cowardice of the school administration to enforce existing laws.

    What's saddest of all, is that cowardice is fueled by the sick practice of funding schools based on the number of asses in chairs. The schools are loathe to get rid of problem students not because they want to educate those kids, or think that they belong in class, but because the schools get paid to keep them. The school administrations are consciously choosing to allow kids to continue to be abused daily because the school administration gets more money that way.

  • When my wife was in school, and was bullied by other kids, her mother always reacted, went to the school, demanded that it be dealt with. After a while, this made things worse for her day to day, because 1) she got a reputation as a snitch and 2) her mother was very confrontational, which made her very embarassed. So the end result was that she stopped telling her mother about such things.

    How do we know that Sean told his father about the bullying, more than perhaps once, if that?

  • by Ravenscall ( 12240 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:53AM (#279456)
    Every home schooled person I've come across (warning! sample size of one!) has had problems interacting with people.

    I have come across more than one in my life, but for the most part (there are ALWAYS exceptions) I have to agree with you on this one. I believe it has something to do with the fact that, while most home schooled children get better educations more well suited for thier induvidual talents, they suffer in that they do not have constant social interaction outside of the home. This does leave a mark on a person, but ultimately, most of our genuises don't fit in anyhow, why should we start making them do so?

  • A brief consultation session would probably cost you very little (if anything), and you might learn about options that you did not know you had.

    A decent rule of thumb when shopping for a lawyer is that the good one's don't charge to browse. An initial consultation that's along the lines of "Is there any chance of a happy legal outcome/what can you do for me?" is always free. A good, honest lawyer will hear the basics of your issue, and then tell you that either 1) they can take your case, and the odds are whatever, 2) they won't take the case because the odds blow, and here's why they blow, or 3) they won't take it because they don't feel qualified, but let me call up my friend who specializes/is better at this sort of thing.

    And yes, this is the sort of thing where you really should talk to a lawyer. It's a huge burden of your time/money, and you should at least investigate what can be done. And if you have money to spare, then please fight the good fight to keep this sort of thing from becoming the norm. A small amount of favorable precident can go a long way, and the mearest possibility of a successful legal action scares most public institutions shitless. The school district is acting like assholes because they are afriad of getting sued when there is a disaster and somebody gets it in their head that the district didn't do enough and is liable. They need to be more afraid of getting sued for violating student's human rights.

  • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @09:05AM (#279462) Homepage
    If you can't get past the profanity, there's no hope for you anyway.

    Look, mailbombing these idiots isn't going to do any good. It's a knee-jerk reaction to a knee-jerk reaction. Regardless, there will be so many of them that an admin is just going to wipe it clean every hour for a few days until we forget about this story and find something else to complain about. If you really want to make a difference, talk to someone IN PERSON at school, or at least stop preaching to the choir (Katz: this means you too). Stop hiding behind your computer. Throwing epithets through pseudo-anonymous electronic communication is pointless.
    Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity. Don't fight stupidity with stupidity, try to communicate. Don't hate the people who hate you. You might be surprised to find out that bully is a lot like you.
  • After all, all of those kids that bullied him will probably live in fear for their lives until they're out of school now :)

    But seriously, I think the best thing that father and son could do now is go to the court of public opinion, and fast. Not /., though - I mean the "real media" that the community is exposed to ("what's a slashdot?" - he he). Try to get an interview in the local papers, TV news, etc., or at least write letters to the editor. If you spin the story as "why did our school systems allow things to come to this" you might make an attractive story for the media, especially since he's never been in any kind of trouble before. Make sure going to /. was your first step into the public eye, not your last step or your only one.

    Try finding one sympathetic school board member - depending on the politics in your area, if the school board's a highly-contested position, there's probably a political split or two in the board that you can use to advantage. At the very least you might get a quicker hearing on the situation.

    I would hesitate to go the legal route, simply because Sean's comments probably did violate the letter of the school policy. However, the school should also have policies on bullying and on considering all sides of the issue before expelling anyone. And if they don't, that's more fodder for the media gristmill. You want to cultivate a tone of "What the hell kind of district are you running here? This could be your kid in front of a kangaroo court next...".

    Good luck, and make sure Jon gets permission before putting you in his next book :)

  • Oh Hell no, I know the media sensationalizes everything that happens. Part of it's because of the 24-hour news channels, resulting in the top stories getting totally played out, no matter what they are. Part of it is due to the general anti-gun bias of the mainstream media. I'm a strong 2nd Amendment supporter. I wish that anytime there's a story on guns in schools, the reporters would relate the statistical chance of a kid getting shot at school with the chances of them drowning in a pool, getting injured in a car accident, getting struck by lightening, etc. And I think the media's done a deplorable job of showing the dropping crime rates in places that have instituted concealed carry laws, especially in comparison to those places which place heavy restrictions on legally gun owners — you know, ultra-safe places like Washington, DC.

    There was a recent story (I want to say it was by Tom Squitteri of USA Today) discussing how even though violent crime went down during the '90s, ABC News coverage of violet crime stories went up 38% over the same time period. What a surprise.


  • Why don't just email them all...all 1328 email addresses!!!

    Yep, I've got the whole email database...wasn't that hard really...just had to use the trusty old wildcard * in the fields to get an email dump.

    To view all 1328 email addresses, just visit McKinney Schools Emails - use wildcards * in fields to dump all [] ... they'll soon know very well what a slashdot is :-)
  • The public schools of today have created a culture which caters at every level to athletes and people in the ol' boy's club. This is especially true in places like texas.

    In the world described by Varsity Blues, there is no place for smart, curious kids who learn to actually do something valuable. The people that run the town feel threatened by these kids, and the Columbine concern is simply their most conveient tool nowadays to put the teen that thinks a little differently (or at all) in what they see as his place.

    In this way, public schools display no values and show themselves to be a morally bankrupt institution. In many cases such as this, pulling your kids out is the best thing you can do for them. But your kid has to learn, right?

    May I recommend homeschooling. There are many resources available for parents choosing to homeschool their children. here [] would be an excellent place to start.

    The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that you can instill actual values in your children without the state breating down your neck. By taking advantage of the many Truth-centered learnming materials out there, your child can learn that he was not just an accident and that he is accountable to a higher authority. Our morally bankrupt culture will improve if we commit ourselves to these principles. All things are possible.


  • by rvr ( 15565 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:47AM (#279473) Homepage
    Public school is but one alternative today. I have home schooled my kids and know first and the benefits. Luckily today there are some great resources on the net. My first read was John Holt []. He has taught from kindergarden to Harvard. He started off trying to change the system from within in the early 60s to advocating homeschooling in the late 60s. I still love the book title _burn the schools, save the children_.

    A blistering attack on public schools by the NY Teacher of the Year John Gatto [] - can be found in his acceptance speech [] Ouch.

    Is home schooling for everyone? No.

    But is is an alternative and a great one at that. Read lots.
  • "What's the lesson for him?" his father asks. "This wasn't a fair process.

    Exactly. The state of our current culture is one in which a massive bureacratic process is used to compensate for lacking character traits in society, be they control of violent response, upbringing of our children by their family and community, compassion for others in the face of trouble, etc. And this large government body, much to the dissapointment of the body and those who elected it, is incapable of fulfilling the role as well as we would like. No, it's not fair, and no, the system will never be perfect.

    But there is another lesson here for Sean and his parents: There's always room for improvement. There's always a flaw or a crack in the system, to which the individuals can contribute even the tiniest positive force. Sean's getting an early lesson in sociology, and it's a lesson worth learning. It may not be the easiest way to get through the next few years of his life, but a little hard work does pay off in the end.

    Finally, let's review the results (so far) of these incidents: Sean (like many of us who share a common background) has been pushed around and bullied, not only by his fellow students, but by his administration. It's not fun, but he's going to come out of it a little tougher, and hopefully with a little more understanding of how to work the system to his advantage in the future. Given the concern his parents are taking in the issue, I'd wager he's likely to come out of this healthier and better adjusted then the average high school student. Even if he ends up being home schooled for the rest of his high school years, he'll have the opprotunity to further solidify a bond with his family at home. And regardless of where he attends classes, he'll always have the opprotunity to pursue relationships with past and new friends. He'll also be either pursueing a career, or beginning post-secondary education soon enough. My only concern here is that a little false security on the part of the other parents doesn't cost him a permanent stain on a piece of paper that will follow him around for the rest of his life. Any reference to Sean's psychological profile in his record should not be available outside of that institution. Not only was it performed by people unqualified to be handing out diagnosies, but the're confidential. Fight with those two points if you need to. But honestly, I have to believe that Sean's clear well-spokenness will more then make up for a couple of stray marks on his high school record.
  • by CokeBear ( 16811 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:05AM (#279479) Journal
    I'm calling the Mailroom Clerk right away. He has to know about this gross miscarriage of justice!
  • Maybe his father can get some pro bono legal aid. I used to be against sending my future children to private school, but the way our public education system is worsening, I may have to suck it up. He should find out who ratted him out and make their life difficult. Obviously, the system isn't working correctly.
  • Maybe I'm being cynical, but considering that the bullies introduced the idea that the kid might bring a gun to school...

    Sounds like they were baiting him to say just what he did, with plans of reporting him to the authorities. I'm sure these kids had heard about the 5 yearold being suspended for drawing a picture of a knife, etc...

    Pretty fucked up if you ask me.
  • Sending him back to that school is only going to increase the taunting, ridicule, etc. Those people never get punished. Either homeschool him, or move to a different school district. Preferably the latter, because while my school experience sucked, I still feel I learned a lot from interacting with other people when the interaction wasn't someone introducing their fist to my stomach.

    I got the SHIT kicked out of me almost every day in junior high. And most people probably recall, no matter who starts the fight or throws punches, both people get suspended. I missed over 30 days of school that year due to suspensions and almost failed the grade, because I spent too much time getting picked on. No one looks into what leads up to those scenarios. The instigators rarely, if ever, get punished for their actions. What good does the suspension do then, if the root of the problem isn't attacked? I suppose it let me heal my wounds for a couple days before I returned to school and got some new ones, but that's about it.

    Ohwell. Life sucks, and it's not going to change. Deal with it the best way you can, but the best way is NOT appealing that decision and trying to get the kid back into an enviroment where he'll deal with even MORE harassment and bullying. Move.
  • ...I've got to wonder what's the other side of the story. Even if the school district isn't saying anything, responsible journalism would have attempted to give the other side of the story. This is like reading a story about the Florida election mess on Rush Limbaugh's site. Is it any surprise we get all riled up? We're fscking sheep.


  • The rest of your life won't be this way.

    High School can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be a terrible one. I won't lie to you; it's not easy. I hated high school at first, but as it went on, and I found the right friends and the right teachers, I actually enjoyed it.

    Everything changes when you go to college. See, in college, everyone there is _paying to go there._ As such, it's a totally different environment. Being one of the "smart kids" earns you respect.

    (Note, being a "smart ass" doesn't ... being a know-it-all doesn't ... but having real intelligence isn't something that gets "squished" in college the same way it might in high school)

    You're only a freshman -- give school a little time. Maybe you'll find some people who you feel comfortable letting in to your life. Maybe you won't. But four years is a long time to shut everyone out....

  • Yes, you are the only person who is wondering how much "bullying" Sean was subjected to..

    I for one was 5'1", glasses, no style, acne, and puny in high school.

    I was in the band, played a number of instruments, was into electronic music, and was (is?) a computer geek from the first time I played a Vectrex.

    Besides the constant - i mean _every_ _fucking_ day in at least one class per semester, if not more - verbal harrassment...

    such as "Hey, fuck face... what did you and your little band nerds do this weekend? Blow each other on the bus?"

    physical harrassment....

    such as pushing, slapping on the head, punching in the arm, getting cross-checked (sorry for the hockey term, but I play hockey (now) and upon reflection, its was a lot of that) in the back, and then, for fun, during PE it would be tripping, elbowing, slapping (a lot of slapping to the back of the head IIRC) while running... and during sports, generally them taking out their agressions on me in the form of tackling during soccer (once got a broken nose) by guys that would one day be d-line for the football team...

    it was frowned upon to even bring it up.. and any action by the teachers was limited to "hey, leave him alone" and a finger wag.

    This is because they almost never outright beat the shit out of me, but would constantly (i mean every time you saw them) be something along the lines of a quick verbal along with a physical abuse - nothing dangerous - the teachers either had to see it (which they never did because kids are not stupid) or they had to just wag their finger because they all know how to pull an Eddie Haskel.. that is, they all KNEW that they were doing it and their fake "Gee Miss Walters" bullshit wasn't believed, but what could they do?

    Can you see suspending a kid for "picking" on another kid? Give me a break.... Eddie Haksels father is either a lowlife or a rich guy (as was the case at my school) and so all they had to do was say "lawyer" and that would be the end of that idea.

    Looking back at it over 13 years ago, i can now, of course, see that being a highly-paid professional and they are most likely either working in a surf shop or at Pup-n-Taco, I can live with it. I have a incredibly gorgeous wife, drive a nice sled, and have 2 G4's at home with 1.5 gigs of memory and a gigEthernet switch between them.

    But back then, the concept of bringing a gun to school was just not contemplated.. yet i did snap.. on a number of occasions..

    One time, a kid that had given me an elbow to the face - i went up to him in the locker room and beat the shit out of him with my cleete.

    Another time, I took my trumpet and hit a guy in the head with it because he had backed me into a corner.

    My father could have done precious little for me because, hell, he had a job. He did bring me up right.. and he did instil in me self worth and the ability to see a brighter day (because my dad was a nerd and he does just fine as i saw).... so i _knew_ it would get better, but not for years.

    What was my dad going to do? Yell at the school? What is he going to say "the kids are picking on my kid"... and? suspend them? How? They were never seen, and they almost never left any permanent marks. And kids have been picking on other kids for years.

    The problem is that people are reducing the options available for the weaker, geekier kids to retaliate... i'd get taken out of school for years now if i hit a guy in the head with a cleete... yet then, nothing happened to me. And the guy that i smacked with a trumpet so hard he had to get stiches? Hell - he wasn't about to tell anyone that a band geek beat him.

    I don't know about how YOU had it in school, but personally, I think its about time the geek kids got back at the other guys in better ways... with their means.. making websites of the bullies engaged in sex with, having adult toys sent to their houses and such.. you know, harmless, but effective ways of tormenting them back.

    If you discount the shit that Sean had to put up with.. and believe that his dad could have taken any real action against kids who, basically, didn't cause any provable damage - then you're a fool, or you were a jock.

    If you think that you can have a kid kicked out for bullying your kid - then you're mistaken about your power as a father.

    Unless you have the guts/ability|desire to play their game - by saying that the bully said he was going to kill everyone or say that you saw the bully groping a 12 year old girl - then there's nothing you can do about kids picking on other kids.
  • Standard disclaimer: IANAL

    If you can afford it, you might consider hiring a lawyer to interact with the school officials. You don't need to file a lawsuit. Just have your lawyer start asking questions about the school's policy on "physical and verbal abuse" and "harassment" of kids by kids. It might not help your kid very much, but at least it will get school officials thinking about it for the other kids.

    The problem you might have though is how much the school officials knew about the harassment. If Sean has kept silent the whole time, and if the school officials did not observe (or do not admit to obverving) any harassment, then you are probably SOL.

  • I was tormented in highschool. The school system was horribly broken, but there were safe havens as well, where you could escape for a while.

    We had a history teacher who was a big war gaming geek, and during study hall kids would play simulation games and even (gasp) AD&D. Of course, we had to keep it on the down low so the religious nuts wouldn't freak out and claim that we were practicing satanism.

    My computer science teacher was also the track and basketball coach. My math teacher coached football. After a long day in the zone coding pascal on IIgs'es, we'd learn the benefits of being in good physical shape. (Hint: bullies tend not to pick on people that are bigger or stronger than themselves.)

    To this very day I enjoy gaming. My favorites tend to be multiplayer team games like Tribes and Team Fortress Classic. Pure deathmatch style games just aren't terribly appealing to me.

  • But it was the bullies who brought up the "gun talk" in this case, probably in a calculated way. I'm sure they are having a good laugh about it amongst themselves right now.

    We have to remember that everyone has the potential to be victim or villain. Everyone has a breaking point at which they can no longer tolerate being the victim. At that point, they will stoop to the level of the aggressors (or possibly stoop even lower) and become villains themselves.

    Above all, we need to keep in mind cause and effect. We need to nip the bulleying in the bud before it gets to the point that it consumes the victims every thought to the detriment of education, sanity, and public safety.
  • In this case, there is no evidence that the kid was fantasizing about shooting his tormentors. It was one of the bullies who brought up the "geek shoots up the school" meme.
  • In this case, it does not appear that there was any premeditated wish to kill anybody. The kid simply responded in a relatively natural and understandable way to the bully's taunting comment "One of these days, he's going to bring a gun to school and shoot us". There's a big difference between his sarcastic response to their ribbing and actually compiling a list of people to kill, etc.
  • And most people probably recall, no matter who starts the fight or throws punches, both people get suspended.

    That happened to me as well, though not nearly so often. I've seen, and been in, cases where kid A beats on kid B for a long time in front of faculty, then B retaliates. Only then is it called and both kids suspended.

    I have a few theories on this.

    1. The school justice system is based on the hockey justice system. This is also why they don't call the first infraction, but only the retaliatory one. Maybe you need a goon on your team?
    2. If kid B is just taking punches and not throwing them, it's not a fight, it's a beating. And I've never seen a H.S. rule against beatings. You see, the faculty's hands are tied until kid B retaliates.
    3. If kid B is doing the Right Thing and not hitting back, then it obviously can't be that bad...don't worry about it.
    BTW, the best one I remember was when a friend of mine was kid B, and outweighed kid A by about 40 lbs. He just stood there and took it for about five minutes, then leveled him with one punch. When they pulled B's mom in to haul away her recalcitrant son, she asked the principal one question:

    "Did he win?"

    "Well, yes..."


  • A link to a similar Story about a school administration supposedly "totally failed to distinguish between a student who is a danger and a student who is different, extremely bright and imaginative,"

    The problem is that we're talking about the Machine here.

    Someone who is different, extremely bright, and imaginative is almost by definition a danger.

    That person is a danger to the status quo.

    Take the example of of Ghandi. He was all of the above. He wouldn't hurt a fly. And by not hurting a fly, he wrested control of a major nation from what was the dominant world power.

    Quite literally, he was the most dangerous man in the British Empire.

    Put the different, bright, and imaginative people among those of the status quo, and you get one of two things. Either you get people who want to ride their coattails, or (more likely) you get people with a tremendous urge to beat down that person as hard and as fast as possible, before they have a chance to change the world. I don't think we're taught to do that. I think it's genetic--a survival instinct to keep some mad genius from turning us all on a dime.

    It isn't pretty, and it isn't right. But it is so. It's as much a law of nature as gravity, and we have to learn it and work with it.

  • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @09:41AM (#279512)
    Please, please do not flame or crapflood these people. I have just taken 90 minutes to write a letter to them to try to reason with them, and I hope that it won't get lost in the flames.

    Really, if we want to help Sean, we must act positively. Write messages supporting him and explaining our position about this. Don't email bomb them, send them threats, or fill their box with obscense messages. That will never help Sean out.
  • If you're a father then you should know how the typical conversation between a kid and his dad can go:

    Father: "So son, how was your day at school."

    Son: "Okay."

    Father: "What did you learn?"

    Son: "Nothing."

    Father: "Meet any girls today?"

    Son: "Daaayyyyd"

    Father: "Anything I should know about?"

    Son: "Nothing."

    Father: "Kill anyone today."

    Son: "Nope."

    The point is, unless you've got an unusually strong bond with your kid the conversation tends to be a bit one sided. This means that in the real world you never know there's a problem with your kid in school until it jumps out and bites you in the butt.

    This I know from being on both sides of the street. I was the kid who got in trouble and got suspended. If my dad knew half of the things I was up to he would have had a heart attack.

    In most cases of harrassment at school kids don't report it because it is humiliating enough as it is. Don't you just think it's possible the kid never told his dad he had a problem.

    On a side note: "If this had been a real gun, you'd be dead," is neither a threat nor is it stupid. It's just a statement. I would sue the school and go for damages. Let the district pay for its stupidity.

    On another side note: Where's the web site for the school so we can spam them into oblivion.
  • He calls the freaking secretary, who *CAN'T* say anything to the media because that'd cost her her job, and then mocks her for not knowing about what is, really, a pissant little website known only to geeks.

    I believe one of the jobs of secretaries is to proxy requests. You're supposed to talk to the secretaries because they're the ones who answer the main phone lines. They proxy the requests to whoever is responsible.

    It was either the secretary or the responsible person who have failed in their job, not Katz.
  • What is the idea here? This kid's a typical fucked-up kid and he gets in trouble.

    I think the idea is that the other fucked-up kids that have been harassing and abusing him didn't get in trouble. The lack of an actual investigation in favour of a knee-jerk expulsion probably didn't help.

    Quite frankly, if Sean was "fucked-up", as you describe him, that final rejection would have probably triggered the kind of shooting nightmare the administrators, in their fear, were trying to avoid. But then, I guess thought before action has never been a requirement of public education leadership, as sad and pathetic as it seems.
  • I'm appreciative of good teachers and administrators as well; a few good teachers are the reason I didn't just give up on high school completely after a first couple of really, really crappy years. I don't think "appease[ing] the majority" requires letting their kids be thugs while the victims get tossed out for even thinking of fighting back.

    Actually, I think a lot of parents would love to see a legitimate crackdown on bullying and in-school terrorism. Unfortunately, the policies that are put in place to prevent just this sort of incident from happening are forgotten, only to be remembered and applied with extreme prejudice when someone who isn't part of a larger group mouths the word "gun". What I wouldn't give to see the proper application of zero-tolerance policies with regard to physical and verbal abuse...then again, school populations would likely fall by as much as half, with all the explusions.

    Maybe that would be a good thing; let the people who wish to learn remain, boot the idiots who refuse to be taught and let them learn on their own.

    A million maybes...and no answers. Although, a good way to start might be a parent or victim standing up to say "Stop. This is wrong, and it needs to be changed, and I bet I can find one million people who agree with me."

  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:53AM (#279520) Journal
    Yes, the school administrators are over reacting, and yes, the punishment does not fit the offense by a long shot. But what do we expect from public schools, nobody ever said they were run by intelligent people.

    And that's to be accepted in a "civilized" society?

    Fuck that.

    People pay hard-earned tax dollars to cover the cost of public education, in the hope that their children might - MIGHT - learn enough to survive on their own, perhaps get a good job, make a few friends.

    People do not pay hard-earned tax dollars to have their children bullied and threatened while teachers and administrators stand by and do nothing, unless the victims even hint at striking back, in which case the pop pseudopsychology kicks in, and suddenly they become crusading defenders. Of who and what, I'm not sure. Maybe of their jobs - "I prevented another Columbine, give me a raise!" - or some other demented reason.

    Maybe parents of abused students (and that's exactly the term for it, abuse) should pull their kids out and send them to private schools. Maybe they should home-school. Maybe they should refuse to pay taxes until they start getting their money's worth. Maybe parents and kids should stage protests, sit-ins, demand the bums be thrown out, demand that some justice and sanity start being applied to the schools they (and you) pay for.

    Maybe some parents should start taking an active interest in what their kids are doing outside of home. I wonder how many of the bullies' folks know how they treat other kids. I wonder if they even care.

    A stupid statement like Sean's probably would have been ignored ten, even five years ago. For that matter, so would the bullying.

    Perhaps if abused students and their parents took a stand and demanded a crackdown on the type of abuse that occurs in public schools, the backlashes wouldn't happen anymore.

    end rant.
  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @01:36PM (#279535) Homepage
    The guy is better off having never gone to high school and missing the whole 'social atmosphere,' while being home schooled than he would be in school. If 'social engagement' is simply harassment, who needs it? Besides the fact that 'trials make us stronger' it's not doing anything for him. One, maybe two years of this kind of crap is plenty.

    Home school your son. He'll thank you for it later, even if he doesn't paticularly care for it now. Not only will he expand his mind many times over what his peers will, he'll do some actual learning, as opposed to simply doing busy work, which public school is well known for. He'll learn how to think for himself and have his own thoughts - traits which are drastically lacking in this society, as is portrayed by the assinine behavior of the administrators.

    As for you, Katz, STFU. Please. Enough of this 'defend the poor, helpless, underage geeks!' These kids are capable of defending themselves in such situations - I did. Granted, my parents backed me up, but I took the initiative. A kid has been picking on you? Talk to the administration about the harassment, or simply tell the kid to leave you alone. If he doesn't, talk to the administration. If still nothing helps due to stupid school politics revolving around athletics or other items, sue the bastard child's ass off, or the school district, for being negligent.

    Heck, knocking out a few teeth would even be reasonable compared to the bloody stupid approach Katz suggests - I'm sure you could plead temporary insanity or provoked violence in a court of law and get away free, if it came to that. Invasion of self and property and physical harassment/abuse are probably means enough to defend yourself.


  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:47AM (#279555)
    You troll, the point is that *this kid DOES NOT need help*. This kid is behaving *normally* to being harrassed every single day. The other kids need to be LARTed severely, preferably with large blunt tools which will leave them crippled or in vegetative states for quite a while. You are accusing the victim ("typical fucked-up kid"). To me, kids who routinely harrass and pick on others are the ones that are "fucked-up" and need to be sent to juvenile detention centers or some third world country where they might gain an appreciation for actually having some smarts.
  • by TheTomcat ( 53158 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:57AM (#279559) Homepage that his father actually stuck up for him, and believed what he said. All too often, the schools would expect the parents to just ignore the 'stupid little kid' and take their mandate as bonafide truth.

    Kudos to Sean's father.
  • by Saige ( 53303 ) <evil.angela@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:53AM (#279564) Journal
    (MORONVILLE, TX) - Today a ceremony was held at the local high school to give a group of children Medals of Honor for enforcing conformity. The medals, donated by AOL-Time Warner, McDonalds, PepsiCo. and other global megacorps, were for their efforts to expose fellow student Sean Seeley as a psychopath who was prepared to blow up the entire school.

    "It took years of harassment and torture to finally get the student to show his true self, but these children refused to back away from their horrible treatment of Sean to get to the truth," stated principal Dorf McMoron. "We need to make it clear to these kids that they are here to learn skills to make them happy little workers and consumers for society, and that individualism leads down a bad road to original thought and questioning of our basic Family Values, and we can't have that."

    There was an incredibly huge amount of support for the children from the community for their effort. "We can't have kids like Sean in schools. They'll ruin the educational conformity system that we so love", stated one parent. Said another, "bullying is a way of life. I bullied many many kids around in my day, and I make sure my son beats up on some faggot wimp every week, or I kick him with my spurs a few times. Those little wimps need to learn to suck it up, deal with it, like the ones I beat on. Guns are only to defend yourself against criminals, not good ol' red-blooded American bullies, and that's why I have my 350 guns and NRA membership."

    The American Family Association was present, accusing the American culture of violent pedophilic homosexual atheist liberals of ruining society, and they are "happy to see one of the horribly persecuted Christians standing up for family values against Satan." When someone pointed out that this had absolutely nothing to do with any of those issues, they responded "See? They're trying to censor us! They're evil, they're evil!"
  • by alexjohns ( 53323 ) <> on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:58AM (#279565) Journal
    There are a lot of resources here. Lawyers, home schooled people, people who might have been in the same situation. I would love to get 100,000 people to give me advice in some situations. Especially in raising a kid. Having to read through 700 posts seems like a small price to pay for some useful ideas.

    And, as a parent, I'm intensely curious to see how this plays out. My son's not quite 3 yet, but his future education is very important and something we're constantly thinking about. I'm sure it will be the largest factor in where we buy our next house. (Note: Put 'North of Dallas' as one of the places not to move to.)

    /. editors and Jon Katz, keep stuff like this coming.
  • by pirodude ( 54707 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:49AM (#279566)
    You have got to love these anal school districts. No really, you have to or they'll kick you out. :)

    We had a case here where a kid brought a gun to school, along with $1500 worth of fake heroin, this was a middle school. He was given a 5-day suspension and that was it. Another kid wrote a list of names out like: "people I don't like" and they interpreted it as "people who I wish to kill in a blood bath". People over react with the smallest things but then when big things happen they want to keep them out of the news. It makes them look like they're doing their jobs, "protecting our kids".

    He's only got 1 more year to go then he's off to college where it will be different for him. High school is hell, everyone knows it (well, most geeks) where social popularity rules instead of academic achievement. But I figure, once I'm out the chance that the football star, fake 4.0 (no honors classes, easiest load known to man, parents are "teachers") will become anything useful are slim to none. We'll see what these people become in the future. I know at my 10-year reunion I'm going to have a nice little laugh.
  • by ChristTrekker ( 91442 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @09:55AM (#279622)

    The key to solving this, as home-schoolers have noticed as home-schooling has gained in popularity recently, is to get outside the home. Organize with other home-schoolers and set up your own teams, clubs, groups. Get the kids signed up for dance lessons, tae kwon do, Scouting, church clubs, etc.

    Home-schooling is a lot more than sitting at home 24/7 while mommy/daddy teach from a book. Think of the increased freedom to go on field trips at any time, to get practical exposure to the world (like trips to the store), to schedule school the way it works best for your family. On the 5 o'clock news just the other night there was a segment on how home-schooled kids are turning out to be the brightest and most well-adjusted kids entering the US college system today.

    I have zero tolerance for zero-tolerance policies.

  • by Torqued ( 91619 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:49AM (#279624) Journal
    Even better, they have a webform for submitting comments at: []
  • by Life Blood ( 100124 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @10:00AM (#279638) Homepage

    There is just one problem with your argument. These cameras would be in public places like schools and government buildings. Privacy is something you should expect to have in private, not in public. If you are in a situation where anyone can overhear what you are saying and see what you are doing, then why is it wrong for the authorities to have an eye and an ear there? You do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in these places so it can't be wrong for them to be monitored. In short if anyone could be watching then why is it wrong is someone is watching?

    An analogy would be for the RIAA to be able to monitor what you post in a chat room or on slashdot. Or to have them be able to access your public ftp site. Of course they can already do these things so if you have a problem with it you had better get moving.

  • by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speter@t e d a t a> on Thursday April 19, 2001 @09:04AM (#279648) Journal
    Apparently you're unfamiliar with school politics. Granted, yes, the father (if he knew about the harassment) should have helped out his son by complaining to the school district.

    Would anything have been done about it? Nope.

    Schools, to AVOID confrontation with parents (being as how they do pay the taxes) will try their darndest to limit the number of parents that get involved in "issues." By saying that there are ten kids...five kids...even ONE kid who's harassing the student, that would involve confronting more than one set of parents. By ignoring the problem, you (AT MOST) anger one set of parents.

    We had a problem two years ago in our school district. Two years ago at our local middle school, a student got confronted after school by others who had in the past been harassing him. They started again in their harassment, and he got so angry that he pushed one of them. After that, they punched him a couple times before a school official saw the scuffle and stopped the fight. Because the student who had been harassed began the physical fight, he was suspended by the school district for three days, while the other kids got one day of in-school suspension.

    That was that...until the mother of the student went to the news and reported her son's side of the story. SUDDENLY, other parents (unrelated to the incident) started calling in and complaining about how the school handled the incident. The school district folded and dropped the last two days of the student's suspension. With this leverage, the mother filed a formal harassment complaint on behalf of her son to the school district against some of her son's tormentors.

    Things were looking on the up-side, until the newspaper dropped the coverage. The school district then rejected the claim of harassment, saying that there was "equal harassment" on both ends during the incident and completely ignored any claim of previous harassment.

    If you want to complain to the school district over the incident, don't just have your family complain. Flood the school with as many complaints as you can muster up from other parents of students who attend the school, as well as any possible news agencies. When it comes to the politics of the school system, unless there's pressure in NUMBERS, the administration won't budge.
  • by susano_otter ( 123650 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @01:25PM (#279680) Homepage
    FWIW, here's a transcript of my interaction with the Administrator who is apparently receiving all the comments:

    Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 13:27:40 -0500

    From: "Diana Gulotta"

    To: susano_otter

    Subject: Re: Request for Information

    Thank you Susano.

    I have been personally threatened by people through slashdot site and

    it is nice to have a reply from someone who is not cussing me out. Enjoy

    your weekend, Diana

    Susano Otter 04/19/01 01:08PM

    Thank you for your prompt and thoughtful reply.

    Thank you also for reminding me that I am not in posession of all the

    facts. I attempted to present questions that were valid in spite of my

    handicap; I apologize if I expressed any unwarranted concerns.

    I am encouraged by your response, and I encourage you stay true to your

    principles and act humanely in all that you do.

    Good luck!


    --- Diana Gulotta wrote:

    > It is a shame that those who have contacted us have decided to voice

    their opinion based on only those facts that have been presented. And

    unfortunately, we cannot provide any information on this situation

    > because it is a private discipline matter and not public information.

    Diana Gulotta,

    > MISD

    susano_otter 04/19/01 12:04PM The following feedback was received from our website:

    My name is Susano Otter and I am Not a taxpayer in the MISD.

    My e-mail address is

    My comments are:

    Given the recent news article posted here: 24 9&mode=nested (with commentary), I thought I'd take this opportunity to ask a

    couple questions:

    First, what steps are you taking to mitigate the effects cruel and

    abusive behavior exhibited by students that might lead to feelings of

    alienation and stress among members of your student body?

    Second, what are you doing to prevent this sort of behavior in the

    first place?

    Third, what is your policy on verifying student accusations of other


    Fourth, do you have clear, well-documented /ethics/ regarding school

    administration? Do you feel that certain interest groups, if they

    bring enough pressure to bear on your school administration, should

    be allowed to override your ethics? This is not a loaded question -

    it's possible that your ethics specify the supremacy of parental and

    other interest groups' concerns.

    Finally, do you feel that the reactive approach to resolving student

    vs. student conflicts is a better solution than the proactive

    approach, or just easier?

    I imagine that you will be receiving a large number of comments on

    this topic within the next few hours, and it may be difficult to

    provide a personal response to each one - especially on top of your

    normal workload.

    A thoughful, reasonable form letter that makes some attempt to

    address the kinds of concerns I've voiced here would be much


    You may think I'm not entitled to a response, since I'm not a citizen

    in your district, but I feel that we as a nation have some vested

    interest in the ethics and actions of all our school districts,

    especially now.

    Many schools find themselves in the public eye, and the decisions of

    their administrators will be an example, and set the tone of future

    thinking on these issues nation-wide.

    Your choices and your principles could have a profound affect on all

    of us, and all our children.

  • by Rev. Null ( 127972 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:37AM (#279690)
    If you home school your kids, you deprive them of valuable lessons in life -- for example, how are they going to learn about how screwed up the public education system is?

    On a more serious note, school is important for learning how to deal with other people. Every home schooled person I've come across (warning! sample size of one!) has had problems interacting with people.

  • by Bitter Cup O Joe ( 146008 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:05AM (#279722)
    From what I've seen of kids that are home schooled, you're often right, particularly if the parents are homeschooling due to religious convictions, rather than due to academic ones. However, I have also seen perfectly normal (socially speaking) kids come out of homeschooling. The trick to it seems to be activities other than academic ones.

    My wife and I plan to home school our children. However, we also plan to take the kids to martial arts classes, dance, gymnastics, music, kids sports, etc. The general key to raising not just an intelligent kid but a sociable one seems to be making sure that if they're not getting socialization lessons at school, they get them elsewhere. Hopefully, this theory proves true. I have a fair bit of anecdotal evidence supporting it, based on conversations I've had with kids who were home schooled this way, as well as parents who are currently doing so.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:59AM (#279728) Homepage Journal
    [Sorry this rambles a bit, but I don't have time for more editing.]

    The adoption of "zero-tolerance" speech policies (which I personally consider to be in violation of the first amendment) is taking its toll on otherwise good kids.

    It used to be that a student who made a stupidly inappropriate remark was actually taught a lesson: what you said was wrong, this is why it was wrong, if you say it again you will be punished by X. With the dawning of the era which gave us the horriffic phrase "school shooting", administrations around the country have been under tremendous pressure to do something. "Take away all their rights, they're just kids, but keep my little Johnny Racist-Bigmouth safe from 'school shootings.'"

    So, as more "normal" kids who screw up once are pulled from the schools, and as the complaints pile on from their suffering families, administrators might begin to see that they've been a bit heavy-handed. Perhaps point out that if your kid had simply gone off and slugged the other kid, he'd have gotten a five-day suspension for fighting. But verbally returning a threat in an already hostile situation makes him a potentinal murderer who must be expelled? Point out the inequity in their policies. Have them point out where in your school's policy it says "threatening language == expelled." Get in their faces, and don't give up. It shouldn't take a lawyer, (which simply turns off the ordinary people who make up your school board) but an outraged parent can actually make a difference.

    Your first step in approaching your school board is to educate yourself on their written policies. Find out what their justification was for expulsion. Then, at the meeting, step one would be to sympathise with their position of trying to keep school safe. Next, demonstrate what you've personally done to teach Sean that murderous threats are not appropriate responses. (Perhaps have Sean demonstrate proof of completion of an "anger management course") Finally, attack the inequity of their policies. Point out that they're promoting physically violent solutions over verbal responses. Hopefully, you can get him reinstated after the next meeting.


  • by connorbd ( 151811 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:49AM (#279736) Homepage
    I don't really understand the way discipline works in schools today...

    You ask most teachers, and I say it all the time -- the kids in middle school and high school today are one of the hardest-working, focused, and caring generations in anyone's memory. And they manage to accomplish this under one of the most paranoid, demanding climates that anyone has had to face -- I've often said that I'd love to go back to college but I would never go to high school in 2001.

    I understand security. But to expel someone from school for a joke or possession of aspirin with intent to relieve pain, or to have someone arrested for something found out third hand... that's ridiculous.

    I sometimes wonder how teenagers these days will grow up. With all that they can do, they have the potential to change the world the way their Baby Boomer parents couldn't; we GenXers tried to do it, but as much as we tried the Boomers called us slackers and have so far not really taken us seriously. But with the atmosphere they're put in, I'm afraid they might just get beaten down and sucked into the system... just like their parents. And that would be a tragedy.

  • by connorbd ( 151811 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:00AM (#279737) Homepage
    I think that's actually the second biggest problem with homeschooling, the instilling-your-values thing. I have no problem with raising your kids with a specific set of values, but you're doing them a grave disservice by forcing the issue and not exposing them to other viewpoints.

    There is a bigger problem with homeschooling, though: hubris. People tell me I'm a pretty smart guy, and over the years I've learned better ways to train people (my innate people skills are pretty grotesque). However, the problem that comes up is that the person who chooses to homeschool can't be guaranteed to be an effective teacher no matter how good the materials are. And if you're trying to maintain a specific set of values, that may seriously affect the value of the curriculum (creation vs. evolution comes to mind as being the most likely problem).

    I simply don't believe that the majority of people are qualified to be effective home teachers. That's not to say there aren't major problems in the public schools -- I have almost as much contempt for the far left as I do for the far right because of issues like abuse of antidiscrimination statutes, and (as any Massachusetts teacher will tell you) standardized testing is a lousy substitute for comprehensive personal assessment of achievement. But the real answer is taking schools out of the hands of politicians and putting the responsibility on the teachers (at least those who aren't hopelessly jaded by years of poor funding, etc) to run them. That's what they're trained to do; maybe if we let them do their jobs as they see fit (or at least as they were trained) we'd see an improvement?

  • by andr0meda ( 167375 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:05AM (#279753) Journal
    This is a story about life in America's schools these days for people who are "different," who live at the mercy of jerks and cover-your-butt administrators.

    I understand the problem and I feel sympathy for the father and the kid, but that last line was just too much for me. If we are going to put people in boxes and label them, we`re just as guilty as the taggers that put kids through their misery. Not knowing slashdot is not a crime, btw.

    IMHO making a model out of the father and the kid of 'what essentially is wrong with the system' is A) not very empathically, let alone very intelligent in regard to the child and B) will not change anything. I know the father asked the question directly, but nonetheless the answers he will find here will be good theory but poor practice. The answer to all the social problems must be found in the attention parents/government and society devote to raising their kids, 10 or 20 years AGO. Our social economic model is becoming very child unfriendly and we have to make exceptions to laws in order to protect and sustain the natural growth and education process of our children. Any good programmer knows the raised red flag, signaling that the design of such a system is flawed. Slashdot can`t ever dream to fix that with a good tasty discussion.

    If I were that father I would probably not have aired this so much, but I would also have tried to pull my son out of the system just like he did. My guess is that this kid will now be shielded from the terror inflicted on his psyche, and I`m afraid unless he learns to face and deal with his 'opponents' successfully, we won`t quickly recover from what`s happened to him. What he needs is something to excell in, and a bit of vocabulary and clues about how to cope with the pests.

    If slashdot is all about free speech and free attitude, then the above statement is essentially wrong imho.

  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:22AM (#279772)
    "Making life difficult" for the rat does nothing to help his situation, and could make it a lot worse. Bad idea.

    If it is a clear case of the school overreacting (remember, as with all Katz articles, we are only getting one side here... he's an advocate, not a journalist), then he would have a chance of either an interested lawyer taking the case for little or no fee, or prehaps a civil-rights group getting behind him (although some of those groups are really only interested in "show trials" to get them into the press). I would not bet the farm on it, but it could happen.

    Still, if the kid was mine, the first thing I would do is teach him about firearm safetey... The article says he was pretending to load a gun in order to intimidate the bullies. Fooling people into thinking that you are preparing to fire a weapon is a very good way to get killed.

    Anyway, the father says he can not afford a lawyer... I disagree. If he really thinks he has a case, he can't afford not to get a lawer! The cost of private school (or the time spent home-schooling) is huge. It says that he is a slashdot reader, so... Sir, if you are reading this, TALK TO A LAWYER. Even if you are not going to hire one, a good civil-rights lawyer can at least advise you as to whether you have a case or not. A brief consultation session would probably cost you very little (if anything), and you might learn about options that you did not know you had.

    Seriously... don't bother with legal advise from a bunch of slashdot posters like me. Talk to somebody who knows the law, and knows what your choises really are.

    And don't call the guy with his ad above the urinal at your favorite bar. Good lawyers don't need to advertise, because they are booked solid from word-of-mouth only. Talk to people you know and try to find a lawyer that is reccomended by somebody you trust.

  • by dstone ( 191334 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:02AM (#279803) Homepage
    As someone else pointed out, hearing the school or district's (or other classmates') side of the story would be great. I think this needs to happen before we automatically assume there's an injustice here. I've done some quick searches for news in that area, but they didn't turn up anything. Can anyone share a link?

    I'll pass along these semi-relevant links...

    McKinney Independent School District home page [].

    Here are some media releases from that school district (18 months ago)... a bomb threat [] and, on a separate occasion, two students were arrested for pulling the fire alarm [].

    Interestingly, in the case of the fire alarm arrests, the school superintendent said:

    Even though this situation turned out to be a hoax, we took the threat very seriously and initiated the proper precautions. Instructional time was not interrupted anywhere in MISD

    No word if those students were allowed to continue at the school.
  • by DunkPonch ( 215121 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:42AM (#279852) Homepage
    I am a father. I've thought about what I would do in situations like this. I have a question.

    Sean was allegedly bullied and harassed until he reached the point where he "snapped" (that was hardly a snap, IMO). Now the father is talking to the school.

    What was the father doing while Sean was being bullied?

    Did he go to the school then? Did he report the bullying? Did he demand that the bullies (if they actually touched Sean) be charged with assault? Whatever you may think of Texas criminal justice, there are still laws against assault, you know.

    Only now that Sean is in trouble does the father bring up bullying and harassment. Apparently, the father didn't think it was much of a problem for his son to be subjected to this before.

    Am I the only person who wonders just how much "bullying" Sean was really subjected to?

    If my son is ever put in Sean's position, I don't think I'll wait for him to "snap" before I intervene.

    That's what fathers are for.
  • by wmoyes ( 215662 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:04AM (#279853)
    When I went to high school I sat down and read the rules and guidelines book the district gives to the parents. No one was expected to read it, but I was bored and wanted to see how I could manipulate the system

    The district specifically prohibits students from bring recording devices to campus. In fact a few students at another school (in another southern California district) brought a video camera into class to prove how awful the teachers were. They made a joint out of oregano and smoked in it the back and video taped it. They released the tape to the public just to show how they *could* have gotten away with smoking pot in class. The district had a similar rule and had the student's suspended for it. Mind you they were not suspended for smoking, but for bring and using a recording device.

  • by update() ( 217397 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:47AM (#279854) Homepage
    There was an interesting article in the Weekly Standard a few weeks ago. The basic idea is that the "keep them in school at all costs" mentality results in students being trapped there and miserable who otherwise could do something fulfilling with their lives.

    Hmm, I'm not doing that justice. Here's a link []. It's worth a look.

    For the goat paranoid (capriphobic?), it's: 6_29_01 /toby_feat_6_29_01.asp

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • by NecroPuppy ( 222648 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:38AM (#279870) Homepage
    A school system responding not to the actual issue, that of school bullies, but in a knee-jerk hyper-paranoid manner.

  • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:41AM (#279909) Journal is the district site... superintendent is
    Fire away!... ;o)
  • by afedaken ( 263115 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:47AM (#279939) Homepage
    Here's [] A link to the ACLU's Student Rights Page.

  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:53AM (#279948) Homepage

    Educational systems out here in the US are slowly turning into a battle zone, so there's little wonder why words were taken so harsh, take for example this "infant" who was suspend for horseplaying with a paper gun. []

    IMHO little is being done to educate kids by way of showing them the dangers of their actions, suspension is not the key, as there are many students who love the idea of being suspended and not having to go to school. Instead of taking them away, more should be done, to show them what dangers weapons possess, the psychological dangers of being bullied, and bullying someone else.
    "why would I want to go back to a school that lies, breaks state laws, and gets rid of bright students who finally snap, merely to 'make the school feel safer?' All the school is doing is satisfying a few parents' false sense of insecurity, brought on by the intense media attention to the recent school shootings, by giving them a false sense of security, at the expense of students like myself. The ONLY reason I'd want to go back is to see my few friends again, and I can keep in contact with them without going to school."
    This sense of going to school as if it were a fashion show or sorts seems to also be a problem when it comes to teens. School is the foundation for learning, in order to get ahead in life, sure friends are great, but friends won't be around to pay the bills in the long run. The system is not there to cater to the needs of a teenager who's idea of school is a social club, it's there to teach, not to satisfy the personal needs of an individual.

    Sure one can empathize with the feelings of the teen when its stated that officials are appealing to the recent tightening of rules from pressure, but can you blame the parents? You can take away one bad apple before he snaps and save your children, or you could wait until the ticking timebomb explodes... Personally I would want my kid safe.
    I wonder if Sean deserves anything more than a useful speech on sensible responses to morons. Perhaps he should be called into an office and told that one of an individual's noblest callings is to make fools reveal themselves.
    Doing this would possibly cause more harm than it would help. What should be done is, parents of both the kids should get together along with the kids to work out the differences. Parents who leave the system to "raise" their children as well as teach them, are just as much to blame as the kids are.

    This surely can be attributed to parents who have little time to spend with their kids for whatever reason, work, stress, etc. More should come out of the parents of these kids, instead of the parents using the system as a scapegoat.

    psychologisticallyafied []

  • by dahitchman ( 319374 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:08PM (#279984)
    I've been homeschooling for 6 years, and now, at the age of 14, I find myself at least a year ahead in all my studies. Because I don't spend hours on end at public school but instead finish my work quickly and effeciently I end up with alot more free time. I spend this time on the computer and participating in a variety of sports including: soccer, tennis, basketball, martial arts and cycling. Its true that there are many homeschoolers that have problem interacting with people and can seem somewhat strange and wierd to the general public, but most of these people were taken out of public schools because of there problems. My point is, if you teach homeschooling correctly and participate in many social activities, it gives you many benifits that the average public schooler has no chance to recieve.
  • by schambon ( 416146 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @08:15AM (#280030) Homepage

    What was the father doing while Sean was being bullied?

    For some reason, I doubt Patrick knew his son was being bullied, or at least to what extent. Bullied kids generally don't run crying to their parents, you know. Especially at 16. And especially individualistic kids. In my experience, that kind of kid will rather attempt suicide or burst out in another way (snapping at the bullies, assaulting them, ...) than ask for advice to their parents.

    From Sean's point of view, involving his parents would have made the situation worse, actually. The bullies would have had another round to shoot at him, metaphorically speaking.

    There's also the generic idea that kids have to surmount social pressures. Kids have to grow some thick skin if they want to survive in the real world. Over-protecting your child is not a very good idea, and knowing where to draw the line between protection and over-protection is a difficult task.

    Let's be realistic here. Bullying is a constant of all school systems in the world, it is something you've got to acknowledge. Two kids thrown together will first fight, then maybe develop a friendship. Homo humani lupus and all that.

    Don't blame the father.

    - Sylvain.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine