Friday, October 17, 2014

I'm Getting Old

This was a view on my campus early on today:
As I said, I'm getting old.  I have next to no patience for teenage drama and angst, so you can imagine how, uh, resigned I feel on days like today.

Obviously it wouldn't be wise for me to share the information to which I am privy, but should you be interested in what's out in the public sphere, our local news organizations love to fan the flames of these kinds of stories with stories of their own that are not what I would call 100% accurate:


maxutils said...

A couple of interesting things; I was privy to some of the information you aren't revealing, and I will respect that point. That said ... I heard it second hand, and based upon experience, I came up with the following: I correctly guessed the race of the student, without any clues. I had no knowledge of name, or anything that would indicate either race or gender ... but I was right. That might make me racist, but do I get absolved because I was 100% correct? Second, I believe both sides of the story to be true, and if that's the case ... both the VP and the student are to blame. And I'm not sure who is more deserving of a trip to the woodshed. The teacher appears to be being a jerk for not just letting her have a copy of the report ... that's her intellectual property. She, however, should not have tried to take it back through physical force. VP exacerbated the situation by taking her down with unnecessary force ... Seriously ... where was she going? And, she shouldn't have bit him. But honestly? If it were me on the receiving end of that, I would have done the same. This is a very (high school that you work at) thing that happens .. . and we all know how this will end. Student expelled, letter of reprimand in VP's file, and perhaps in teachers...

I support the protest, because I know how things work at the school ... oh, and that right to assembly thing. On the other hand ... if students used the protest as an excuse to miss your test, you have every right to decline a retake. But you KNOW their parents will right them a"Went Home Sick" note.

And I know how you feel about expressing oneself, and how administrators respond to breaches in their contentment walls ...

Darren said...

You have much information that is incorrect.

maxutils said...

That is entirely possible. And if I'm wrong, I'll say so. I'm basing my response on second and third hand information, the TV report, and my past experience ... but I'm relatively confident that there is no 'good guy' here.

Anonymous said...

Why would you ever base any judgment from a TV report? I guess you've never been involved in a media-covered event so that you could compare what you know to be true to the ginned up ratings-grab / click bait that the media are paid to spin it into.

A student was being reprimanded for wrongdoing and tried to abscond with the evidence. "Intellectual property"? Really? If you write a death threat or some such and it gets turned into the authorities, can you claim they have no right to withhold your "intellectual property"? Honestly.

The student provoked a physical altercation and was restrained by a professional who was professionally trained in physical restraint. One who is known to be a level-headed, dispassionate cool customer.

The student bit and punctured the flesh of said professional. Infection becomes a likelihood; medical injections had to be administered.

In the aftermath, the student is attempting to power up by playing "victim". And the media eat that crap up.

Some students were earnest in their statement of protest, misguided as it may have been. Others took advantage of an opportunity to ditch classes without getting a cut. Some who went to class may now wish they could have participated in the cut-free ditch. They'll know better next time.

I'll omit other details here, but will encourage people to follow the school's official statement (due 10/20) re the matter. An investigation is ongoing which will confirm what I've said here.

maxutils said...

The TV report was PART of what I based my judgement on. I also had information from two teachers who were not direct participants, but had no axe to grind, and whom I trust. I have no idea what was in this book report that could have been so controversial, but I DO know that the VP could have made a photocopy of it, and given it back to her ... either the copy, or the original. And ... VPs are not supposed to use physical restraint. That absolutely did not need to happen. If it were my kid? I would be absolutely furious. corporal punishment, including physical restraint is not legal in CA. In fact, I have known teachers who have gotten in to trouble by trying to break up fights ... and this was almost certainly not even that. and I'm sorry ... but a "level-headed, cool customer" does not put a teenage girl in a choke hold, regardless of his training. Unless I see evidence to the contrary, I'm sticking with my assessment that no one behaved well here. As for the protestors? Part of civil disobedience is excepting consequences ... so if you don't want to cut them a break for missing your class? I'm with you. If it were me ... I don't know. As to the intellectual property ... your argument is ridiculous. A death threat has it's own special category. Are you telling me this girl threatened someone's life in a book report? Please.

Darren said...

There you go again, Max--talking out your fourth point of contact.

Physical restraint is *not* corporal punishment and it is *not* prohibited by law. In fact, at least one of our vice principals *and* at least one of our teachers has been trained in the legal use of physical restraint on students. They couldn't very well be trained in it if it weren't legal, could they? Perhaps you should read the California Education Code before spouting off, perhaps starting with Section 56521.1. It's in Chapter 5.5, which is entitled Behavioral Interventions.

The other factual errors in your comment, which I'm not free to correct, show that you have no idea what you're talking about.

As for threats, we had sheriffs on campus all day today, and will for the next couple days. Our principal sent out a summary communique over the weekend--perhaps you didn't get it--providing as much information as he could legal provide. Several students have said that their parents are considering keeping them home for at least the next two days, draw whatever conclusion from that you'd like.

I'm not providing you with the evidence you want, but you couldn't be more wrong in "sicking with (your) assessment".

Just as an aside, the press reported that the student bit the vice principal. Do you think it possible that one person could bite another while in a choke hold? Do you have any evidence that anyone has been put in a "choke hold"? Are you believing the news or a 15 year old girl or what?

Darren said...

Darn. "Sticking", not "sicking".

maxutils said...

I'm not sure why you even posted this, if you can't supply facts ... keeping mum while telling me I'm wrong is hardly a great debate strategy. I read the code; from what I have heard, both the 'emergency/spontaneous' aspects didn't exist, and the physical restraint was more serious than it needed to be. And no, I didn't get the memo from the principal, because despite their having my email, I get no notification about anything. If there are threats? I would certainly hope that the school would contact both parents ... but I can't do anything about that. And I have absolutely no reason to believe that the school would NOT overreact administratively, as that has been their track record for at least the last 15 years. So maybe I am wrong... but if i am, it's only because the entire event has been handled badly, and behind a curtain. And if someone tries to put me in a choke hold? The first thing I would do is try to bite them.

maxutils said...

And, having looked up the principal's statement ... what a load of CYA crap. There's a threat, but it isn't credible, but we're still going to have police on campus ... and we can't deal with a student whose first amendment rights have likely been violated, and who was probably treated with excessive force... and you can sit in your cat bird seat and call me ignorant, but until I see why this student was disciplined in the first place, and what happened after? I'm on her side. And the fact that the school is not putting forth details suggests that they know they are in trouble.

Darren said...

You're wrong because you're getting your information from 15 year old girls on Twitter. The school isn't commenting because they're not allowed to talk about individual student disciplinary cases to you, to the media, or to anyone else. And I assure you that *no one's* First Amendment rights were violated.

You don't have to believe me, but you're crazy to believe teenagers on Twitter. Crazy.

maxutils said...

You're wrong, because I don't HAVE a twitter account, nor have I ever. Based on the Bee article this morning, which I must assume was not written by a 15 year old and not on twitter, since it was well over 160 characters, the threat and the (alleged) abuse of power by your administrator are separate issues ... Maybe, maybe not. I'm not sure why you went with the the twitter thing, as you know perfectly well that I regularly converse with some of your colleagues. So, it's not really a question of not believing you ... you just haven't offered any information. And given the experience my daughter has just went through with this administration (completely unrelated to any of this) I do believe they are not creating a good environment for their students.

Darren said...

That doesn't change the fact that you have your so-called facts wrong and that I'm not at liberty to correct them. Sure hate it for you, but that's the way it is.

You can choose to believe a student who's getting expelled today, whose story is not corroborated after a lengthy investigation by the sheriff's dept, or you can accept that there's probably a more realistic interpretation of what happened. Your call.

maxutils said...

It's not really either that I believe the student, or that I don't believe you. The only person who has direct knowledge of what happened, who has spoke publicly, is the girl. And, she seemed credible, and I very much believe that the administration could be capable of doing what she said happened. I also know, that barring extreme circumstances, an administrator or teacher should never use any type of physical force on a student ... if they need to, they haven't been doing their job up to that point. Breaking up a fight? Sure, even though I've been told one shouldn't even do that. But one on one? So, I'm left with her statement, your position, and those of two others who have no direct knowledge of what happened. I also have an administration unwilling to publicly defend itself, and a student body convinced enough that it happened that it staged a protest... If the administration is in the right, they should have no fear in releasing their version of the facts ... if it goes to trial, as I suspect it might, it will become public anyway. But -- everything here reeks of coverup. And your saying, "I can't give you the correct facts ..." well, if you weren't a witness, you don't have the correct facts, as don't the other people who spoke ...but those people were adamant that they had multiple students tell them, independently, that the events were as charged by the student.

Pete said...


Not sure what planet you're from, but the act of biting another individual is a clear and unambiguous form of assault in every legal jurisdiction in the country. Given the conspicuous nature of such a wound, it would be easy for the girl or police to refute it. Instead, the bite wound has been confirmed.

No school policy can deny a faculty member's right to defend themselves against a reasonable perception of imminent harm... having a teenage girl doing their best imitation of a zombie easily meets that standard. Seemingly, neither was the use of force by the administrator excessive as the student sustained no lasting injury. If there was, this would again be easy to prove.

"If the administration is in the right, they should have no fear in releasing their version of the facts" except, even if their version of facts is true, they will be breaking laws regarding the release of student disciplinary records. Their silence is not a cover-up, it is a legally-mandated silence that protects the rights of the teenage girl in this situation.

Your mistrust of the administration is prejudicial, which is exactly why matters like these are investigated by the police and, if necessary, tried before a jury.

"I also know, that barring extreme circumstances, an administrator or teacher should never use any type of physical force on a student" That statement is logically pointless. You use two absolute terms ("never" and "any"), violate those absolutes with an exception ("barring"), and then throw in a subjective qualifier to muddy the waters even further ("extreme").

maxutils said...

Pete, alarmingly enough, the same planet you're from. I've never suggested the girl didn't bite the administrator. I'm sure she did. But ... I'm pretty sure your timeline is wrong. She bit the administrator on the forearm, which would be the logical place to bite someone who had you in a chokehold. So ... my guess is, administrator used force first ... and we can argue all day about what a reasonable 'perceived threat' is, but apparently she was unarmed, and having seen her, I cannot imagine her being a reasonable threat. And, if she were, he should have had another person with him ... as is VERY typical in these situations. If she had no lasting damage? well, super. but one of the things a properly executed choke hold does is NOT leave damages. And if this had been done to me, I would have done the same thing.

I'm sure the administration will be releasing the 'facts' after the girl files suit; and I think reasonable people will wind up agreeing that regardless of what comes out, this could have been much better handled by the adults in charge. And, yes, I AM letting bias enter in to my judgement ... but it's well founded bias.

Lastly ... only idiots embrace all or nothing rules, which is why I qualified my position. It doesn't 'muddy the waters' ... it allows for the possibility that there might at some point be a life threatening situation that requires drastic measures ... I can't imagine this being one of them. And if it was? Then the girl is guilty of, at least, assault, and if the administrator feels that is the case, he should be pressing charges -- in which case, it's no longer a student discipline matter, and he can tell us all about it. If he doesn't want to go to that length? The school should shut up about it and hope the girl doesn't sue.

Darren said...

Yet *again*, max, you're wrong. You cannot bite someone if you're in a choke hold. And choke holds are forbidden. These two things indicate to me that the almost-former student in question is a *liar* as well as a very disturbed individual.

maxutils said...

I guess we shall see, as the administrator is now pressing charges. I'm happy to admit being wrong when I'm wrong ... and if she bit first? Then I'm very curious as to how that could happen. Were I to attack someone, I would think that biting would be the last thing I would do ... unless I were in some kind of clinch. I guess that could happen, and if it did, the use of force is justified... I'm just trying to play that out, and the sequence of events does not make sense to me. I'd also REALLY like to know what was in her book report was so horrible that it needed to be confiscated and subjected to discipline ... which I think we can both agree led to this happening, regardless of the following events. As a first amendment absolutist, I find it hard to believe that a book report consternation ... but then again, I seem to remember the same school's overreaction to a certain teachers exceptionally clever Swift parody in the school paper. and how said teacher had difficulties with administration that did not involve physical restraint and biting. . .

Pete said...


First off, according to news reports Darren posted, the VP is pressing charges. Moreover, this does not waive the school's (or the VP's) duty to protect the student's privacy regarding the issue. Hate to tell you, but from the sounds of it you'll have to be satisfied with all the juicy gossip from the rumor-mill.

As for whether a chokehold was used, I'll defer to Darren regarding the significance of the bite. It is extremely easy for a standard bear hug to slip upwards towards the neck and face if the person being hugged is smaller and resisting...this does not make it a chokehold. It is also extremely easy for two struggling individuals to fall over, leading to the girl's belief that she was slammed down.

The bite actually is an important piece of evidence. Based upon its location and orientation, the police will be able to determine the relative positions of the student and the VP's arm. This could support or call into question the VP's assertion that the girl attacked him.

The only evidence that you have regarding the situation is the girl's statements, which like any involved party to a dispute, are completely worthless unless they are supported by concrete evidence. The VP's statements are useless in the same manner. I'm not saying that the girl is lying... as I stated before, the chokehold and slam could be nothing more than an improper interpretation of the events that occurred, especially for an individual who might have never experienced a serious physical confrontation.

Do you actually have a reasonable cause to believe that this administrator would, unprovoked, throw a student in a chokehold given the scrutiny it would place him under and the risk that he could lose his career? If so, call the police immediately, because its your civic duty to put this predator away.

maxutils said...

Pete, thank you for a much more reasonable post than your previous one ... at least, in my opinion. To respond ... once the charge goes from school level to criminal level -- which it just did (my previous post, and yours, were before the principal had pressed charges) the student privacy right goes away. He's going to need to testify to what occurred, and that is public record. As the accused, she gets to respond, or not.

As to bear hug/choke hold / bite ... I'll defer to the jury, rather than Darren, who wasn't there ... and yes, obviously forensics will be involved. In any event ... VP didn't handle it well. He may not be criminally liable, but he certainly could have done a better job. In this case, it would have been giving her the report, telling her to go, and writing up the incident. If the report is that bad? He should already have copies.

You're right ... the only direct evidence I have are the girl's statements ... but -- they seemed convincing and honest to me. Neither you nor Darren has any extra direct evidence, so I'd prefer to let this play out. My secondary evidence consists of reports from Darren, two other teachers, and my daughter ...who attends the school, and was complaining tonight that those students who protested were given clears on their cuts by administration.

So yes ... I think it's entirely possible that an administrator, particularly at Rio, would have this reaction toward (especially) a black student. I'm not saying it's true ... but I've seen, personally, such instances arise. And my daughter verified that I was on the right track. So ... again, if I'm wrong, I'm wrong. But so is the automatic free pass for the administrator.

Darren said...

Max, if you're willing to believe a troubled girl who "sounds" reasonable over a vice principal you don't even know, well, I'm unable to help you. The vice principal "sounds" much more reasonable to me.

maxutils said...

If the principal has told you what happened, how has he not already violated the girl's privacy rights? And how doe he expect to successfully win in a trial without publicly testifying? And, if the girl's right to privacy is important, why is her name all over the media?

Darren said...

He's allowed to discuss disciplinary issues with teachers. Duh.

He may have to publicly testify. There's as yet no trial.

Her name is all over the media because *she* put it there.

Pete said...


Even when this goes to trial, the student's right to privacy is not automatically voided...that will have to be broken by a judge. The VP could also testify in front of the jury only with no public access.

The girl's statements are not reliable evidence, which is what I addressed in my last post. If you're treating the public testimony of a stranger that seems honest as reliable evidence, I have a bridge to sell to you.

Depending on the nature of the language in the paper, the VP might not have had the option of photocopying it and returning the original. District procedures, and perhaps state law, could have required the principal to keep possession of it, depending on what the specific content was. The timeline as presented by the police is that the girl left the office and then returned to initiate a struggle with the VP... I wonder exactly what the content of the paper was to motivate her to resort to such extreme actions...not just a "Mr. So-and-so sucks d*ck" I'd wager.

Your daughter verified that you're on the right track? Well man, get her to the police immediately so she can give a deposition about the events of the case and the true villain can be apprehended!

Are you saying that you can see no way that the incident went down in the manner the VP described to the police? The only "evidence" you have is the girl's statement. If we find out she lied, you're left with absolutely nothing.

Face it, you're prejudiced.

maxutils said...

My daughter has no direct information to testify to ... and neither, I'm given to understand, does our beloved blog-poster... Both are equally inadmissable here-say. No point involving the police. My understanding? The VP had the girl pinned to the cement outside his office ... and that's not coming from my daughter, it's coming from other employees at the school. If it were me? As a student, I would want the paper I had been working on returned to me, just as my classmates had theirs returned to them. In this case, it is the school's responsibility to establish that they had a legitimate right to hold on to the original ... which I'm sure they didn't. And even if I'm wrong? Rules of discovery mandate that the accused have (at least) copies of any evidence to be used against them.

As to 'returning to initiate a struggle?" You ... really can't do that. Unless she busted her way through, the VPs require appointments ... and are almost always busy. So, if that's what happened? And maybe it did? Either the VP was slacking, or there's at least one more witness who might convince me.

And, I already admitted to being prejudiced ... and I don't know this administrator personally, but I do know what his boss is doing to my daughter, and I also know that for an administrative staff that generally runs four slots per year ... they've had four for whom I've had respect. ! left early for health reasons; one left because he was reasonable; and two were primary witnesses in getting me fired ... and I still respect them. But-- I don't respect how they treated other teachers (including our beloved blogmaster) And I find it easy to believe that there is a tendency to assign autoritarians s-holes to this school. And those authoritarians? My reasons for losing my job are personal and private ... but throughout the entire process they were good to me, because I was still doing my job. Well. What I don't respect is ... lashing out against teachers or students arbitrarily. I don't even know what class this student was in where the problematic essay showed up ... because no one will say. But unless she leveled a direct threat at someone or incited riot? Any action against her is unwarranted. And, put in the same position? I would have confronted the VP in any way I needed to, and if I had not initiated physical contact, I would fight back with anything I had. But... we don't know how that went down, because no one's saying what the girl wrote, what she did, or what the VP did. Therefore, your opinion is exactly as unsubstantiated as mine is. The difference is -- based on my time working at that school? I tend to believe the girl. I could be incredibly wrong... but, I don't thick I am.

Darren said...

You are. In fact, I don't know who's telling you this stuff, but your "facts" couldn't be more wrong. Seriously, honestly, truly, your "facts" could not be more wrong. You have the assignment wrong. You have the location wrong. You have the sequence of events wrong. You have the events themselves wrong. I've pointed out in previous comments how you have the law wrong.

In other words, max, your "facts" couldn't be more wrong.

maxutils said...

Okay, fine. My guess is that you have not read the paper in question, but I don't have the class wrong because I haven't mentioned it, because I don't know it. I'm guessing, too, that you did not witness the events in question (if I'm wrong about that …well, then I have to accept it) but if you didn't? Then you're basing your opinion on the same sort of second hand information than I am -- you're just believing a different faculty member.