Archive for high school

Imagine: Ignorance In Idaho Has A Happy Ending



In 2007, author Sherman Alexie's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. That's high praise indeed. Yet this semi-autobigraphical novel describing growing up on a Spokane Indian Reservation while attending an all-white secondary school, has ridden into some difficulty recently in Meridian, Idaho.

A few weeks ago, the school board voted 2-1 to ban the book because it contained sexually charged material and mocked the Christian religion. It's not particularly clear which was more offensive to the school board, the "steam" of the material or the "passion" of the Christ. But none the less, banned it became.

Literature might have been knocked to the mat, but it wasn't out for the count.

The Raw Story:

Following the ban, two Washington women held a crowd-sourced fundraiser to purchase copies of the book to distribute to the 350 students who had signed the petition protesting the board’s move. Working with a Boise bookstore, the women were able to purchase enough copies for all of the students with the publisher donating an additional 350 copies to be given away at a later date.

And give them away they did. It was in a public park this past weekend. Well, until a concerned citizen called the police. They came to see what was going on. It seems Junior Mountain View High school student Brady Kissel was distributing free copies of the novel to students who had signed a petition protesting the board’s recent decision.

Fortunately for the young people of Meridian Idaho, and the rather enlightened understanding of the police in that community, "peace" was kept and sanity restored.

The police spoke to student Brady Kissel and determined no harm was being done. The books were distributed. Literature triumphed over close-minded ignorance. And sanity returned to the sleepy community where education won out. Let's hear it for the police in Meridian Idaho.


Does The Punishment Fit The Crime?


Clay County Jail

Hold onto your seats. Another kerfuffle of justice in... You got it, Florida. What are they putting in the orange juice out there?

If you live in the Sunshine State and your name is Cody Williams, you're not alone. And if you were born in the same year and attended the same high school, chances are you're not the luckiest guy in the world right now.

According to MailOnline:

The case started when a girl from Clay High School in Green Cove Springs claiming to have had sex with a boy named Cody Williams on or around Halloween in 2012.

The victim - who was under 12 but her age has not been disclosed - told investigators what the boy looked like and where he attended school, reported The Florida Times-Union.

Two months later police arrested Cody Lee Williams of Green Cove Springs.

This Cody Lee Williams:

Cody Raymond Williams 1

So, despite his protestations of innocence, off to jail he went --

The police were so confident they had the right guy, they called the victim, told her the assailant had been arrested and she could rest more easily. They'd taken the sexual offender off the streets.

Unfortunately for Cody Lee Williams, the police didn't do their homework nor their obligation of having a line up or showing the victim a picture of the accused. They just held him and refused to investigate any further. Finally Cody Lee's mother prevailed and they held a line-up. The victim told the police that her assailant wasn't in the line-up. They had the wrong guy.

They wanted Cody Raymond Williams, this guy:

Cody Raymond Williams, 2

See any similarity? I don't, but then again, I'm not a trained, experienced cop who should know these things.

Cody Lee Williams case was expunged, however he had already been in jail a total of 35 days. And the correct Cody Williams has since been arrested and charged with the crime. He'lll face court on a sexual assault charge on March 3. But what about the cops who were complicit in the wrongful jailing and inept police work?

An internal investigation found that Hawkins [and three others] failed to properly identify a suspect, failed to properly document information obtained in the investigation, made inaccurate statements in reports and failed to properly document actions taken in an investigation.

This resulted in 35 days of incarceration of a young, impressionable child of 17.  So what's the punishment for the cops?

You'll be surprised to hear that they are being given formal disciplinary letters which will remain in the permanent employment records and they must receive counselling. Oh, and they're awaiting news on possible ten day suspensions. Ten days with pay? Why not 35 without pay, like the victim of their actions caused?

Oh, that's right, it's Florida. Certainly not just a vacation destination -- but the vacation spot from justice.


Education Over Incarceration -- It Works -- Even In Florida


education over incarceration

Change is in the air and it's a good one. It's taking place in Florida -- well known for the hanging chad ballots and their totally out of whack justice system. This time it's a remarkable turnaround in the education system.

Florida’s Broward County Public Schools system is the sixth-largest district in the country. Like  many other large education systems, it was suffering from a racial gap when it came to graduation. Broward had an incomprehensibly low diploma rate of only 61 percent for black students compared to 81 percent for white students. To find out why, Robert Runcie, the superintendant of schools who once headed a management-consulting firm, went to the data. His goal was to close the racial achievement gap.

From The American Prospect:

“One of the first things I saw was a huge differential in minority students, black male students in particular, in terms of suspensions and arrests,” he says. Black students made up two-thirds of all suspensions during the 2011-2012 school year despite comprising only 40 percent of the student body. And while there were 15,000 serious incidents like assaults and drug possession reported that year, 85 percent of all 82,000 suspensions were for minor incidents—use of profanity, disruptions of class—and 71 percent of all 1,000-plus arrests were for misdemeanors. The last statistic, says Runcie, “was a huge red flag.”

So Runcie and the others on the school board decided to work with the teachers, the police and the campus security to reverse the schoolhouse to jailhouse routine and promote a more tolerant and discretionary system. Officers were given an opportunity to judge the severity of the infractions and in some cases, turn the case over to the school instead of the police and local justice systems.

In most non-violent cases, such as drug use, truancy, spray painting graffiti, a school was just as well equipped to mete out punishment as the expensive and drawn out process of criminal justice.

Broward’s Collaborative Agreement on School Discipline was announced in early November. Instead of suspensions, students can now be referred to the PROMISE program, where they receive counseling for several days and then return to school. A host of non-violent misdemeanors no longer require an arrest, though officers can sometimes override that if they feel it is necessary. The school district’s Office of Minority Male Achievement reviews data to ensure that punishments for minor infractions and racial disparities are on the decline.

Since eliminating the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse program in Broward the program seems to be working. By providing alternatives like counseling, suspensions fell by 33 percent and the anticipated graduation rate increased by 25 percent. This is the kind of program that other schools and other cities should be using as a model, especially urban school districts where dropout rates are exceedingly high - as much as 50%.

The purpose of schools is to prepare kids for a better life -- not one behind bars and in low paying, unskilled jobs.

Finally, something other than good oranges and a great basketball team to report from The Sunshine State.

Say, don't forget to follow me on twitter: @Linzack.


The Facebook Picture That Got High School Coach Fired


Loraine Cook

When I heard this story, I was scratching my head and truthfully, there was an immediate interest to know what kind of picture a person could post on Facebook and find themselves out of work -- fired. Well, you've just seen it. That picture above is all that it took.

Laraine Cook, a former girls' basketball coach at Pocatello High School in Idaho, wasfired from her job in October over a Facebook photo in which her fiance, Tom Harrison, holds her breast. The photo shows Cook and Harrison in bathing suits at a lake. Cook said the photo was snapped during a family vacation in July. As the New York Daily news put it, Harrison, who is a football coach at Pocatello High School, "wasn't flagged for holding," but was "reprimanded" -- short of termination.

Now let's analyze this for a moment. Putting aside the appropriateness of posting such a playful picture, what harm is there for two consenting adults to show some PDA's. (public displays of affection)? Is anyone really going to be irreparably harmed by this photo?

Two teachers, both coaches at the same school as well, are in a seemingly committed, "healthy" relationship. They're engaged. If this picture was skin on skin, they were kissing, would that have been deemed inappropriate? I think not. But this story gets into an area that I can't understand at all. Two people of legal age seem to be involved voluntarily in the same act. So isn't what's right for one, right for the other -- or conversely what's wrong for one is wrong for the other?

Yet here we have two sets of punishments. The male coach gets a reprimand and the female coach gets sh** canned?

Now if you really want a hoot, you've got to hear the opposing side, why she should be fired and why nothing should be done to the guy. And this is from a female attorney. A hint, it's okay to assault someone even from unwanted advances, but it's wrong if the victim posts proof with a picture on Facebook. You gotta see this to believe it.