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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Student and Teacher Argument at Franklin; Student Arrested

Apparently a teacher and student got into an altercation at Franklin High School last Wednesday. This comes from The Stranger Slog. Here's what the police report said:

[The student] had no pencil and wished to borrow one. As per classroom policy, [the student] had to hand over an item of value as collateral. He gave over his cell phone. He then proceeded to fall asleep in class. When he woke up the pencil had gone from his desk. He went to ask for his phone back anyway. [The teacher] refused. The suspect became very agitated. He demanded his phone back and swept items from the [teacher]'s desk. He then went into the desk drawers and began to look for the phone. The [teacher] took the phone and left the classroom walking toward the office. The [student] followed the [teacher] and kicked her left foot in an attempt to trip her. (boldface theirs)

School security intervened, took statements and called the police. The police say the student, after being read his Miranda rights, did say he tried to trip her and wasn't able to do so. The teacher left for the day after the incident and police were unable to contact her.

First, good for the security folks/administration to call the police. You can't have students intimidate and attempt to hurt teachers. Second, it sounds like the teacher had a fair policy going - you don't bring a pencil to class, to borrow one you have to give up something. Unfortunately, she might have carried it too far (at least with this student). Cell phones are a big deal to teens. I'm not sure why she decided to take the phone and go to the office (I mean I understand her wanting administrative help but clearly this kid was out of control.)

I am in no way blaming the teacher; I myself don't always do well with miffed teens. She was probably just trying to get him to understand that he can't fall asleep in class. It could be a case where he had done this a lot and she thought she could teach him a lesson. As well, it would be good to know what the other students in the class observed.

The student was likely expelled so hopefully the teacher will feel safe to come back to class. I hope the student doesn't have any past history of this so that he can go to a reentry school and finish the school year.

73 comments:

seattle said...

What is policy when a student falls asleep in class? Does the teacher wake them up? Does the teacher ignore it and just keep teaching? Do teachers even notice?

reader said...

Sheesh. Right on Ann... teacher sounds incompetent. Well, I am in every way blaming the teacher. First off, why be so punitive in the first place? Especially over a pencil. The collateral thing is ridiculous. OK. We wish kids (children) were more responsible... but sometimes they just aren't. Dear teacher, deal with it, figure out what is needed. It just starts the class out in a bad place. Then, why provide such poor instruction, and instructional feedback, that allows students to sleep in class. Did she call on the student? Did she help him engage? No, all punishment. And to top things off... she stole his cell phone. Yes, it's stealing. Why wasn't she arrested? She screwed up in every way.

She should get another job instead hang out as an ineffective, uninterested lifer... and yes, union protected. Why escalate the student? After all... who is the adult here?

Melissa may wish this teacher back. Not me.

Sorry to assume the teacher is a she.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think she thought it not worth waking him up (clearly she noticed because she took back the pencil).

Reader, are you saying her poor teaching made him fall asleep? There could be many reasons why he fell asleep not the least of which might be he stayed up too late the night before.

She didn't steal his phone; he gave it to her. (Technically, that is true.)

No anger at a kid who tore apart her desk and tried to kick her? Tough crowd.

Stu said...

I mostly disagree with you, reader . . . except for the escalation thing.

We have no details about this teacher and this student; we don't know of prior history. Perhaps it's better if this particular student sleeps rather than disrupt the class. Maybe the teacher planned on discussing this with him privately after class, so as not to let his behaviour hijack the lesson. (Bad attention is still attention and other students might want to learn!)

You're making a number of assumptions based on little evidence. What we DO know, however, is the student tore apart the desk and tried to trip the teacher. This is unacceptable in every way and undermines the teacher's authority.

I actually love the idea of "collateral" for borrowing a pencil. Not only does it mean the teacher gets the pencil back but it requires the student to take some responsibility . . . I think it's entirely reasonable.

What bothers me about the story, though, is the escalation . . . we don't know the circumstances or attitudes involved, or history between them, but it seems to me that a teacher should be able to defuse this kind of situation and, I believe, it appears that she kept it going and, in fact, raised the stakes a bit.

stu

seattle said...

Personally, I think a student that falls asleep during class should be gently awakened once. But if they fall back asleep again I think they should be awakened and sent to the principals office for the rest of the period. No punishment, just removed from the class. I think it sets a very bad precident to allow kids to sleep during class - no matter the reason. As for the pencip, well, kids forget pencils sometimes. I think the idea of collateral is OK - it pust some responsibility on the kid - but I think the teacher over did it when she took the pencil and then wouldn't give the cell phone back. It seems over the top and I could see how that could cause a student to get anger, though that in no way justifies the students violent actions.

My kid has had his ipod taken away during class for sneaking and using it - and he didn't get it back at the end of class. I had to go to the office and pick it up. I thought that was a very appropriate consequence and had no complaints about it. And it worked because my son hasn't done it again.

Shannon said...

I think that it was unethical for the teacher to remove the pencil if that is indeed what occurred. The article only says "the pencil was gone".

If there was a trade then she stole his pencil! If not, she was playing a little bit vindictive in keeping the phone which was clearly of far greater value and significance.

Is there such a shortage of pencils in high school?

However, as is often the case in disagreements leading to violence, who is in the right initially has no bearing once someone escalates it to this point. His reaction to her ill-judged 'lesson in consequences' was unacceptable and I think the result from there on was unfortunate but inevitable.

Of course we don't know the history but its hard not to think that both could have done far better.

LG said...

Reader, I'm afraid you are naive. If she didn't ask for collateral, she'd be buying dozens of pencils daily with her own money. That's just how it is.

IF she took the pencil, that's really bad, but it doesn't say that.

sixwrens said...

I hate to admit that I slept often in one of my college classes. It was not the teacher, or the material, but the time of day. I was physically unable to stay awake. I tried dozens of things, including sitting in the front row (and how bad is that - sleeping in the front row). I later apologized profusely to the prof. And I did well in the class - I worked really hard to learn the material w/o benefit of lectures.

My point is that there are MANY places in the missing pencil story where we can read in: past history, intentions on both sides, did the teacher take the pencil or not. Bottom line: the student resorted to violence which is wrong and should not be taken lightly.

The teacher should not be blamed, but I hope that the Franklin principal will take the time to get to the bottom of this.

Jet City mom said...

This isn't connected in anyway, but I was wondering if there was any intra-district communication regarding students with safety concerns/behavior.

Why I ask is because a flyer of a 9th grade Roosevelt student (Ana), Who has been missing since Jan 3rd, has been posted by her friends in the printer alcove at the Ballard library.

I know that Amber Alert requirements are very specific (imminent danger to life and limb) but I thought the word should be spread just in case.

yumpears said...

Sounds like there was a recent fight at West Seattle High School.

(in the comments) http://westseattleblog.com/2010/01/seattle-public-schools-principal-changes-ones-in-west-seattle

Is there usually security at all high schools?

yumpears said...
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seattle said...
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seattle said...
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reader said...

Of course we don't know the details... duh. I'm just saying what it sounds like. Teacher escalated an issue over a 10 cent pencil, which led to some kid not being able to attend school and a huge issue. I thought you people were worried about all the "failing kids"... what about all these idiot teachers? The teachers are the adults, remember? They should be able to perform a lot better than this. They're being paid for a service, remember? No, it isn't always fun or easy.

Student doesn't have a 10 cent pencil... so teacher requires a 100 dollar phone... excessive wouldn't you say? So what if she has to buy a box of pencils every day? Student didn't show proper institutional respect so teacher stole a cell phone. Teacher was a friggin bore and unable to maintain any interest in her class. How about a little responsibility on the big bore's side? Why should a student have to give up a cell phone for a pencil? Predatory lending. Sounds like the teacher was a loser from Bank of America.

And what's the big violence... that led to an actual arrest???? ... oh yeah, student tries to trip the teacher (but doesn't)... oh and the horrors, and knocked stuff off her desk.

No doubt... this case will be will be dismissed. So much nothing... all over the incompetence of SPS staff, and some kid who acted badly.

reader said...

PS. One of my kids recently spent a day at the courthouse witnessing juvenile first hearings for a school class. There were at least 20 cases seen by the class... mostly robberies and armed robberies. Almost all by middle schoolers in SPS. She recalled quite a few were from Madrona. Are we really going to worry about a kid ... who didn't really trip a big, bullying teacher, egging them on.... when we have so many armed robberies committed by middle schoolers? Seems like the priorities are all wrong...

Melissa Westbrook said...

There is security at all comprehensive high schools. I don't know about the Option high schools.

reader said...

Reader, are you saying her poor teaching made him fall asleep? There could be many reasons why he fell asleep not the least of which might be he stayed up too late the night before.

Yes, I'm saying teachers are absolutely obligated to engage kids. That's their actual job, which does mean keeping them awake, or dealing with them appropriately if it is impossible for some reason. Does anybody actually even try to do this? The teachers are actually hired. If it isn't worth it to keep the kids awake as you suggest, then the teacher should get a job that matters to her.

No anger at a kid who tore apart her desk and tried to kick her? Tough crowd.

Yes it is a tough crowd at Franklin. And teaching that tough crowd is the job. When you cause somebody to get arrested over a power struggle about a pencil... you've really gone over the top. So the kid tried to kick her after she escalated the situation? But didn't really even accomplish the kick? Does anybody want to teach there? Sounds like a bunch of hooey. If the kid really wanted to kick her... it seems to me she would have been kicked.

seattle citizen said...

"...teaching that tough crowd is the job... So the kid tried to kick her after she escalated the situation? But didn't really even accomplish the kick? Does anybody want to teach there? Sounds like a bunch of hooey. If the kid really wanted to kick her... it seems to me she would have been kicked."

So getting kicked (or attempts at kicking) are just part of the job at Franklin, reader? All in a day's work? Perhaps thingsc ould ahve gone differently with differnt actions on the part of student and teacher, but is kicking really a part of a teacher's job description?

Dana said...

There was a post on this thread last night about a violent incident at Nathan Hale last week in which a girl was attacked and beaten at the bus stop. The post has since been removed, but I'm wondering if anyone else has information about this. The post also mentioned that there have been many incidents of violence at Hale this year. Is this true? Thank you.

Jet City mom said...

I hope that in all these trainings sessions and outside consultants and out of district observations that we are/ will be spending money on, they find room for a workshop on how to manage the situation of a student borrowing a pencil so it doesn't result in an arrest.

seattle citizen said...

emerald, I agree that arrest for these situations seems extreme, but we have no idea what the situation was, and there has to be SOME repercussion, or least attention, on a student who sweeps stuff off a desk and trips a person should get some attention from somebody...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, so from different people we hear:

- this incident at Franklin
- an alleged incident at bus stop near Hale (I know this happens sometimes because a friend's son had it happen to him when he went to Hale)
- an alleged incident at West Seattle High between two girls who fought in the lunchroom

So I think the big issue is should the schools be required to tell parents who are on tours and ask about the rate of incidents at their high schools? Does it make a difference to you? Does the district track this stuff? I seem to recall they say they don't but I think they probably have to give a report to OSPI about it yearly.

dj said...

I am an ex public defender (I did not work in Washington State) and it never ceases to amaze me how many school problems end up treated with arrest. I am in no way defending the student's behavior, but given that arresting and expelling a teenager may pretty much ruin that kid's life, I feel like there have to be better ways to manage the situation.

seattle said...

Of course "kicking" isn't part of the job description Seattle Citizen. What reader is trying to say is that if the kid really wanted to kick the teacher he probably would have kicked the teacher, not just made the motion of kicking the teacher. That is not to justify what the student did. It was unacceptable any way you slice it.

However the teacher handled this entire situation poorly. The outcome could have been very different if the teacher was a bit wiser and used better judgement.

For one thing if a teacher takes collateral then he/she should be prepared to keep the collateral if the lendee/student defaults. Could a teacher really keep a students cell phone (probably worth $200-$500) if a student doesn't return a 5 cent pencil? Of course not. So then what happens? These are the things that a wise teacher should think through.

A wiser teacher might have pencils on hand (they are 50 for a dollar at Target) that a student could buy for 5 cents a piece if they forget theirs? That seems civil and puts some responsibility on the student. And the teacher would recoupe the money that he layed out to buy the pencils.

Or how about a teacher putting a big plastic flower at the tip of loaner pencils (or something similar)? That would certainly discourage a student from leaving class with it.

I mean come on there are creative ways that a teacher can work with students in a productive, responsible and respectful manner.

Who's the trained professional and adult here?

seattle citizen said...

dj, I agree that arrest should be left for the absolute worst cases, but I think that
a) there ARE laws against assault, and assault can be defined extremely broadly;
b) students, too, have to be accountable for their actions, and if you trip someone in the real world they might charge you with assault.

I think there must be some other way, and I'd be all in favor of it. As you say, arrest can really mess a kid up, and kids often don't know, or consider, that tripping could be "assault."

It speaks to respect, and to consistency in consequences all the way through the grades. If students know that tripping anybody (teacher, student, whoever) will result in a call home, detention etc, maybe they won't do it. Once they DO trip someone in, say, 11th grade, well, the consequences escalate - three day suspension.
Arrest? Legally permissible but uncalled for.

KSG said...

At the high school level I'd let the student sleep. There are 30 students in the class. If 20 fell asleep there might be an issue with the teacher. If one student falls asleep then that student better get some good notes from a classmate who bothered to stay awake.

I'm simply not sympathetic at all to this student for sleeping.


With respect to the pencil. If the teacher took the pencil then she effectively stole it. That is unethical. If the student lost the pencil then the student needs to get a new pencil or give up the phone. That's all there is to it. The reason you give the phone to the teacher is so that you treat the pencil with the same regard you would the phone.

So to the student... next time you lose a 10 cent pencil. Go buy a new one, rather than assault someone.

KSG said...

Ann, interestingly I think we completely differ on the outcome. I think the outcome was perfect. The teacher should not have a whole bunch of pencils for sale. Unless she is also going to have slices of pizza for those students who forget their lunch, or gas for those who forgot gas for their car.

Furthermore, as you point out, pencils are cheap. This student could go to Target after school and buy a new pencil. Or the student could get a pencil from another student, and later repay that other student (the credit card companies make a good portion of their money from adults doing this).

At the end of the day the student learned an important lesson. Small things escalate quickly. One of my friends in high school was killed over a Blockbuster video movie.

While it would have been nice if the student displayed more responsibility at any point in this story (not forgetting the pencil, not falling asleep, not clearing the desk, not attempting to trip the teacher). Simply not doing any one of these probably would have avoided the whole mess. But given that they didn't, I don't think the "adults" did anything wrong here.

seattle citizen said...

Ann, I agree there are other ways to get a writing implement to a student.
My issue is what to do with a student who is sweeping stuff off a desk and, apparently, trying to trip a teacher.

We don't know enough to tell, but IF a student tried to trip a teacher out of anger, regardless of the situation, that's outta hand, so what happens then? Arrest is too much, but if someone wants to call attempted tripping "assualt" that's they're prerogative, so whatya gonna do? Students need to know that the law CAN charge them with assault on some very minor things, so what should schools do with that?

Lastly, we shouldn't forget the intimidation factor: Some students are bigger than their teachers, and some students will intimidate teachers. Is this okay? Isn't sweeping stuff off a desk one step towards implied violence? What if this student was 6'2" and 220 lbs?

Yes, maybe teacher could have done something different initially, but there has to be some sort of "no tolerance" for agressive behavior.

dan dempsey said...

Reader said:

"Student doesn't have a 10 cent pencil... so teacher requires a 100 dollar phone... excessive wouldn't you say?"

The teacher did not require the cell phone as deposit. The student made that choice.

"So what if she has to buy a box of pencils every day?"


Job skill: show up on time with your tools. Your plan teaches responsibility for nothing.

"Student didn't show proper institutional respect so teacher stole a cell phone."

Teacher did not steal phone.
Student could have retrieved it from office.

"Teacher was a friggin bore and unable to maintain any interest in her class. How about a little responsibility on the big bore's side?

Student likely did not get enough sleep and this has ZERO to do with classroom instructor. Interesting that you seem to think the job of teacher is as an entertainer.

Why should a student have to give up a cell phone for a pencil? Predatory lending. Sounds like the teacher was a loser from Bank of America.

Student had a myriad of options other than the choice to use the cell phone in this trade.

Given your attitude little wonder there is a large turn over in teachers leaving SE schools.

seattle said...
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seattle said...
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seattle said...

Once again people (KSG, Seattle Citizen) I am not justifying the student intimidating the teacher or attempting to kick and trip him/her. He will and should face the consequences of that behavior. I'm saying that just as the student could have made better choices (not to forget his pencil, not to fall asleep in class, not to intimidate the teacher) so could the teacher have made better choices (sell the kid a pencil, give him a pencil with a flower on it, tell him he can have his cell phone back as soon as he replaces the pencil, etc)

In my opinion both parties could have made better choices that could have changed the outcome of this situation. Since a teacher is a trained professional, and an adult, I place a bit more responsibility on the teacher.

KSG kids forget pencils sometimes. They just do. Even good students. Even honors and AP students. Even college students. It happens. HS Teachers need to have some strategy to deal with it. And since kids need pencils to complete their school work I put that in a totally different category than your analogy of asking teachers to also provide students lunch and gas money.

SolvayGirl said...

Ann

I am just curious. Do you have a teenager? You seem to be approaching this as if the student were elementary-aged — "waken gently", etc.

Even the best teen can be sleepy, surly, and even belligerent at times. Automatically blaming the teacher would be like blaming the parent. Trust me, erratic behavior can come out of nowhere thanks to hormone fluctuations and sleep deprivation.

As the parent of a teen, I personally want teachers to be tough on my kid if they are not prepared for class. By high school they need to accept the responsibility. Sure, once in a blue moon a pencil might be left in the last classroom, etc., but those exceptions should be planned for by the student (i.e. have a couple of pencils). It is unlikely that college professors will have pencils for sale in their classroom.

seattle citizen said...

Solvay, today's paper said colleges in WA might be able to set their own tuition...maybe colleges are so broke that they WILL have pencils for sale in the classroom!
(Weren't pencils, along with apples, big sellers on street corners during the Depression?)

WV is so broke that it can afford neither a vacation nor a staycation and is taking merely a cation.

SolvayGirl said...

Seattle Citizen: Thanks for the levity!

seattle citizen said...

Modeling and expecting responsibility is important.

There are higher levels of this that are more important.

Teachers I've talked to say that when they lend a pencil, they usually get it back. Some buy them in bulk at yard sales or thrift stores.

Is a pencil that cost a penny, or the minimal lesson in responibility it teaches by "requiring" pencils worth the disruption, lost time, adversarial relationship, etc?

hmmm....balance balance balance, choose your battles.

Also, maybe this student could have been treated differently than others because, well, students are different: Teacher could have made an exception, said, oh well, lost pencil, and when other students wailed, "it's not fair, you expect US to turn pencil back in!" teacher could ask those students if they wanted to be treated exactly the same as everyone else, regardless of their differences?

seattle said...

Yes Solvay, I do have a teen. And I like tough teachers too, within reason. Note, my earlier post, where I told of a teacher that took my sons ipod for sneaking and using it during class, and that I thought that was totally appropriate. I just don't feel that the Franklin teacher made the best choices in this situation.

As for college professors not having extra pencils to hand out, well, that's totally appropriate for college. But this incident didn't happen on a college campus. It happened in a High school. And in a freshman class at that. At 15 a high school freshman is far less mature than an 18-24 year old college student. HS freshman are dealing with transition to HS, hormones, new work loads, and they are still making goofy mistakes like forgetting their pencil. I think a teacher can deal with a forgotten pencil, no?

AGAIN, I am not forgiving the totally inappropriate and violent behavior of the student. But the whole incident stemmed from a forgotten pencil. Do you really think that it couldn't have been handled better by the teacher??

seattle said...

Seattle Cit's point is well taken in that all students may not always be treated equally.

Does anyone know the students background? Does he come from a home that is supportive? Do his parents buy him the supplies that he needs like Solvay does for her daughter? If not did the child have the money to buy supplies himself? Is his household situation such that he can't sleep at night due to parents fighting, partying, or whatever else? Is he a foster kid dealing with other issues? Is his family homeless? There are so so many circumstances that come into play and a teacher should be somewhat tuned in to them.

The average, well adjusted teen is not threatening teachers or attempting to assault them. There is obviously much more going on with this teen. Maybe the teacher could have reached out to him instead of making such a big deal over a pencil.

seattle citizen said...

Very well put, Ann. We often forget that students sometimes have very, very hard things going on their lives. While some would have teachers be some sort of machine that merely passses on instruction, there are other things to do (like be aware of student's "issues") that are also important, not only to support the child and encourage her/his learning, but also to maintain a repsectful learning environment by adjusting to each kid's needs (if possible, and if it doesn't diffuse too much responsibility away from the student - they also have to "play ball")

reader said...

Job skill: show up on time with your tools. Your plan teaches responsibility for nothing.

Hmmm. And getting arrested for a pencil incident teaches what exactly? I'lll tell you what, the person in need of job skills is the teacher. You show up with an adequate lesson plan, with a willingness to teach, with effective classroom managament skills... and you don't provoke students. Oh and... you stay in the classroom and don't run off to daddy in the office when you create a big mess.

The student is NOT the adult, is NOT responsible as an adult, and is NOT paid. His attendance is compulsory... her's is not.

Given your attitude little wonder there is a large turn over in teachers leaving SE schools.

I can assure there would at least one more teacher rolling over if that ever happens to any of my kids. Her full time job would be ME, until she found a position at the Burger King. You know, we've got 10%+ unemployment, and there's stacks and stack of teacher resumes. Don't let the door bump your patooty on the way out!

Maureen said...

ann, is it possible that this is a case where you are expecting less of the Franklin kid than you do of your own?

I struggle with this myself, all of the time, I want my kids held to a very high standard of behavior. Is it classist (racist?) of me to think that other kids should be cut some slack? I honestly don't know if the teacher would be doing the kid a favor by cutting the kid more slack. I don't know the kid, the teacher does.

seattle said...
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seattle said...

No, not really Maureen. My kid is a typical 15 year old boy. More interested in his freinds, girls, and his skateboard than school work or a pencil. He's generally pretty good about being prepared for class, but he still forgets his pencil sometimes, or his silent reading book, or even to turn in his homework. In other words he's a teen! He's still learning and adjusting to a new HS. As long as he's trying hard and progressing then I'm happy.

If my son who is well supported at home, has plenty of school supplies provided to him, and comes from a family that highly values education, still forgets his pencil sometimes, I can only imagine how many kids in lower income schools or without family support forget their pencils. I think the answer is to provide those kids with pencils and encourage them to do their school work, not punish them for forgetting. But that's just me, I know.

I just had a discussion with my son about the "pencil policy" at his north Seattle high school and he tells me that lending or giving students a pencil is never an issue. He says that one of his teachers collects pens and pencils left behind by students and puts them in a "borrow" box, where kids can borrow a pencil anytime without question but are asked to return it at the end of the period - they use the honor system. It's pretty humane if you ask me, and it conveys to kids that the teacher believes that they are trustworthy. A huge compliment! In his other classes, he says that any teacher will lend or GIVE a student a pencil without question, but he also says it's not often that kids need a pencil, and that most kids come to class prepared and ready to work.

Patrick said...

It seems as if it should have been possible for the teacher to defuse this situation. I forget a pencil a few times in high school. Somehow I never ended up arrested. I would have been pretty angry if the teacher had tried to take permanently something worth several hundred dollars in exchange.
What happened to talking about it after class, giving the student and the teacher time to calm down, so it doesn't escalate to assault? Now that there has been an assault, the student has to miss at least some days of school and have their relationship with that teacher damaged probably for the rest of the year.

Couldn't the teacher have sold the student the pencil for a dime and given the phone back?

I'm sure the comment about colleges selling pencils was a joke. The pens my work at UW provides are the cheapest ballpoints in the world. They require an extended period of scribbling before they will start to write. When we want decent ones, we have to bring them from home or use ones students forgot and haven't claimed from the lost and found.

dan dempsey said...

Patrick said:

"I would have been pretty angry if the teacher had tried to take permanently something worth several hundred dollars in exchange."


From this account thus far is this what anyone thinks happened in this situation?

IF this were to end up in adult court, AND all witnesses were interviewed in open court, we MIGHT have an inkling of what happened.


I would guess that no one reading the account knows what happened in
this situation except those who were there, because 1 of the parties is a juvenile - that
is underage.

Many teachers reading several of these comments are likely insulted.

SolvayGirl said...

All this talk about this poor child not being able to afford a pencil—but he had a CELLPHONE!!!

Regardless of what really went down here, I can't see blaming it on poverty when the child had a cellphone.

seattle said...
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seattle said...

OK. so we all know the kid did something very wrong when he used violence against a teacher. Nobody is disputing that. It is inexcusable.

But how about the teachers actions? Solvay I'll ask you: Do you think the tacher acted appropriately? Do you think he/she could have done anything differently? Could the situation have been diffused in any way? And what if your child forgets her pencil, which she will? How would you like to see it handled? Just curious.

BTW Solvay you make a good point in that the student had a $300 cell phone, so he obviously could have afforded a lot of 5 cent pencils. So perhaps you are right in that it was not a low income/poverty issue. Perhaps he was just being a typical, forgettful, hormonal, teen? Like mine!

seattle said...

Dan we are going on what Melissa posted, a quote from The Stranger Slog, statements from Franklin Security,and an excerpt from the police report. Seems like 4 reliable sources to me, though you are right, that only two people (and maybe some witnesses) really know what happened.

Moose said...

All these comments about what the teacher should have done remind me of all the parenting advice I gave out before I had kids. We are arm-chair quarterbacking a situation that we know little about.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, moose, I feel that way too. While it is an interesting discussion, we should bear in mind that we are speaking almost purely in hypotheticals, we don't know what actually happened, nor do we know the character/attitudes/skills of either of the people. Let's keep it hypothetical and not try to assign blame/responsibility when we don't know the situation.

reader said...

Maureen, it's true we all want to hold our kids accountable, and to high standards. But I don't know anybody that wants their kid disciplined by getting arrested.. unless there is absolutely no other alternative for something incredibly serious and violent. I'm pretty sure that if your kid makes a mistake, and even physically jestures at a teacher(a jesture is what it was)... you don't want to be picking him up at the police station and posting bail. I think the race/class part actually goes the other way around. It's totally ok to arrest a Franklin kid for some relatively minor stuff, but totally not OK if the school did the same thing at... oh, let's see, Center School or Nova. Minority students are overwhelmingly subjected to much harsher and draconian disciplinary actions than others. While this kid may or may not be a minority student, the school is largely minority and they probably think it's totally fine to have this level of retribution in the school.

seattle citizen said...

reader's comments point to a difficult aspect of all this:

Tripping CAN be construed as "assualt," at least in the legal sphere. That it is usually not indicates that educators DO have some degree of laxness (and I agree that they should...sometimes..)

So DO some educators (or even schools) take it to the legal limit more often than others? And why?

This is the crux of some very important statistics if we look at disciplinary rates nationally (and here) - some groups get discplined at a much higher rate. My guess is that a) some teachers have preconceptions and act on them; b) soem students think teachers have these preconceptions and act out because of it; c) there is no common expectation of levels of consequence, so some come down hard and some don't, which must be confusing; d) children ARE different, and should, in my opinion, be treated as individuals, but a teacher can't generalize behaviours and act on these preconceptions.

It's a sticky wicket.

SolvayGirl said...

To be honest...I don't know who acted appropriately here. I wasn't there, and I don't know the history. Maybe this kid "forgets" his pencil every day as an excuse not to do work. Maybe the teacher has it in for this kid and was looking for a reason to oust him from her classroom. Maybe it's something else entirely and everything in between.

My only point was not to automatically blame the teacher, and certainly not to cry poor child when he had a $300 cellphone.

hschinske said...

Where did this "$300 cell phone" come from? I don't see anything in the Slog entry that mentions a price. My daughter's cell phone was maybe $20.

Helen Schinske

reader said...

Seattle Citizen,

True, tripping (that didn't actually happen) can be construed as assault. Sure. And taking somebody's cell phone could be construed as robbery, and asking for it as collateral could be criminal usury. But, all of those things would be ridiculous. Nobody would call the police because of the teacher's criminal behavior would they? We'd all agree that would be inappropriate and over the top. Why wouldn't we assume that same thing for the student? He is one who is supposed to be getting service, the customer. We expect the professionals, to be professional, and appropriate. For a minor student, you'd only call the police over something like that if you held the student in utter comtempt. Obviously, the teacher has absolutely no regard for his future. Children aren't typically considered "criminals" when there are discipline problems.

So here's what I see. It's already a stretch to call the police over a pencil incident. It's another stretch to consider this thing an assault... where nobody was even touched. To top it off, it's even more of a stretch when the person involved was a minor. It's not as if the assault was so big it needed adult consequences. In fact, if it were an adult, this teacher would never have done anything as stupid as running down the hall, calling the police, and leaving school because she couldn't handle it emotionally. The report mentioned that too. She had to leave school.

Of course we don't know the situation. And Solvay... why insert your values? So what if the pencil problem happens every day? Maybe the kid is a big, fat loser idiot. Maybe the kid is really criminal. So what? Does that change anything? It isn't a license to escalate or inappropriately use police or be ridiculous.

SolvayGirl said...

I picked up the $00 from someone else's post—sorry. But even a $20 cellphone costs something to use, etc. My point was if the child was so poor that they could not afford a pencil, then how did they afford the cellphone.

And Reader. Why are you so quick to blame the teacher? You weren't there either. I said I don't know who is truly at fault, or what really happened or why. You may be right, but it's all speculation.

Patrick said...

Cell phones cost a couple of hundred dollars to produce. If they appear to cost $20, the seller is making the money some other way, such as by a long-term contract for somewhat more than the service actually costs to provide.

It's true that we don't know the whole back story or word-for-word what happened. Judging just by what we see in the article, there were faults and escalations on both sides. But I expect a teacher and a grownup to be able to deescalate a situation like that rather than make it worse.

reader said...

Solvay, even if the kid was horrible (and likely he is).. he doesn't deserve an arrest record, at least for this. In that regard, it's the teacher's fault. Ergo, it's the teacher's fault. True, the kid could be a rotten piece of dog-crap...but that's missing the point on this issue.

seattle citizen said...

reader, the teacher didn't call police, security did.

Here's one scenario: Teacher makes what some might consider a blunder (umm, she's human?) and gets upset that student lost pencil or whatever, with-holds cell. Okay, if that happened, maybe not so smart.

THEN: Student sweeps stuff off desk, teacher is concerned for her safety, leaves room. Student follows, attempting to trip her up (he admits this). Teacher becomes even more concerned for her safety (I know teachers who have been hit by a number of students...should they just wait for it? Is it ever assault? When does it become assault?) and reports to office, who sends security, and THEY decide to get cops.
Teacher is upset enough to go home for day....I'd say something seriously freaked her out, yet this is "routine" management?

My question is, how much should a teacher put up with as part of their daily routine? If a student regularly provokes a teacher, is this "routine"? Is it legal harassment? What should be the consequences?

Maureen said...

"The [student] followed the [teacher] and kicked her left foot in an attempt to trip her."

I took this to mean that he kicked her but she didn't fall.

The Basic Rules pamphlet we all get at the beginning of the year says:

"EXCEPTIONAL MISCONDUCT:

Students will be disciplined, and normally will also be referred to the police to face criminal charges, if they commit any of the exceptional misconduct on the list below..... Assault – Being physically violent, using unwarranted force, or demonstrating the deliberate and immediate intent to be physically
violent toward another person..... Intimidation of School Authorities – Interfering, or attempting to
interfere, with the discharge of the official duties of District
personnel by using direct, deliberate, or focused threats, force, or violence, such that the staff person believes his or her safety or the well-being of his or her property is in danger....


It seems like once the situtation had escalated, Franklin was just following SPS policy by calling the police.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree with the idea that the teacher could have let it go and told the student that if he was going to sleep in her class, then he wasn't eligible to "borrow" any materials. Period. That would get the message across. But she didn't.

However, the student blew his top. If I were the teacher and witnessing this kind of behavior of throwing things around, I'd leave the room as well. He either tried to trip her to stop her or hurt her or both.

Schools have, upon occasion, taken upon themselves to decide whether or not to call police and have made the wrong decision not to call. It's really not their call to make especially if the teacher says to call them.

However, I suspect the teacher will not press charges and the student will end up expelled from the school.

PN said...

The problems at Hale have been exacerbated by being short staffed by Security because of issues related to Ms. Hudson’s lack of leadership and people skills.

One highly qualified and respected Security guy left in December due to her (“I’m in charge here”) overbearing micro-managing and poor social skills and (we are told) really no one else wants to work around her or her “cohorts”. There is a sub there now and the hiring freeze has left her to now make the best of the bed she has made.

Unfortunately, kids safety shouldn’t be made to suffer due to her shortcomings.

seattle said...

There is a lot of violence at Nathan Hale. There are weekly fights, repeated reports of kids being robbed by other kids at school, bullying, weapons being brought to school, and oh yeah... gangs. Last week a girl was violently beaten unconscious by a boy she didn't know while waiting at the bus stop. It was brutal, and it was video taped, and put on utube for all of us horrified parents to watch. The boy was a 7th grader from Jane Addams, and the girl was a NH student. Thankfully the boy was arrested. Unlike PN who posted above, I do not blame Dr. Hudson for the violence. I think she's doing a great job with the hand she has been dealt, and is been cracking down. There is a budget shortage which only allows two security guards at the school. And they are duds. Have been duds for years. My guess is that Dr. Hudson probably wasn't standing for that security guards slacking any more, and that's why he quit, but that's just my guess.

Further, due to their odd bell schedule, and late starts, they can only have only one lunch shift. That alone creates an unsafe environment with a severe lack of supervision (2 security officers responsible for 1200 kids all at the same time). Lunch time is when most fights happen, as does a lot of bullying, and pot smoking. Kids know where to go so they won't get caught. It's really out of control.

reader said...

Seattle Citizen,

She didn't run out of the room in fear. She was pissed off and she took his phone with her. She didn't want him to get it back. She wanted institutional compliance at all cost. If she were truly afraid of him, she'd have just given him the phone and moved on.

Sounds like the kid is a problem. Again, that's not the issue.

SSDemp said...

Other high schools have various bell schedules (even varying by the day) but still have more than one lunch period. Just takes some vision and commitment to make positive change for kids. Think: Ballard (Mr. Brockman), Franklin (Ms. Wiley) and Cleveland. What makes Hale so different I wonder?

Much better neighborhood than at least 2 of those.

We know the Security guy who left. He didn’t quit. He asked to be moved because Jill is disrespectful and abusive to staff and he wouldn’t put up with it. He is very highly regarded and didn’t have to.

Don’t believe the “spin” you might have been told as cover.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

We know the security guy at Hale too. And though he has been there for many years, he is regarded as a dud. The woman security guard that used to work with him a few years ago was so frustrated by his lack of work ethic that she transferred out of Hale and into Washington middle school.

Dr. Hudson is not a push over like past Hale principal's. Teachers and security that are not doing their jobs probably don't like her because she actually holds them accountable.

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SSDemp said...

NH parent, please read my post carefully and that of PN.

Both were referring to a Security employee who transferred out recently to another site. He didn’t quit, nor is he the remaining employee who you are apparently referring to.

Taking the time to comprehend posts before “throwing shots” around would benefit us all on sites like this.

Thank you.

SSDemp said...

Come on, those security folks obviously have their hands full as well. Can we at least acknowledge that?

Frankly "NH parent", in reviewing your posts and the agenda you are advancing based on heresay, rumor and innuendo, my guess is that you may actually be Jill Hudson or someone spinning a web for her.

Might I have nailed it?

SSDemp said...

Further, I don't see PN "blaming" Jill, merely refering to "issues" related to her performance.

Using "NH parent"'s logic, Jill's accountability and leadership must be the underlying cause of the

"weekly fights, repeated reports of kids being robbed by other kids at school, bullying, weapons being brought to school, and oh yeah... gangs. Last week a girl was violently beaten unconscious by a boy she didn't know while waiting at the bus stop. It was brutal, and it was video taped, and put on utube for all of us horrified parents to watch".

Having worked in the building for quite awile, I can honestly say that these problems have increased since she arrived here.

Lets try to keep it real, OK?

PN said...

Jill

Looks to us like SSDemp nailed you in her 6:58 AM comment.

Why not speak for yourself rather than pretending to be a "NHparent"?

You appear to be totally shameless.