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Sean In The Middle

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the SOS-from-a-geek-dad-and-kid dept.

United States 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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Yeah, it's fuxored up... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#279359)

...That they can punish you for something that you could potentially but not likely do. Yet, actual harrasment is tolerated. I was kicked out of Computer Science for what i knew, they said i had the potential to hack and therefore a threat...

Well... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#279360)

Yeah, the school over-reacted. But still... it's really stupid to even joke about killing somebody in public school. You've got to be pretty naive to think that the school isn't going to come down on you in these post-Columbine days. And even if the guy was tormented, what good does mock-threatening someone's life do?

A Little Contact Info (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#279373)

The District's webpage: http://www.mckinneyisd.net/ Dr.David Anthony danthony@mckinneyisd.net Superintendent 469-742-4070 Ted Moore tlmoore@mckinneyisd.net Assistant Superintendent Campus Services 469-742-4041 Dennis Muizers dmuizers@mckinneyisd.net Director of Secondary Education 469-742-4093

What are we supposed to expect? (1)

Loundry (4143) | more than 13 years ago | (#279399)

Government schools routinely allow abuses of students along the lines of assult, battery, sexual harrassment, sexual assault, and slander. I must say that I was surprised when I got out of high school and found out that a person cannot legally beat up another person because of the suspicion of homosexuality. I am gay, and even though I was not out in high school, high school was still sheer hell for me.

So instead of punishing perpetrators for committing crimes of assult, battery, sexual harrassment, sexual assault, and slander, government school officials punish the victim for merely suggesting that he might fly off the deep end. Honestly, what are we supposed to expect the victim to do? When government school officials don't do anything about bullying (those five illegal acts that I mentioned), then they are *endorsing* said acts! I can tell you, there was more than one time that I thought about mowing down some of my tormentors with a weapon, and I know I'm not the only one here who has felt that way.

(And I don't mean to single myself out becuase I'm gay; lots of people suffer from bullying in high school. And I hate using the term "bullying" because it trivializes the illegal behavior of violent predators in schools.)

School shootings are not the problem, they are the symptom. If assult, battery, sexual harrassment, sexual assault, and slander are allowed to continue in schools, then, rest assured, more school shootings will occur.

Cameras in schools (5)

sinnergy (4787) | more than 13 years ago | (#279402)

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.

Re:A (probably rhetorical) question (5)

sinnergy (4787) | more than 13 years ago | (#279403)

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."

What is a Slashdot? (5)

PizzaMan (6633) | more than 13 years ago | (#279412)

Come on, post the district's web page, they'll find out what a Slashdot is.

Re:Don't home school. (2)

Art Tatum (6890) | more than 13 years ago | (#279421)

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.

Schools and democracy (1)

Polaris (9232) | more than 13 years ago | (#279441)

It's really worrying that schools in Western democratic societies are becoming the last haven for little demagogues and dictators who delight in wielding their power over helpless students and parents. Why are these people unaccountable to the rules of natural justice that control the behaviour of every other administrative authority? Where is the right of appeal, the requirement to hear both sides, the rule against bias?

Re:A (probably rhetorical) question (1)

Augusto (12068) | more than 13 years ago | (#279451)

Good point, maybe Sean's father should have toned down his time browsing the web and actualy spend some time communicating with his son.

It could be that he didn't know this was a big problem because he doesn't have good communications with his son.

If his son had committed suicide, the it'd be too late, maybe this incident is actually good news and he can resolve this problems with his son.

As for the school, yes, they are idiots.

Re:Oh please ... (1)

Augusto (12068) | more than 13 years ago | (#279452)

> Making a smartass crack about guns and toying weith a key case like its a gun (and obviously not fooling anyone, nor trying to) needs to be justified?

If they told him that was not to be tolerated by whatever inane school policies they have, then he shouldn't have done that.

Hey, I know it's absurd, when I was little people weren't this paranoid about being shot in school, but that's what you have today.

Either way, he shouldn't have implied threatening to shoot other students. Maybe next time Dad can go to the school and actually complain about the bullying before it escalates this much.

Re:Don't home school. (3)

Ravenscall (12240) | more than 13 years ago | (#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?

it's not all bad... (2)

ethereal (13958) | more than 13 years ago | (#279465)

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 :)

A Slashdot (1)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#279469)

"No," she said. We don't have any. And what is a Slashdot?"

If her office has a webserver and you'd given a link, this could be settled relatively easily.

--

Public education has serious problems (2)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#279470)

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 [about.com] 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.

--

yeah that sucks but (1)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 13 years ago | (#279471)

The citizenry of this nation has consistently, and over a long period of time, established that large classes of its citizens (aka "minors") are not protected by the same legal rights that illegal immigrants and felons have access to. You can work to try to change that (good luck) but until that change happens you have to understand that those are the rules of the game.

Anyway, just because he can't afford a lawyer does that necessarily mean he can't sue the school? What ever happened to pro se litigation? It's not like the kid has anything better to do with his time now that he's been pulled from school. And if not pro se then talk to the ACLU and see about some pro bono help. I'm actually a little disappointed that he would have bothered to talk to slashdot before the ACLU. Talk about mixed up priorities; Slashdot is mostly about all talk and no action.

home school links (5)

rvr (15565) | more than 13 years ago | (#279473)

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 [holtgws.com] . 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 [johntaylorgatto.com] - can be found in his acceptance speech [primenet.com] Ouch.

Is home schooling for everyone? No.

But is is an alternative and a great one at that. Read lots.

*this* is what a /. is (1)

Liquidy (16169) | more than 13 years ago | (#279475)

http://www.mckinneyisd.net/ [mckinneyisd.net]

Perhaps there's an e-mail address or two where you can voice your opinion to the district administrators....

Things Should Be Different (1)

BRock97 (17460) | more than 13 years ago | (#279480)

In this case, I would be more concerned about the students who feel the need to lash out and put down a fellow student more then the boy who made the comment. How many of us nerds haven't been in this situation. Many more of us probably would have been suspended back in the day if this type of mentality had been around. You want a source for school aggravation. Look no further then your typical bully....

Bryan R.

Re:What is a Slashdot? (1)

weeve (17838) | more than 13 years ago | (#279481)

Notice that the website seems to be down. Did we Slashdot it or did they take it down so that we wouldn't harass them?

That would be... (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 13 years ago | (#279482)

The Unions. Yes Sir!

The ACLU? (2)

FatSean (18753) | more than 13 years ago | (#279485)

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.

I'd move. (2)

BilldaCat (19181) | more than 13 years ago | (#279487)

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.

Re:yeah that sucks but (1)

nut (19435) | more than 13 years ago | (#279488)

...Slashdot is mostly about all talk and no action.

This is a point that could be more often here I think. I think the secretary's question, "What is a Slashdot?" should tell us what it is easy to forget when you live on the net, that is that while this is major forum for discussion in internet terms, most of the world never hears what we say. Slashdot is actually a very small and insular clique in world terms.

Re:What is a Slashdot? (1)

Voxol (32200) | more than 13 years ago | (#279510)

cgi-lib.pl: Request to receive too much data: 521614 bytes

ooops....

Re:WTF? (2)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 13 years ago | (#279517)

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.

Oh please yourself (4)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 13 years ago | (#279520)

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.

Re:WTF? (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 13 years ago | (#279522)

Nice troll dimwit.
---

One strike and you're out? (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 13 years ago | (#279526)

It is ridiculous for a principle or head teacher to expel a child for a first offence which does not break any laws.

It would appear from the article that there is no legal recourse, in which case the only options are home schooling (already being done) and publicity.

An appeal to the local community about the idiocy of letting kids play cowboys and indians one day and throwing them out of school for shouting 'BANG' the next might (might!) get the point across to the idiots in charge of the school that it is they are failing to provide a sane response, not the child in question who is insane.

Justin
--

Re:Blessed are the meek... (2)

Steve B (42864) | more than 13 years ago | (#279540)

Where is the answer to be found, then? To banish bullies

Well, yes. Every functional society banishes people who engage in assault, theft, vandalism, etc.

To develop an alternate educational system catering only to the geek, the meek and the ones who do not speak?

It would probably be more effective to develop (or, more precisely, to use the already-developed) alternative educational system for people who need a clue-by-four to convey the message that certain minimal standards of civilized behavior are required.
/.

idiots (2)

Kool Moe (43724) | more than 13 years ago | (#279546)

In HS, a couple friends and I were arrested for vandalism. We were guilty, did our community service, and paid the fines.
In the car was a friend's BB gun. It had been 'modified' with a scope. Ya, silly, but it was a cool BB gun ;)
Word spread quickly around the school of our arrest. Who could believe geeks were vandals! [gasp!]
The rumour mill, as usual, went crazy. Before ya know it, we had been arrested with an AK-47 and were plotting to blowup the school. LOL!
We visited the principle, explained the stupidity, they called the police, confirmed it was a BB gun, we had to talk with the school psychiatrist, and life went on.
THANK GOD I'm not in HS these days, or I'd have been expelled!
Idiots.
Call the local papers- get YOUR community fired up about such ridiculous behavior.
Go to school board meetings and be a PITA.
You can make this an issue if you rally.
Call the ACLU and see if they'll represent your kid.
GOOD LUCK, and stay strong Sean.
KM

Re:WTF? (4)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.

The best part of this story.. (3)

TheTomcat (53158) | more than 13 years ago | (#279559)

..is 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.

Re:Relatively universal. (2)

Saige (53303) | more than 13 years ago | (#279563)

It would be interesting in these cases if the family could actually mount a case against the school authorities for not protecting their son from protracted bullying, citing what he said as a result of mental trauma.... I can't believe an authority can have an unconstitutional right to exclude a pupil for the simple crime of trying to cope with harassment....

I believe they can do just that. I know there have been a couple of cases where people have come back and sued their school district because they were being harassed for being gay during school (regardless of whether it was true or not), and the staff/administration of the school was fully away of the harassment and never lifted a finger to stop it.

I don't see how a case like this is any different - once again, students being harassed by other students for perceived differences, and the staff is fully aware yet does nothing to remedy the situation.

Yes, I'm as tired of all the lawsuits today as the next person, but sometimes they do serve legitimate purposes. Teaching schools to treat all kids as being equal and deserving of the same treatment is definately far from frivilous.
---

In related news... (5)

Saige (53303) | more than 13 years ago | (#279564)

(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!"
---

Re:WTF? (4)

alexjohns (53323) | more than 13 years ago | (#279565)

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.
--

It's hell.. (3)

pirodude (54707) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.

What I wish I had done (1)

cporter (61382) | more than 13 years ago | (#279577)

Get out of there. At 16, with programming skills, near the top of his class? Take the G.E.D. and apply for admission to a University for Spring 2002.

Quit asking slashdot and go do something about it (1)

gskouby (61416) | more than 13 years ago | (#279578)

I think the father needs to quit asking Slashdot and actually do something constructive with the situation. Go visit other (ie private schools)options in the area with your son and see how he and you like them. Most private schools around here will let you visit for a couple of days to see how you like them. If you don't like one, go to another, and on and on. Find some place where you and your son will be comfortable but don't home school him. Very few families have the resources to pull of the home schooling thing and very few kids have the discipline and appitude to pull it off. I am not saying Sean doesn't, just that it is against odds that it will work as well as regular school would. Don't forget two things:
1. Every geek gets made fun of during high school. I am not saying it is right. It just happens. It sucks, live with it and know that someday you will be interviewing somebody and then you will remember that this kid is the kid that made fun of you during 7th period gym class.
2. You absolutely can NOT tell people you want to kill them. You just can't. Not today, not yesterday, not ten years ago. Can't.

Yank him out of public school (1)

VFVTHUNTER (66253) | more than 13 years ago | (#279587)

altogether. I remember wasting time in class, sleeping, waiting for hours while the teachers explained things I already knew. Individual education in much better for the kid - teach him the things he wants to learn, you can go at a pace best suited for him - quickly through the things he can grasp, slowly in the things he doesn't. Teach him calculus, dif Eq., multivariate, stats, etc - get him prepared for college well before college. Plus, since he's not in public school anymore, at least *you* don't have to worry about him getting hurt when a truly crazy kid shoots up his school.

Things change (2)

drteknikal (67280) | more than 13 years ago | (#279589)

I remember high school. I graduated in '82.

I was a nerd. I got picked on. I got beat up. I was harassed. I think I got kicked out for a day once for fighting. With a friend. His parents took us to see a play on the evening after we were suspended. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Jocks have always had problems with nerds and geeks. We didn't care about athletics, they hated anyone smarter than they were. Match made in heaven. But how many boys can say they got beat up by the captain of the GIRLS team?

But our administrators didn't have their heads up their asses. If these things were brought to their attention, they did something about it. You might be a nerd and a loser, but they'd try and make sure you at least had a chance. They seemed to think that keeping the jocks in line was part of their job - not getting rid of the "troublemaking" nerds who narced on them.

I was one of the founders of our high school computer club. We were allowed to get away with murder (do I really need to say that I mean that figuratively?). As long as we were pursuing a high-profile academic activity, we were allowed as much lattitude as the jocks who were on a winning team.

We showed weird movies in the auditorium for fund raisers. We did co-op marketing with Radio Shack. I went and testified in front of the county coucil to get more computer money in the school board budget - drawing praise from the principal of another high school in the county.

Somewhere along the line, the emphasis has shifted from encouraging excellence in whatever area the student has chosen to pursue to knee-jerk reactionary explusions of anyone the administrators can't understand or relate to. I don't get it. When I was in high school, none of the administrators understood computers, but they understood that we were good at something important and that we brought positive attention to ourselves and the school as a result.

These days, from everything I hear and read, the main concern is on stifling individuality, and most of the time, athletics is the only really supported outlet for individual achievement.

What the hell happened?

Re:I'd move. (1)

Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) | more than 13 years ago | (#279616)

In my old school district (I've since graduated) even being involved in a fight would get you suspended. I saw a kid who fell to the ground and got in the fetal posistion when he was attacked, and he was suspended for 5 days (the max at the school district). After that, everyone fought to defend theirselfs, they were gonna be suspended anyways, might as well hurt your attacker while you're at it.

Re:Don't home school. (2)

azool (91453) | more than 13 years ago | (#279623)

I have to agree...to an extent. Here in Arkansas a number of families who home school have organized and have gathering where all the home-schooled kids get to intermingle. But, for the most part their only social interaction is within the family. My experience with home-schooled children (sample size 5) is that it can strongly affect their social skills. This affect will probably be somewhat smaller on someone who starts home school in 11th grade, as opposed to someone who was in it for 16 years. In some states he could take his GED this year...he's probably already taken the SAT/ACT so he might be able to just move on to college next Fall or Spring

Re:Oh please ... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 13 years ago | (#279630)

Justify his actions?

Making a smartass crack about guns and toying weith a key case like its a gun (and obviously not fooling anyone, nor trying to) needs to be justified?

since when has making a sarchatic comment acompanied by body movements with a harmless prop needed to be "justified"

If anyone needed a talking to, its the student who reported him. "Get a sense of humor", "Don't take sarchastic remarks so seriously", "Get a life".

Or perhaps its the school administrators. One student reports a comment and there is NO investigation, no questions asked, jump right to punitive measures?!?

Thats just insane.

-Steve

Re:The ACLU? (2)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 13 years ago | (#279633)

> He should find out who ratted him out and make
> their life difficult.

Well the old saying goes "Snitches get stitches"

I do have to wonder what would posess a person to go to the school and report a statment like that? How paranoid are people. I mean, there are things I could see reporting, but sarcastic comments?

"He said the word gun" ohhh scary.

-Steve

No-win situation (1)

ahpeterson (97193) | more than 13 years ago | (#279634)

Unfortunately this is really a no-win situation. What happens to the school system if they do nothing about this kid and then he really does go on a shooting spree? It was a stupid thing to say, and any smart kid should know better than to make that kind of a statement, especially in light of recent events.

I think the vast majority of /. readers can sympathize with being bullied in school. But the truth is that nothing the school does will get rid of bullying. All the school can do is help kids who do get bullied to better deal with it. Personally I suffered a fair amount of ridicule in school, and I feel now I am actually better for it. It has forced me to really be able to have perspective on what people may say about me and to me. Being able to deal with jerks is something that is best learned at a young age, and the people who get through school suffering through all of the bullies and jerks will be all the better for it.

But the real problem here is that there are people who think to make such a statement. What does it say about our society when kids make these kinds of statements, even if they are jokes? It used to be that the biggest threat was to have some kid who was stronger than you find you on the street and give you a bloody nose. Or maybe the meek kid would slash the bully's tires or key his car. The simple fact that that sort of statement is even considered is a huge problem in and of itself.

Good article, he should go to ACLU and Media (2)

Christianfreak (100697) | more than 13 years ago | (#279641)

I'm not much on lawsuits and not typically a supporter of ACLU but I think in this case its defenately justified. This boy did nothing wrong and was not even given a chance to defend his rights, rather just kicked out. Being someone who was bullied in school for my beliefs and intrests i understand that something more has to be done and that schools aren't doing enough.

Better than contacting the ACLU might be to make an example out of this school. Take your story to Bill O'reilly on Fox News (I watch that show he'd run something like this). And post the address of teh school here, email and snail mail. If everyone on /. were to contact this people voicing our displeasure I'm sure that someone their would pay attention. Also any lawyers reading /. (ok I know its a long shot) willing to take up this guy's cause?

BTW its refreshing to see a good article by Jon. Good job Jon you covered this one very well.


"One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

letter-writing campain? also: bad press (1)

paulschreiber (113681) | more than 13 years ago | (#279665)

maybe sean's dad should post the name and snail mail address of the school officials (no, not their home addresses) and start a letter-writing campaign.

five hundred politely-worded letters would hopefully cause them to at least consider their errors.

also, as in any case, find a friendly local reporter who is willing to listen to your story and write up a blurb on it, or go on the air.

schools hate bad press.

Paul

Re:What is a Slashdot? (1)

aminal (122974) | more than 13 years ago | (#279677)

Looks /.ed to me :)

Relatively universal. (1)

Yaruar (125933) | more than 13 years ago | (#279684)

I spent years, like a lot of us, being bullied, pushed around, beaten up. This was in a relatively normal country state school in england. I was always made out to be the one in the wrong. I remembe rgetting my hand stamped on repeatedly as people wanted to see me cry and the response. I was sent to the heads office due to being disruptive. It would be interesting in these cases if the family could actually mount a case against the school authorities for not protecting their son from protracted bullying, citing what he said as a result of mental trauma.... I can't believe an authority can have an unconstitutional right to exclude a pupil for the simple crime of trying to cope with harassment....

Don't home school. (4)

Rev. Null (127972) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.

Re:WTF? (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 13 years ago | (#279694)

nor his withdrawing him from society either, I might add

I don't think Sean was withdrawn from society. He was pretty much forced out. I mean, what was their alternative to public school? A school for learning and behavior problems? This is a smart kid unchallenged by normal school. The alternative in not much of an alternative.

Sounds like they don't want to withdraw him from society. The father is seeking a way to get him back into the mainstream short of moving out of state or something like that.

Although, I must agree that I don't expect much help coming from Slashdot.

-matthew

No: A GREAT Katz story (1)

FriscoJohn (135372) | more than 13 years ago | (#279701)

And I'd like to see other people around here write as well as Jon routinly does.

Re:What is a Slashdot? (1)

displacer (136053) | more than 13 years ago | (#279702)

Here it is: http://www.mckinneyisd.net/

When *I* was a kid... (2)

notcarlos (139684) | more than 13 years ago | (#279710)

seriously, though, when I was young, there were programs for gifted kids, (Enhance the Chance, SLUFFY, et alia) that took them out of the rigamarole of everyday 'skool' and gave them an opportunity to learn more interesting things. (Where do you think I learned the word "rigamarole"?) Whatever happened to these programs? If they still exist, why are they not effective? Should programs like this exist in the first place?

I say they should. Programs like this provide an intellectual gift to those kids who are unable to express themselves through, as my father says, "fo'ball", or such. Poindexters need lovin' care, too.


Geek Culture killed my dog/
and I don't think it's fair...

Re:What is a Slashdot? (2)

Bitter Cup O Joe (146008) | more than 13 years ago | (#279721)

McKinney Independent School District [mckinneyisd.net] . I heard plenty of horror stories back when I used to go to a nearby school district. Give 'em hell.

He may already be doing the right thing. (4)

plover (150551) | more than 13 years ago | (#279728)

[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.

John

zero tolerance for zero tolerance... please (3)

connorbd (151811) | more than 13 years ago | (#279736)

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.

/Brian

Re:Public education has serious problems (4)

connorbd (151811) | more than 13 years ago | (#279737)

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?

/Brian

Geeks accepted? (2)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#279756)

I'm seeing more and more that geeks are starting to get accepted in highschools lately. However, it appears that his school still has some jealous bullies.

My dad told me one time when I was young, that sometimes you need to stand up for yourself and fight back. If the guys hit you, you nail them hard and fast. It should only take one fight. Even if you loose, its easier to bully someone that won't fight back. Teaching the kid martial arts would also help. I only got into one fight when I was in early high school. I did win, and was never curtailed (to my face, at least).
I'm not saying violence is always the answer, but sometimes you have to get into one fight in your life to stand up for yourself. Now-a-days, physical fights rank under "saying" sometime that is controversial (like anything about guns, presently).
The father was probably right in home schooling him, because it sounds like he has an intelligence that surpases any "special" school (probably surpases most classes in his normal high school). But the kid needs to learn how to react in social environments, which home schooled kids tend to lack. Just keep this in mind.

Wow... lots of rants in that one...

Re:Cameras in schools (1)

gwjc (181552) | more than 13 years ago | (#279780)

I agree whole heartedly. Funnily enough one of the radio stations up here in .ca had a call in show discussing the benefits putting web accessable cameras throughout the schools and in the classrooms. Almost all parents and students were for it.. strangely idiot teachers kept calling in and saying that it wouldn't be fair. Their motivations are pretty transparent; In fact I remember watching a teacher once peek around the corner at three joco-aholes beating up on a 'geek', waiting until they left and then asking this kid why he didn't stick up for himself in front of us. Also, I can't count the number of times I can remember teachers hitting kids.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Re:Don't home school. (1)

GlassUser (190787) | more than 13 years ago | (#279800)

You're absolutely right. I was home schooled, and do you see me out socializing? Three of my best friends are getting married, all I care to do is put money into my car and computer. I have issues interacting with authority figures, bouncing between compulsive shyness and fits of anger. I'm learning to deal with these, of course, but I'm learning it much slower than I should be.

Now, I'm not saying that home school is all bad. There are just issues that need to be worked out. If someone can find a happy medium with learning at home (where you actually learn far more than in some government scool) and getting decent social interaction, I would be all for it. It's just finding that medium. Until then, you're going to turn out deviant dweebs, overbearing jocks, and maladjusted home educated kids.

What? (1)

bleeeeck (190906) | more than 13 years ago | (#279801)

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?"

What did you want the school district to comment on? Why is the secretary asking about Slashdot? Is part of the article missing?

Blessed are the meek... (1)

nooekanami (192720) | more than 13 years ago | (#279805)

Given the recent well-publicized high school incidents, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone at all that this kid was expelled. The school authorities are merely reacting (over-reacting), but think of how much furore it would have raised in the media had they chosen to ignore this kid's threat (and he went to do something stupid involving a gun).... So, for a moment, for just one brief moment, let us suspend our knee-jerk reaction (geeks are good/establishment evil/why oh why do bullies pick on geeks) and think if we are not being unduly harsh in our criticism of the system here. What is the system to do? If they turn away from the problem and, some poor boy, in an act of desparation pulls out a gun, the school gets slammed. If they choose to isolate the boy from the rest of the students, the school still gets slammed. Where is the answer to be found, then? To banish bullies and jocks and non-geeks from this planet (heck, i would love that but that would be another form of harassment and racism)? To develop an alternate educational system catering only to the geek, the meek and the ones who do not speak? Sadly, it is my belief that the American education system and our society are up against a wall. Extreme solutions (such as expelling this boy) will bring torment and pain to many. Extreme non-interference will also hurt (and kill)many. I do not have children, and therefore, perhaps I sound objective and distant in my argument. The kid's dad, of course, knows the anguish and the frustration first hand, and therefore, it would be interesting to hear his pov. But I fail to see why this story has to be covered in /.

Re:dickweed (2)

katameister (195687) | more than 13 years ago | (#279817)

But it is. I doubt anyone alive today can deny being bullied at some point. The readers of /. probably took/take more abuse than the general populace. The reason this belongs here is that concerns EVERYONE and turning a blind eye to it is stupid. I expect comments like these on message boards frequented by the dregs of the internet, but not here. One would THINK that the term nerd is at least somewhat synonymous with intelligent. Even moderately intelligent. Ignoring actions like these only makes the next step more likely. If kids are being thrown out for things like this, then tomorrow it will be idle threats. After that will be "suspicions" of "thoughts" of wrongdoing. In the end, the blatant disregard of human rights in public schools will be enforced by the police or even military. What we will be left with is an educational system that only caters to those adhering to the government's model of a "good human being." Now, does the Nazi-esque comparison read loud and clear or do I need to spell it out more?

If we must (1)

Gehenna_Gehenna (207096) | more than 13 years ago | (#279831)

Slashdot the bastards by clicking here. [mckinneyisd.net]

Seriosly, it is a shame what happened. I think most of us /.'ers can understand the Seans point of view.

Doing something about it.... (1)

Placido (209939) | more than 13 years ago | (#279839)

I guess one of the better routes towards a solution is to get alot of support from the public (/. is a good start) and have the public contact the local education authority or whatever BUT I would be extremely reluctant to help this cause without hearing the school's side of the story.

hmmm (1)

vinnythenose (214595) | more than 13 years ago | (#279849)

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could deal with the problems and not the results...

A (probably rhetorical) question (4)

DunkPonch (215121) | more than 13 years ago | (#279852)

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.

Let Them Drop Out (4)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#279854)

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 [weeklystandard.com] . It's worth a look.

For the goat paranoid (capriphobic?), it's:
http://www.weeklystandard.com/magazine/mag_ 6_29_01 /toby_feat_6_29_01.asp

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

Re:What? (1)

Vulch (221502) | more than 13 years ago | (#279867)

Sounds like standard good journalistic practice. You run a story and try and get both sides to contribute before you publish. If someone declines to comment, you mention that to show you at least tried to give a balanced report.

Once again.. (3)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 13 years ago | (#279870)

A school system responding not to the actual issue, that of school bullies, but in a knee-jerk hyper-paranoid manner.

*sigh*

Bullies are protected more often than not.... (1)

linuxrunner (225041) | more than 13 years ago | (#279872)

It reminds me of a story an old english teacher told me.
I graduated from college and went back to High School to visit my favorite teachers..
After inquiring how school was she proceeded to tell me that things were awful and that things had gone downhill. There was the usual, "kids have no respect for teachers anymore" retoric but what caught me was that she said there was a group / gang of goth type ladies that basically terrorized the kids in the halls, etc.

In short she said that when the school approached the girls to repremand them they got all emotional and the parents were brought in and they cried discrimination becuase of looks....
From then on the same girls could get away with anything.

Yes I know, a little off the subject but it just reminded me of it and also reminds me that when I was in school, I remember bullies always getting away with things that I would have been tossed out or sent home for....

Possibly its just expected for them to act that way, therefore it's tolerated.

Linuxrunner

Same thing happened to me (2)

Orbitalb (226365) | more than 13 years ago | (#279873)

It's no diferent here in Canada. I was being bullied quite a bit in junior high, but it was pre-columbine so the retaliatory things I said and did weren't concerning to the administration. In fact, despite my constant complaints to the principal about how I was being treated, nothing was ever done. People started picking fights with me in the hallways, and the administration turned a blind eye. Rumor has it that the principal even deleted their permanent records at the beginning of each school year to give them a "fresh start." I ended up having to change schools, twice, to get away from the whole bullying thing. I was homeschooled for half a year, but in all honesty that really sucks. I was bored out of my mind, and I never did any work. So I changed schools again (this is time #3) to an experimental alternative school put on by a rather ingenious physics teacher who my mom knew. The alternative teaching method really works well, since I went from being a student who gets C's and B's to an A student with honours. The only downside is that there isn't much of a social aspect to the school (no yearbook, sports teams, etc) so I've rounded up a bunch of people I've met there and started a troop of Venturer Scouts. It's a shame I only have one year left before I move away for college... we have lots of fun.

Re:letter-writing campain? also: bad press (2)

Karma Sink (229208) | more than 13 years ago | (#279877)

schools hate bad press

Yes, schools do hate bad press... The problem is, the media in America have been reporting the school shootings of late as an 'epidemic', and people keep waiting for it to get worse. Anything the principal did to "Make the school a safer place" would be considered a Good Thing by the locals, not bad.

Unlike most injustice, this one won't be helped by publicity, because someone has to, for the love of God, think about the children!!!

I was wondering when it would come to this.. (1)

slmcav (240021) | more than 13 years ago | (#279895)

What ever happened to freedom of speech? Even if he or others that have been facing the same persecution had made remarks. Remarks don't mean anything. What ever happened to 'Stick and Stones will break my bones, but WORDS will never hurt me.'? When is society going to figure out that when people are put into a pressure cooker, like being ridiculed, taunted, teased, the tend to blow up. Any prudent person would do the same under these circumstances. This is almost a role reversal in some ways.. You have the jocks and popular kids moving towards femininity and the geeks and nerds (which I am proudly a part of!) are moving more towards what in the past has been defined as masculinity. Why are the kids that made the taunts and remarks suspended also? Weren't those threats? I remember being on the other end of these remarks and taunts and they seemed like threats to me.. Ranting done. Slmcav

contact aclu (1)

dbretton (242493) | more than 13 years ago | (#279898)

I'll keep it short, since time is $, and karma is not. Claim that your son's rights are being compromised.

Re:What is a Slashdot? (1)

LordArathres (244483) | more than 13 years ago | (#279903)

I'll second that thought.
I love my iBook. I use it to run Linux!

Same Shit, Different Time. (1)

LordArathres (244483) | more than 13 years ago | (#279904)

I understand what he is going through in being made fun of etc. My friends and I were made fun of, taunted and generally laughed at through Junior High. I went to a private school for High School so it did not apply there. But going through school and being made fun of because youre, smart and different sucks. There were many times I thought about how to win. No matter what I did or didnt do it was always the same, some punk ass jock showing off to his friends. They always traveled in groups too, which sucked because I would have loved to find one by himself.

Junior High sucked sucked shit. I left private school for my senior year and went to the local high school. By that time people stopped making fun becuase I was 6' and 180 lbs. I still was not accepted but at least they left me alone which is all good. I truly feel for the kids going through all that shit these days.

My advice is as follows...hang in there, it gets better. By the time you're in college it should stop. Thats it, I know it sucks and there is no reason why people should go through that sort of thing. You can take satisfaction in the fact that the people who make fun of you will one day be parking your car at a Valet restaurant. Then the tide will turn.

Arathres


I love my iBook. I use it to run Linux!

Well it Depends (2)

discovercomics (246851) | more than 13 years ago | (#279906)

In most areas the schoolboard and county/local gvt are seperate. But your representitive in county/city govt, as well as the member of the school board who represents the area you live in should be getting an earful from you right now. I would begin with a phone call, and during that call request a face to face meeting with your elected representatives. School systems also recieve funding from the state and federal govts, so I would be inclined to walk up those chains too.
If you do end up home schooling i would look into the possibility of attempting to get reimbursement of school district taxes. There may be some programs in your location that provide for this.

Re:What is a Slashdot? (5)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 13 years ago | (#279909)

http://www.mckinneyisd.net is the district site... superintendent is danthony@mckinneyisd.net...
Fire away!... ;o)

Harassment... (2)

Art_XIV (249990) | more than 13 years ago | (#279913)

Maybe the solution to reducing bullying and harrassment it to figure out why out why most (of course, not all) of this behavior is gone by the time individuals enter "adult" life.

Could it be because the majority of associations between adults are voluntary? Adults aren't quite herded into buildings with people they don't know, don't want to know, and don't like quite as often as kids are.

Could it be that adults aren't shielded from the consequences of their shitty behavior any where near as often as kids are?

The parent is the problem, not the school! (1)

daveym (258550) | more than 13 years ago | (#279925)

I am gonna get modded down for saying this, but I don't care.

This kid's dad is to blame for this! He should be smart enough to realize that public schools are a bureaucracy, and as such, run on rails. With all of the recent school violence, the parent should make it clear to his kid that if he makes some stupid threat, he is going to get kicked out of school!

Furthermore, he should be able to talk to his kid about abuse and bullying at school! Obviously, this kid feels the need for revenge (if he talked to his parents about his feelings and the situation, he would realize that revenge is worthless).

Call me old-fashioned, but I am a big fan of strong families and good parenting! I feel sorry for the kid, but, lesson learned.....

modern day gaming is alienating, though (2)

typical geek (261980) | more than 13 years ago | (#279932)

When I was in high school, I got a fair amount of ribbing due to my geeky tendencies.

I was a gamer, too, but back then, a gamer meant something different. It meant I got together with 4-5 of my buds, and played AD&D, Traveller and Car Wars together.

So, our gaming dealt with healthy peer interactions, a group of people working together to overcome a hostile dungeon, triumph through a patron's mission, or deal with a dangerous motorcycle gang. WE learned the value of people and co-operation.

Contrast this with today's gamer, who learns little more than the value of a head shot in a first person shooter.

Also, I had a peer group, these friends I would see 5-7 times a week.We played RPG's, and we talked about life, and how much better life would get after high school.

Contrast this with today's gamers, who may join a Quake team, yet only see their teammates in person twice a year. Alienating indeed.

ACLU? (1)

afedaken (263115) | more than 13 years ago | (#279938)

http://www.aclu.org/news/2000/n112100b.html 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,". Perhaps you could get them to helpl you take the case on Pro-bono?

More ACLU Info (3)

afedaken (263115) | more than 13 years ago | (#279939)

Here's [aclu.org] A link to the ACLU's Student Rights Page.

demising system of abuse (4)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#279948)


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. [ccrkba.org]

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 [antioffline.com]

Been close to there. (1)

drenok (304336) | more than 13 years ago | (#279953)

When I was in middel/high school I went through
the same thing as many people here probably did.
I was made fun of for "being nerd" and wearing
a trench coat, or having long hair.

I wore a trench coat most days of the year
althrough middel school. I'm sure if you tried
this now you would automatically be searched
for weapons.

A few things happened. the daily insults and
jokes. I was victim to a few run-by head punches.
Tripped and pushed around in the hall ways.
Someone even poured lotion in my hair while
I was bent down reaching in my locker. One
friend of mine (probably the only one there)
was beaten up so badly that he never came back.

All of these things happened, but did we shoot
anyone? No. The "redneck" kid who teased everyone,
he was the one who was found with a gun one day.
Apparently just showing off... But I don't think
nerds are the ones they should be looking at, not
that they should be looking at anyone.

They shouldn't deal with the kids who
"look suspicious" or "are a little strange". They
should teach the kids that tease the strange ones
that it isn't write to do so.

Still today, outside of school, at work. Just a
few days ago, I dyed my hair Saftey Paint Orange
and still there is no getting away from it.

YOU CANNOT BE DIFFRENT WITHOUT PEOPLE HATING YOU.

Bitch, moan, whine, complain! (1)

Chakat (320875) | more than 13 years ago | (#279988)

What you've got to do is simple. Make as much noise about this incident as possible. Pester newspeople until they return your calls, talk with the ACLU, send out press releases, call in radio talk shows, picket, place leaflets around your town, anything to garner attention. The best thing to do is to simply make these people's lives so miserable in dealing with this incident that they don't do anything as foolish again. Remember, the squeaky wheel is the one that gets the grease.

Re:letter-writing campain? also: bad press (1)

Chakat (320875) | more than 13 years ago | (#279989)

From the school district's contact information [mckinneyisd.net] :

Phone: (469) 742-4000

Snail Mail: #1 Duvall St McKinney Texas 75069

Now give 'em hell!

Due Process (1)

Hot Soup LD (324328) | more than 13 years ago | (#279999)

There has to be something missing. You could take this story, show it to any reasonable human being, and they would excuse Sean for being a victim of circumstance.

Either some information is missing, or this is easily a breech of some form of personal rights.

Seriously, there has to be a slashdotter here who is a lawyer, or a cop, or even another school administrator who can tell us why something as blatantly unfair (and probably unconstitutional) as this could go through. That is, unfair if this story is an accurate representation of the truth (I'll try not to put myself on a side just yet).

A solution? (1)

castle_hawk (325898) | more than 13 years ago | (#280004)

I can understand why the schools are running scared in the states lately, but such over the top reactions just don't help, especially as it will put a feeling of power in the hands of The Bullies - 'Wow, we got this nerd kicked out as a lunatic!' - reinforcing their behaviour. I guess the school won't have a full investigation into the causes either....

Anyway: My solution - take a leaf out of the British way of doing things -
Lunch Time Drinking & Lighten up guys!

Empathy (1)

aristotle2000 (415164) | more than 13 years ago | (#280024)

I can completely empathize with the kid; high school was a terrible environment for anyone who was not part of a certain crowd. Our school system is destroying creativity and freedom of expression. I think homeschooling is a good alternative for now. What we really need are good alternative schools for the gifted. I discovered my city had one attached to a respected private college after I had graduated from high shcool. Charter schools should be able to fill this role in many areas if their backers understand what they can accomplish. Letting the bright and creative teach themselves in a safe, condusive environment would save a lot of people's lives, both literally and metaphorically.

Re:Oh please ... (1)

aristotle2000 (415164) | more than 13 years ago | (#280025)

Have you ever been bullied? If so, I doubt you would make that statement. And the article said the dad was too poor to afford a lawyer, so in most places he could not afford a private school.

Re:school? (1)

aristotle2000 (415164) | more than 13 years ago | (#280026)

Why do feel the need to jab Oklahoma? There are a lot of narrow-minded and intolerant people in New York and LA too but there was no need to mention them b/c we always feel like they're so cosmopolitan and open...

Re:What? (2)

aristotle2000 (415164) | more than 13 years ago | (#280028)

Don't read much news, do you? When reporting an issue the reporter should get both sides of a story if possible. The school had nothing they cared to say on the matter, hence no comment. Obviously Katz said he was from /. and the secretary hadn't heard of it...A slight, subtle jab at the school for being backwards

Buy him a range membership (2)

Ratatoskr (442452) | more than 13 years ago | (#280034)

Buy him a handgun, a range membership and a half dozen lessons from a qualified firearms instructor. No, I'm not being provocative...the more you learn about and handle guns, the less likely you are to make jokes (much less do anything stupid). After years of having range rules drummed into me, I sometimes wonder if I could point a gun at someone, even in self defense.

Anyhow, it's a great, stress-relieving hobby. Handling a gun is like driving a stick-shift; you may never need to do it, but everyone should know how.

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