Bullies lie

Zero Intelligence reports on what happened when a middle school girl in Ohio told a school counselor she was being bullied on the school bus. The four bullies accused the victim of threatening to knife them. The victim was suspended for 10 days, even though the bullies’ story was inconsistent.

Two girls came forward and entered statements saying the knife threat incident did not happen. The criminal charge was dismissed by the court before trial. Alicia was still expelled.

Superintendant Dr.Phil Cagwin placed an abeyance on the expulsion, provided Alicia met 6 requirements. These included attending the Butler County Alternative School, receiving psychiatric counseling and receiving an evaluation detailing that Alicia was not a danger to herself or others. Alicia’s mother refused. “There was no way I was going to send her there! Alicia has a difficult time dealing with the cruelties of [Talawanda Middle School] much less put her in a school with major problem children.”

Alicia is now being homeschooled while her parents try to get her readmitted to school. The bullies got off with no punishment.

I think this is plain old administrative incompetence. It’s not that hard to investigate what happened on a school bus and determine who’s the victim and who’s the bully. Now bullies have a field day: They can push around other kids as long as they don’t say the magic words, “knife” or “gun.”

By the way, the comment by “Jewel” is priceless. Her middle-school daughter loves the musical “Chicago.”

Anyway, one of the songs in the movie is called: “They both reached for the gun.” Here is where ludicrous meets the guidance counsellor: Mary was taking notes in English, scribbling them down in the margins – “verb=action” that sort of notation. At some point in the lesson, Mary began to write the words of the song … and this is a truly annoying, horribly fun gay song … Oh YES oh YES they both, oh YES they both oh YES they both reached for, the GUN the GUN the GUN the GUN oh YES they both reached for the gun for the GUN! And yeah, them’s the words, folks. Well, Mary casually tossed her paper away in the trash can after class, and later, the guidance counsellor came in and seeing the paper lying on top of all the other trash, retrieved it, called Mary down to her office and began interrogating her about whether we had guns in the house, and what exactly did she mean by “Verb=Action?”… ignoring all the other grammatical stuff on her paper. Mary did her best to explain that the words of the song were from a musical, but they didn’t believe her, and that they would be investigating her and KEEPING THEIR EYE ON HER! And then the GC filed the paper in her file cabinet. Later, someone falsely accused Mary of bringing a lighter on the bus and attempting to smoke in front of the other students … only one student made this accusation, and that on a day when Mary was home sick in bed. Which is why she wasn’t expelled then and there … but OH, they are KEEPING their EYE on her, you better believe that!

Stupidity explains a lot.

About Joanne


  1. Never ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity.

  2. Bill Leonard says:

    …and once again, the perennial questions:

    Why are these fools allowed to continue on the public payroll? Are the parents involved suing? They should be. And where is the news media, who make so much of their presumed role in comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable? Has any local print or broadcast outlet taken a look at these clearly stupid and venal time-servers on the public payroll? And if not, one wonders, why not?

  3. My question, why do people lucky enough to have children keep them in public schools? I wouldn’t waste on red cent suing the schools for violations of rights–I’d spend that money on home schooling or private school.

    Just drop out of this system. The incentives inherent to government sponsored entities are impossible to battle with any success.

  4. Um, because not everyone can afford to homeschool or send their kids to private school? Just a thought.

  5. I suppose my question is what mechanisms could be created to get rid of moronic administrators quickly and efficiently?

  6. The problem is much deeper than that. School administrators are generally drunk on their own power.

    My father teaches High School in Alaska. In his School district the teachers had a period of ten years where there was no pay raise at all (not even a cost of living increase) and cuts in benefits.

    The school board and the administrators (including principals) managed to have solid increases every year.

    In fact, every time there was increased funding for a particular project (new textbooks, better cafeteria food) half the money seemed to vanish into “administrative costs.”

    Who watches the watchers? No one at all. Administrators will continue to act idiotically like this because they have no one who can or will second guess them.

    And in my experience as a student, I discovered the administrators sympathized with the bullies because that’s what they were – bullies.

    Of course, I’m a bit prejudiced since a principal used his position to further a personal vendetta he had against my father, and nearly got my father fired (but as it was, it took my father quite a bit to reestablish his professional reputation).

  7. Joe in NM says:

    Hard to believe that a parent would put up with that level of false accusations, and tolerate the systemic failure to protect the child.

    >Um, because not everyone can afford to
    > homeschool or send their kids to private
    > school? Just a thought.

    Its a relative choice to forgo the 2nd income; maybe we can’t go to Disneyland, or take long vacations, or even buy a house. But you still can choose what you want to do with your time and money, or lack thereof. How much is it worth to you? We make our free, uncoerced choice, and live with the results.

  8. So a single mom should choose to live in a cardboard box in order to home school? Or send their kids to private school? Not everyone’s as lucky as you are. There are lots of poor people in this country. Remember the poor?

  9. Linden:

    1) “The poor will always be with you.”

    2) Poverty cannot be solved by redistribution, which only ends up making everyone poorer.

    3) When people are not forced to pay for other people’s choices, good or bad, they can then choose to spend that money on themselves and their families.

    4) Home schooling does not need to be expensive.

    5) Your implication that advocates of home schooling are callous and uncaring regarding the less fortunate is both mean-spirited and incorrect.

  10. Laura (southernxyl) says:

    “Its a relative choice to forgo the 2nd income; maybe we can’t go to Disneyland, or take long vacations, or even buy a house.”

    How about buy a pair of shoes when your one pair has holes in it?

    If people want to homeschool, and can work that out financially, bully for them. It is callous and uncaring to suggest that people who put their kids in public school just don’t love them enough. It’s not the difference between having one car or two SUVs in the driveway. It’s the difference between having or not having a roof over your head and clothes on your back and the ability to go to the doctor when you’re sick; and especially being able to provide those things to the child you brought into the world.

  11. Kelli Jusice says:

    This is Alicia Kinser’s mother…All of my children have been in public schools since they were in kindergarden. We’ve never had any problems until they started attending Talawanda School Distict. This was their 3rd year there and there have been many times that I’ve had to go up to the schools for different situations. Last year I was up there because my other daughter’s teacher kept making fun of her. I had her pulled from his class and that was the end of that. Although he still tried through the other kids my continuing to make comments about her and yes, it got back to her on the playground, she didn’t have to face that adult who never learned how to grow up everyday.

    As far as Alicia goes, I was forced to homeschool and even though she’s learning more now, in my opinion, than what she was learning in Talawanda, I hope that no other parent has to see their child go through what we did. Unfortunately with the zero tolerance policy, you may have to.

    Alicia misses her friends and really misses orchestra…thats one thing that I can’t teach her but she’s still practicing her violin.

    Alicia is doing much better now. At least she’s not crying herself to sleep anymore.

    We’ve moved since than so now my other children are attending Milford schools inwhich is one of the top districts educationally in this area and they love it. Not to say that the zero tolerance bug can’t bite us anymore because it can just about anywhere you go. I just hope that it doesn’t. Alicia is not allowed to attend until her expulsion is up.

    We are looking for an attorney who’s not afraid to stand up against Talawanda School District. Our attorney, Rusty Thomas, feels that he would better serve as a witness to the events leading up to the expulsion. He has referred us to two other attorneys but one of them won’t stand up to the district and the other one said that he would love to but is afraid that it might go federal inwhich he won’t have the time for.

    We’re not backing down though. What was done to our daughter was completely unfair and we refuse to back down.

  12. D. Cooper says:

    Kelli … if this is as portrayed, tell Rusty to get on the stick!! Otherwise, why is he balking! There’s got to be more to it here, because on the surface it looks like a no brainer!!

  13. Wacky Hermit says:

    Linden, there are scholarships at private schools. They would serve well for the children of single mothers. There are private schools in all price ranges; they don’t all cost a fortune. Some will discount tuition if you also work there part of the day. There are night jobs and homeschool co-ops, too. There are tons of college scholarships and loans; she could go back to school herself and learn a skill to get a better job. And a single mother could always move to a place where there are vouchers or charter schools. (If the mother has such a poor job that she can’t afford any kind of school arrangement for her kids, then she should have no trouble getting a similarly poor-paying job elsewhere.) It would be difficult, but any woman who’s up to single motherhood is also up to the challenge of finding an alternative to public school for her child.

  14. Kelli Justice says:

    Hello D. Cooper,

    Yeah, you would think that it would be a no brainer. Rusty helped us throughout this entire ordeal. The criminal charges were dismissed but the school district believes that they are above the courts system. The school district also made deliberate attempts to try and make ourselves and our attorney miss the expulsion appeal all together. I guess they thought it would look better on them since they had already made up their mind to expel Alicia if we never showed up for the appeal. Either way…we knew what their intentions were and what their decision would be before going.

    Yes, now Rusty would make a better witness…it would be difficult for him to call his self to the stand.

    Attorneys is this area are afraid to go up against a school board district do to the immunities that they have. We have found one attorney, that Rusty referred us to, that would love to take the case but says that it may go federal and he really doesn’t have the time with his load to take that kind of a case on right now.

    I thought the same thing that you’re thinking…it’s a no brainer. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong but unfortunately its not that easy.

    I sent the writer of this story all of the info pertaining to this. We have everything to back up what is written. The only thing missed in this was all of the emotion and damage that this has done to Alicia. Granted, she’s doing better now but she’s still not completely up to par.

    Please…if you have any suggestions or lists of attorneys that you know will help us, feel free to share them because they come far and inbetween.

    We’re not going to back down by no means.
    What was done to Alicia was completely unfair and something has got to change before it happens time and time again.

    We have it all in black and white…we just need someone to help us fly with it. Slowly but surely her story is spreading and I’m sure eventually will catch the attention of the right attorney to take this on.

  15. Mad Scientist says:

    How about legal aid? Or the local ACLU chapter?

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    School administrators are faced with cost-benefit analyses all the time.
    In this case, they make the quite valid assumption that kids who are jerks will have parents who are jerks.
    Kids who are not jerks will have parents who are not jerks.
    Which set of parents do you want to deal with?

  17. Joe in NM says:

    Oh ‘southernxyl’, that’s what I get for posting snarky comments on weblogs, I’m ‘callous’. It does indeed read callously.

    Really, I was just reacting with horror to what happened to the young woman, and typing at the same time. BTW I am not a stranger to the needs of single parents.
    I help my wife (is that an allowable term here?) run a homeschool support group, we support other users of a curriculum created by a *single parent*, and our group has many single parents, mostly women, and a few men. Nor are we strangers to destitution, but that is another story not to be told here.

    I have a possible lead for legal assistance for these people. A law professor, Daniel B. Weddle, penned a really interesting article in the journal “Trial” of the American Trial Lawyers Association. http://www.atla.org. Sadly, the article is not available online.

    The article is “When will schools take bullying seriously?”, page 19, Trial, October 2003. It discusses possible approaches to hold schools accountable for the climate of fear and bullying that can take over a school. The idea is that there are well-known techniques to control bullying and it;s effects, and those techniques ought to to be applied, since they actually work.
    He gives many references to support his argument.

    Anyway, perhaps it would be worth contacting him. He would certainly understand the difficulties holding the school accountable. You can find his contact information here. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/index.htm

    Joe in NM

  18. While the situations in this story are frightening and frustrating, the “homeschooling” answer is simplistic. I know it’s the first thing many people posting here think of, and for some people it’s the right answer, BUT —and I’m probably going to make some people angry — not every parent is going to be equal to the task of homeschooling their children. And not every child will benefit equally from homeschooling.

    I know some people who homeschool and do an excellent job. Others do not and their children are missing aspects of education that will likely lead to problems for them later.

    Homeschooling may well be the answer in some cases.

    It is not the answer in ALL cases.

  19. Richard Aubrey says:

    Okay, dhanson. In this case, what is the best answer?
    Remember that public education has made itself impervious to public pressure except that of threatened lawsuits.
    How would you sue the school into fixing this problem?
    Keep in mind that the child would have to be protected against the vengeance of the adults who have been sued.
    The entire culture of how to deal with bullies would have to be changed, which means not only new procedures written down in black and white, but a monitor to insure procedures are followed.
    This will happen by the time the kid has grandchildren, presuming relentless pressure from this day forward.

  20. Richard, I don’t have any answers. It certainly seems that this child has been terribly wronged. Homeschooling is the only viable option currently available, although it seems that both parent and child would prefer to see her attend a different public school and that seems to be their long-term goal.

    Sue the school district? If the things we read are even half-true, absolutely. Lobby for change? Yes. By the way, I don’t think public education is “impervious to change” everywhere. I think it varies from location to location. Homeschool this child at this time? Yes. Homeschool all children all the time? That one I have some problems with.

  21. Laura (southernxyl) says:

    dhanson’s right.

    My sister is so fortunate as to be a SAHM. Her older child is 8 years old and bored out of his mind at school. They have a pull-out GAT program, but not a school-within-a-school like we have here. The kid was reading at 4th grade level in kindergarten; he’s off the charts now. But his grades are poor. The teacher does the best she can for him, but she’s got a classroom full of kids. In her shoes, I would homeschool in a New York minute.

    But she’s not me. This child is very stubborn, very high-strung, and she can’t really manage him all day every day without his father there to back her up. (She’s just not as mean as I am.) It’s her decision to make, and her decision is that she cannot homeschool him. Maybe later, but not now.

    There really is no one-size-fits-all here.

  22. Kelli Justice says:

    Alicia is not a difficult child to homeschool…thank goodness…you all are right though, our options right now are limited. She doesn’t want to be homeschooled. She loved going to school. She misses the whole picture of school. It’s even harder for her, I think, since we’ve moved. At least before she was closer to the friends that she knew even after the expulsion but now she feels like she has no one in this area but us. She misses her friends, orchestra, field trips, art, just the whole rounded aspect of what use to be her everyday life. Plus having the burden on her of not being believed by admin. has not helped at all. I hope that this doesn’t hender her. It took her forever, being shy and all, to come out of her shell to meet other people. She needs to keep her socialization skills that she was finally opening up to.

    I agree, homeschooling isn’t for every child, but on the other hand things need to change in the public school system to provide healthy learning atmospheres for them. If it was completely my choice, right now, I’d home school all of my children to protect them from ZT policies. I don’t want what happened to Alicia to happen to others but it will if things don’t change. This shouldn’t have to be the chance we take by sending our kids to public schools but it is right now. I’m taking that chance everytime I send my other children to school everyday…I just didn’t know how big of a chance until this happened to Alicia. It never hit home until then. Alot of people, just like myself, don’t understand to what extent ZT was and is still used. I thought it was put into place to keep drugs & weapons out of schools. I didn’t know that it could be manipulated to condemn the innocent. I more than know about that now. Are schools safer for this policy? Definitely not!! It’s definitely safer for the bullies in this world!

    I guess what I’m saying is that we shouldn’t have to homeschool to keep our children safe from ZT. Get rid of the policy not the children.

  23. Kelli Justice says:

    To Joe NM….I contacted him and he said that he couldn’t help us…thanks anyway

  24. D. Cooper says:

    Is it me or does this ZT craze have a stronger foothold in the moe conservative areas of the country. This is in OH and another case on this site of the sniffing dog is in GA. Here on LI it would seem just the opposite. If you actually caught a kid smoking pot with three teacher witnesses and a video tape of the entire scene it would be no small task to have him/her expelled. Umpteen hearings later, a slap on the wrist and they’d be back in class in a NY minute. Even so, homeschooling seems to be a rather over reaction and from my experience a very small percentage on LI are homeschooled.

    I’m sure unfair incidents such as what are described here also occur on LI, but they’d be the exception as I would expect elsewhere. I do know however of several times where ‘bad’ boys and girls are out of schoolon ‘home teaching’ for periods of time. That amounts to an expulsion of sorts, but the school must provide home teaching.

    It is my experience that with few exceptions, schools provide a safe environment for children and that all things considered the experience is a positive one. Here on LI, where two family incomes are the norm, for economic reasons, very few children are homeschooled. In large metropolitian areas with large hispanic populations where English is not spoken at home it would seem an even more remote possibility.

    ZT to me always meant simply no … no drugs (you know pot, alcohol) but it seems to be interpreted a little differently in some areas of this fine country.

  25. D. Cooper says:

    Wow if that isn’t a fine example of one UPsmanship!! I guess the competition has been sagging a bit. But, I suppose that was just a limp attempt at humor.

    Look, I’m no stiff, so I guess that was funny.


  1. Victims

    There were several things I read or saw this past week that reminded me of victim mentality. Joanne Jacobs posted about a victim of bullying – maybe. You can find bullying stories all over the place. You can find stories

  2. The Stupids Rule

    Rod, a poster over at Joanne Jacobs’, utters words of wisdom: Never ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity. (I started out at the schoolyard blog, a lovely place to visit.)