Friday, November 8, 2013

Define Expulsion

     First off, I'm not going to cite specifics such as names of individuals or schools because of the possibility of future Civil Rights litigation.
     Secondly, having said that, let me start by saying that my youngest son got expelled from his high school yesterday. If you know anything at all about my two younger sons, you'll know they're both biracial. And they both look it.
     It started when my son called me late this morning in a state of high excitement, announcing he'd been expelled. After an anxious serious of phone calls, I finally got his side of the story and, according to him, here's what happened:
     A short time ago, my son walked past a teacher while he was wearing a ball cap. Apparently, this is a violation of a capriciously and unevenly enforced dress code. She tried to get his attention twice and, because he was listening to music on his iPod, he didn't hear her. She followed him and finally got his attention. My son apologized for not taking his hat off but did not apologize for not hearing her. At no time, when he walked back and spoke to her did she back up or show the slightest sign of fear for her safety. This is very important to remember.
     Then just yesterday, my son was accused by a school administrator of being inebriated. The alcohol the official had smelled on my son was alcohol-based hand sanitizer and my son said he'd used it no less than three times that day. Undeterred, the administrator made him breathe into his face and the older man insisted my son had alcohol on his breath. He then told my son that "one way or the other, (he was) going to take a breathalyzer test." Eventually, law enforcement got involved and the city police then transported my boy to the police station where he'd aced not one but two breathalyzer tests.
     Prior to this non-incident, he'd been suspended for three days for "inappropriate behavior" and dropping grades. While it's true my son's grades have dropped, it was because of working up to 56 hours a week at his night job and not having the time or energy to do his homework and studying.
     After the non-incident involving the non-existent alcohol, his suspension was bumped up to outright expulsion. Starting Tuesday, he's going back to a smaller, satellite school still under the auspices of the main school in question, but this is partly devoted to kids with special needs. My son had gone to this school with smaller class sizes until he was deemed ready for the larger school.
     Knowing that his legal guardian, his late mother's sister, couldn't leave work or take phone calls until after 5, it fell to me to go directly to the school and talk to the administrator. I began getting pushback immediately. First, the principal was at a meeting, then they couldn't divulge to me what had happened without consent from my son. Then, once they got it, they told me I'd have to come back at 1:30 so I could meet with the principal himself.
     According to my son, one of the reasons for his expulsion was because the teacher who'd chased him over his ballcap said after the incident she felt as if she was in fear of her life. My son took none of her classes and she didn't know him at all.
     So I sat down with the head principal and he began a lengthy monologue dedicated to the insistence that my son was completely at fault for "inappropriate behavior" (which in this case, means showing negative emotion after being singled out and accused of destructive behaviors for which it'd been proved he was not guilty). And, according to the principal, he wasn't expelled at all but "transferred."
     Again, I need to reiterate that his "transfer" was the unnatural progression of what had started out as a three day suspension after being falsely accused of drinking at school. I saw a bottle of the hand sanitizer they use: It's 63% alcohol. I do not fault the administrator for smelling it. I fault him for insisting my son had it on his breath when he did not and chose to get law enforcement involved.
     The principal justified getting the constabulary involved by taking him out of school, stuffing him in the back of a cruiser and then being coerced into taking a breathalyzer test in violation of his 4th amendment rights because of his "confrontational attitude." I asked the principal, "Wouldn't you, too, be visibly upset at being accused of doing something you know you didn't do?"
     Perhaps I'm springing from a position of complete ignorance but I'm pretty sure than many of the almost completely white faculty and student body use the same hand sanitizer and are not accused of drinking liquor, which is an entirely different smell.
     Of course, the principal insisted that racial profiling was not at all a factor, despite the fact the teacher who retroactively was in fear for her life was a short, white woman and my son an obviously biracial, tall teenage male. I tried to impress upon the principal that, despite whatever semantics he uses or however much he may try to lay the blame for this expulsion, excuse me, "transfer" on my son, the optics look bad. "Perception is 90% of what we go on," I told him.
     The principal, himself a biracial man, intimated that he himself had been subject to racial profiling. I responded to that by informing him that he was a pillar of the community, an all-powerful authority figure and the principal of a large, suburban high school. He has options and latitudes in how he chooses to deal with racial profiling or prejudice. My son, being a largely powerless black teen, who looks much more black than his principal, doesn't have those options at his disposal. Sometimes, lashing out and showing anger is the only way we have to fight against that. The school, I said, has to make allowances for human emotion and we cannot expect children 13-19 years-old to act like mature, pragmatic, middle-aged adults.
     Perhaps I should've mentioned this to him but it seems to me the murder of Danvers math teacher Colleen Ritzer at the hands of Philip Chism may have indirectly played a part in this. Chism is a hulking, six foot-tall biracial boy who allegedly murdered this teacher in a bathroom and was somehow able to carry her bloody body through the school and dump her in the woods undetected. This happened right before Game One of the World Series, so it's still fresh in the minds of many, especially those in the relatively small educational community of Massachusetts.
     And I don't think it's too far from the realm of possibility that not only was racial profiling a motive in my son's expulsion but so was the reactionary outcome with this murder barely in litigation. We all know racial profiling exists everywhere. It happens in the street, in the schools, in the workplace, in stores (such as Barney's), everywhere. But we're informed, and in many cases, misinformed to spring into action when faced with false equivalences. A biracial male student murders a much smaller white female teacher, therefore every small female white teacher gets to pull the race card and claim she's in fear of her life when standing toe to toe with another biracial male student, especially one who feels as if he's being singled out for special attention over something as minor as a dress code infraction over a ballcap.
     The one thing on which all parties agree is that this expulsion or transfer or whatever word you choose to use, happened after a short series of incidents, culminating in an expulsion over a trumped-up charge of drinking on school grounds. I told the principal that however he cut it, his administrator was wrong and my son was telling the truth. I told him his grades were slipping of late (he used to be a straight A student last year at the main school) not because he needed smaller class size but because his employer (Dunkin' Donuts) was making him work up to 56 hours a week. I asked the principal if he could prove the larger class sizes at the main school were contributory to my son's slipping grades and he contemptuously dismissed this very valid question as if it didn't even deserve consideration. And yet, smaller class size and student body was the school's very rationale for expelling him.
     Or, at least, that was the one they'd finally settled on. I broached the possibility that perhaps his teacher was suffering from "Angry Black Man Syndrome", a virtually atavistic dysfunction from which many white people suffer and use as a basis for their own unacknowledged racism. It's rather obvious to me after having spoken at some length to both sides that they were casting about for an excuse to get my son out of that school and, after trying a few on, they finally found one: the bogus "incident" involving the phantom alcohol and him showing anger at being accused of being drunk.
     My son didn't fail his school. His school failed him. They pushed him, got what they wanted and did the Pontius Pilate thing and foisted him off on another school. My son is so infuriated and so mortally offended by this incident he honestly does not want to go back to the main school.
     Yet, and I admit I'm saying this as a flame-breathing liberal who's militantly opposed to any racial prejudice, especially when my flesh and blood is concerned, it's obvious to me that my son was a victim of racial profiling. With less than seven months to go in his high school career, his school washed its hands of him and dumped him on someone else's doorstep. It's quite likely they were using as their moral compass a murder that happened in Danvers less than a month ago that shocked an entire community.
     I think my boy was made to pay for someone else's alleged crime and I think it's time to get the NAACP involved as my son suggested. Input?

5 Comments:

At November 9, 2013 at 12:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, do. They have more power than an individual. and that organization actually has teeth. Although I believe the NAACP abuses their power from time to time, in this sort of case they would be an invaluable asset.
I hope they agree to help your son in this matter.
My opinion only, of course.
MDavis

 
At November 9, 2013 at 9:51 AM, Blogger Mithras61 said...

Honestly, I don't see a down side to getting the NAACP involved. I suspect that there would be some hurt feelings on the side of the school district, and possibly the administration, but with only 7 months left in his schooling, I suspect that your son would be able to negotiate the waters of that with minimal issue. The only thing I would point out to you is that with only 7 months left, and an administration that obviously has a problem with your son, more than a little foot-dragging seems likely to occur. It may very well be that any resolution would happen after your son's schooling is completed. I'm not suggesting that this would be a negative, since it would likely help dampen enthusiasm for future students to be expelled to address trumped up "issues" but only that such action may not directly benefit your own offspring.

And yes, I have personally gotten into a union-backed dispute with a former employer that led to improvements for other employees after I left, so I do actually view this as a net benefit.

 
At November 11, 2013 at 12:18 AM, Anonymous CC said...

On a minor note: isn't it illegal to make a (presumably) under 18-year old work 56 hours a week?

 
At November 11, 2013 at 8:59 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

I believe so, CC, but my son is 19.

 
At November 12, 2013 at 10:25 PM, Blogger Stan B. said...

I'm not surprised, particularly in a "suburban" school setting, and with that other incident obviously casting its long and fearful, racial shadow. School bureaucracies wherever are some of the most cowardly, corrupt institutions imaginable. It's no small wonder why so many of our lowliest politicians can trace their more than dubious careers directly back to the less than hallowed halls of school administration.

Facts and reality have nothing to do with these types, they have their own agenda- which is to mind each other's backs with a ferocity that would rival even the Bush admin of yore. Yeah, I'm talking from personal experience, three different admins on two different coasts, each one more distasteful than the last.

See what the NAACP has to say, but don't expect much, administrative behavior worse than this is both commonplace and routine throughout the land, and they've probably got a back load of far more egregious cases to contend with. Not that that that makes you and yours feel any better, or make this any the less wrong.

Take it as far as you can, make as much noise as you can; sad fact is, you probably won't get much in the way of satisfaction, but at least make 'em sweat. Your son deserves that much, and I know you're the guy who can do it.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
  • The Missing Security Tapes From the World Trade Center.
  • It's a Blunderful Life.
  • The Civil War II
  • Sweet Jesus, I Hate America
  • Top Ten Conservative Books
  • I Am Mr. Ed
  • Glenn Beck: Racist, Hate Monger, Comedian
  • The Ten Worst Music Videos of all Time
  • Assclowns of the Week

  • Links to the first 33 Assclowns of the Week.
  • Links to Assclowns of the Week 38-63.
  • #104: Make Racism Great Again Also Labor Day edition
  • #103: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Toilet edition
  • #102: Orange is the New Fat edition
  • #101: Electoral College Dropouts edition
  • #100: Centennial of Silliness edition
  • #99: Dr. Strangehate edition
  • #98: Get Bentghazi edition
  • #97: SNAPping Your Fingers at the Poor edition
  • #96: Treat or Treat, Kiss My Ass edition
  • #95: Monumental Stupidity double-sized edition
  • #94: House of 'Tards edition
  • #93: You Da Bomb! edition.
  • #92: Akin to a Fool edition.
  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
  • #81: Hatin' on Haiti edition.
  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
  • #71: Grand Theft Autocrats Edition
  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
  • Paul Ryan's Top Ten Conditions on Running for the Speakership
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Mitt Romney Won't Run for President in 2016
  • Top 10 Results of the NYPD's Work Slowdown
  • Top 10 Secret Service Security Breaches
  • Top 10 LA Radio Shows That Are Rated Higher Than Rush Limbaugh's
  • Top 10 Reasons Operation American Spring Went Flat
  • Top Ten Facts of the MH370 Air Disaster
  • Top 10 Tips for GOP Congressmen Running Against Women
  • Top 10 Signs Walmart's Mistreating its Workers
  • Top 10 Diversions John McCain Found During Syria Hearing
  • Top 10 George Zimmerman Excuses for Speeding.
  • Top 10 Reasons Paula Deen Got Fired by the Food Network
  • Top Ten Ways Pope Francis is Deviating From Convention
  • Top 10 Reasons For the Pope's Resignation
  • Top 10 Emails Hacked From the Bush Family's Email Accounts
  • Top 10 Lies Told by Mitt Romney at the 2nd Debate.
  • Top 10 Examples of How Hard the Campaign Trail is on Ann D. Romney.
  • Top 10 Ways to Tell The Boston Red Sox Are Finished.
  • Top 10 Things Mitt May be Hiding in His Tax Returns.
  • Top 10 Events at the Romney Olympics.
  • Mitt Romney's Top 10 Wild & Crazy Moments.
  • Top Ten Reasons Why Dick Cheney Got a Heart Transplant.
  • Top 10 Facts About Tonight's New England/Denver Game.
  • My Top 10 Resolutions.
  • Top 10 Rejected Slogans of the Romney Campaign.
  • Top 10 Reasons Herman Cain Suspended His Campaign.
  • Top 10 Trending Topics on Twitter During #OWS Eviction.
  • Top 10 Herman Cain Pickup Lines.
  • Top 10 Changes Since Anthony Weiner Decided to Resign.
  • Top 10 Inaccuracies re bin Laden's Death.
  • Top 10 Ways to Prevent a TSA Patdown.
  • Top Ten Things Not to Say When You're Pulled Over.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Donald Trump Bowed Out of the Presidential Race.
  • Top 10 Ways Evangelicals Will Prepare for the Rapture II.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Today's Parliament Inquiry into News Corp.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why There Was No Vote on the Debt Ceiling Last Night.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Dick Cheney's Upcoming Memoir.
  • Top Ten Ways Americans Will Observe the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
  • Top Ten Advances in Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia.
  • Top Ten Inaccuracies in Bill O'Reilly's Book About Lincoln.
  • Top Ten Suggestions From the Cat Food Commission.
  • Top Ten Worst Moments in George W. Bush's Presidency.
  • Top Ten Facts in George W. Bush's Memoir.
  • Top Ten Reasons Terry Jones Postponed His Koran Burning
  • Top 10 Causes for Dick Cheney's Congestive Heart Failure
  • Top Ten Ways That Jan Brewer Will Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
  • Top Ten Demands in Sarah Palin's Contract
  • Top Ten Whoppers in Karl Rove's New Book
  • Top 10 Items Left Behind in Rush Limbaugh's Apartment
  • Top Ten Things Barack Obama said to Rush Limbaugh in the Hospital
  • Top Ten Bizarre Promos Offered by the New Jersey Nets
  • Top 10 Bush Executive Orders Labor Wants President Obama to Repeal
  • George W. Bush's Top Ten Lesser Achievements
  • Empire Of The Senseless.
  • Christwire.org: Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • Hullabaloo, Digby's place.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Newshounds.
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Brad Blog.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • The artist formerly known as Politits. The politics are still liberal.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Salon.com.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find Articles.com, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • Dictionary.com.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • anysoldier.com
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
  • Powered by Blogger