A Matter of Principal
June 4, 2010 1:40 AM   Subscribe

"A skirmish between a junior high school principal and one of his students is yet again playing out publicly after a video of the incident was posted online. Ken Fells, a 15-year employee of the Halifax Regional School Board, was removed from his post at Graham Creighton Junior High School in Cherry Brook, N.S., after an altercation with a student on March 3."

Additional text from the National Post article:

The student allegedly took "inappropriate" photos of a female student on his cellphone, then refused to turn it over to teachers.

When Mr. Fells was called in to intervene, the student again refused to comply and attempted to leave.

The principal forcibly stopped him.

Residents in the tiny community, located just northeast of Halifax, had rallied around the principal when news of the incident leaked out.

The minute-long video -- footage from the school's surveillance camera -- was posted yesterday by Frank Magazine.

The school board had reportedly refused to release the footage.

It shows Mr. Fells blocking the student with his arm at the side of a hallway -- with the student reacting by pushing back.

The student then falls to the ground and Mr. Fells grabs him in a bearlike hug from behind, dragging him with some effort down the hall to the office.

The school board has remained mum on the incident, calling it a "personnel matter," but details have trickled out through parents and students.

Last week, the board voted to shuffle the veteran educator out of his principal's job, but did not fire him."

Follow up article: N.S. parents rally behind dismissed principal
posted by bwg (258 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I dunno, I kinda have a hair trigger for outrage at misbehaving authority figures, but I kinda think this is an iffy case. The kid sounds like a problem and he shoved the teacher first, and I think the teacher didn't use much more force than was necessary to restrain him.
posted by empath at 2:14 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Link goes to wrong video, all I see is a minor skuffle. If the kid was taking inappropriate pictures of female students, and then forcibly pushed the principal when confronted, then I don't think there was any over-stepping by Fells. Dismissal/reshuffling/suspension or whatever they are calling it, seems a bit harsh to me.
posted by Elmore at 2:16 AM on June 4, 2010


Apparently the principal "grabbed him by the throat" at the beginning, but I don't see that and it sounds, on its face, alarmist. I do see the student clearly assaulting the man, though the principal does initiate physical contact. I'm the last person to agree with a principal usually, but the student was clearly violent and he is (well, we all are) lucky this didn't end with an arrest and/or tasing and/or criminal record - instead he was just restrained until he calmed down.
posted by mek at 2:28 AM on June 4, 2010


Here, try this video or this video. It looks like the kid was being restrained, yeah, but the video to me makes it pretty obvious that the principal is acting out of anger, not out of a mission for educational discipline. Note that at the very end, inside the room, the kid is still being held in a chokehold.
posted by suedehead at 2:34 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


It looks to me that, just before the kid walks into shot, he actually morphs into a human form from his true liquid-metal cyborg shape. And I'm pretty sure that the Principal is my own son, whom I fathered by going back in time one day. So I think MetaJury should definitely NOT convict because the consequences for that poor man would be too terrifying to even contemplate.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:52 AM on June 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


suedehead: but the video to me makes it pretty obvious that the principal is acting out of anger

I don't see that at all. I see a kid who acted aggressively when an adult tried to stop him from running away. Observe that the principle had his left hand IN HIS POCKET when he first confronted the student and all he did was put up his right arm to keep him from going past. After that the kid pushed him.

Bringing him to the ground was the safest way of preventing fists from being thrown.

Note that at the very end, inside the room, the kid is still being held in a chokehold.

A headlock is not a chokehold. Ever tried to restrain someone who does not want to be restrained, suedehead? How else do you propose to do it?
posted by three blind mice at 3:03 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ever tried to restrain someone who does not want to be restrained, suedehead? How else do you propose to do it?

Well, I'd try to punch them first, put them in a chokehold until they give in, and tie them to a nearby post.

But -- if I wanted to restrain one of my students, of whom I have a legal and moral responsibility for, who is a non-adult teenager, and who should be restrained because they did something wrong? And if, in the process, I wanted to teach everyone else that the actions of the student were wrong as well? Because, after all, I'm the principal of a school and responsible for educating the entire school body in more ways than just 'how to ace a standardized school exam'?

If this kid had done something wrong than the principal could have done better than to drag him across the floor in a minute-long headlock into his office in front of (literally) two hundred kids. He could have talked to him and brought the matter up seriously. If physical force was ABSOLUTELY necessary, then he could have approached the student with another teacher. Instead, what happened was a messy struggle not between a teacher and a student, but between two people. Lose-lose for everyone involved - the kid, the principal, the school, the kids watching.


For a bit, I went to the equivalent of USian junior high in Korea, where it was common (back then) for teachers to use corporal punishment on students, in school. (Think whipped hands and asses, pushups, dozens of laps around the track, etc.) Now, while I resented being hit or whatnot, I understood it relatively well as a response mechanism for punishment. However, one thing that everybody would immediately pick up on was when a teacher would punish a student out of anger, not out of discipline. Each time that happened, I lost more respect for the teacher, as well as the education system in general. I don't doubt that happened with the kid, and the hundred other kids looking on, in this case.

Thankfully I had the great fortune of attending a high school where, even at 9th grade, I was treated respectfully and sincerely, as if I had responsibilities and consequences. And I did. And that was wonderful, and taught me a million more things than the sting of a stick ever did. And that's why I'm saying now that the principal absolutely fails as a principal, as the administrator of a school, as a teacher -- all of these things.
posted by suedehead at 3:39 AM on June 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


Here, try this video or this video.

Nope, still not seeing that. I don't see any neck grabbing or chokeholding. I'm not sure what "educational discipline" is and perhaps Fells is angry - he is a human (as far as I can tell from quidnunc's post I think he is the human) - but it's not out of control anger. Considering the situation I think he keeps control pretty well and it doesn't appear that the kid suffered any injuries.
posted by Elmore at 3:45 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


it's not exactly a rodney king, is it?
posted by msconduct at 3:48 AM on June 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


suedehead: He could have talked to him and brought the matter up seriously. If physical force was ABSOLUTELY necessary, then he could have approached the student with another teacher.

Suedehead you seem to be completely ignoring the rights of the female students who deserve protection from having "inappropriate" (read: upskirt) photos taken of them by classmates.

It seems this boy was seen doing that (or something similarly "inappropriate"), he was confronted by other students and teachers, and he ran away hoping to erase (or upload) the evidence, but the principle happened to be there to stop him.

If the principle was angry because this kid was taking "inappropriate" snapshots of female students then GOOD ON HIM. He should be angry about that and so should everyone else.
posted by three blind mice at 4:02 AM on June 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, it's not like the kid posed any kind of danger. While the principle may not have injured him, it doesn't seem like there is actual reason why he needs to be detained. So what if he walks away?
The student allegedly took "inappropriate" photos of a female student on his cellphone, then refused to turn it over to teachers.
What does that mean? Was he running around perving out trying to take upskirts or something? Or did he sneak off with his girlfriend to take some naughty pictures? Or were these pictures he took somewhere else? I think it makes a big difference. I certainly wouldn't want to turn my cellphone over to someone just because they asked for it.

And the only reason why the kid might need to be restrained was so that the kid couldn't delete the pictures on the phone. But if the principle doesn't really have the right to demand the phone, then there's not really any reason at all for his behavior.

What difference does it make if he was "controlled" during the incident? Do you think he deserves a cookie for not beating the kid to a pulp or something?
posted by delmoi at 4:03 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


This guy has always had a full-of-himself attitude. It used to really rankle me when he'd officiously and snarkily enforce the school's no-hats-for-students rule, whilst himself proudly sporting a leopardskin pillbox. Grrr.
posted by fish tick at 4:04 AM on June 4, 2010


Suedehead you seem to be completely ignoring the rights of the female students who deserve protection from having "inappropriate" (read: upskirt) photos taken of them by classmates.

Why should we "read:" that as "upskirt". We don't know what was in the photos. If he was doing upskirts, then I agree that's pretty bad. But why would the principle actually need to see the pictures? Just give him detention or whatever.
posted by delmoi at 4:06 AM on June 4, 2010


three blind mice : Ever tried to restrain someone who does not want to be restrained, suedehead? How else do you propose to do it?

Wrong question. Better one - Why do it?

I totally agree that the principal has the moral high-ground here, and the little bastard, caught doing something wrong, assaulted him.

The principal, however, had two choices - Let him go, call the police, and have one less piece of trash cluttering up his halls; or try to force someone obviously not interested to recognize his authority.

He chose poorly.
posted by pla at 4:06 AM on June 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why does the news anchor say that incident occurred last week? The video doesn't seem to have been released until some time in late May and the articles say that the confrontation occurred on March 3.
posted by inconsequentialist at 4:20 AM on June 4, 2010


The principle used a chokehold to bring the kid to the floor, and then stood over him, choking him, as a second kid in white came over to try to intervene. Then he uses a headlock to bring him down the hall. Given his height and weight advantage, the chokehold was completely unnecessary. He should have grabbed the kid's torso and picked him up, instead of lazily "clotheslining" him and then choking him.

The kid is in junior high. That puts him in the 6-8th grade range... between 11 and 14 years old. He's also small: maybe 90-120 pounds. The principle is easily 250 pounds. I promise you, he didn't even feel the little "push" that kid used, and wouldn't have been hurt by the kid's flailing. And if he was worried about being struck, choking was the worst thing for him to do: he ought to restrain the child's limbs, not his throat. The throat wasn't going to attack him, it was just at a convenient height and served as an easy handle.

Middle schools are strange because the students are in a weird in-between period: going through puberty, dealing with raging emotions, and still not really adults. The adults in that situation have special challenges, and also a particular set of responsibilities. In particular, it means that sometimes they will have to use physical force to restrain children who are not able to respect their authority given their own mental state. That force will require more care because it must be proportionate and because those using it will still have the substantial size advantage of adulthood that makes child abuse possible. I don't envy teachers and administrators at this level, but that doesn't make their failures or excesses excusable.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:23 AM on June 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Actually, I just reviewed the video, and it's not a headlock: it's a half nelson. But the first move is definitely a choke.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:28 AM on June 4, 2010


If he was doing upskirts, then I agree that's pretty bad. But why would the principle actually need to see the pictures? Just give him detention or whatever.

That's not how things work these days, is it? More like upskirt photo = call the cops = sex crime = sex offenders list = serious lifetime restrictions on where he can live and where he can work. All for snapping a snap of some snip's snapper.
posted by pracowity at 4:28 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think the principal and the student should both be punished by being forced to hug naked in the town square while people throw pieces of honeycomb at them.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:31 AM on June 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Was this young man under arrest? Is this stuffed shirt a law enforcement officer? No. Did the stuffed shirt have the right to take control of this citizen's property (the Bill of Rights is quite specific about that)?

If you treat teens with disrespect, don't come crying when they treat you, the same way. A few stuffed shirts grab students and pull back a bloody stump instead will teach them the meaning of respect.

The student posed no danger to himself or others. The stuffed shirt had no business initiating force of any kind. I think the only reason the student wasn't arrested was because the stuffed shirt was the criminal here. I we all know the stuffed shirts get away with things that students seldom do.
posted by eurandom at 4:34 AM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


delmoi: If he was doing upskirts, then I agree that's pretty bad. But why would the principle actually need to see the pictures? Just give him detention or whatever.

Detention after he uploaded the photos to the Internet?

I completely admit I am speculating about what happened before the video started - we don't see this. But it seems equally speculative to draw conclusions based on the video alone without seeing what prompted his actions.

Assuming that "inappropriate" means upskirt, I see the principle as defending the rights of female students and in that light, he did nothing wrong.

He didn't go far enough. The school should have called the police after the evidence was secured, that kid should be expelled, criminally prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and the subjected to civil lawsuit by the girls whose privacy was violated.

Protecting women from sexual predators is never wrong.
posted by three blind mice at 4:35 AM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


They didn't go far enough. The school should have called the police after the evidence was secured, that principle should be fired, criminally prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and then subjected to civil lawsuit by the child who was assaulted.

Protecting children from child abuse is never wrong.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:48 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


pracrowity: All for snapping a snap of some snip's snapper.

C'mon man. That's not cool. We're talking about teenage girls who are (possibly) the unwilling subjects of some jerk's voyeurism.

eurandom: The student posed no danger to himself or others.

See above. How is this not a danger?

If the kid did NOT take upskirt photos and was just minding his own business and doing nothing wrong, then I am wrong about the principle's reaction and it is he who should suffer prosecution.

But I'm guessing this man did what he did for a reason and not just because he's some "stuffed shirt" who gets his rocks off by lording it over innocent students.
posted by three blind mice at 4:52 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've heard that if you watch the video in the FPP, then seven days later you get a phone call and then the computer turns on and the principal CRAWLS RIGHT OUT OF THE SCREEN AND PUTS YOU IN A HEADLOCK.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:53 AM on June 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


anotherpanacea: Protecting children from child abuse is never wrong.

And what if the kid was taking upskirt photos of his female classmates without their knowledge?

Would your opinion of the principle's reaction be any different?
posted by three blind mice at 4:56 AM on June 4, 2010


Protecting children from child abuse is never wrong.

That's what the principal was doing.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:59 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


after watching the video, i fail to see what the problem is. yeah, it's always unpleasant when authority figures use violence, but at the same time, that kid needed to do what he was told.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:09 AM on June 4, 2010


oh, and it was probably better that the kid learned that lesson this way then a few years later at the hands of a 25 or 30 year old angry cop.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:09 AM on June 4, 2010


I've heard that, in the future, if you don't do what you are told then people from MeFi will crawl out of your computer screen and take photos of your upskirt.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:15 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unless that lesson is hide in the trees and use a zoom lens or night vision.
posted by Elmore at 5:21 AM on June 4, 2010


"No, you guys aren't getting it. I am the principal. The kid wasn't following my instructions. The only way to get his cellphone was to start a fight with him."
posted by 23skidoo at 5:25 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


The principal, however, had two choices - Let him go, call the police, and have one less piece of trash cluttering up his halls; or try to force someone obviously not interested to recognize his authority.

Sure, and when the kid is off property and before the cops find him, he spreads those inappropriate photos to his friends. They send it to their friends, and some teenage girl's body is subject to scrutiny by everyone she knows because justice is way, way slower than technology.

Sure, you find the kid and punish them, but I've seen what it does to a girl to have that kind of thing happen to her in middle school. It's decimating, and no amount of justice undoes what happens to her from there on out. This kind of thing (I live ~ 3 hours away from Halifax) has happened here and the two girls it happened to moved away the second they could act on their own accord because it never goes away.

This isn't a case of vandalism, or truancy, or even a fight. This is preventing a sexual crime from happening. The principal has a responsibility to stop the kid from committing the crime and I'm happy he did. The way he disarmed the kid is pretty classic self-defense; take him down and prevent him from getting up again.
posted by Hiker at 5:27 AM on June 4, 2010 [43 favorites]


My kneejerk reaction upon reading this initially was that the principal would not have any reason to lay a finger on the kid and should be considered to be in the wrong solely based upon that. He could have called the police, then just left it up to them.

I got to thinking about it, though, and I remembered what a piece of shit I was at that age. And I never would have shoved a principal like that. This establishes the kid, in my mind and with my limited understanding of the situation anyway, an even bigger piece of shit.

So with all this backlash against the principal probably making the kid feel justified in his nonsense, I'm going to guess that instead of learning any kind of lesson here, he is going to learn his lesson later on in life when trying to perv on some other girl whose boyfriend/husband/whomever will be of a similar size difference and will, in all likelihood, not show nearly as much restraint.

Good luck you little fucker.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 5:32 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


God I hate it when this shit gets posted here...

hot button topic, teacher abuses kid... yeah, yeah, yeah...

I watched the video, I saw a kid trying to skirt past the principal, I saw him reach out to stop him, I saw the kid push the adult.. all bets are off at that point...

Interestingly enough, the fpp is pretty balanced in the wording... but, what's the point of it. The school board isn't going crazy with it, the community supports the guy... this is a sensationalist news video with no real content.
posted by HuronBob at 5:36 AM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Kid jerk. Upskirt photos not a danger, grow up. Also not sexual offense. Principal should go back to work. Video shouldn't be posted.

There you have it.
posted by sfts2 at 5:42 AM on June 4, 2010


Nobody was in physical danger if the student walked off. Let's not white knight this out here, "protecting the womenfolk" from non-physical threats (which, at this point, who even knows what has happened? I'm guessing the principal doesn't) with physical restraint and violence is inappropriate, not unlike punching out some dude because he maybe looked at your girlfriend's breasts.

The principal is still holding onto the student while in the office, whereas he simply could have stood in front of the door, if the student's daring escape plan was such an issue. By the end of one of the videos, eighteen seconds has elapsed between the office door being closed and that kid still being in a half-Nelson. That's a long time in a fight? And, if we're playing the "nobody knows what really went on" game, who knows how long it went on after? That's an adult who is not thinking clearly, which, yeah, anger.
posted by adipocere at 5:44 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here's the way I look at it - I pulled their policy from their web site and found this:
STUDENTS MUST NOT HARM ANOTHER PERSON IN ANY WAY.

Students will not participate in violence or intimidation. Students will not participate in defiant behaviour. Students will not use force to injure another person or instigate or encourage others to use force. Students will no threaten to use force. Behaviour which is violent is not acceptable; this includes fighting, pushing, shoving, tripping, kicking, spitting, rough housing, throwing anything including snowballs, and verbal or physical intimidation. Sexually explicit behaviour, material or language that offends the generally accepted community values will not be tolerated. Pornographic material is not allowed on school property.

Consequences of Misbehaviour

Disrespect or inappropriate behaviour will result in immediate action by staff and or administration. The student may be suspended and the RCMP may be contacted. Other disciplinary actions may apply as listed in Section 1A
This policy covers the student's behavior as well as his suspected action. In my opinion, the principal's goal was to obtain the phone and examine it for evidence before the kid wiped it. However, the kid, threatened, lashed out and the principal escalated instead de-escalated. That, I think was his mistake. When I was teaching, we had to have training in when and if to use restraint and the result was almost never - the potential consequences are too high. Exceptions include when a child is an immediate danger to him/herself or surrounding people, which I didn't see there. Even then, restraint methods like that shouldn't be used because of possible head/neck injury.

Ideally, I think the child should have been let go and then escorted by several people to the office, not solo. Sure, he may have had time to delete the photos, but chances are he would stop the behavior and more people would be on the look out for it should it resurface.
posted by plinth at 5:44 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


what's the point of it

Well, Mr Fells has lost his job because of it.
posted by Elmore at 5:44 AM on June 4, 2010


I wonder if the average MeFite really understands the concepts behind respect, discipline, force, and violence, and the fine lines between them. I don't see child abuse here, and I don't see a principal going over the line. In my opinion, a principal needs to be able to control the study body in whatever means are necessary. The principal was being disrespected in his hallways, and he needed to remedy that while also taking physical control and custody of the kid.

There are a handful of ways to control someone you have custody of, and they all involve force. This principal used force to control the student, but he didn't do it violently except for the takedown, which required violence. The fact that it was a choke, half-nelson, etc., I couldn't tell from the video.

So the question remains: does the principal even need to use force? I think the principal put out his arm to stop the kid, and the kid assaulted him. In my opinion, the principal is now free to control the student with force. In others' opinions, it seems that they would rather the principal abdicate his responsibility to maintain order and discipline and give it to the police instead. That seems like a slippery slope to me. I think we can all agree that if the student had a weapon, the principal would be within his rights. In this case the student assaulted the principal. Why shouldn't the principal use force?
posted by taumeson at 5:47 AM on June 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


When I was teaching, we had to have training in when and if to use restraint and the result was almost never - the potential consequences are too high.

And listen, I'm not saying that school employees have carte blanche to control students as they see fit, but this guy wasn't just a teacher, he was the principal. I do indeed believe the rules need to be a little different for him.
posted by taumeson at 5:49 AM on June 4, 2010


I'm seeing a lot of knee-jerk defense of the principal based on the mere supposition of what this kid might have done. In particular, three blind mice seems pretty stuck on the idea that what this principal did is justified on the basis that the kid might have taken an upskirt shot. Does Canada have a completely different take on the whole innocent-until-proven-guilty thing? Remember, these are junior high kids. My ex-girlfriend's son went through hell in high school because of repeated suspensions based solely on lies that his classmates told because he was one of the few goths in school.

I've done child care where I had to learn to restrain kids that were a physical danger to themselves and/or others, and I can tell you that if I'd grabbed a kid around the neck like that and dragged them, I'd have instantly lost my job, and possibly gone to jail. But that was before the idea that anyone who doesn't submit immediately and totally to authority on the flimsiest of pretexts deserves to be subdued by any means necessary and/or handy (including tasering, which is not the harmless Vulcan neck pinch that people seem to think it is) took hold in our society, post 9/11. I think that you really, really, really want to think twice before rubber-stamping someone being able to throw a person half their size to the ground on the rumor that they might be about to upload a picture of someone's underwear to the internet.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:50 AM on June 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


HuronBob: "Interestingly enough, the fpp is pretty balanced in the wording... but, what's the point of it. The school board isn't going crazy with it, the community supports the guy... this is a sensationalist news video with no real content."

HuronBob, the wording is a direct quote from the original news article; I added nothing to it nor editorialised.

I did not put it up to be sensationalist; not everyone agrees with the school board or the community. It may not be your cup of tea, but for others it is worth discussing.
posted by bwg at 5:51 AM on June 4, 2010


There's a lot of GRAR in this thread. I wanted to point out that there ARE legal and ethical ways of restraining students, and I know this because I have those certifications, and I'll talk about those in a minute. First of all though, restraint in this situation was unwarranted.

I see the man reaching out to stop the youth. If at this point he had already decided to physically stop the kid, reaching out to his head was not the right answer. The kid tries to go under his arm, and then all hell breaks loose. Had this been my principal, he'd have gotten a toestomping headbutt before I took off out the door. The principal in this case attempts to use his mass as a deterrent, which seems awfully silly for someone paid to look after teenagers.

But yea---
He should have grabbed the kid's torso and picked him up, instead of lazily "clotheslining" him and then choking him. is a wrong answer, as are lots of the "he shoulda" comments upthread.

Your real concerns when restraining an out of control person who is smaller than you are, and in the following order: 1, not hurting yourself. 2 not hurting the individual.

Picking up someone smaller than you who is fighting hard and/or breathing heavily is a recipe for positional asphyxia. Bad news, it's why handcuffed people suffocate in police cars.

Anyway, the correct response would have been a body block, following by a sweeping wrist grab into a basket hold, OR any one of the non-compliant-person grips that use strategic arm position. You never, ever, ever, ever touch the head, or the neck, or cross the chest. You never, ever, ever ,ever, ever go to the ground. Ever. That's how small people die.

I'm a small person, and I've restrained people bigger than I am using CPI/Mandt/TCI techniques in the past, and I am not an educational professional. This principal is lucky as hell that he didn't either hurt the kid or get his ass beaten. Like I said, me at that age? He'da had a busted nose and probably a dislocated jaw---but only because of his poor body position and assumption that size = win.
posted by TomMelee at 5:55 AM on June 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


Taumeson-
I know what you meant, above---but you said:

a principal needs to be able to control the study body in whatever means are necessary...
and
The principal was being disrespected in his hallways, and he needed to remedy that...

I fervently hope that there never comes a time when open disrespect gives someone the right to physically detain, restrain, and/or physically control anyone, save possibly their own children, regardless of their job title.
posted by TomMelee at 5:59 AM on June 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Thank you Hiker for putting down my own thoughts so succinctly. People who are focusing on the punishment aspect of this -"he's reacting too aggressively to a student taking inappropriate photos", are ignoring the fact that the real damage in such a sex crime is the posting of those photos to friends, or online, or wherever (an act that only takes the push of a button).

The principal acted to stop the real crime from happening and resorted to force only when the student shoved him.

For those of you that believe that the principal has a moral obligation to take some sort of higher road, imagine that your daughter is crying in her room, afraid to go to school because racy photos of her have just been plastered all over the internet and you learn that the principal, when he had the perpetrator face to face, let him go and didn't do everything in his power to secure that phone?
posted by jadayne at 6:00 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not a lot of educators in this thread, I'm guessing. Or maybe hoping.

I do see the student clearly assaulting the man, though the principal does initiate physical contact.

The first part of your sentence does not belong with the second part.

The principal made this physical first. Unless intervening to stop someone who's a danger to themselves or others, he has no right to do so, and the kid has every right to defend himself -- unless one of the character-building lessons public schools should be teaching is "When any authority figure assaults you, restrain your natural fight or flight instincts, go limp, and take whatever's coming."

The man in the video is not an educator, and should never be allowed to work in a school system again. I don't see someone doing their job, I see someone turning to violence when he couldn't convince someone of something. He lost control. Aside from the ethical implications of what he did, he's also just clearly in the wrong job.

Maybe this kid is a pervert (a problem, but not intractable at his age), maybe he doesn't respect arbitrary authority (hopefully he never will), maybe he's the reincarnation of Hitler (unlikely) - none of that justifies someone employed as educator and guardian laying a fucking finger on him.

If that was my kid, I'd be pressing charges against the principal, and insisting that his punishment be going back to kindergarten for some remedial courses on "use your words."

oh, and it was probably better that the kid learned that lesson this way then a few years later at the hands of a 25 or 30 year old angry cop.

If you're referring to the lesson that authority is violent and capricious and authority figures are inherently untrustworthy until they prove otherwise, yeah, sure, I guess - but learning it this way also makes it more likely that he has a lot more contact with those angry cops in the future, and is lost to any of the few good public educators me may come into contact with before that.

Any actually skilled teacher in that school just had their job made three times harder.
posted by regicide is good for you at 6:03 AM on June 4, 2010 [15 favorites]


I watched the video, I saw a kid trying to skirt past the principal, I saw him reach out to stop him, I saw the kid push the adult

I watched the video, too. I saw a kid try to skirt past a principal, and the principal puts up his arm to stop him. Then the principal uses his whole arm to shove the student away. The kid pushes the principal after the principal starts the fight.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:11 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


He should have grabbed the kid's torso and picked him up, instead of lazily "clotheslining" him and then choking him. is a wrong answer, as are lots of the "he shoulda" comments upthread.

Right, sorry: choke away, Mr. Expert.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:17 AM on June 4, 2010


I fervently hope that there never comes a time when open disrespect gives someone the right to physically detain, restrain, and/or physically control anyone, save possibly their own children, regardless of their job title.

TomMelee, I think we can both agree that "not being put into this situation in the first place" is the right move for an educator or administrator. And I thank you for your insight into various forms of restraint available that avoid the head/neck area...it's a good point you made, where even with my take that the principal is within his right to restrain the student, he could have done it better.
posted by taumeson at 6:21 AM on June 4, 2010


Anecdote time: in 7th grade we were standing in the hallway after lunch, waiting for the teacher to come and let us in the classroom. Some of the other students were telling me to snap a girl's bra strap, something I didn't do. The teacher came up from behind us and hauled me down to the principal's office where I was going to be suspended. Parents called, my mother comes down, talks to me, talks to the girl, and tells us both to wait outside the principal's office. After about 10 minutes of my mother reading the principal and the teacher the riot act, both of the school officials apologized to us.

The teacher and the principal were ready to suspend me for sexual assault. Neither of them had seen anything, because there was nothing to see. There was just what the teacher had heard, but at no point did I ever touch the girl, nor was I going to. According to the popular opinion on MeFi today, it seems that the principal would have been within his rights to physically assault me, based on the taunts of other students.
posted by ryoshu at 6:23 AM on June 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


And what if the kid was taking upskirt photos of his female classmates without their knowledge? Would your opinion of the principle's reaction be any different?

What if the black man really did look at the white woman lasciviously? Would your opinion of the lynching be any different?
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:24 AM on June 4, 2010


All for snapping a snap of some snip's snapper.

I love alliteration as much as anybody, but this is not cool.
posted by kmz at 6:24 AM on June 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


What if the black man really did look at the white woman lasciviously? Would your opinion of the lynching be any different?

I'm not sure what to think of this case yet, but analogies like this don't help. Are you seriously making that comparison? Seriously?
posted by kmz at 6:27 AM on June 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


According to the popular opinion on MeFi today, it seems that the principal would have been within his rights to physically assault me, based on the taunts of other students.

Just want to check one thing -- were you a smartass student who assaulted the principal when he just wanted to stop you and go down to his office?
posted by taumeson at 6:28 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


This isn't the entirety of the incident. It started with a teacher asking for the offending cell phone, which I'll guarantee you isn't allowed to be out in school, and CERTAINLY shouldn't be used to take pervy photo shots. When I taught, cell phones were plain not allowed in school. If I saw it, it belonged to me. How many kids did I catch texting each other, playing games, etc? How many DIDN'T I catch?

Okay, so kid refuses to give up the phone. Kid refuses to go to AP when asked to. Kid refuses to cooperate in any way, shape or form. Also, who knows how much shit this kid has kicked up in the past?

I'm here to tell you, NOTHING is more infuriating than some little shit refusing to do what you ask him or her to do, and you pretty much have NO recourse. I grant that the AP lost it, but I think he showed some restraint. Me, I'd have put that kid through a wall. Twice.

It took me two years to burn out of teaching high school. Two years. Admittedly, I taught in a very rough, inner-city school.

I find it really interesting though, how many folks are outraged by the AP, when the kid was initially in the wrong. What exactly should have been done? Let him keep going to class? Let him walk around unmolested, doing whatever he wants?

I'm actually encouraged that the AP took action. I had a kid smack something out of my hand and NOTHING was done to discipline him. I had a kid scream, yell and curse at me (because I had the temerity to challenge his assertion that he had two children with a model and was supporting them with his construction job) in the end nothing was done because it was his word against mine. I had a bunch of kids dip out of school after a fire drill and when I turned in the written reports to the AP, he said to me, "so? What's the big deal?"

It's a slippery slope folks and the job just keeps getting harder. Kids aren't disciplined at home, and if you can't do it at school, then you can't complain when these monsters are loosed on society.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:31 AM on June 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Are you seriously making that comparison? Seriously?

I apologize for the incendiary framing, but it seems to me the basic question is this: does suspicion of objectifying a woman justify the use of potentially deadly force without due process against a disempowered subgroup, whether that be African-Americans or Nova Scotian children?

That the child didn't die is just luck.The principle had two hands around the kid's throat and all of his weight above him. Fights aren't predictable: he could easily have tripped. As TomMelee puts it, that's how small people die.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:33 AM on June 4, 2010


Upskirt photos not a danger, grow up. Also not sexual offense.

The saddest part of this story is that you're probably not the only person who actually believes this.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:38 AM on June 4, 2010 [49 favorites]


And what if the kid was taking upskirt photos of his female classmates without their knowledge? Would your opinion of the principle's reaction be any different?

What if the kid just happened to snap a few pics of his female classmate in the process of doing something "inappropriate"? Not that I'm trying to turn this into a "blame the victim" type thing, but what if some girl is goofing around and flashing her boobs to someone, and Quickdraw McGraw just happens to snap off a prize shot, he should now get subdued and his property confiscated?

Without the full details of what happened beforehand (to know how critical it was to catch this kid before something "leaked"), I would say the principal did overreact a bit. I don't think he needs to be fired, but some sort of lessons in how to subdue students when needed would be appropriate.
posted by stifford at 6:40 AM on June 4, 2010


Not that I'm trying to turn this into a "blame the victim" type thing, but what if some girl is goofing around and flashing her boobs to someone, and Quickdraw McGraw just happens to snap off a prize shot, he should now get subdued and his property confiscated?

Not that I'm trying to turn this into a pile-on type thing but in what way is that question not supposed to be interpreted as "well what if she was asking for it?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:47 AM on June 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


Hey, as long as you preface with a disclaimer, you can say whatever you want and get away with it!

"Not trying to be offensive, but..."

"Don't want to sound sexist/racist/homophobic, but..."

"Don't mean to be rude, but..."
posted by kmz at 6:53 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let me make a suggestion... All of us defending the principal should have to spend two weeks as a student with every administrator 2 feet taller than we are and in a bad mood.

All of us defending the student should have to spend two weeks as the administrator in a school full of oppositional defiant 15 year olds.

Then let's come back and talk about this.
posted by HuronBob at 6:54 AM on June 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Not that I'm trying to turn this into a pile-on type thing but in what way is that question not supposed to be interpreted as "well what if she was asking for it?"

I understand your point, and I was trying to phrase things carefully. The point I was trying to make is that "inappropriate photos" is kind of vague, in the sense that was what the kid was doing was inappropriate, or what he took a photo of was. A lot of the tone of posts in this thread has the kid as some predator, jamming his camera under skirts, or under bathroom stall doors or something like that. If some girl happens to flash someone (and not even a "hey everybody...look at these" incident, just a quick joking flash when she didn't think anyone else was looking) and this kid just happened to be at the right place at the right time,
does he deserve to be grabbed in the hall, and dragged back to the principal's office?
posted by stifford at 6:56 AM on June 4, 2010


I find it really interesting though, how many folks are outraged by the AP, when the kid was initially in the wrong. What exactly should have been done? Let him keep going to class? Let him walk around unmolested, doing whatever he wants?

How about the AP does this: bring a security guard or intimidating teacher with him. Block the student's passage without shoving the student. Talk to student. Use talking to get student to come to the AP's office. I'm an ex-teacher who taught at a rough school too, and I can really only think of maybe one instance where a couple adults staring a kid down wasn't enough to make the kid begrudgingly head to the office. Yep, the kids talked a lot of shit, and they didn't want to go right away, but they mostly ended up going. The ones that didn't go had really heavy emotional problems and crap. Hard to say off a video, but this could looks he could've been intimidated into the principal's office.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:00 AM on June 4, 2010


If some girl happens to flash someone (and not even a "hey everybody...look at these" incident, just a quick joking flash when she didn't think anyone else was looking)

I was a big square in high school so I missed out on most of the fun stuff, but does that really happen in real life?

And point is, even if the scenario is as you described, why would it be OK for the kid to take the picture?
posted by kmz at 7:04 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


First rule in approaching someone you think you MIGHT have to restrain.

Don't do it alone.

Hard to say on this one. If it was my kid, yeah, I would be pissed if he was choke-hold restrained over an "alleged" activity.

But I do understand that the kid behaved inappropriately in shoving the principal. I think the best thing still would have been to approach the kid in a different setting with more folks and a bit less aggression. I had some "interesting" situations with educators in school and not one of them ever laid a hand on me except to shake mine at the end of the discussion. The video doesn't seem to show the guy trying to verbally stop the kid.

As for defending the honor of the girls, please. From what I see on that there Intarwebs thing, most school age girls are more than willing to show their cooter to a cell phone camera. Heck, it almost seems like it is a new right of passage for teen girls.
posted by tomb at 7:08 AM on June 4, 2010


NO TOUCHING
posted by disclaimer at 7:09 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Re: Upskirt photos. I've worked in a disciplinary role at a couple universities, and I've often wanted a rule on the books that allowed me to take action against students (inevitably guys) who were doing nothing but acting like complete assholes.

Re: Principal's action. My mom was a middle school teacher. She told me that the adults in school were always right and not to talk back. I hold by that.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:12 AM on June 4, 2010


Sorry.
posted by phaedon at 7:15 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"If some girl happens to flash someone (and not even a "hey everybody...look at these" incident, just a quick joking flash when she didn't think anyone else was looking)"

I was a big square in high school so I missed out on most of the fun stuff, but does that really happen in real life?


I saw a lot crazier shit than that go down, when I went to high school. I'm half terrifed to think what school would have been like if we had the internet and phone cameras back then.

And point is, even if the scenario is as you described, why would it be OK for the kid to take the picture?

Assuming the incident took place in a totally public area (not in a changing room), I think the lesson to be learned is for the flasher, not the picture taker.
posted by stifford at 7:18 AM on June 4, 2010


I certainly wouldn't want to turn my cellphone over to someone just because they asked for it.

It's been a while since you've been to school, hasn't it? These days any student who brings a phone to school pretty much anywhere does so with the understanding that it can be taken away by their teachers or administrators if they're misbehaving with it. When I was a sub, phones were to be kept in lockers at all times and I was told to confiscate any phone I saw or heard -- they'd be held for parents to pick up in person later on.

In my book, any student who blatantly picks a physical fight with a school official, especially in front of other students, gets pretty much whatever's coming to him. By challenging the principal's authority in such a flagrantly disrespectful way, he put the guy in an impossible position, and I can't imagine making any decision under those circumstances that wouldn't result in someone hollering for my head.

Also in a lot of schools, especially schools with high delinquent populations, teachers are actually trained in restraining holds and maneuvers. Maybe this is less common nowadays, but someone the principal's age could certainly have a teaching background where this was the case.
posted by hermitosis at 7:19 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also:

As for defending the honor of the girls, please. From what I see on that there Intarwebs thing, most school age girls are more than willing to show their cooter to a cell phone camera. Heck, it almost seems like it is a new right of passage for teen girls.

Get out more.
posted by hermitosis at 7:21 AM on June 4, 2010 [20 favorites]


Just want to check one thing -- were you a smartass student who assaulted the principal when he just wanted to stop you and go down to his office?

In my case, the teacher assaulted me as soon as she grabbed me by the shirt. I was compliant and went down to the principal's office. In this case, the AP assaulted the student as soon as he touched him.

So is it your position that school officials should be allowed to assault students (minors, no less) based on allegations from other students?
posted by ryoshu at 7:21 AM on June 4, 2010


Upskirt photos not a danger, grow up. Also not sexual offense.

Who the fuck wrote this?
posted by chugg at 7:21 AM on June 4, 2010


imagine that your daughter is crying in her room, afraid to go to school because racy photos of her have just been plastered all over the internet

But if it's an upskirt picture then how can you tell it's even them? I might understand if the kid went into the girls locker room why this might be even close to a reasonable response, but if there is no way to identify the person in the photo I don't see how this reasoning works.
posted by symbollocks at 7:22 AM on June 4, 2010


As for defending the honor of the girls, please. From what I see on that there Intarwebs thing, most school age girls are more than willing to show their cooter to a cell phone camera. Heck, it almost seems like it is a new right of passage for teen girls.

WTF. This is super subtle hamburger or all of a sudden it's Misogyny Day here on Metafilter.
posted by kmz at 7:25 AM on June 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


The kid was up to something. He knew he'd get in trouble for running away from the principal, and then for pushing him - suspension, maybe expulsion. So whatever he was trying to hide, in his mind would have called for a more serious punishment. Principal probably was aware of this too, but you can't really tell that from the video, can you?
posted by Elmore at 7:26 AM on June 4, 2010


".....but if there is no way to identify the person in the photo I don't see how this reasoning works."

You've NEVER been around a 14 year old girl, eh?
posted by HuronBob at 7:27 AM on June 4, 2010


Let me make a suggestion... All of us defending the principal should have to spend two weeks as a student with every administrator 2 feet taller than we are and in a bad mood.

All of us defending the student should have to spend two weeks as the administrator in a school full of oppositional defiant 15 year olds.


Sounds like a great meetup idea!

(We can call it the Metafilter School Experiment.)
posted by kmz at 7:28 AM on June 4, 2010


As for defending the honor of the girls, please. From what I see on that there Intarwebs thing, most school age girls are more than willing to show their cooter to a cell phone camera. Heck, it almost seems like it is a new right of passage for teen girls.

I hope there was a big pile of hamburgers missing from that statement. If you're being serious - even if you were right - there's a big difference between a girl choosing to show her cooter to a camera and someone taking a picture of the cooter without her permission. Like the same kind of difference between a girl choosing to have sex with a random guy and some random guy having sex with her against her will. It's somewhat unbelievable that anyone these days wouldn't see that.
posted by Dojie at 7:29 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The upskirt thing is pure speculation. Inappropriate photos could be anything. It could be bullying or constant harrassment. If a kid was taking photos of you everytime you were in the same room, that would be inappropriate. If he took photos of you as you shovelled a cream donut into your mouth and posted it on whyIhatedaisymcmurphy.com that would be inappropriate. Metafilter made up that the kid was taking upskirt photos, but 'inappropriate' may be a bit more complex or subtle.
posted by Elmore at 7:32 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Kid jerk. Upskirt photos not a danger, grow up. Also not sexual offense. Principal should go back to work. Video shouldn't be posted.

There you have it.


Jesus, that comment is a large, lumbering shit-barge floating down the river of nuance. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot?
posted by Kskomsvold at 7:33 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Sexting" has been a big media story lately. Girls send a photo to one guy or lets him take it, who forwards it on. It isn't unreasonable to suggest that is what is going on, instead of upskirts. There is simply no information in any of the stories to say what actually happened, so assuming either is correct is wrong at this point.

If young boys looking up a girls skirt at one point or another makes them sexual predators every man on the planet is a sexual predator. The camera is the issue. You can excuse simply trying to look as male hijinks you need to grow out of as soon as possible but not when posting pictures online is the issue.

There is also no story that says if they actually found anything on the phone, which is kind of an important point to decide who was in the right in this, isn't it? You can't go beating up everyone who gets accused of stuff in schools and is indignant about it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:34 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The news story claims the student was "grabbed" by the throat in the very beginning, and that seems totally false. The Principal blocked the student with his arm; a move I've seen teachers do all the time and something I've done as a sub. The student initiated contact by pushing against his arm to get away.
posted by spaltavian at 7:34 AM on June 4, 2010


You've NEVER been around a 14 year old girl, eh?

What's your point?... Girls that age have crotch memorizing parties?... They have personalized underwear?... Huh?
posted by symbollocks at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2010


Without knowing exactly what happened it is difficult to state with any degree of confidence what the 'correct' actions of the principal should be.

It does, however, seem to me that a teacher has to have some level of 'permission' to use their physicality when faced with a disruptive pupil who has ignored their instructions and escalted from verbal to physical (in any way - I see no level of acceptable physicality in the first instance for the child in response to acceptable requests for compliance).

If there is no acceptable escalation then there is no control, whatsoever. The children likley to challenge authority (and every school has them) will take immeadiate advantage.

Now, I'm also a knee jerk defender of response to OTT authority. I'm much more likely to assume that the skateboarder did not deserve to be hit by the policeman etc etc (made up example), and I hate the fact that I even typed the words 'acceptable requests for compliance' .... but I'm damned if I think it is more approariate to call the cops to chase an errant 14 yr old school boy for not stopping when told to.

I can't believe that many peoples response is that the police should have handled it. Good god people. Its a fucking school. He is a dumb teenager. He didn't do what he was told and you want to call the cops ! Get a grip.
posted by Boslowski at 7:39 AM on June 4, 2010


What we have here is a clearly damning video and a bunch of speculations.

Why are we assuming that the child had an upskirt photo at all? Consensual sexting is being prosecuted with great rigor here in the US, since children can't legally give consent. Here in Northern Virginia, at least one case led to the prosecution of the unwitting recipient of a voluntary (though not-legally-consensual) sext as if he had solicited child pornography.

The assumption that the photographs were taken without the knowledge or permission of their subject is just that, an assumption. The advent of digital photography is creating all sorts of problems but we shouldn't add to them by ascribing the worst possible motivations to an 11-14 year old kid.

The only facts we have are the video of the assault.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:41 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


"What's your point?... Girls that age have crotch memorizing parties?... They have personalized underwear?... Huh?"

my point is that girls that age can be very sensitive and emotional, and that, even if you can't see their face once everyone is SAYING it's them, they are devastated.. I don't remember anything about crotches or underware in my comment.

What's YOUR point?
posted by HuronBob at 7:42 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, the threads that get my hackles up are never the threads I suspect them to be.

I said before that I wasn't an educator, by trade. I have taught school. I said before that I wasn't an educator, but I cut my teeth in the social work field by managing a 100+ student afterschool program full of k-12's. I restrained in a school, I restrained in a youth home, and I restrained at a community center. Hell, once I restrained in a mall. I restrained kids so they wouldn't hurt themselves, I restrained kids so they wouldn't hurt each other, I restrained kids so they wouldn't hurt me or so they'd stop hurting a coworker. My good friend and coworker had a 4th grader put a #2 pencil all the way through his hand because he said "give me the pencil." I intervened in racially charged "Your momma is a slut" "Well at least I know who my daddy is you racial epithet." All of those situations were tense, all of them were urgent, and in none of them did I lose my temper. I've lost hair, I've been bitten to bleeding, I've been stabbed with pencils and thumbtacks, but still, I didn't slam anybody to the ground. The closest I ever came ever was when I got jumped by a 16 year old I'd kicked out of a teen program one Friday night after midnight. He came up behind me and jumped on me, and I almost dislocated his shoulder as I spun him around into an armlock, but then I shoved him off to his friends and told him to go home.

So my diatribe is this---professionals don't lose their temper, and professionals don't escalate.

And I'm really trying to not be fighty here, but Ruthless Bunny? You refer to defiant kids as "little shits" and you throw a fit about their cellphones and confiscate them, and you wonder why they disrespect you? I'm not saying they should have the phones in class, I'm saying that if you believe that your age and education automatically put you in line for the Respect Train, you've got a long way to go and I'm really, really glad you got out of teaching when you did.

And these little monsters loosed on society? GODDAMMIT can't you see that you're perpetuating the cycle by calling them little monsters, kicking them out of school, and making no effort to address the underlying causes of their behavior? You're reinforcing that their lives have no value, that they're not worth your or anybody's time, and to go be someone else's problem. Yea, fuck 'em, let's send them to an institution until they're 18 and then expect them to be productive members of society, and then cringe in horror when the break the old lady's hip stealing her purse.

That's quite an extrapolation from a tussle over a cell phone, but your tone got me frisky.

I'm not calling for the Principals head on a pike, but I think he needs to know it was unnecessary behavior.

I absolutely guarantee that I could get any one in here's kid so upset they'd start swinging at me, anyone's kid over about 12 that is. I could probably even start it with something innocuous like a tied shoe or something I overheard. I could, then, restrain them and kick them out of the program and say it was all your fault. That doesn't make it true.
posted by TomMelee at 7:44 AM on June 4, 2010 [36 favorites]


Hi, long time reader, newly registered member, so I apologize if any of the formatting of my comment is wrong or if I somehow transgress some sort of custom. I'm sure it takes time to transition from observer to member.

I finally mustered the $5 because a) I've secured a non-minimum wage paying job and b) the thread of this conversation has really spiraled out of control and into places that incensed me.

First of all, the accusations of upskirt photos are unfounded, and I would like to see where they originated Three Blind Mice. According to the Chronicle Herald, which is the newspaper with the highest circulation in Nova Scotia, the boy merely caught the beginnings of a fight [that never materialized] between two girls on camera. To avoid embarrassment (and perhaps stay in line with video consent laws in the province, I'm not sure) the principal attempted to confiscate the student's property and search it for evidence (which legal or not raises some serious privacy concerns).

The student was wrong to push back after the principal stopped him with his hand, but the response of the principal was excessive and bordering on the absurd. The principal didn't"just restrain [him] until he calmed down" but rather grabbed his neck hard enough to leave a bruise, threw him to the ground with such force that it concussed the student who blacked out, dragged him across the school in such a fashion as to leave the student bleeding and with enough force to leave him vomiting in the office. NOTHING warrants the type of application of force.

I'm unaware of the laws/philosophy in Canada, but if we accept that their public schools are empowered in the manner of United States schools to act in loco parentis in disciplinary and pedagogical matters, then Mr. Fells should not only be fired but arrested and charged. If during the course of an argument with his father about his cell phone a son shoved him and the father responded by choking, concussing and otherwise assaulting his son in a manner that left him bruised and bleeding, the child abuse and the assault causing bodily harm case would be open and shut with the criminal serving years in prison.

This issue has been examined in this thread from a women's rights and an educator's rights perspective, but not a youth rights view. Frankly, that we value youth so lowly and view them as so second-class that this sort of assault is acceptable is a disgrace. Mr. Fell should be in prison and serving time, not keeping his pension and landing another job in a nearby school.
posted by Chipmazing at 7:48 AM on June 4, 2010 [37 favorites]


Re: Principal's action. My mom was a middle school teacher. She told me that the adults in school were always right and not to talk back. I hold by that.
posted by MarshallPoe


That's all well and good but have you met adults? People don't become infallible just because they've become authority figures. My mother is also a middle school teacher, it would be wonderful if all kids showed teachers respect. But should students be taught not to talk back even when their teachers are wrong? My mother had a principal a few years back who tried to disallow students AND teachers having BOTTLES OF WATER in class. In the U.S. you don't necessarily get a job as an authority figure in school because you possess any brains or competence. I don't come down on either side of situations like this one because we don't have enough information to pass complete judgement, but adults in school are by no means always right.
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:51 AM on June 4, 2010


Did I miss something, or has there been actual confirmation that the kid took sexually inappropriate pictures of somebody? Are we working off of proof or off of the administration's word?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:53 AM on June 4, 2010


...threw him to the ground with such force that it concussed the student who blacked out, dragged him across the school in such a fashion as to leave the student bleeding and with enough force to leave him vomiting in the office.

Wrong.

The parents are claiming that he received a concussion later when he was in the office.
posted by chugg at 7:54 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, there is confirmation that the student did NOT take sexually inappropriate videos. The Canadian media has confirmed and is reporting that the student was one of many who took out their cellphone to record what they thought was going to be a catfight between two girls. That fight never happened, but we do have a pretty good video of the one that did. Spoiler: it involves a middle aged man beating the shit out of a middle school teen.
posted by Chipmazing at 7:56 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


TomMelee - I think the only mistake you are making is that you expect / need all teachers to have the same level of physical dexterity and ability to handle violent situations that you have.

You must realise that your abilities to do as you say are not normal, not standard fare for todays teachers. No ?

And quite frankly, if all teachers need to be as adept with handling violence as you clearly are the problem is a lot lot more urgent than one little scally getting out of line.
posted by Boslowski at 7:57 AM on June 4, 2010


> But if it's an upskirt picture then how can you tell it's even them?

Jaysus symbollocks, back in the pre-digicamera pre-internet days stupid ass verbal rumors were enough to keep a girl home, crying all day, afraid to go to school and face the tormentors. An upskirt photo with: "LOL!1! Lisa has pink undies!" would be incredibly humiliating, even if you can't see Lisa's face and "prove" it's her. In fact I bet she'd be asked to lift her skirt all day long to show she's not wearing pink undies after a MMS like that is sent around.
posted by dabitch at 7:59 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Apologies chugg, you are correct. The article I had read was from an earlier date. But the facts you bring to light are even more horrifying. The principal not only choked the student hard enough to leave a bruise on his neck but now did something off camera to concuss the student? The student does claim to have blacked out when he was thrown to the ground though. But thank you for correcting the record. We do need to deal with the facts of the case when passing judgment.
posted by Chipmazing at 8:02 AM on June 4, 2010


Thank you Chipmazing for the extra information. I'm every bit as skeptical about the family's version of the event as the school's version, but even if they're exaggerating or skewing the facts, it sounds like Mr. Fell went beyond an acceptable level of force for detaining the kid. It wasn't terribly clear from the video.
posted by Dojie at 8:05 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hi Chipmazing, welcome to MetaFilter. I didn't really bring any facts to light as it is simply a claim from the students parents that these things happened in the office. I haven't found anything to back up this claim.
posted by chugg at 8:06 AM on June 4, 2010


TBM, I think you owe some folks an apology.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:11 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


it involves a middle aged man beating the shit out of a middle school teen.

Sorry dude... but that is not what the video shows. You are escalating the stakes without any evidence, which considering your position is bordering on hypocritical.

I usuallly tend to your side of the debate in these kind of things but lets keep the hyperbole down, it won't help to go over the top with descriptions of what we have all seen on video.
posted by Boslowski at 8:12 AM on June 4, 2010


Unless anyone wants to dig up a news story saying that the boy took a pic of an upskirt, let's stop that whole red herring right now, and instead focus on the likelihood that the assistant principal of a school did everything in the video operating on the knowledge that the boy he stopped in the hallway had taken video of two girls who almost, but DIDN'T get in a fight.

That's the best guess so far for the activity that caused this reaction in the AP.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:13 AM on June 4, 2010


Mr. Fell should be in prison and serving time...

Sorry, but I think that's just ridiculous.
posted by hermitosis at 8:14 AM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Sorry dude... but that is not what the video shows.

I'm curious as to what you think the video shows, because what I see is a large man grabbing a smallish teenager and bodyslamming him into a hard floor, then choking him. Is this one of those things where there's a young woman and an old woman?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:14 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The claims of "inappropriate photos" are coming from the Black Educators Association. <>Link>
posted by chugg at 8:16 AM on June 4, 2010


Sorry, Proper Link.
posted by chugg at 8:17 AM on June 4, 2010


Boslowski-
Fair statement, I'm bad about leaving holes in my arguments. Let me unequivocally say that I DO NOT expect teachers to have the same ability or willingness. I do expect SPED teachers and those who have gone through the classes to understand what to do. I expect any teacher willing to physically intervene to do it as safely as possible.

Big, chest puffed out manly man principals who would attempt to take a phone by force? Yes, they should know what they were doing.

In this case, the appropriate answer would be thus (in my humble opinion.)
Ask the student to come to the office. Hell, use the intercom.
Ask him politely for the telephone. Doing it behind closed doors gives him the opportunity to save face to peers.
If he refuses, you explain that you just want to make sure the pictures are not on the phone, and if they are, you just need them erased.
If he refuses still, you let him know you don't have much option but to notify his parents and probably suspend him.
And then you call his parents and inform them they need to come in right away.
If during any of this he takes off, whatever, you call his parents to come get him and you suspend if necessary.

You don't:
Stand in the hallway like a toughguy, throw your arm in front of a kid who obviously does not want to talk to you, and then pummel him to the ground when he shoves your arm out of the way...in front of the entire student body.

If in any of this the principal was intervening in a fight or something, I might feel differently.
posted by TomMelee at 8:17 AM on June 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Sorry, but I think that's just ridiculous.

What should the response be to a man who bodyslams and chokes a teenager?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:24 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm curious as to what you think the video shows

I see a man challenging a child in his care to stop. He puts an arm out (his other hand in his pocket - pretty damned casual in my opinion) the child runs into his arm. The man pushes him back a little and the child returns the favour more forcefully.

There is then an altercation that ends up on the floor (it is not evidence that this was the principals intention but it may have been), with unsurprisingly the adult winning out, followed by the child being dragged to his office.

Do I think thats all ok ? Probably not.

Do i think it warrants the description "beating the shit out of" not in the slightest.

If thats all it takes for you guys to consider yourselves to have been beaten the shit out of then remind me to never ever ever line up with you at my side in a fight.
posted by Boslowski at 8:27 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


including tasering, which is not the harmless Vulcan neck pinch that people seem to think it is

People, we have found the solution. Step one involves giving the principal a taser. Step two, giving the kid a taser, and then, step three, having them tase it out, west-side story knife fight style. I think that would solve everyone's issues with the way this went down, right? Added plus, it lets the other students coalesce as a community as they watch, cheering on one party or another, taking bets, and rhythmically snapping.

OK, on a slightly more serious note, I remember the few times I saw another student in serious trouble get taken to the principle's office during middle school, and a major thing missing here, as others have noted as well, is the other teacher or administrator. In the cases I'm thinking of, that person was always the wrestling coach/gym teacher, who, while shorter than some of the students, was one of the few adults around who was able/wanted to cultivate an atmosphere of being more than a bit intimidating, and was respected by most of the kids committing the offenses (and otherwise). No physical restraint was ever needed, nor exerted, to my recollection.
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 8:28 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't:
Stand in the hallway like a toughguy, throw your arm in front of a kid who obviously does not want to talk to you, and then pummel him to the ground when he shoves your arm out of the way...in front of the entire student body.


This, times a million. Talking and intimidating kids into the principal's office is the best idea here because the more examples kids can remember of adult-student confrontations ending in physical violence, the more likely they will be to use that tactic if they get confronted, because it's what they're used to. Applying a non-violent conflict resolution strategy encourages kids who get in trouble in the future to respond non-violently, because that is what they're used to.

Acting like the AP did hurts the school.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:28 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


a) Sexual harassment is serious business if it happened, and not funny.

b) It doesn't look like it happened in this case.

c) I agree with Tom Melee.

A good friend of mine teaches in a secondary school, and he's talked about these kinds of issues. (This is in England, so different cultural background, just F everybody's I.) And one of the things he's clear on is this: if you get into the body space of a teenage boy, you'll intimidate him, and if he lashes out at you it's your own doing for creating the situation. You don't expect teenagers to have very good judgement in stressful situations, so it's on you to manage the situations so they aren't tempted to do something stupid.

He knows a teacher who was stabbed by a pupil, for instance, and says that even the teacher agrees he handled the situation badly. He was leaning over the boy shouting into his face; the boy had a terrible home life and was pretty close to snapping point at the best of times; the boy snapped. No excuse, but if the teacher - who was, after all, supposed to be in charge - had handled it differently, it wouldn't have happened. One of them was an angry, frightened, unhappy kid; the other was a qualified adult. The point isn't who's right or wrong, the point is who's the grown-up here.

What I see on that video is a teacher using bad judgement in blocking the kid's path with his arm, the kid shoving back, probably because he's both angry and scared, and then the teacher deciding to grapple him rather than stepping back and trying to calm things down. A single push to the chest of the kind the boy gave isn't a threat to someone's life: it's a way of saying 'Stay out of my space,' the basic unit of shove-fights where nobody gets much hurt. It wasn't a punch, it wasn't a kick, it wasn't the use of a weapon: it was display-fighting, not serious fighting, and a teacher should recognise that rather than going all commando. Kids posture when they feel threatened. A teacher needs to be able to cope.

Maybe the kid was a nice boy in trouble unfairly; maybe he was a horrible boy nobody would like. I don't think that's the issue. The teacher showed a lapse of judgement and professionalism that nobody responsible for a school full of kids should be silly enough to show.
posted by Kit W at 8:32 AM on June 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


I was all prepared to defend the guy - but after watching the video... yeah, he crossed the line of acceptable "restraint" when he held the kid on the ground. JEEZUS.

There's no reason for physical restraint unless the kid is actively violent. I've been in teaching situations and have been instructed to keep physical contact to an absolute minimum to avoid potential misunderstandings and lawsuits from parents. Yes, this guy totally had a responsibility to keep the kid safe, prevent further violence, and get resolution about the cellphone issue... but sometimes, you gotta know when to stop. I don't think he was out of line at all with trying to hold the kid back, but once the kid evaded him, that should have been the end of it. Holding him on the floor was just going way too far and opening up the invitation for a lawsuit from the parents - which jeopardizes the entire school and not just the principal.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:40 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid the teachers were allowed to hit pupils. Some times it was justified a lot of the time it was not.

Today's schools will not offer the same leniency to either justified (in my opinion) or unjustifed teacher violence. In many counties it is illegal.

Now, if the proposed effects (of children witnessing violence in school by teachers) are real (ie that it begets more violence) we should be able to see a difference in the record of the different generations (as distinguished by the 'permission' to violence of their respective generations) in terms of violence in later life.

Anecdotally, apparently, Britain is only getting worse in this regard. Broken britain being a theme in the press for some time now. Which would indicate that the current generation (who were raised through schools with no violence) are not turning out any better but possibly worse.

But I don't trust the 'broken britain' meme. How can we assess the matter more empiricly ? Is there a study or data set out there that can definitively show whats happening ?
posted by Boslowski at 8:40 AM on June 4, 2010


If you are the Principal of a school you are balancing a lot of interests.

If the there is an accusation of inappropriate photos taken, you take that seriously. The dangers of not acting immediately are:
  1. the photos spread, worsening the situation;
  2. the kid destroys the evidence and there is nothing to act on
Perhaps 2. is a decent compromise and resolution, but you have no idea what the odds are of that happening are.

The conservative, protective measure is to get the student in the office now and begin to resolve this.

Announcing on an intercom for the student to come to the office is nice, but if the student was aware of their actions they would likely just make a hasty exit from the building.

Approaching the student and requesting he come to the office in person is a better bet. From what I see that's what's happening. Extending an arm in a 'hey buddy, slow down you're not going anywhere' is fine and that's what I see. The student physically resists and I don't see in what universe a proper reaction for a Principal is to demonstrate to the student body that pushing back == get out of the office free.

That does not let the Principal use any and all methods to achieve this, but I think the Principal used an appropriate measured response given the resistance.

From what I see the Principal was acting appropriately and quickly to an immediate and serious situation.

What was the student's responsibility in all of this?
posted by mazola at 8:43 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sure the kid will get juvenile hall if there's actually a sex crime, but I'd hope the principle gets some jail time for assault
posted by jeffburdges at 8:44 AM on June 4, 2010


I'd like to apologize to TomMelee for this comment. I misinterpreted his criticism and responded aggressively. I don't think I realized at first how affected I was by repeatedly watching that principle choke a child less than half his size, and I took it out on TomMelee completely unfairly.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:50 AM on June 4, 2010


As a teacher myself, I don't blame this principal for a second. Yes, he may have seemed "angry," but I don't expect anyone to be Zen-like in that sort of situation.

He had a split second to make a very serious judgment call. I'd commend him on not really hurting that kid.

It's NOT just about an authority trip, guys. Yes, there are teachers and administrators who get upset about their authority being challenged, but for most of us it's more complicated than that.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:51 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


The pendulum swings, and then swings back. Lost in the accusations against the student, although mentioned by a couple of posters, is that he is a middle-school, 6th to 8th grade in my locale, maybe 7th, 8th, 9th where you live. In any case, a young man who needs to learn that people who make mistakes should be taught to learn from them, not beaten into submission.

My skin crawled when I read an upthread post by someone whose opinion I usually trust that this child needed to be restrained "by any means necessary." I completely disagree. I think the harm of being physically restrained by someone two-to-three times his size obviates any lesson or remedy that may have been available to legally pursue.

We who sit in judgment from afar have no idea what "inappropriate" actions this boy took, but he is a child. Old enough to know better, but not too old to learn. In any case, the administrator had no reason in my opinion to escalate force against this student. The administrator should have the right to demand the cell phone if it was suspected to be the instrument used in commission of a crime, and there should be punishment attached to failure to do so, but that punishment should not include corporal restraint. Corporal restraint, in my opinion, should only be used in a case where the student is clearly about to harm himself or others.

Anecdata: I went to a high school where the analog to this administrator was a former Marine. Local school boards at the time were able to enforce dress codes in public school that would be held as laughable by most today. The "dean" approached a student with long hair & a (scraggly) moustache. Both were dress code violations in 1969. The student had his feet on the seat next to him--we were all spaced with one empty seat between us in study halls--and the dean told him to put his feet down on the floor. The student asked why, and had his feet slapped off the chair. "Act like you would at home!" shouted the dean. The student, all of 15 years old, put his feet, crossed, up on the commons study table & leaned back. I have this from the witnesses at his study table, the next part is the part I saw, because I was returning from the dean's office to that study hall, having been "turned in" for wearing blue jeans myself. That too, was a dress code violation. I was in the hall, horrified to see a classmate I barely knew being dragged down the hall by the 250 lb. former Marine drill sergeant, who then stood him up and held him against the wall with his forearm against his throat, all the while shouting at the boy about civility and order and following rules. I coughed loudly, and the dean released the kid so that his feet were again on the ground, and marched him with his arm in an armlock behind his back down to the deans office.

Now, it would be several more years before corporal punishment would be curtailed in that state, so there was no disciplinary action against the dean, and when the boy told his parents what happened, apparently his parents felt he got what he deserved. I am sorry to see that so many in the US and Canada welcome this sort of "any means necessary" overreaction.

I too have a current stake in behavior control for this age group, and a 7th grader looking at inappropriate materials caused me to change the programming at my afterschool program. What came out during our investigation was that this child had himself been a victim of abuse, and with the help of our local authorities, he is getting appropriate help, not getting beaten by the authorities. When the incident happened, I stood in the doorway to block his exit. He was clearly panicked by being confronted by authority, and tried to push past me. So I let him.

I understand, especially in light of the suicide of the recent case of the Massachusetts (I think) girl who was bullied and taunted, that IF the "inappropriate" actions were upskirt photos or other sexting-type materials, that the boy needs to know that his actions were wrong, but surely there are better ways to reach that end then to subject him to what is a gross imbalance of physical power through restraint by the school administrator.

If he gets away with the cellphone, the fear expressed above is that he can then post pictures to the web. Do we not think, based on similar cases, that his actions will out and that there will be more severe consequences attached? Or, if he is truly scared, will he not erase the photos? If so, while the original act of taking them is not reversed, there can still be a corrective educational lesson provided. That is, this action did not occur in a vacuum, so an investigation will reveal what the accusations were against the boy.

Although, in a similar incident I am aware of, a girl posted a video to her social-network page that included some boys wrestling and one more dancing, all to the entertainment of the girl videoing. There was current hip-hop playing in the background. A parent (not of any of the children involved) got a group together to try to bring charges against one of the boys for sexually assaulting the other based on the video. Accusations about the boy flew all around, all based on the video, which upon inquiry, none of the aggravated parents except the one bring the charges had seen. As a de-facto counselor for some of the tweens involved, I watched the video many times. I met with the parents and listened to the type of accusations I am reading above. I met with the children and talked to them about the unintended consequences of videotaping and of using media that parents for the most part do not understand (at best) and fear (at worst).

I know I am repeating myself, but these calls of vengeance frighten me when I think of what could have happened to this young man instead of what should happen.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:51 AM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


What was the student's responsibility in all of this?

He wasn't smart to push his teacher, of course. But the thing is, a teacher should be able to handle situations where a student is behaving irresponsibly. If you can only handle things when all the kids are being responsible, you can't teach, because show me a school full of kids who are all responsible all the time. You wouldn't need any teachers; you could just point them at a library and let them get on with it.

Moral issues aside, handling irresponsible behaviour needs to be a basic professional skill, just as a practical means of reducing the chance of accidents. It's pretty much what a teacher is there for.

Do you seriously see no middle ground between letting the kid walk away and grappling him to the floor?
posted by Kit W at 8:52 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Approaching the student and requesting he come to the office in person is a better bet. From what I see that's what's happening. Extending an arm in a 'hey buddy, slow down you're not going anywhere' is fine and that's what I see. The student physically resists and I don't see in what universe a proper reaction for a Principal is to demonstrate to the student body that pushing back == get out of the office free.

No one in this thread is suggesting that after the situation became physical, that the student should have been allowed to walk away and not have to go to the principal's office.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:53 AM on June 4, 2010


Also, to echo mazola: if he's old enough and intelligent to take pictures with a cellphone, he can also clearly understand that he can't just try to push his way past the principal and expect everyone to just let him go.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:54 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've done child care where I had to learn to restrain kids that were a physical danger to themselves and/or others, and I can tell you that if I'd grabbed a kid around the neck like that and dragged them, I'd have instantly lost my job, and possibly gone to jail.

Seconded.

I don't see someone doing their job, I see someone turning to violence when he couldn't convince someone of something. He lost control. Aside from the ethical implications of what he did, he's also just clearly in the wrong job.

Also seconded.

So my diatribe is this---professionals don't lose their temper, and professionals don't escalate.

Also also seconded. Mind you, the kids I worked with were a lot younger, but I've been bitten, punched, kicked, slapped, and scratched the point of bleeding and I NEVER did anything that wasn't within the restraint techniques that I was taught to use. In the interest of the child's safety, I ALWAYS erred on the side of caution and never restrained until it was totally necessary.

Kids test my patience every single day, but there would be ice-skating in hell before I made a situation physical.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:56 AM on June 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Do you seriously see no middle ground between letting the kid walk away and grappling him to the floor?

Was the Principal sticking his arm out inappropriate? If I see a colleague in the hallway and approach him with my arm out like that would they think I was attacking them or that I wanted them to stop?

So now the student pushes back. What do you do? I'm serious. You are the Principal of a school. You have indicated to student you want them to stop and come with you and they push you in front of a large number of students. What's the middle ground here? You either let him walk, or you hustle his butt in the office.

Honest question, what would you do?
posted by mazola at 8:57 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Egregious use of physical force is not an uncommon problem for teachers. Take for example the case of Ludwig Wittgenstein:
His severe disciplinary methods (often involving corporal punishment, not unusual at the time) — as well as a general suspicion amongst the villagers that he was somewhat mad — led to a long series of bitter disagreements with some of his students' parents, and eventually culminated in April 1926 in the collapse of an eleven year old boy whom Wittgenstein had struck on the head. The boy's father attempted to have Wittgenstein arrested, and despite being cleared of misconduct he resigned his position and returned to Vienna, feeling that he had failed as a school teacher.
When I went into teaching, I had no idea of the scale of the discipline problem, and I left the profession with a profound awareness of my own failure in this and other areas. There are few occupations which so test a person’s sense of self and of obligation to others. I feel that, yes, the principal made a mistake. But the mere fact that it is now widely discussed is serious punishment. I wish there were an organization that helped teachers who have failed. Lord knows that the unions aren’t interested in that.
posted by No Robots at 8:58 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


No one in this thread is suggesting that after the situation became physical, that the student should have been allowed to walk away and not have to go to the principal's office.

Yes they are. lots of them. How the hell is he going to get the kid to co-operate once it has ecalated to the shoving.

Seriously. I can see lots of sense on both sides of this discussion but once the child goes physical (and FWIW I don't have a problem with the arm out while other hand in pocket bit - more worried obviously by the hitting the floor bit) how exactly do you stop him running away without restraining him ?
posted by Boslowski at 9:01 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the thing is, a teacher should be able to handle situations where a student is behaving irresponsibly.

I have been teaching since 2003 in both California and Washington. I have worked in alternative schools full of gang kids, I have worked with emotionally disturbed kids, and I have worked in juvenile detention (jail). I currently substitute in three districts in Washington. I have ended my day filling out witness statements for sheriff's deputies, and I have helped wipe blood off the floor in front of the school library. I have met one teacher, ever (who worked with convicted violent offenders) who had any sort of training in "restraints" -- and I should note that he was one of the gentlest and most even-tempered people I've met in the profession.

I would like to think that somewhere along the line someone would have briefed me on what to do if a student gets physical with me. There was NO DISCUSSION of what to do in such a situation in my credential training, nor have I ever been at a training session held in any school, nor ever seen the matter discussed in any sort of district-wide communication.

Bringing the matter up invariably results in a lot of hand-wringing and very flimsy statements like "don't do anything to put yourself in danger" and "call for security" (which, in several buildings, can take fifteen minutes of eternity). Nobody wants to say anything that could put them in legal jeopardy, so in the end, nobody says anything.

Let that sink in: yes, you would like to THINK that there are rules and procedures, but very often, there aren't.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:03 AM on June 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


after watching the video, i fail to see what the problem is.

after the watching the video and reading roughly the first half of this thread, the problem I see is that the video is a Rorschach, we're all seeing what we want to see in it. Got an issue with smart ass punk kids that don't just disrespect authority (and other people's boundaries) they recklessly abuse them? Side with the principal. Got an issue with bully adult authority-types who resort to force at the mildest provocation? Side with the kid.

Myself. The vid-footage and the accompanying reportage do not come close to providing enough info to have a solid opinion. That said, if I had to cast a vote based on what little info I do have, I'd go with the kid. Because he is a kid. And when passions rise and push comes to shove, there's certain demands we need to make of adults that we can't expect of kids.

If someone's already raised this point. All apologies. I will now finish reading the thread.
posted by philip-random at 9:04 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


You either let him walk, or you hustle his butt in the office.

Honest question, what would you do?</em

You stare at him, you tell him he's being inappropriate,and that you're both going to the office to talk. Effective adults in care-taking situations every single day know how to treat kids so that they do not have to use violence in every situation to make children comply. Parents, teachers, nannies, and assistant principals are able to get kid unwilling kids to do what they want without violence. It takes extra time and a shit-ton of patience. It's not impossible.

posted by 23skidoo at 9:07 AM on June 4, 2010


I've lived in numerous places, but low level violence like muggings and beatings were far far more common in Britain. I'm doubtful that teachers are the dominate factor however, more likely the class system itself encourages violence.

I've seen vastly more bar violence wherever the bars all close roughly simultaneously, read "early", with outside public drinking netting even less violence still. I'm sure all those bar fights in early closing places like Boston and Britain helps establish roles for young males too.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:08 AM on June 4, 2010


I've been bitten, punched, kicked, slapped, and scratched the point of bleeding and ... never restrained until it was totally necessary.

either i'm misreading this, or you wouldn't have been 'bitten, punched, kicked, slapped, and scratched the point of bleeding' if you had, indeed, restrained when it was necessary.
posted by msconduct at 9:08 AM on June 4, 2010


I think the adult showed incredible restraint.

I pretty much can't resist giving a noogie when I have someone in a headlock.
posted by srboisvert at 9:10 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


No one in this thread is suggesting that after the situation became physical, that the student should have been allowed to walk away and not have to go to the principal's office.

Yes they are. lots of them.

Bluntly, bullshit. Call out specific people who think that kid should be allowed to walk away from that situation without having to go to the principal's office.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:10 AM on June 4, 2010


So now the student pushes back. What do you do? I'm serious. You are the Principal of a school. You have indicated to student you want them to stop and come with you and they push you in front of a large number of students. What's the middle ground here? You either let him walk, or you hustle his butt in the office.

I've been in physical confrontations with (much younger) kids. If I were in that position, I would indicate to the child that I was contacting his parents and do just that. I know that there's this "ZOMG! SEXUAL ABUSE!" undercurrent about the boy's cellphone, but honestly, if you can't get it reasonably, there's absolutely no reason to open yourself up to a lawsuit trying to get it by force.

Call the kid's parents. Let them know the situation. Try to work it out. Yes, the kid should give up the phone, but I see no reason (not even "ZOMG INTERNET") why this needs to be resolved in the next twenty seconds.

I'm not saying that's what he should have done or even that it's the right thing to do. I'm just answering the "What would YOU do?" question.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:11 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Honest question, what would you do?

Honest answer? I don't know for sure, because I'm not a trained teacher. I'm also a woman, so getting physical at all with a teenage boy is something I'd avoid. But...

Major point: I'd think twice before blocking his path with my arm at throat/head height in the first place. That introduces a note of physical conflict. It would be much less aggressive to either summon him in, as others have suggested, or if I really had to take the opportunity and he wouldn't stop, use my body to block him hands-down and just stand in his way. If that didn't work, I'd need another teacher. If I couldn't stop him on my own except by throwing an arm up like the principal did, then I couldn't stop him on my own and I'd need to use another method.

So that's my first point: the boy's shove was not the first move in the physical conflict. The teacher's arm-block was, and it was more threatening than it needed to be.

To follow on: if he pushed me, I'd try stepping back, holding my hands up to show no threat and talk to him, using authority while trying to calm him down. I'd keep in his path and bear in mind that I had more than two seconds to resolve the issue. If that didn't work, again I'd need another teacher.

Worst-case scenario, he walks off. So I go get help immediately, bringing in other teachers and his parents, and make sure discipline lands on him eventually, and that the student body knows about it. I'd add extra penalties for pushing away. That sends the message that walking off doesn't end the matter, that you'll get hauled up sooner or later and walking off just makes it worse.

Thing is, this is all amateur ideas. I'd expect a professional to have more of them - indeed, I'd expect the professionals on this thread to have more of them, and would be interested to hear. If the teacher was less inventive than me in solving a conflict, that doesn't speak highly of him.


More generally: It saddens me to hear the boy's behaviour, and his motivations, classified by so many as purely aggressive. I've never been a teenage boy, but everything I've heard from men I'm close to suggests that it's scary to be a boy. You're in the social group that's most often subject to violence; you live in a culture where a show of weakness is often treated as a license to attack; you're not as big and strong as the men who have power over you. Physical danger is a real issue, and you're expected to tough it out rather than being comforted and reassured that you'll be protected.

If we're considering the boy's character, I'd like to propose that it's possible the push was motivated not by aggression or arrogance or all those things we're so quick to accuse boys of, but by fear. I don't know what was in his mind, but I think we shouldn't be so quick to assume that it was all bad-boyness.


Sorry if I'm rambling on too long. I'm new here, so if I'm breaking the rules by being prolix, let me know and I'll try to be more concise.
posted by Kit W at 9:14 AM on June 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Welp there are a lot of What-Ifs here and my clearer head says to side with phillip-random and say 'not enough information' yet and simply stop reading the thread.

BUT WHEN THE THREAD PUSHES MY BUTTONS I WANT TO PUSH BACK!
posted by mazola at 9:16 AM on June 4, 2010


Here's a nice twist on the story: the video was leaked by the school board superintendent's husband.
posted by fish tick at 9:29 AM on June 4, 2010


So if you think principals and teachers need to be able to physically restrain students, doesn't that mean anyone who can't is unqualified to be a teacher or principal?

Isn't that a tad bit batshit? I mean what would have happened here if we didn't have a brave principal who can beat a teenage male in a fight? The sexual predator already would have already posted the sexually explicit pictures all over 4chan. There is clearly no other solution.

Sometimes you anger me, Metafilter.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:30 AM on June 4, 2010


I watched the video three times & read Chipmazing's clarification of some of the details.

I don't know what to say to people who see the student as guilty of anything, here. The very beginning of the video is the AP looking down the hall while walking into the kid's path, sticking his arm out and shoving him back... that's it, right there. @00:18 or so. Several commenters are saying that the kid is wrong for shoving his teacher and I can't understand why.

mazola:If I see a colleague in the hallway and approach him with my arm out like that would they think I was attacking them or that I wanted them to stop?

watching the video (@00:14), if one of my colleagues came down the hall to pass me, didn't make eye contact with me and at the last moment threw their arm in front of me to stop me and shoved me backward, I would react aggressively. I wouldn't shove them because I haven't shoved someone since I was 17 or so, but I would be startled and angry that anyone thought they had a right to man-handle me.


mazola:So now the student pushes back. What do you do? I'm serious. You are the Principal of a school. You have indicated to student you want them to stop and come with you and they push you in front of a large number of students. What's the middle ground here? You either let him walk, or you hustle his butt in the office.

I don't even understand this framing of things. What would I have done after I screwed up? Apologized to the kid, probably while holding up my hands palm outward to seem unthreatening. Definitely let him walk for now. I abused my authority over him so if it makes my life more difficult well too bad for me.
posted by ServSci at 9:33 AM on June 4, 2010


I am continually amazed that people believe that teenagers should be expected to have the same developed sense of restraint and response to situations as adults twice their age. The kid acted like a scared teenager. Anyone expecting him to act like anything else is ignoring reality. The administrator, on the other hand, is the one who is supposed to be the adult and, accordingly, understand how teens respond and act accordingly. He failed to do so.

All the kick-his-ass, cowboy posturing I see expressed in this thread has no place in the student/teacher dynamic. Unless, of course, you've simply given-up the idea that a school should be something more than a daytime penitentiary.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:36 AM on June 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


@scaryblackdeath: I would like to think that somewhere along the line someone would have briefed me on what to do if a student gets physical with me. There was NO DISCUSSION of what to do in such a situation in my credential training, nor have I ever been at a training session held in any school, nor ever seen the matter discussed in any sort of district-wide communication.

Wow. That sounds like a pretty serious gap in the training.

Was there discussion of how to reduce the chances of a student getting physical with you? That seems equally important. And kind of relevant to this discussion, as it looks like a situation where the boy probably wouldn't have shoved if the teacher hadn't blocked.
posted by Kit W at 9:42 AM on June 4, 2010


Pope Guilty: TBM, I think you owe some folks an apology.

I think I already did that:

three blind mice (way up at the beginning of this thread): If the kid did NOT take upskirt photos and was just minding his own business and doing nothing wrong, then I am wrong about the principle's reaction and it is he who should suffer prosecution. (emphasis added.)

I also think I made it clear that "inappropriate" meaning "sexually explicit " was an assumption on my part - speculation to explain what we did not see in the video.
posted by three blind mice at 9:42 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Several commenters are saying that the kid is wrong for shoving his teacher and I can't understand why.

It is a sickeningly common belief that any resistance to a more powerful person, be they an authority figure or simply somebody who is physically stronger, is justification for the more powerful individual to harm the weaker person, either by exerting social or authoritarian force against them or simply by beating them. This belief usually comes out in discussions about the use of tasers, in which you will find many otherwise liberal individuals expressing the belief that the tasee had it coming, and that expecting authority figures to possess even the least bit of patience, or that they be subject to even the least irritation or inconvenience without resorting to physical violence, is absurd and unserious. Here we are seeing it in the notion that the proper response to a light, "get out of my face" shove from a small, frightened teenager is to bodyslam him, choke him, and drag him off in a headlock.

I'm not sure if it makes me more angry or terrified.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:49 AM on June 4, 2010 [10 favorites]



Two things I think stand out as, to me, as indication the principal was not acting with the student(s)' interests in mind:

1) The welfare of the girl should have been the chief concern. If physical restraint was necessary to secure the cell phone, then the principal should have restrained the student there in the halway until he gave the principal the cell phone. Had the student refused, then the police should have been called as this was a potential child pornography/endangerment situation, and the student restrained until they arrive. In NYS, restraint is allowed in the event of imminent danger to other students, teachers, or even the student himself (although, that's not the wording. I'm not a lawyer, so I'm just going by what I remember from Superintendent's hearings back in the day. I may be way off).

2) The second student in the white hoodie who comes over and places his hand on the principal seemed very concerned for someone's safety. Had he been attempting to help his friend get away, I think he would have gone about it differently. Something told me that he was concerned about this principal's reaction and, perhaps, he had reacted angrily in other circumstances before. Now, I don't know what the laws are in Canada, but in NYS, the principal did have an opportunity here... when the student placed his hand on the principal, had the principal immediately removed the student, he would have been okay because there was indication that there was a potential for other students to complicate the situation so removal from the location would have been justified. However, after the student retreats and two other students appear to be stepping away, the principal has missed this window (in my opinion, I don't know what a judge would say) and again his motivations must be driven by the well-being of the female, which takes us back to 1.

Lastly, in the US, I'm pretty certain that news station would be in trouble for broadcasting the identities of minors. What's the rule in Canada? Shouldn't there be a blur on their faces?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2010


... and for the record, based on the incomplete vid-evidence, if anything I'm impressed with the kid; that he would have the guts to shove a guy twice his twice who'd just made an aggressive move on him.

This kid is NOT acting like a bully.
posted by philip-random at 9:55 AM on June 4, 2010


The welfare of the girl should have been the chief concern.

There is no girl, this girl was invented to make the young man into a monster and make people cheer on the beating that was given to him.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:55 AM on June 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


I would also note that this ties into the fact that we live in a world in which rape victims have their sexual (and nonsexual) histories brought up in court at their rapists' trials; as a culture we fucking love the idea that a person who steps the least bit out of line brings any harm they suffer onto themselves. We search madly, whenever we see or hear of a person being hurt, to find a way to say "Oh, he brought it on himself." See also the repeated and outright insane insistence post-Katrina that the people who lost their homes and lives were at fault for living in a place where it could happen, or how readily the phrase "well, why did she go back to him?" comes to so many peoples' lips when they hear of a woman being repeatedly abused by her husband.

We don't do this because it is sane, or reasonable. We do it because by identifying some thing that they did "wrong"- wearing a short skirt, trying to push away a larger man who put himself in a threatening, intimidating position, returning to an abusive spouse- we can assure ourselves that the bad things that happen to people happen because they are deficient, because they are immoral, because they are weak, and we, in this analysis, are not these things. It is a form of othering which establishes the categories of "good people" and "bad people", and searches frantically for an excuse to place in the "bad people" category any person to whom harm comes. It is not for the purpose of better understanding the world; it is for the purpose of reassuring ourselves that it can't happen to me, because I am responsible and moral and smart.

The damage this does to the fabric of our society, as we find reasons not to have sympathy for victims or to help them (how many people do you know who say things like "I don't want my tax money paying for lazy people on welfare?") is incalculable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:59 AM on June 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


this was a potential child pornography/endangerment situation

Hang on - I thought the papers' account was that he'd taken a picture of two of his classmates having a scrap? Is any reason to assume his pictures were pornographic, or are we just taking guesswork as facts here?
posted by Kit W at 9:59 AM on June 4, 2010


Pope Guilty, I agree with you. But the same applies to the principal: he is not some "other," worse than me.
posted by No Robots at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


There has been no indication that the principal was concerned with preventing a fight between the two female students. The fact that they refrained from becoming physically violent with one another is not only fortunate but revealing. My suspicion is that their reasons for calming down were based in large part on the knowledge that other students were going to record their actions. If there is no fight then there is nothing innapropriate to see or capture on film. And since there was no fight, no innapropriate pictures or video were or could have been taken. So the original accusation of wrongdoing on the boy's part seems somewhat misguided to me.
posted by inconsequentialist at 10:02 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I watched the video before reading anything about the case because I wanted to at least try to be objective.

My initial reaction: I absolutely thought the principal went way overboard with his restraint.

I was surprised when the kid tried to go under his arm and then pushed the principal, both bad decisions in my mind, and not something my kids, who respect authority, would do. But he's a kid. He's a teen, or perhaps pre-teen, in front of a hallway of other kids. Kids at that age want to look cool in front of their friends and peers. And really, who wants to be singled out and humiliated?

The principal might have also wanted to look tough and in charge. The only problem with that is that he is presumed, as an adult, to exercise better judgment than the kid he is attempting to restrain.

When the boy in the white shirt went up to help the kid being restrained, I thought, "That's a good kid." He had the right motivation. Of everyone in the video, I admired his actions the most.

So then I read the articles. Although this one is from the parents' point of view and so objectively there will be bias in favor of their son, I found this significant:

A hospital report said the boy was treated for a concussion and vomiting after a head injury at school.

That's right, the kid went to the hospital and had a concussion severe enough to make him start vomiting after this incident.

For me, that equals case closed, principal disciplined and fired.

And then, lastly, what the kid says here holds true for me:

"I know I did wrong, but he didn't have to beat the crap out of me," the teen said. "I don't ever want to see him again. He shouldn't teach."
posted by misha at 10:03 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and this really bothers me. The whole "parents rally around the principal" article has an incredibly watered-down account of the incident given:

The principal was called over, but the student also refused to comply, and then "took off," Mr. Barton said. Mr. Fells followed and attempted to bar the student from leaving, but the young man "pushed on the principal's arm," prompting Mr. Fells to take hold of the student's shoulders and steer him toward the office.

He did not simply take him by the shoulders and steer him toward the office. That's just not true.

I'm also wondering what role race and the fact that the principal is black and the student is white had in the altercation (if any), as apparently Nova Scotia is having problems with racial tension these days (at least according to the news reports).
posted by misha at 10:10 AM on June 4, 2010


Kids at that age want to look cool in front of their friends and peers. And really, who wants to be singled out and humiliated?

Agreed - but something else occurs to me watching the video over. Check out the boy's behaviour immediately after he pushes the principal - he lowers his arms, steps back, turns his body sideways and goes up against the wall like he's using his shoulder to shield himself.

To me that doesn't look like fronting. It kind of looks like cowering. Small-scale cowering - it's not like he hits the foetal position or anything - but it does seem to support the idea that the boy might have panicked rather than decided to act all big.
posted by Kit W at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hang on - I thought the papers' account was that he'd taken a picture of two of his classmates having a scrap? Is any reason to assume his pictures were pornographic, or are we just taking guesswork as facts here?

Mostly the latter, but understand why I have drawn that conclusion based on the facts:
1) The principal was called over these photos. With the number of cell phones and cameras in school hallways, why would a teacher be so concerned over one snap of a pic? Of a potential fight? Bull crap
2) The student was obviously very nervous about what was on his phone and there had to be a reason why he would get so defensive and want to retreat. If there was something else on his phone, what's the big deal? The first photo that would come up would be the inappropriate picture. There's got to be a reason he didn't want to be caught with it. Yes, we bring up a privacy issue, but that's another discussion. This still provides reasonable evidence to my conclusions.

Again, I agree it's speculation, but it is nowhere near as harmful as the following:

Pope Guilty, there is confirmation that the student did NOT take sexually inappropriate videos. The Canadian media has confirmed and is reporting that the student was one of many who took out their cellphone to record what they thought was going to be a catfight between two girls. That fight never happened, but we do have a pretty good video of the one that did. Spoiler: it involves a middle aged man beating the shit out of a middle school teen. Posted by Chipmazing with no citation whatsoever.

I've searched and searched and I apparently was under the assumption "Canadian Media" was available on Google. I haven't seen his claim anywhere.

Citation fucking needed. I will politely concede if it is provided.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:23 AM on June 4, 2010


Wow. Disregard.

Found said citations.

Please excuse my douchebaggery.

I'll concede.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:27 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This still provides reasonable evidence to my conclusions.

No it doesn't, not even close.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2010


On non-preview: thank you, Bathtub Bobsled. Now if only the hundreds of parents who want this kid's head on a pole would be as willing to change their minds.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2010


there had to be a reason why he would get so defensive and want to retreat

Er - a big guy with a bad temper had just thrown an arm across his throat?
posted by Kit W at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2010


Sorry, Bathtub Bobsled - missed your disregard.
posted by Kit W at 10:35 AM on June 4, 2010



Issue Tasers to all school personnel except mascots.
posted by notreally at 10:39 AM on June 4, 2010


Issue Tasers to all school personnel except mascots.

Issue single-use tasers to the mascots once per game.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:41 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have often wondered if generalized video surveillance in schools wouldn't solve a lot of problems.
posted by No Robots at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2010


And I'm really trying to not be fighty here, but Ruthless Bunny? You refer to defiant kids as "little shits" and you throw a fit about their cellphones and confiscate them, and you wonder why they disrespect you? I'm not saying they should have the phones in class, I'm saying that if you believe that your age and education automatically put you in line for the Respect Train, you've got a long way to go and I'm really, really glad you got out of teaching when you did.

And these little monsters loosed on society? GODDAMMIT can't you see that you're perpetuating the cycle by calling them little monsters, kicking them out of school, and making no effort to address the underlying causes of their behavior? You're reinforcing that their lives have no value, that they're not worth your or anybody's time, and to go be someone else's problem. Yea, fuck 'em, let's send them to an institution until they're 18 and then expect them to be productive members of society, and then cringe in horror when the break the old lady's hip stealing her purse.


First of all, defiant kids, who regularly disrupt class, whose parents refuse to get involved, and who keep other, not-defiant kids from getting an education are little shits. It would be nice if the defiant kids could easily be sent out of the room, down to the AP for discipline, but hey, that requires an AP who actually disciplined someone.

As for loosing little monsters on society. Had a girl in one of my classes. She threw a fit because I asked her to take her do-rag off. I mean, throwing furniture, screaming, writing FUCK on the board, basically bringing my class to a halt while she melted down. Called for security, she'd leave the room, then start beating on my locked door, once they went away. No education for the other 35 kids that day. Oh, and last I heard, she got fired from McDonalds because she jumped over the counter, spit on a customer and tried to fight with her. Sounds like a monster to me.

Schools have rules and a hierarchy. No phones, means I have to enforce the rule and confiscate the phone. No do-rag means that I have to ask you to take it off. Oh, and did I love it when my AP called me in and gave me an earful about allowing kids to keep the phones and the do-rags because I just didn't want to have drama that day? Not so much. Hierarchy means that you may not like me, you may think I'M a piece of shit, but you have to sit down and shut up about it. Don't have to respect me, just have to show me respect.

Schools are an institution, a badly run, over-crowded, not meeting the needs of the community institution. Public school is broken, parenting is broken and students are broken. Do you think I didn't realize that my students had to solve 6 problems before they came to me that morning, of course I did. But what can I do? There were those 30 or so other kids who managed to deal, got to class and would have liked to have had a stab at the education I was trying to provide.

I had one kid, immigrant from Brazil, came to class straight from her night job. Frequently fell asleep. I worked with her, because she supported her family. Disappeared right before the final because another teacher threatened to turn her into INS. THAT was a dick move. Me confiscating a cell phone WASN'T a dick move.

Oh and congrats on your training. I didn't get any of that. I was under the impression that I was teaching, not

I got out of teaching because my job was 10% teaching and 90% social work. Social work I wasn't trained to do.

By all means though, judge all you want.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:48 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ruthless, what does any of that have to do with the situation at hand?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:54 AM on June 4, 2010


I have often wondered if generalized video surveillance in schools wouldn't solve a lot of problems.

Depends.
posted by ryoshu at 10:54 AM on June 4, 2010



I have often wondered if generalized video surveillance in schools wouldn't solve a lot of problems.

Hey, it works for prisons.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:56 AM on June 4, 2010


That's not what I meant, ryoshu, as you probably know. If I had a video camera in my classroom, sure I'd be taking a risk that my boss or the parents might see something that would get me in hot water. However, I think I'd take the gamble on the kids having more to worry about than me.
posted by No Robots at 10:56 AM on June 4, 2010


I have often wondered if generalized video surveillance in schools wouldn't solve a lot of problems.

Not if people continue to see what they want to see. "Look at those boys huddling in the corner laughing at something we can't quite make out. Obviously an iphone, obviously porn. And it stands to reason because some girl said something about certain boys maybe sharing something on their iphones."

The thing that comes through for me in all of this is, wouldn't it be cool if we lived in a culture where a fourteen year girl's life wasn't forfeit if, in a careless (carefree?) moment, she happened to reveal a bit too much of herself to her then-boyfriend's camera eye? Wouldn't it be cool if we were all, collectively, capable of acknowledging that nipples exist and pretty much everyone has two?
posted by philip-random at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Rule No. 1 - Do not touch a student for any reason whatsoever, even if the student's an aggressor.
Rule No. 2 - Call the police.
Rule No. 3 - Call the police
Rule No. 4 - Call the police.

The police will rush to a school within minutes of a threat call. The principal let his emotions drive him. He should not be fired. He needs to be reminded of Rules 1 to 4. The student needs to be reminded that he was a great huge asshole. He and the principal need to talk.
posted by drogien at 10:58 AM on June 4, 2010


Ruthless...
Seriously, seriously, seriously going to yank on me for being judgy after that screed?

I'm sure it's not fair, but I associate much of what you say with a lady I used to work with...a lady who, through no fault of her own, was from a completely different place in her life than the kids she was trying (and failing) to work with, and it was all THEM man, all their FAILURE, had nothing to do with her inability to grow, change, or adapt.
posted by TomMelee at 10:59 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyhow, I'm just glad to be able to hold forth on the web now: no grading, no discipline, no boss.
posted by No Robots at 11:00 AM on June 4, 2010


In my opinion, a principal needs to be able to control the study body in whatever means are necessary.

CLOTHESLINE! (with one hand in the pocket, nonetheless)

c'mon. you. guys. unless the student had the code to set off a bomb remotely, the principal acted completely inappropriately here.

Just look at the way he confronted him. It was an ambush. There seemed to be no attempt to honestly engage and talk to the student.

Also, there's way too much speculation/assumption going on about the camera/photos.

Hey! What if the kid took a picture of a teacher snorting cocaine and the principal found out? Geez. ANYTHING could have happened before the incident. There COULD be millions of mitigating circumstances.

But based on the evidence presented here, the principal was way out of line.

If that was my kid, I'd be pressing charges against the principal, and insisting that his punishment be going back to kindergarten for some remedial courses on "use your words."

Well said.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:02 AM on June 4, 2010


When our society finally grasps a problem (ie: child abuse--which was ignored for many years) the "correction" pendulum (to "make up" for all the years of ignoring it) swings waaay over to the other side. Now we have a society wherein the children RUN the show. Back in the day of no cameras this kid would have been suspended (and kid in white hoodie suspended too!) They ran our school like a prison. Not saying that it harmed any of us either. It's just the way it was. Why does this punk think he can shove his principal? I'm glad the adults of the town support the principal. Maybe someday the pendulum will settle in the middle, where we don't ignore child abuse, but we don't hyper over-report it either--Adults have to teach children how to respect everyone, especially the "authority figures". (You know, like cops! This kid mouths off or shoves a cop, he'll have much bigger problems than what he has now).
posted by naplesyellow at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2010


NO TOUCHING!

No bees!
posted by mrgrimm at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]



I had one kid, immigrant from Brazil, came to class straight from her night job. Frequently fell asleep. I worked with her, because she supported her family. Disappeared right before the final because another teacher threatened to turn her into INS. THAT was a dick move. Me confiscating a cell phone WASN'T a dick move.


So reporting a crime is a dick move but vigilantly enforcing a petty cell phone rule isn't?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:06 AM on June 4, 2010


Boslowski: Do i think it warrants the description "beating the shit out of"[?] not in the slightest.

In hindsight you're correct, I was using inappropriately incendiary language. Its just that the victim blaming which is basically the first 100 comments really hit a sore spot (Pope Guilty deals with that undercurrent quite nicely though). This kid did not deserve to be assaulted, whatever the justification. He wasn't being curb stomped or kicked in the ribs with a steel toed boot, but he was choked, slammed, bloodied and eventually concussed. The shit wasn't beat out of him, but he was publicly assaulted by an older, stronger authority figure who will face few consequences for it. He says he feared for his life during the ordeal. This kid is barely a teen and this was an incident of traumatic abuse. I wouldn't want my anger-induced poor choice of words to diminish that.

Hermitosis: Sorry, but I think that's just ridiculous

Out of curiosity, I'd like to know why you think that. As I linked to in my post, what happened CLEARLY meets the standard for a charge of Assault Causing Bodily Harm under Canadian law. There is conclusive video and medical evidence supporting that charge. Why should this assault be exempted? Why doesn't the rule of law apply in this instance? And why shouldn't a judge/jury decide if it is, as you say, ridiculous?

BobsledBob, the citations were in my first post. I probably should have carried them down into the reply as well. Apologies.
posted by Chipmazing at 11:07 AM on June 4, 2010


I read discussions like this, and then I think about all the 'Nam vets I've talked to who have that "You weren't there! You don't know what it's like!" attitude.

There is an institutionalized naivete in education that filters out into the rest of society. We're supposed to believe all the students are good, that education should be shiny and happy, and that everything can be controlled with firm words and understanding.

This is simply not the case. It's rough. I do not in any way advocate getting violent or physical with students (for many reasons), but again, I am not gonna pass judgment on the principal in this story because the whole issue of what to do in situations like this is way too vague and undefined.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:07 AM on June 4, 2010


furiousxgeorge: what you did, right there? That's a dick move.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:08 AM on June 4, 2010


Yeah, when that kid pushed him and didn't even move him a little, that principal probably feared for his life.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:09 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


They ran our school like a prison. Not saying that it harmed any of us either. It's just the way it was. Why does this punk think he can shove his principal? I'm glad the adults of the town support the principal. Maybe someday the pendulum will settle in the middle, where we don't ignore child abuse, but we don't hyper over-report it either--Adults have to teach children how to respect everyone, especially the "authority figures". (You know, like cops! This kid mouths off or shoves a cop, he'll have much bigger problems than what he has now).

Seriously? Schools are much more like prisons now than they ever have been before. Drug tests, suspension for plastic knives, video surveillance, metal detectors, constant locker searches, drug sniffing dogs, etc.

There is a reason kids don't respect authority, and it isn't "haven't had the shit kicked out of them enough to learn to respect (aka FEAR in this context) authority.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:09 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


All those defending the principle: where are his hands between 0:19 and 0:25 of this video? Are they on the kid's shoulders, or on his neck?
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:10 AM on June 4, 2010


Art W: Nope. No discussion of that, either. You can go look for that sort of training on your own ("verbal judo" and the like), but ultimately these are matters over which much of the educational establishment (in the US, anyway) would prefer to stick its collective in the sand. Funny enough, that leaves us all getting kicked in the ass.

I've brought these subjects up more than once. It's one of the things that get me labeled as a troublemaker, when really all I'm looking for is guidance.

Also, you might be amazed how many students exect their teachers to be ninjas who really are able to handle school fights through physical intervention.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:12 AM on June 4, 2010


Having taught in a prison, I can tell you quite frankly that schools aren't prisons. Prisons are prisons.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:13 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]




furiousxgeorge: what you did, right there? That's a dick move.


Why? He's talking about the need to enforce the cell phone rule like it came down from the mountain on a stone tablet but thinks it's a dick move to report an actual violation of the law? It doesn't compute.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:13 AM on June 4, 2010


It doesn't compute.

In the one case is a young girl trying to make the best of a bad situation, in the other is a frivolous, disruptive gizmo.
posted by No Robots at 11:15 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ruthless...
Seriously, seriously, seriously going to yank on me for being judgy after that screed?

I'm sure it's not fair, but I associate much of what you say with a lady I used to work with...a lady who, through no fault of her own, was from a completely different place in her life than the kids she was trying (and failing) to work with, and it was all THEM man, all their FAILURE, had nothing to do with her inability to grow, change, or adapt.


All I'm saying, and I'm going to leave for a bit because I'm getting all torqued up and it's not good for my blood pressure, is this:

I admit that I was grossly undertrained for the job I undertook. I had a BA in English and an MBA. I had wonderful information to share with my students, but it was incredibly hard and frustrating to do so.

I am proud of much of what I accomplished as a teacher. I had some wonderful, heartwarming moments and I know I helped a lot of kids, if not with English, with other, more social worky stuff.

The thing that drove me out was the violence and the inability of the administration to impose any kind of order on the school.

In Palm Beach County in 2001 Barry Grunow was shot and killed in in his classroom by his 14-year old eighth grade student.

There are real dangers out there. Not all of your students CAN be helped.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:16 AM on June 4, 2010



In the one case is a young girl trying to make the best of a bad situation, in the other is a frivolous, disruptive gizmo.


In one case it is someone taking educational resources from taxpayers they have no right to and in the other it is someone with a cell phone who has it taken away even if it isn't being used in any way to distract someone. Is the do rag a disruptive gizmo as well?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:16 AM on June 4, 2010


In one case it is someone taking educational resources from taxpayers they have no right to and in the other it is someone with a cell phone who has it taken away even if it isn't being used in any way to distract someone. Is the do rag a disruptive gizmo as well?

Guess I made the wrong call, huh? Another reason I'm glad not to teach: no public scrutiny.
posted by No Robots at 11:21 AM on June 4, 2010


Ruthless Bunny, I am sincerely sorry about how shitty your teaching experience was, but that in no way justifies some administrator pounding a kid half his size into the ground.
Schools have rules and a hierarchy. No phones, means I have to enforce the rule and confiscate the phone. No do-rag means that I have to ask you to take it off. Oh, and did I love it when my AP called me in and gave me an earful about allowing kids to keep the phones and the do-rags because I just didn't want to have drama that day? Not so much. Hierarchy means that you may not like me, you may think I'M a piece of shit, but you have to sit down and shut up about it. Don't have to respect me, just have to show me respect.
I think that you may have taken the wrong lesson away from that experience.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]



posted by beelzbubba at 11:24 AM on June 4, 2010


I have yet to see a definitive account about what happened leading up to this.

The talk upthread was that these might be totally non-consenual upskirt shots. There has been talk where the girl engaged in an active and public 'flashing'. There is talk that this is all about recording a fight that may or may not have happened at that this event was likewise recorded by many other individuals and that this student was unfairly singled out.

The context really will colour how you view the result. Certainly my comments were made on the assumption of a specific scenario that may not be true.

I wonder what information the teaching staff was working with when they engaged in this situation.
Rule No. 1 - Do not touch a student for any reason whatsoever, even if the student's an aggressor.
Rule No. 2 - Call the police.
Rule No. 3 - Call the police
Rule No. 4 - Call the police.
Is this policy? It certainly has the benefit of being clear. If it is this situation is pretty clear cut. If not, what kind of methods are acceptable? when? What were the circumstances of this particular incident? Do they meet that test? What training to staff have in the application or use of restraint/force?

If it is used, I agree there should be a high test of why it is applied. As said above, I am not sure what information the staff was acting on (or thought they were acting on).

There's a good chance we all had a lot more time, a cooler head, and many more facts at hand than the Principal did when he had to 'do something'.

I am glad I am not a Principal and these are not my worries. I am a parent and I want by children: a) to be treated fairly and with respect; b) to be part of a safe school environment. In turn, I expect my children to act respectfully and contribute to a safe school environment.

I am unclear how the events captured on the videotape ultimately relate to all of this.
posted by mazola at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2010


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmxzSDc1sIg

I don't have time to read this whole thread at the moment, so sorry if this video has been already posted, but that is a choke slam. That is the kind of thing you do to Stone Cold Steve Austin in an attempt to take his championship belt, not to a 15-year-old who tried to walk by you in a slightly confrontational manner.
posted by Damn That Television at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah, I see now that it was. The video in the post wasn't loading for me, and I thought (based on description) that it was of something else. CARRY ON
posted by Damn That Television at 11:30 AM on June 4, 2010


Ruthless-

I pretty well owe you an apology, I think. I think I got my ire up by your tone more than your words, or should I say my interpretation of your tone, what with the internet making tone difficult to discern at times.

I won't say I agree with you, but I did go back and dig through some of your other posts and I really do think you had/have? great intentions and in no way do I think I'm any better or more knowledgeable about the right solutions than you. I think there are a lot of people who jump into the whole "I'm gonna teach in a tough school thing", thinking they're going to be more Michelle Pfeiffer and Forrest Whittaker, and they wind up like you---jaded and angry. You should try again in a more affluent school.

So...I'm sorry for being a dick. I'm not sorry for disagreeing, and I still disagree, but I didn't need to be a dick.
posted by TomMelee at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


That kid was a little punk.

No opinion on whether the principal acted inappropriately as an educator.

I think I'm having trouble drawing the line at whether the principal was allowed to use any force, and whether the principal used excessive force. I think the principal has a limited right to use force in a situation, and maybe even in this situation. Whether he used the wrong kind of force or too much force is more of an issue to me.

I hate the idea that the kid is being defended for "just doing what all teenagers do", because he wasn't. He was being a punk. If that was my kid, and I saw that video, my reaction would probably be that he got was was coming to him. But I do understand that educators need to be careful in terms of how they use force, if at all, and under what circumstances, and if my kid came home with bruises, I would be pissed at the principal.

Any argument that that kid didn't know any better is baloney. He knew better, and did a dumb thing. Whether the principal overreacted is the question that I'm on the fence.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:34 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Kit W, I apologize for having addressed you as Art W earlier.

I have written maybe two office referrals all year (as in, "kicked a kid out of class"), until yesterday, where my count for the year tripled. It's been a little crazy. As it is, I'm having a very easy day that allows me to post this much at all... but schools are often very, very different from one another.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:54 AM on June 4, 2010


I don't think anyone did the right thing in this situation.

The kid was wrong to become physically aggressive with the principal, and the principal was reckless for escalating the situation. Both acts are completely understandable, though not defensible: the kid was pissed and possibly scared that this dude was being physical with him, which is not wrong, although shoving the principal was a bad response to that; and the principal was pissed that this kid was shoving him, and didn't want to look weak and ineffectual, so he took control of the situation with force. I sympathize with both of them, but they both acted unwisely.

However, the principal should be held to a higher standard of behavior than the kid. He has all the power in that encounter and he used it in a way that was reckless and narcissistic. He should have talked the situation down, or failed trying. That's a kind of failure in which there's no shame. As it happened, he tried physical force, and when that failed, he used more until he got what he wanted.

I guess some people think that children need to be physically disciplined. I'm not sure that's always in the best interest of the child, nor am I certain that proponents advocate it for that reason.
posted by clockzero at 11:55 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've always thought of junior high school assistant principals and principals as being pretty high on the petty tyrant with trivial power food chain.

Maybe that was just my junior high, though, which was a snake pit on fire anyway.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:58 AM on June 4, 2010


Rule No. 1 - Do not touch a student for any reason whatsoever, even if the student's an aggressor.
Rule No. 2 - Call the police.
Rule No. 3 - Call the police
Rule No. 4 - Call the police.


Utterly unworkable, for any number of potential scenarios and/or scenarios I've witnessed personally.

Some schools have security. Some schools have GREAT security, and GREAT counselors who can actually get to the bottom of what's going on with an individual student -- or not, depending on the student. Others have terrible security who will text on their cellphones as they lazily stroll out to break up a fight (while my skinny self is rushing in to do something productive).

(Part of the problem with education, as with any career field, is that sometimes the people that get hired for their jobs turn out to be douchebags.)

To stand around while a student or staffer/faculty member gets assaulted is intolerable. That alone makes the rules above unworkable. Sadly, those rules are pretty much the only guidelines available to many teachers.

It's another profession where doing the right thing can often land you in legal jeopardy, and I can only hope I don't actually find myself faced with such decisions.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:59 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If that was my kid, there would be a long series of stern discussions about appropriate behavior in public spaces.

In the meantime, I'd choke-slam that fucking principal into a hard surface again and again until respect for others was drilled into his god-damned head. Because I'm a professional educator, you know.

What? That's education. Police, suspension, expulsion, and due process are for ignorant sissies.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 12:00 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If that was my kid, and I saw that video, my reaction would probably be that he got was was coming to him.

Please go back and read the part where the kid ended up in the hospital with a concussion and restate your opinion accordingly.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:08 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If that was my kid, and I saw that video, my reaction would probably be that he got was was coming to him.

Did he deserve the concussion?

Yeah, I profess to be a pacifist but I was a punk once, too, so I guess I'm pragmatic enough to believe that, like a good photograph (or perhaps videotape) an occasional hard knock can be worth a thousand words. But concussion and vomiting suggests something much worse than that. No?
posted by philip-random at 12:12 PM on June 4, 2010


So what happened in the office?
posted by mazola at 12:15 PM on June 4, 2010


Concussion and vomiting actually don't seem unlikely to me as outcomes of being slammed headfirst into the floor and then being choked.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:19 PM on June 4, 2010


School uniforms solve this.
posted by hellphish at 12:21 PM on June 4, 2010


Concussion and vomiting actually don't seem unlikely to me as outcomes of being slammed headfirst into the floor and then being choked.

The family claims what happened in the office was worse and the cause of the concussion.
posted by mazola at 12:33 PM on June 4, 2010


You are all judgy and I type here in judgement of your judging.
posted by everichon at 12:34 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'd like to know what happened in the office, too; I'm just saying that I'd be surprised if the kid didn't get a concussion from the original choke slam.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:36 PM on June 4, 2010


Why does this punk think he can shove his principal?

Because his principal shoved him first.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:56 PM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


One of my first thoughts on seeing the video was that it was a very dangerous takedown. I'm not at all surprised that the kid suffered a concussion - it could have been fatal, with the principal's mass involved. Blunt force trauma is not what we are referring to when we talk about educators "shaping young minds."

I have three sons; we have some basic rules about conflict, a couple of which are salient here:
  1. It is never okay to be the one who turns a "word fight" into a "hurting fight."
  2. If a younger brother starts a physical fight, the older, bigger, more mature party has a responsibility to defend himself as gently as possible until parental help arrives.
You couldn't pay me enough to be a public school principal, and my hat is off to those who do the job well. But it is quite clear that Mr. Fells can not be trusted to follow these simple rules, and as such, he should not be paid by government to be in a position of authority over children.
posted by richyoung at 1:14 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is a relatively easy to get rid of teachers who are caught red-handed in acts of unwarranted physical violence against their charges. But what about all the small covert acts of ridicule, disinterest and incompetence that also cause harm? What about an entire mandatory system of hierarchy and obedience?
posted by No Robots at 1:38 PM on June 4, 2010


So what happened in the office?

The first rule of Middle School is...
posted by ryoshu at 1:39 PM on June 4, 2010


I'm with Halloween Jack: it's bad that educators with good intentions found themselves dropped into situations dealing with kids who sound seriously disturbed, with no proper training or support for the kind of situations that would involve. That's messed up and needs a whole lot of fixing. But I don't think it's fair to hate on this particular boy for that. There simply isn't the evidence to support the idea that he's a bad kid: all we have is a situation where he got his throat knocked, was impulsive enough to give the teacher a light shove and then got choke-slammed. Maybe he's a complete toe-rag, maybe he's a reasonably well-behaved kid most of the time who just lost his head. Without a whole lot more information than we have, there's just no way to know, and it doesn't seem right to assume the worst of him.

The principal, on the other hand, can be seen choke-slamming a kid in a situation where he was in no immediate danger, so I think we do have enough information to know that he couldn't handle his job.

This kid isn't those kids, and this situation isn't those situations. I can understand the anger, but I don't think this boy is the place to put it.
posted by Kit W at 2:18 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Blunt force trauma is not what we are referring to when we talk about educators "shaping young minds."

We have a winner!
posted by HuronBob at 2:30 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Assuming that "inappropriate" means upskirt, I see the principle as defending the rights of female students and in that light, he did nothing wrong.
WHY ARE YOU ASSUMING THAT?
Protecting women from sexual predators is never wrong.
We don't know anything about these pictures, for you to run around claiming the kid is a sexual predator is insane.
I wonder if the average MeFite really understands the concepts behind respect, discipline, force, and violence, and the fine lines between them. I don't see child abuse here, and I don't see a principal going over the line. In my opinion, a principal needs to be able to control the study body in whatever means are necessary. The principal was being disrespected in his hallways, and he needed to remedy that while also taking physical control and custody of the kid.
Okay so now the problem is that the kid was "disrespectful" and therefore needed to be physically restrained? I can at least understand getting upset about upskirt photos (but there's no evidence that that's what this was. Calling what the kid did sexual assault is extremely hyperbolic. We don't know anything about the photos) But to argue that the principle had to do this because he was 'disrespected' is insane.
I do indeed believe the rules need to be a little different for him.
The rules are there to protect teachers, from lawsuits. The same would apply to the principle. There was no physical danger here.
I also think the argument that the principle was justified in using force to prevent photos (which at the time were just alleged) from being uploaded is just ridiculous.
This isn't the entirety of the incident. It started with a teacher asking for the offending cell phone, which I'll guarantee you isn't allowed to be out in school
What makes you say that? My impression is that Highschools allow kids to have phones, and using it in the hallway between classes wouldn't cause any problems.
Not that I'm trying to turn this into a pile-on type thing but in what way is that question not supposed to be interpreted as "well what if she was asking for it?"
HEY. WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE PHOTOS. We don't know if they were consensual or not. We don't know anything. For all we know there was a rumor that the kid took photos of his girlfriend and the principle acted on that. We don't know. The article doesn't even say if the photos were taken at school. At no point does the article say the pictures were taken against the girls will. As others pointed out, 'sexting' is a big thing these days.
posted by delmoi at 2:34 PM on June 4, 2010


delmoi, take a look at Chipmazing's comment above:
According to the Chronicle Herald, which is the newspaper with the highest circulation in Nova Scotia, the boy merely caught the beginnings of a fight [that never materialized] between two girls on camera. To avoid embarrassment (and perhaps stay in line with video consent laws in the province, I'm not sure) the principal attempted to confiscate the student's property and search it for evidence (which legal or not raises some serious privacy concerns).
There never was a sexually explicit cell phone photograph. threeblindmice made it up.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:43 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


threeblindmice did not make it up. It was being reported as such

According to the association, Fells demanded that a boy turn over his cellphone because he was taking inappropriate pictures of a girl. The boy was defiant and became physical. There was an altercation.

"Why should a school administrator fight for his professional career, after defending a female student for being bullied and harassed by a male schoolmate?" asked Barton.
*
posted by chugg at 3:00 PM on June 4, 2010


Actually, chugg, he did make it up. The first mention of "upskirt" was threeblindmice. "Inappropriate pictures" here meant pictures of a fight taken without the participants' permission. Inappropriate doesn't mean "sex". It was TBM who made it about sex, invoking the squick factor and sapping our natural support for the victim of child abuse.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:10 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the attempt to explain, Pope Guilty. I guess I understand what you mean. It's still a little baffling to me with the evidence of the assault right there.

[...] and that expecting authority figures to possess even the least bit of patience, or that they be subject to even the least irritation or inconvenience without resorting to physical violence, is absurd and unserious.

That's apparently true for at least some portions of our community. Weird, to me, but the comments are all there.
posted by ServSci at 3:24 PM on June 4, 2010


I think 'inappropriate photo of a female student' heavily implies it was something sexual. If it's not, that's piss poor writing on the part of the reporter.
posted by empath at 3:35 PM on June 4, 2010


It was just mentioned on the local CBC news here in Halifax that this surveillance video was first leaked to Frank (a local political muckraking magazine) by the husband of the Halifax district school superintendent.
She held a news conference to own up to this; I guess she figured it was going to get out anyway if the IP was traced or something.
He got into her e-mail account and forwarded it from there. Not a happy time in the Olsen household I'd guess.
posted by Flashman at 3:51 PM on June 4, 2010


threeblindmice did not make it up. It was being reported as such

According to the association, Fells demanded that a boy turn over his cellphone because he was taking inappropriate pictures of a girl. The boy was defiant and became physical. There was an altercation.
No, he absolutely did make it up. I agree "inappropriate" makes you think of something sexual, but it does not in any way imply anything non-consensual. It also doesn't imply any nudity. It could have been two girls kissing, or one doing a sexy pose in the hallway.

Now we know it was a fight. Hope all the idiots who called this guy a "sexual predator" apologize. Of course I doubt it.
posted by delmoi at 4:21 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I saw a lot crazier shit than that go down, when I went to high school. I'm half terrifed to think what school would have been like if we had the internet and phone cameras back then.

Amen to this. I feel like I got through school at just the right time, and I seriously worry about the kind of new people we are creating now. I feel sorry for EVERYONE in this story.

-now everything is on a security camera, and if you ever ever make a mistake in judgement, you'll get fired and potentially sued and financially ruined
-now everything gets photographed and put on the Internet, so any little childish joke or tease turns into a life ruining, suicide provoking sexual assault case
-now people are so quick to assert their rights and enforce the rule of law that we can't just shrug off an injustice with "hey, life's not fair", we have to whip out the zero tolerance all rules obeyed or face the full force of law.

When is the part where people are forced to deal with injustice, or with ambiguity? Where is the part where we get a break (kids and adults), even if we did make a stupid mistake?

I think about the shit I did, and had done to me, in high school, and I'm really thankful I was just allowed to muddle through. In today's world I would never have graduated, would have been in some reform school with 24/7 surviellance and random drug testing, and probably a lifetime record as a sex offender to boot.

*sniff* Can we all just try to get along? *sniff* Let's cut everyone a wee little bit of slack.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:23 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


-now everything is on a security camera, and if you ever ever make a mistake in judgement, you'll get fired and potentially sued and financially ruined
-now everything gets photographed and put on the Internet, so any little childish joke or tease turns into a life ruining, suicide provoking sexual assault case
-now people are so quick to assert their rights and enforce the rule of law that we can't just shrug off an injustice with "hey, life's not fair", we have to whip out the zero tolerance all rules obeyed or face the full force of law.
Or, more likely only the most outrageous examples make the news. There are occasionally examples in the news of schools where there isn't a lot of discipline. One example would be that school where that Irish girl got bullied into suicide. Of course those places only make the news when something terrible happens.

But in general, only the most outrageous crazy stuff makes the news and it causes everyone to end up thinking things are crazy and outrageous all the time.
posted by delmoi at 6:34 PM on June 4, 2010


I originally wrote a long screed about my approach to dealing with teenagers far more disturbed, disrespectful, and dangerous than the one in the video, but I decided that I have only one takeaway from it:

If you do not have patience to offer children while educating them, little else you have to give will mean anything. When you run out of patience, walk away until your store replenishes.
posted by adipocere at 6:42 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you seriously see no middle ground between letting the kid walk away and grappling him to the floor?

Was the Principal sticking his arm out inappropriate? If I see a colleague in the hallway and approach him with my arm out like that would they think I was attacking them or that I wanted them to stop?

So now the student pushes back. What do you do? I'm serious. You are the Principal of a school. You have indicated to student you want them to stop and come with you and they push you in front of a large number of students. What's the middle ground here? You either let him walk, or you hustle his butt in the office.


I am a former middle school administrator. First of all, I would not have approached the student by myself, especially in the crowded hallway. If I felt that the situation could possibly escalate, I would have asked another administrator or the school security officer to come with me to bring the student to the office. However, in this case, once the student pushed the principal, the principal should have stepped back, let the student go if he refused to go with him and called the security officer or the police to find him and either bring him to the office or arrest him depending on the circumstances. Perhaps given the student another verbal warning about what was about to happen if he didn't follow instructions. I can understand being that angry at a student, but the bottom line is that he is the adult, the educator, and the administrator.

In fact, at the point where the student pushed the principal, he probably could have been charged with assaulting a school official.

I was absolutely shocked by the video. What if the principal was a woman as I am? Should she still wrestle the student to the ground and drag him to the office? How absurd. No, you earn the respect of your students by behaving like an adult and acting with dignity. Will the rest of the students think you are weak because you allowed the student to disrespect you? No, because they will hear soon enough of the consequences of what happened next. And they will respect you instead because you acted with dignity and handled the situation gracefully and respectfully instead of grappling around on the floor.
posted by tamitang at 6:43 PM on June 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think this guy in the heat of the moment did not act perfectly. I can't see sufficient evidence that he acted maliciously or in a sufficiency reckless manner as to warrant his dismissal.

He didn't clothesline the kid, he put is arm across his chest in a pretty mild but clear gesture to impede the kid trying to pretend he didn't see the principal and try to slip by. That should be a clear signal to stop. Up until this point I don't see any sign in body language that the VP expected this to escalate to what it became.

This isn't a full citizen with full rights and responsibilities out in the free world, this is a minor in school under the authority of this man who's powers are ostensibly granted to him by his parents. This isn't a cop/citizen or citizen/citizen power dynamic. This is more like a Sargent/Private dynamic, but different setting with different ultimate goals. The power of authority however is similar.

As for the "choke", I can't discern for certain from that video if he has the kid by throat or the collar. It's too fast, low frame rate and not very high quality.

If the kid did blackout, it didn't happen in the video that I can see. I've been hit in the head hard enough to black out, you don't struggle like that when you black out, you pretty much lay down and don't move.

He certainly didn't go down head first, he went down pretty flat. Again it's kind of hard to make out in the video but it looks like he took the fall properly and kept his head forward and off the ground during impact. The frame rate may be screwing with my judgement of speed but it doesn't look like he was moving to the ground at that great of speed, it looks close to a controlled take down. i.e. the kid is knocked of balance and then lowered to the ground, quickly yes but slower than a free fall.

The half nelson dragging down the hall was a poor choice that could have resulted in neck injury and could also have produced bruising on his neck. Unfortunately this seemed like a good tactic, I think a hammerlock would have been a better choice.

If he did take the kid into another room and work him over, that is a different problem. From the video and the reporting I have seen so far I don't see enough evidence for me to want to move for his dismissal based on what happened in the time frame of the video.

As it is I'm 1700 miles away and not privy to the information that those actually investigating this are. I hope they make correct decisions.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:07 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


As for the "choke", I can't discern for certain from that video if he has the kid by throat or the collar. It's too fast, low frame rate and not very high quality.

Here's a good still image, showing Fells with his right hand on the kid's neck as he pushes him to the ground. A few moments later, on the ground, Fells has both hands on his neck.

This is more like a Sargent/Private dynamic, but different setting with different ultimate goals. The power of authority however is similar.

No.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:29 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry but that is a shity still image that shows nothing clearly other than who is on top.

Also if you think faculty and staff are equals with the students in a school I'm afraid that you would run a poor public school. They are absolute authorities. Not perfect but as close as we can manage, it is because of that absolute authority that they should be screened rigorously and dismissed if they abuse that power.

A child is in no position to make a judgement regarding the authorities their parents have placed over them.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:54 PM on June 4, 2010


This isn't a full citizen with full rights and responsibilities out in the free world, this is a minor in school under the authority of this man who's powers are ostensibly granted to him by his parents.
What? In the U.S, and I assume Canada as well most schools are run by the government. And the authority isn't "given" by the parents; and the government mandates attendance. You're not even legally allowed to drop out until 16, which this was under. The idea that there is some kind of voluntary transfer of parental rights is insane. And it doesn't sound at all like this kid's parents approved of him being thrown to the ground.

If the rights are "granted" by the parents then wouldn't this incident be a betrayal of said parents, since they didn't want this to happen.

But anyway, that's total B.S. the kids don't have a choice to be there, the schools are run by the government, and yes they still have rights. Administrators obviously have a lot of authority, but they should not have the right to throw someone around unless there is a clear physical danger being posed. And there obviously wasn't.
A child is in no position to make a judgement regarding the authorities their parents have placed over them.
Well what about his fucking actual parents? Anyway, that's just insane.
posted by delmoi at 8:08 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Authority is given by the parents, the mandate is from the government, the government is chosen by the people. That's the whole concept behind democracy, the government isn't some horrible external thing lording over you, you are the government, you and everyone else.

Parents can elect to home school their kids, I've known plenty who have. So no these aren't kids forcibly taken from the parents and dragged off to re-education camp.

You are correct the KID doesn't have a choice, because the kid is in no position to make a choice, what kind of asshole education system would we have if we let every kid who didn't want to be at school today just go home. I'm a fucking nerd and I would have skipped most of grade school.

What about his parents? If his parents were there and yelled "run get the hell away from that guy", I wouldn't think it a problem that the kid ran. But the kid tried to make a judgement on his own. He should have submitted and assumed the authority was correct, if they were not that is for his parents to handle, not him.

There is a reason we distinguish between adults and minors.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:37 PM on June 4, 2010


MrBobaFett : what kind of asshole education system would we have if we let every kid who didn't want to be at school today just go home.

A functional one, where the people remaining want to learn?

As opposed to the current system of obligatory socialized babysitting whee we merely hope that at least the majority of those who make it through have sufficient basic skills to ring up a Big Mac, diet Coke, and supersized fries, correctly?

posted by pla at 9:33 PM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


pla, seriously? Seriously if your parents hadn't told you to go to school you just would have gone? We're not talking about rational informed decision makers like most of those who choose to go to college. We're talking about kids, who would rather be at recess or playing video games.
Could we please not just indulge children's every desires? The role of the adults is to look out for the welfare of their children, even when it conflicts with the child's current wants.
posted by MrBobaFett at 9:57 PM on June 4, 2010


Authority is given by the parents, the mandate is from the government, the government is chosen by the people.

*yawn*. I'm not even going to bother refuting this mismash of nonsense. It's just stupid.
posted by delmoi at 10:41 PM on June 4, 2010


There are very few situations which call for physically restraining a student. Preventing the harm of another student is one.

The educator obviously wasn't trained in how to properly restrain a student. But preventing a data transmitting device with possibly injurious photos from leaving the area could be a situation where he was preventing harm.

We don't know if the educator was aware of the subject of the photos. My guess is that he only knew that the student had 'inappropriate pictures' on the phone and jumped to the same conclusions that earlier posters did. We also know that student had ignored earlier requests for the phone and which was why the AP was stalking him.

I feel more for the AP than the student. The student will recover and go on, the AP will be trying to live this down for years. In the end if the application of force is found appropriate in this situation, the AP should have been trained in this.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 2:18 AM on June 5, 2010


This is more like a Sargent/Private dynamic, but different setting with different ultimate goals. The power of authority however is similar.

No, absolutely not.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:59 AM on June 5, 2010


I feel more for the AP than the student. The student will recover and go on, the AP will be trying to live this down for years. In the end if the application of force is found appropriate in this situation, the AP should have been trained in this.

The administrator knows well enough that you don't start a physical confrontation with a student. If he doesn't, he does now. Why should I feel sorry for him when he lost control and could have killed someone?
posted by krinklyfig at 3:01 AM on June 5, 2010


We don't know if the educator was aware of the subject of the photos. My guess is that he only knew that the student had 'inappropriate pictures' on the phone and jumped to the same conclusions that earlier posters did.

It hardly matters. Photos do not rise to the level of assaulting a student. Clearly, the administrator did not know what he was doing, or he never would have touched that kid's neck. Since this is the case, he exercised extremely poor judgment in the way he handled and escalated the situation. Basically, he lost control and caused injury to a student. There really is nothing that could justify that, save defending himself.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:04 AM on June 5, 2010


MeTa.
posted by three blind mice at 3:32 AM on June 5, 2010


We don't know if the educator was aware of the subject of the photos. My guess is that he only knew that the student had 'inappropriate pictures' on the phone and jumped to the same conclusions that earlier posters did.

How could that possibly be the case? Here's what happened:
1) Two girls get into an argument, it looks like they may start physically fighting (but don't)
2) A bunch of people pull out cellphones and start recording
3) Principle 'restrains' student.
It sounds like you're suggesting there was some kind of "game of telephone" where the principle could get the wrong idea. I don't see how that's possible since it sounds like he intervened right away. And if there was a "game of telephone" and he heard from someone who heard from someone, etc, then physically restraining the kid is even less sensible.
posted by delmoi at 3:42 AM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


MrBobaFett : pla, seriously? Seriously if your parents hadn't told you to go to school you just would have gone? We're not talking about rational informed decision makers like most of those who choose to go to college.

Yes, if you took out all the miserable little shits who don't want to attend, and made schools places of learning rather than a daily gauntlet of social torment, I (and I think many others) would have wanted to go.

The second half of your quite illustrates my intent, I think - The fact that most people see college as a polar opposite experience from high school pretty much says it all - We enjoy the chance to learn at university precisely because those who resent any attempts to improve them simply don't have to go.

You can tell the "trouble-makers" before 3rd grade. You can spot those who simply have no interest long before high school. Hand them their free shovel at age 10 and show them to their first pothole.
posted by pla at 6:09 AM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


pla, unfortunately this thread is not the place to discuss the education system in general. I'll just say I strongly disagree. I was a "trouble-maker" before third grade, I was held back in 2nd grade. I had some learning disabilities I had to learn to cope with problems focusing. Luckily instead of handing me a shovel I got help instead.
Kids need to be taken care of not written off as broken and incapable of becoming educated responsible adults.
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:29 AM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Halifax principal wrestles student to ground, escapes dismissal
What threat the principal believed Mr. Boutilier posed that day in March has not been revealed.
...
The student, who acknowledges getting into trouble in the past, admits he was breaking the rules by using a cellphone. He said he refused to surrender it to staff and that Mr. Fells was “stalking” him through the school immediately before the incident on the video.
...
Corporal punishment is specifically banned under the Halifax board’s code of conduct, but physical contact is not. Chairman Irvine Carvery said staff need discretion to act in dangerous situations.
...
Mr. Carvery said the elected board members who opted to retain Mr. Fells heard more evidence than was available to the staff who recommended he be fired. He added that neither Mr. Fells’s vocal supporters nor his prominence in the black community were factors considered by the board.
There's still so much that we just don't know about this particular situation. The action Mr. Fells took was exceptional and I'm glad there was serious follow-up and high-level review on it.

For me the important issue is whether or not the board would have deemed his actions appropriate given the information he was operating on at the time. To determine that we need to know the chain of what was reported; who reported it; what his objective was; what his plan was; did it deviate? why? what was the history of the student? what kind of trouble (his admission) did he previously get in (violence? weapons?)

We don't have any of that. I won't make any assumptions as to what happened. I just don't think it's as clear cut as some in this thread proclaim it to be.
posted by mazola at 7:14 AM on June 5, 2010


Upskirt photos not a danger, grow up. Also not sexual offense.

Just so you know, you might want to remove that camera from your shoe before coming here because voyeurism is a sexual offence under the Criminal Code of Canada with a maximum five year sentence.

what happened CLEARLY meets the standard for a charge of Assault Causing Bodily Harm under Canadian law.


Because he's in a position of authority the investigation will determine no wrong doing. It's the Canadian way.
posted by squeak at 8:36 AM on June 5, 2010


School principles regarding disciplining students can be written down on stationery.

School principals should decide when it's appropriate to no longer remain stationary when discipling students.
posted by ericb at 10:19 AM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


School principles regarding discipline can be written on students made stationary by school principals.
posted by mazola at 10:50 AM on June 5, 2010


Kid jerk. Upskirt photos not a danger, grow up. Also not sexual offense. Principal should go back to work. Video shouldn't be posted.

There you have it


"hrrrmmm...Daniel. Never saw it that way before..."

/tugs mask back over face.
posted by longbaugh at 11:02 AM on June 5, 2010


You can tell the "trouble-makers" before 3rd grade. You can spot those who simply have no interest long before high school. Hand them their free shovel at age 10 and show them to their first pothole.

Eight-year-olds should decide to choose their career path as a functionally illiterate laborers? Huh?

Consider relocating to the Middle Ages. I think you'd enjoy the classism.
posted by desuetude at 1:15 PM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


desuetude : Eight-year-olds should decide to choose their career path as a functionally illiterate laborers? Huh?

No. They should decide whether or not they want to take seriously the free high-quality (as much as we may put it down in the abstract) education our society provides them. If they decide "not", they should get out of the way to free up resources for those who do want to make the most of the opportunity.

If every day on the way to work, you pass two dogs - One always wags his tail and looks thrilled to see you again, while the other growls at you and snaps at your hands when you get too close - How long do you keep trying to pet the second dog?
posted by pla at 3:17 PM on June 5, 2010


You can tell the "trouble-makers" before 3rd grade. You can spot those who simply have no interest long before high school. Hand them their free shovel at age 10 and show them to their first pothole.

Our schools do not do a good job identifying and dealing with real problems which interfere with a child's education, some of which are genuine learning disabilities which manifest as discipline issues. The attempts to deal with such issues are typically ham-fisted and badly underfunded, resembling much of our social services. However, I do concede that parts of the fabric of society are coming undone when we have schools which are out of control from a disciplinary standpoint. But from an educational standpoint, much of this is due to funding, which is extremely localized, so poor communities don't get a leg up and naturally have the worst problems, so we exacerbate the issues just due to the structure of the system.

It's easy to blame students or more typically parents, and, coming from a family of educators and people involved in criminal justice and (what passes for) rehabilitation, I can sympathize. Many communities have serious problems which schools alone will never solve, and in many ways the school system is a symptom of a bigger problem. But it has a severely detrimental effect, one which feeds back on itself and only serves to weaken already devastated societies, as it fails to provide children a means to function in their world and understand it beyond a basic level - meaning their opportunities are limited by design and the community stagnates or worsens.

Our schools will not improve as a whole until people take ownership of their communities and start demanding more from their basic social institutions (not to mention the politicians who promote solutions), and that's a difficult problem to solve from the ground up, but it's possible. The flight to suburbia of the working poor is creating even more transience, which makes community-building difficult. Where education is concerned, it's a political lightning rod and proxy for so many other hot-button issues, and we allow politicians to use controversy to cloud our judgment. For so long we've had these misguided efforts targeting teachers and unions, closing schools for non-performance, and simultaneously failing to fund the mandate of performance. That is incredibly cynical when you look at it. It's designed to destroy federal education and further localize and isolate school systems, not improve on it.

The idea that we can take out our frustrations regarding our inadequacies as a society on the youngest and most in need of support in our educational system is a frightening prospect, and I don't believe it will solve anything, but it certainly does sound like a continuation of what we've been doing so badly for so long now that it wouldn't surprise me to see it come to fruition. From a business point of view, this would benefit the for-profit correctional system, one of the fastest growing business sectors in the US, as it would supply them with a growing stream of a permanent underclass, purposely marginalized. An increasing number of production-oriented businesses are using them for labor, for wages far under the market demand, not to mention minimum wage. So, sure, there's money to be made in these policies, if you don't mind the idea of cynicism being our guiding principle, if you really think that's the idea which serves us best.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:23 PM on June 5, 2010


Dogs, like people, can be trained out of bad behavior. There are lots of reasons kids have a bad time at school, not wanting to learn isn't the only one.

What if the kid is acting out because his parents abuse him?

Seriously pla you are saying some seriously fucked up shit right here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:25 PM on June 5, 2010


furiousxgeorge : What if the kid is acting out because his parents abuse him?

I would call that a serious problem that we should absolutely address if at all possible - However, should the fact that Joe has crappy parents degrade Sally's education?

I think we've hit rather a derail here. In an attempt to get back on track, I would point out that I consider the opportunity to receive an education a basic human right; I don't consider the education itself a right. And if someone resents that option and does their best to deprive others of the same opportunity, I consider that unacceptable.

In this case, we have an overzealous principal, and a kid that not only doesn't care about the opportunity he has, but assaults the very people trying to bring him that opportunity. And why did the situation come up in the first place? Because several other people would rather appeal to their simian ancestry and engage in pack dominance rituals than avail themselves of an education.

Now put yourself in the middle of all this crap as someone legitimately interested in learning. Quick word problem - If Sue throws a book at 22 m/s toward Donna, 8 meters away, but misses by fifteen degrees, how much do you remember about of Hamlet's motivations after your nose stops bleeding?
posted by pla at 5:10 PM on June 5, 2010



I would call that a serious problem that we should absolutely address if at all possible - However, should the fact that Joe has crappy parents degrade Sally's education?


The point is you can't necessarily diagnose why the kid is acting out in the first place so you can't kick him to the curb.

The most abusive asshole kids in my school looked like perfect angels to the teachers and got fine grades.


I would point out that I consider the opportunity to receive an education a basic human right; I don't consider the education itself a right. And if someone resents that option and does their best to deprive others of the same opportunity, I consider that unacceptable.


Children dude, you are talking about children.


In this case, we have an overzealous principal, and a kid that not only doesn't care about the opportunity he has, but assaults the very people trying to bring him that opportunity.


Holy shit dude. The principal struck first, and struck way out of proportion later. You have to be psychic to determine if the kid cares or not.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:31 PM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would point out that I consider the opportunity to receive an education a basic human right; I don't consider the education itself a right. And if someone resents that option and does their best to deprive others of the same opportunity, I consider that unacceptable.

Unfortunately for you, that makes no sense.
posted by delmoi at 5:41 PM on June 5, 2010


Well, it makes perfect sense....for adults of sound mind.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:00 PM on June 5, 2010


No. They should decide whether or not they want to take seriously the free high-quality (as much as we may put it down in the abstract) education our society provides them. If they decide "not", they should get out of the way to free up resources for those who do want to make the most of the opportunity.

Look, we don't let children that age cross the street alone. They haven't been taught multiplication yet. They have just started picking out their own clothes to wear. It is not an age which is mature enough to understand the ramifications of education and how their level of literacy and educational will impact their entire lives.

If every day on the way to work, you pass two dogs - One always wags his tail and looks thrilled to see you again, while the other growls at you and snaps at your hands when you get too close - How long do you keep trying to pet the second dog?

Children aren't subhuman. They're not even unintelligent, just inexperienced and intellectually undeveloped.
posted by desuetude at 11:38 PM on June 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Something that stands out to me about this whole situation: how much does the boy's character have to do with it? I would argue not as much as defenders of the principal seem to think.

Suppose he were a sexual predator. Would that make it satisfying to see him slammed around? Yes. Would that make it right for the principal to slam him around? No. Catharsis and justice are two different things.

Either it's okay to slam kids around or it's not. And if it's not, what kind of kid they are has nothing to do with it: you don't slam people around because you choose not to be a person who slams people around. It's not as if principals are going to be tempted to manhandle the little sunbeams, after all; the only kids at risk of getting grappled are the ones who don't behave well. Saying 'It's okay to choke the kid if he was bad' is saying, in practice, 'It's okay to choke kids.' A principle is only a principle if you stick to it when you're tempted not to.

The principal wasn't in immediate physical danger, so it's a question of his self-control. And my experience of self-control is this: people who lack it tend to see their behaviour as the inevitable result of their feelings, as if they had no choices about how to act on those feelings - and their feelings as the inevitable result of other people's behaviour, as if they had no control over their own thoughts and responses. Such people tend to feel the need to control others' behaviour, and if they can't, they feel helplessly at the mercy of others because they don't see themselves as able to control their own reactions. And if you've decided you can't control your own reactions, you make no effort to do so.

That's a lasher-out. But if you're a mature adult, lashing out is always a failure of self-control, and saying 'I did it because he did/was X' is nothing more than a refusal to take responsibility for your own behaviour. Arguing that the boy might have been a bad kid, or annoying, or disrespectful, or whatever: that's basically defending the right to lash out, and rejecting the idea that our behaviour is our own decision, not passively caused by the behaviour of others. It's casting grown adults as stimulus-response automata rather than thinking individuals who can choose from a range of responses.

The only question about the boy that's relevant is, 'Was he posing such a physical danger to himself or others that there was no choice but to restrain him?' The answer seems to be no: a light shove and a step back never killed anyone. Any other question about whether he was good or bad is an acceptance of the idea that whether people get slammed around is the responsibility of the slammee, not the slammer, and I have a big problem with that. If you'll slam someone around because you think they're bad, sooner or later you'll make a mistake, and whatever your victim is like, you've decided to be someone who assaults people. That's not cool.
posted by Kit W at 2:38 AM on June 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


If the principal was "stalking" the boy around the school the student was deliberately avoiding the principal so no amount of asking him to come to the office would affect him. I don't like the shawanigan handshake but the principal should be obeyed by the student and tate his case in the office.

I worked in a very violent school where I directly supervised two hundred students, alone, every period. When fights occurred I would always call the VPs for help but they would refuse to come unless there was another vp available too (so yeah, leaving pregnant me alone defending a bullied student). Most teenagers are amazing and awesome, but the crappy ones are truly horrible with a blown up sense of entitlement.

Most schools have inadequate levels of staffing to realistically handle the number of students in them and as a consequence, can't do the hand-holding social work necessary. Short cuts like intimidation or, if necessary, physical restraint are needed with the present staff:student ratio. Two parents used to dealing with one or two of their own children have no idea of the difficulties in controlling thirty or so teenagers egging each other on when the teenagers know they have the power to claim abuse.
posted by saucysault at 4:06 AM on June 6, 2010


People keep citing their experiences in violent and understaffed schools. Is there any evidence that this was a violent and understaffed school? Because if it wasn't, then their experiences, while obviously deserving of respect in and of themselves, aren't the standard to judge this particular situation by.
posted by Kit W at 1:11 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older LA Times: "When UC Berkeley officials came up with...  |  Pope John Paul II, the musical... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments