did someone muck with the backend here

Re: ATM: Options

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Oh, I just saw in the other thread that this is through Oct 23. So disregard the part where I was acting like it was the whole school year.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:11 AM
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In that case,
1. fuck the school and lie that he's getting the right number of hours of instruction. Just do whatever to pass the time and keep him engaged. If (god forbid) he was ill for six weeks and unable to learn anything, he'd be fine scholastically when he returned in late October.

2. your anger is the main thing to manage. Or at least, I'd be livid in a way that would not resolve cleanly on October 23. Are you a write-an-editorial or speak-to-the-school-board type of person? I strongly encourage you to take this story to the school board, possibly with other sympathetic parents if you know anyone else in this situation.

3. The other main thing to manage is keeping him not too isolated during this time. This depends on how flexible your work schedules.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:15 AM
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are.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:16 AM
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More: this morning the school administrator, in response to a request for the police report, emails a "correction." The written ruling said the boy can apply to go back (to alternative school for an unspecified time) at the end of the quarter, Oct. 23. Now the school administrator says "my bad, make that January." This came in seconds ago. I am again ready to break things. It is so capricious, so cruel, so arbitrary. I am thinking they are trying to drive him completely out of the school district. In full knowledge that he is no threat.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:17 AM
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Also also. Is this over if and when he's back in school? Does he have a file with the words "school shooter" that will follow him? Is this something that will follow him for his whole youth? Affect his whole life? I am not optimistic.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:18 AM
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Yes, here's my current thinking: use this opportunity to let the kid explore interests that the school doesn't make room for. Logic puzzles! Learn the bassoon! Go to museums! Anything that sparks his curiosity and interest and passions is fair game. Learn to paint or throw pottery! Fuck every last bit of all the organized instruction and make this next six weeks actually really nice and special. Road trip to the NASA space station!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:19 AM
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6 before seeing 4 and 5. So, he's suspended until Oct 23, and then would be starting alternative school? In January, are they claiming he'd actually be allowed back into the regular school?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:21 AM
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I stand by saying
1. just lie and tell the school whatever they want to hear about homeschooling, and do not break a sweat trying to do what they'd want you to do.

Actually, Tedra would also be a good resource in this thread. She homeschooled Linus when he was about this age, for a few years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:24 AM
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A good resource is a lawyer. In every state I ever heard of, public education is right. They can put you in an alternative school, but they can't tell you to fuck off for six weeks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:41 AM
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I just noticed the state is South Carolina. They probably can tell you to fuck off there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:49 AM
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I'd also ask the lawyer if the appeal might be useful for nailing them to a particular sanction. They ought to be more scared of violating your son's rights than they seem to be, and, it seems to me, you really want to make sure this doesn't, in any way shape or form, follow him to high school. Does the lawyer think that building a very clear record that there is no threat at all can limit their ability to continue this beyond the school year? Make them affirm the limited suspension they've now gone with, and have it disappear from his record?

It's a different, of course, but I just this summer got involved in a case for a friend. Her employer was setting her up for termination for cause. I got involved and that scared them enough to go with a one week unpaid suspension instead.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:50 AM
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7. No, he's now expelled, not allowed on any school property, until after Christmas Break. Then he gets assigned to do his time in Alternative School, and they haven't told us how long. Apparently there are three "tiers" of alternative school, 3 weeks for the shortest, 10 weeks for the longest. I will again quote my wife's lawyer friend because I am incoherent with anger and my back just seized up: "I stopped handling school offenses years ago because I was disgusted by the rigidity and unfairness of the unthinking and callous system." He says we should probably do something but is not optimistic.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 6:53 AM
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So he's expelled permanently from his current school and suspended from the entire public school system until January?


Posted by: MC | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:03 AM
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Got any friends in the press? Is your lawyer friend willing to go on the public record? Because from what lawyer friend is saying you are far from alone in this situation. A row of people saying the system isn't working can be enough to get some changes made. Mindless CYA at the expense of kids is not a good look.

This sort of thing would work a treat on the six o'clock news and should be embarrassing as all fuck for the school board.

Also, too, by all means lie like a rug about instruction time and fill the days with enrichment as best you can.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:10 AM
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I don't think you want your child's name in the press next to the phrase "school shooter" regardless of the context. Carp is right. You need the lawyer partially to keep them from making this follow him.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:14 AM
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Huh. Despite being a hammer, very few problems look like nails to me because litigation is generally a terrible idea.

On the other hand -- what I do for a living is (largely, I have other kinds of cases) defend a particular kind of lawsuits against NYS, abbreviated proceedings where someone sues the state to have a court review an administrative determination. That form of proceeding is NYS specific, so unless you're in NYS I don't have specific advice, but there's something that serves the same function everywhere.

If you have, say, several thousand dollars you can spend on a lawyer, I would consider suing over this. If you can get someone who doesn't do these sorts of administrative determinations all day (that is, first the state litigator who's going to have to defend it, someone like me, and then the judge) to look at what happened and see if they think it makes sense, you might get it vacated. But only if quite a large amount of money on lawyering wouldn't be a strain.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:19 AM
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Don't hire LB, she pads her timesheets.


Posted by: MC | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:21 AM
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And everything that Charley said sounds sensible. If you're considering suing, you are going to have to (this is not legal advice and I am not your lawyer, but ask someone who is who will tell you the same) go through all the possible administrative appeal steps before you're entitled to sue.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:23 AM
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I was thinking more about getting damages (private school tuition?) plus spreading the pain on the general principle. A law suit takes more time than junior high. I don't think there's a good option that doesn't involve leaving the district.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:24 AM
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On the homeschooling -- is Khan Academy still around? When the kids were younger, I though that was terrific for sort of particular academic topics they got interested in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:25 AM
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School administrators: still the worst! Sorry, chill.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:27 AM
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A law suit takes more time than junior high.

The ones I work on aren't supposed to -- it's supposed to be a quick couple of months, and sometimes they are. What I would honestly be hoping for, though, is that suing would get the situation looked at by a fresh set of eyes, who might talk the school board into folding. I have multiple times (not a big percentage of my cases, but it happens) looked at a case file when it came in, figured out what the facts were, and gotten on the phone with the agency to say "Looks to me like you unjustifiably screwed this guy. Please let me settle so I don't have to go through months of work just to lose."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:28 AM
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That's an even better case for suing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:29 AM
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And I'm not saying that's great odds, but it could happen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:30 AM
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I admit my first thought was this sounds like a springboard for a run for the school board. But Tywin was my favorite character, so you should probably discount that.


Posted by: MC | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:31 AM
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Anyway, I think the key is Carp's point about making them worry about the possible downside (for them) of your son more


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:34 AM
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is Khan Academy still around?

Yes, oldster. And YouTube contains the sum of human knowledge. A motivated middle-schooler should have no trouble learning lots of great stuff with a little bit of parental goal-setting.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:35 AM
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Stupid phone.

Downside (for them) of making your son miss four months of school. If you have legal representation, that could cease to be the low-risk option for the district.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:36 AM
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Delurking to very constructively say: I am so, so sorry this happened to you. I hope you all figure something out.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:42 AM
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Other youtube things -- look for John and Hank Green on youtube, they have a bunch of different things but the one my kids liked was Crash Course: https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse .

When I watched bits with them, nothing seemed egregiously wrong or stupid. I mean, the tone was dopey, but the material seemed solid.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:44 AM
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I'm so sorry, that's awful. How bright is your kid? How did he feel about school before? Is he socially in pretty good shape? It seems clear there is no "winning" at all, and Plan B is whatever is best for the kid. I know the idea of Jesustastic private school sucks, but there are any number of secular kids faking it through religion class in upper grades of school. I'd say if your kid is socially decent at fitting in, and you guys don't really have a lot of bandwidth to manage quality homeschooling for an extended period, I'd recommend just picking a private school and getting out of the public system. Might be possible to switch back after something like sophomore year if he hates private school, but it would suck to flip back and forth year by year. I think at this point, you probably want to prioritize a smooth transition for your kid, and 6 weeks of suspension/expulsion and a semester of alternative school, and then maybe reinstatement seems like a lot to put on a 13 year old.

If he isn't socially great but is bright, homeschooling for a while might be best. I know when I was a kid homeschoolers had access to public extracurriculars like band and sports. Would the ban extend to those?

I get that you're rightfully and righteously pissed, but I think there is no way any path you can take with the school administrators leads to good outcomes for your kid. I hope you can find a good way forward for him.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:46 AM
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Yeah, I'm not talking about initiating a lawsuit. But making the district act as if a lawsuit is possibility, to shift the cya balance.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:47 AM
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Dopey Newt story from when he was in middle school:

"I've figured how to not do any work in Living Environment class!"

"Tell me more."

"I can usually figure out what we're going to be doing the next day in class from what the teacher says. If I watch a Khan Academy video on it, I know what's going on already, and I don't have to listen, so I can just do my homework in class and I don't have to do homework at home!"

And I told him that was super crafty of him, but I wasn't sure it actually qualified as not doing any work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:48 AM
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I thought Khan Academy was math, but that makes it sound much broader.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:50 AM
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I think they've got a lot of topics. Although I may be misremembering and he was watching some different bio videos.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:51 AM
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Have you people even used the internet? Go to their site: https://www.khanacademy.org/ and click on "Courses" in the upper left. And these days it also has a bunch of competitors.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:53 AM
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Do their competitors create as many opportunities for Star Trek jokes?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 7:56 AM
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10. Yes, that seems to be the case. [had to leave to teach a lecture, now back and checking in]


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:00 AM
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Whew! a lot happened here in an hour. I am slowly catching up and thank you all. Re: press - I have been mentally writing head lines like "My son the 'school shooter:' the capricious and cruel system that ruined my son's life." Wait, didn't we just have a thread on scarring your offspring to settle scores? Might need rethinking (though, honestly, my weird kid would probably be just fine with the publicity).


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:03 AM
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Generally on improv homeschooling, I'd worry about staying organized about math, because that's so cumulative. Find out what the state standards are for what he should know by the end of the year, and enforce Khan Academy or whatever to get him to that point. (And if he goes faster, he goes faster, there's no such thing as too much math). Everything else, one class year sort of starts cold without building on the prior year all that much, so if he's reading something, or consuming some kind of academic content, I wouldn't stress too much about what it was specifically.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:05 AM
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39: "Our school officials don't care about facts, all these bureaucrats ever do is check boxes and cover their own behinds. Channel 2 On Your Side found dozens of cases. It happened to these anonymous families, and if things don't change it could happen to you."

It's more broadcast than print, but that's the idea.

Perhaps more helpfully: do not, under any circumstances, read any Kafka for the rest of this school year.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:16 AM
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OK, so much useful comment and I appreciate it all and the sympathy, too, though if you had been irrationally critical and harsh maybe it would prepare us better for the next blow the schools aim at us.[Pardon lack of formatting I should learn the very basics so I could make the paragraphs I have written (4) look like actual paragraphs when posted but I know they'll get mushed together and now is not the time. sorry).*****************

************to 13: there does seem to be a path back to his current school, and it looks like this: expulsion through January.

************Reform school for however long they decide, and I'm guessing they'll go for the maximum, 10 weeks, because why wouldn't they? Then back to his current school. However it FEELS with the new "oops you're expelled for two terms, not one" like they're just trying to get rid of him.

************Doug at 14 we have no friends in the press.

*************LB and CC thank you SO much for your perspective on legal things, especially 22 and 16 very helpful and we finally do have enough money in the bank that a few thousand we could do.

**********to 31 the boy is socially weird but very bright, they had him take the SAT in 7th grade for some reason WAIT I HAVE TO AWAIT THE FATED DAY WE ALL REVEAL OUR SAT SCORES HERE anyway, on a par with freshmen at the college where I teach. He plays fantastic violin in orchestras all over the county and with the high school orchestra and is way above grade level with that. Oops, did I say "plays." make that "played." Of course since this homeschooling is expulsion related he cannot do any extracurriculars. Anyway, he doesn't fit in with new people great but the plus is he wouldn't be leaving behind close friends at his current school, just a bunch of kids he mostly texts with.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:21 AM
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Oh I guess carriage returns do go through and the asterisks are redundant. I don't talk much here. minus [all asterisks]


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:22 AM
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I'm interpreting that to mean that, to our more rambly commenters, you've charitably been thinking that they would have included paragraph breaks, if only it weren't so onerous.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:24 AM
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I fear you will need to invest in a perspex violin case.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:31 AM
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Boy's mom here. Our son is certainly not the only one in this same situation. One student at his school was expelled on the first day of school for the same thing. Our son was expelled the second week of school.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:46 AM
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Sympathies chill, this sucks.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:49 AM
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Oh good lord. It was bad enough with just your kid even if it was a fluke screwup, but if it's a lot of kids that's even more awful.

Um, boy do I feel as if I'm talking you into buying some lawyer a boat -- I'm not sure at all this is a good idea, generally litigation isn't. But again, as someone who does defense of proceedings challenging administrative determinations, something that makes us sit up and take notice is a flurry of proceedings for exactly the same thing. But, IF after thinking about it, it makes sense to you to throw several thousand dollars down what may be an ineffective rathole, and IF you find a lawyer who does this sort of thing and inspires you with confidence, it might make sense to try and connect the lawyer with other parents in the same position. Five or ten very similar proceedings get a lot more attention than one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:52 AM
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And all my sympathy, which I think I hadn't said yet. This has got to be super awful for you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:52 AM
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In NAE usage is 'expel' interchangeable with 'suspend'?


Posted by: MC | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:53 AM
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One student at his school was expelled on the first day of school for the same thing. Our son was expelled the second week of school.

Holy shit. I hate these administrators. I'm so sorry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:53 AM
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No, but there are situations where it's ambiguous which is appropriate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 8:54 AM
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||
Any recommendations for art/travel podcasts?
|>


Posted by: MC | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 9:01 AM
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When the police searched his room I can only guess what they thought when they opened his closet and saw 6 violin cases.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 9:21 AM
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And not a tommy gun in one of them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 9:24 AM
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You let your son out of the house with a dirty violin case once a week?


Posted by: MC | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 9:25 AM
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No, LB. You put Tommy guns in guitar cases.


Posted by: MC | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 9:26 AM
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Do you have some kind of formal police threat assessment?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 9:27 AM
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I have twice been subject to ridiculous injustices of this sort where I got a lawyer or media involved: Spent a night in jail for trying to photograph a guy getting beat up by cops; and was fired from a job for union activity. Was on the 6 o'clock news the night I got out of jail, and was on the daytime news the day my trial was scheduled. (This was pre-Internet, so the local news actually kind of meant something.)

Results: 1.) Internal affairs found the cop guilty of (I'm not kidding) something like "discourtesy." The IAD guy was pleased that they got some kind of finding against him. By the time I went to trial, the cop who cuffed me was fired for something else. I signed a paper saying I wouldn't sue (on lawyer's advice) and they dropped the charges. ("Interfering with police" was the charge. Which was, of course, exactly what I was doing.)

In the labor case, I got my job back.

But I'm kind of a fanatic, I wasn't married or a parent at the time, and I gave big chunks of my life over to these cases. Echoing LB (and repeating what I said to the union lawyer), if there are lawyers involved, you've already lost.

If you are not a fanatic and have the money, I'd still get a lawyer involved. Your lawyer friend certainly knows more than I do, but schools really do have some sensitivity about talking to lawyers, and lawyers are good at not punching people in the face, which in these circumstances is a useful skill.

In general, though, real legal action is a large personal and financial commitment -- it's purely a play for fanatics. Involving the media is also a move for fanatics. It might not hurt, though, to have the school worried about the possibility that you are a fanatic.

You'll have to decide how committed you are to your anger in the long term, and, ironically, you're only going to make a good decision on that after you've cooled down. But you can start looking for a lawyer today.

The media and the law both suck. My cases were really open-and-shut, demonstrably unjustifiable. I still needed to sign a paper agreeing not to sue the city where I was arrested, and the legal decision that got me my job back (with back pay) still had some concessions to management in it.


Posted by: Anonymous President | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 9:32 AM
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Yeah, that's right about how suing is for fanatics. I have sounded positive about suing mostly because this sort of thing is my job, and I can imagine getting your case on my desk and either settling or losing. But that doesn't change that it's probably a soul-suckingly bad idea.

Getting a lawyer for Charley's reasons though -- getting you through the admin appeals process and maybe getting the school to control the scope of the penalty -- is a good idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 9:39 AM
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In addition to Khan Academy, I'd highlight Code Academy and Project Euler as great, fun places to learn to code.

Based on "socially weird but very bright", home schooling sounds way better than the alternative school, but it's more important what he thinks about the options.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 9:53 AM
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Don't read this novel: https://www.amazon.com/Vernon-God-Little-DBC-Pierre/dp/B00D9TL0GC


Posted by: Robert | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 10:00 AM
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they had him take the SAT in 7th grade for some reason

CTY?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 10:00 AM
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We are lucky to have some connections - lawyer friend is one, and retired school principal is another. RSP has helped us interpret what is going on, told us things that the school should have but didn't. Retired School Principal was the head of the elementary school both the boys went to (boy #1 is now in high school), and she is 100% great, made us feel that "public schools in South Carolina" was not going to be a bad thing. She affected every aspect of her school and in a good way, knew every kid's name. A superwoman. When we reached out to her in this crisis she helped and said that when her kid was 14 the school system had expelled him for mooning his PE class. So with all her ducks in a row she went to the appeal, pointed out multiple cases in nearby districts where identical behavior resulted in a weeks suspension or 10 days suspension [an epidemic of PE mooning? just roll with the story here] and the appeals board didn't budge. Her son is 29. She is not over it. So this is a good reason to be hopeless? But I am still much too angry for that. Also, this might be why she was such an awesome principal, in part.

Thanks to all you invisible internet friends. You continue to be very helpful as well as (on every other day) entertaining. We'll proceed with the appeal and I'll try to report back.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 10:01 AM
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55: indeed. Armed criminals with violin cases have violins inside them, as shown in "The Ladykillers".


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 10:05 AM
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We are lucky to have some connections - lawyer friend is one, and retired school principal is another.

Various kinds of privilege played a huge role in the favorable outcomes of my cases.

Her son is 29. She is not over it.

Yeah, these things leave a mark. No question.


Posted by: Anonymous President | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 10:09 AM
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Oh man. I just read this article about a boy who was treated terribly by his school and then got sucked into the alt-right, who made the over-broad case that boys are treated terribly. I sent it to my sister, parent of teenage boys, and we were horrified together. I am so sorry this happened to your son and your family.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 10:38 AM
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Oh, hey, I had OPINIONS about the parent in that article. That is, once the kid was radicalized, I think she handled it pretty well. But the fundamental injustice to the kid was that he said something that freaked another kid out, he was pulled out of class for a day, and he had to write an apology. All of the 'he was treated terribly' beyond that, if you start close reading, kind of fades out:

Before long, he was in the office of a male administrator who informed him that the exchange was "illegal," hinted that the police were coming, and delivered him into the custody of the school's resource officer.

Hinted that the police were coming? That sounds to me like "Did not actually say that the police were coming."

At a meeting two days later with my husband, Sam, and me, the administrator piled more accusations on top of the harassment charge--even implying, with undisguised hostility, that Sam and his friend were gay.

Again with the "implying". I mean, it's possible that the administrator happened to be a raging homophobe and pulled that in out of nowhere, but that also sounds like a parent reacting to something that wasn't actually said.

Sam agreed, reluctantly, to write a letter of apology to the girl who'd reported him so that the debacle would come to an end. But no hoped-for resolution materialized. Instead, Sam's sweet earnestness, his teenage overconfidence, even his tremulous determination in the face of unjust authority drained away, replaced by . . . nothing. He lost all affect. He stopped eating and sleeping, complained of headaches, and regressed in disturbing ways. He couldn't concentrate, turned in no homework, and didn't even pick up a pen when it was time to take a test. One of his extracurricular instructors--a woman who had recently lost a student to suicide--overheard him talking to friends and called me to express concern. He didn't say much to us, but it seemed obvious enough that he felt betrayed by the adults he'd trusted.

This seems like an overreaction to a situation where the worst thing that happened to him was having to apologize, and having the parent treat it as reasonable makes me question her judgment.



Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 10:54 AM
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That's the worst punishment he was subjected to, but the worst thing that happened to him was knowing that he was seen as a problem and a threat by all the relevant authority figures.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 11:36 AM
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And if the initial offense (saying something sexual during class that upset another student) never happened, then that's an injustice. If it did happen, he was seen as a problem (not sure what's making you say threat) because he was being a problem. Not a huge problem, but there wasn't a huge punishment.

Kid violates classroom standards of decorum, upsets another student, gets pulled out of class for the day and writes an apology just does not sound to me like a lifechangingly big deal. It easily might be some irritatingly controlling bullshit, and might be an upsetting experience, but I can't see it an adult describing it in the terms the writer does.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 11:47 AM
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Sam's guidance counselor pulled him out of his next class and accused him of "breaking the law." Before long, he was in the office of a male administrator who informed him that the exchange was "illegal," hinted that the police were coming, and delivered him into the custody of the school's resource officer. At the administrator's instruction, that man ushered Sam into an empty room, handed him a blank sheet of paper, and instructed him to write a "statement of guilt."
More of the first quote in 68.
Sam's sweet earnestness, his teenage overconfidence, even his tremulous determination in the face of unjust authority drained away, replaced by . . . nothing. He lost all affect. He stopped eating and sleeping, complained of headaches, and regressed in disturbing ways. He couldn't concentrate, turned in no homework, and didn't even pick up a pen when it was time to take a test. One of his extracurricular instructors--a woman who had recently lost a student to suicide--overheard him talking to friends and called me to express concern.
Something was a big deal.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 12:01 PM
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68: Yeah, that had a strong unreliable narrator vibe to it. Key details available to the parent are carefully omitted:

One morning during first period, a male friend of Sam's mentioned a meme whose suggestive name was an inside joke between the two of them. Sam laughed. A girl at the table overheard their private conversation, misconstrued it as a sexual reference, and reported it as sexual harassment.

So what was the meme? How can we say that it was "suggestive" but that it was "misconstrued" as a sexual reference? Suggestive of what? What did the girl think happened? The writer says that the school wouldn't provide her with the girl's complaint, but she* doesn't even present her kid's side of the story.

And here:

The meeting didn't go well. My husband walked out after the administrator parsed a line in the county's code for student conduct in a particularly absurd way, and Sam and I soon followed.

What could the administrator have done that was so extreme that it merited walking out? We are offered no clue. As the somewhat anonymous president said above, lawyers are useful for their ability to control non-constructive impulses. It's hard for me to imagine a scenario where getting up and walking out was anywhere near an appropriate grown-up response. This just reeks of privilege.

One of his extracurricular instructors--a woman who had recently lost a student to suicide--overheard him talking to friends and called me to express concern.

Even here, careful parsing of this sentence shows that the writer wasn't willing to talk about the nature of the concern.

This reads like a college-educated version of: I didn't want to vote for the racist, but the liberals made me.

(Note, by way of contrast, that chill -- even without the benefit of a professional editor -- gave us a whole narrative, answering the key questions.)

*I'm assuming the writer is female from context, although if it's a male writer that makes the story weird for different reasons.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 12:02 PM
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But, yeah, as far as official sanctions the two scenarios are miles apart. Sam may be less resilient than most.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 12:05 PM
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||

Anyone read this?
|>


Posted by: MC | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 12:08 PM
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71: The quotes in that paragraph are odd -- the mother wasn't there, so she's repeating what an upset middle-schooler told her. At which point I'm not putting much weight on the use of isolated words like illegal.

I'll agree that Sam seems to have been very very upset by the experience. But I'm not willing to say that because a kid was very very upset by suffering some fairly mild consequences for behaving badly in class, that his reaction was necessarily justified.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 12:09 PM
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Crossed with 73 -- sounds like we're on the same page.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 12:09 PM
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Aren't School Resource Officers cops? So, the kid did get turned over to the police, who then tried to get him to write a confession / statement of guilt.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 12:48 PM
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Any kind of name like that varies locally, and the writer seems pretty clear that the resource officer wasn't a cop.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 1:01 PM
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Would be a good name for a pot dealer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 1:19 PM
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chill, I'm so sorry. I have no advice, but if it were me I'd appeal it and find a lawyer. And probably yell at the kid too much.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 1:31 PM
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That's appalling and enraging, chill--I'm so sorry. We had a smaller scale, happier ending version of this last spring when my 12-y-o niece was suspended for several days pending an investigation because apparently she had shown a friend a list of frenemies that she captioned "st/ab list,"* the friend mentioned it to her parents, and the parents reported it to the school. Cops came to interview the parents and niece (though not, as far as I know, search the place); school blasted out an email informing parents that there had been a threat, an investigation was underway, but that after careful deliberation they decided not to close school the next day; niece was required to get evaluated by a psychologist of some sort; and that was that. Aside from my niece's complete mortification, but surely that's no big deal for a 12-y-o, right?.

I think what enraged me the most about the whole thing is that everyone else in the family thought the school (and the friend's parents) acted totally reasonably. "They have to follow up on threats, what if something happened?" My brother and sister-in-law didn't give my niece a particularly hard time about it beyond telling her it was a dumb thing to do. But I am righteously indignant that they did not get righteously indignant on her behalf, and embarrassed that my kin are so drunk on a local-news/scared-of-their-own-shadows view of the world that this seemed like the appropriate reaction. (Maybe that last bit is unfair of me; obviously totally legitimate to be scared of school violence. But come on.)

Good luck with the appeal, chill.

*This isn't the school incident that comes up when you google that phrase, figure I should keep it that way.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 1:38 PM
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Ooops, 81 was me.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 1:38 PM
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Sorry, chill, this sounds insane. Would moving to another school district help? Or moving-in-all-but-name, like saying that your kid lives with your cousin half an hour away or something? (Disclaimer: don't commit fraud.) If either one would help, have you considered them? Either of those options might sound like an insane, crazy feat, but then, so does home-schooling on no notice.

Also, I assume both you and your wife have full-time jobs. If not, that changes things, obviously, but you didn't mention it, so...


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 2:39 PM
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Oh wow, sorry to hear this, chill. We recently had a similar incident involving one of my girlfriend's relatives, but luckily it was resolved (for now) in a more reasonable way.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 2:45 PM
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I'm going to assume that means the administrator lost a dogsled race.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 3:00 PM
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Still reading, trying not to comment every 5 minutes, but some news: we got a new email, and the new enhanced, two term expulsion is now changed back to one term, which is the very first time any movement in a direction that is not more horrible for us. No explanation at all. I had finally written my first angry email in which I used words like insane, capricious and cruel. Is there a connection between that and them backing off slightly? Who knows.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 3:56 PM
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It's good to hear something is moving your way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 3:58 PM
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to 83, yes, two full time jobs, but academia so more flexible schedules than most.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 3:58 PM
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I'm so sorry to hear about all this--it sounds incredibly stressful and unfair.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 5:32 PM
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Really sorry to hear this, chill; it sounds deeply horrible and - from the perspective of the Kingdom of Brexit Fantasy Island, simply unbelievable as well.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 09-18-19 11:49 PM
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I don't of course mean that I don't believe you -- simply that I could not have imagined this was possible.

I really agree with Heebie's original point that this is all an outgrowth of the national refusal to face squarely the issue of guns.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 12:11 AM
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To the op: a very similar situation happened when I was 13 -- a friend of mine got expelled for having an xacto knife, which he had prior approval to bring to school for some project. His parents appealed several times to the school board, but it was late in the school year, so essentially they just let the clock run out and he went to his with the rest of us.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 6:19 AM
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Uh
https://twitter.com/akaashkolluri/status/1174664761604263937?s=21


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 6:59 AM
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I felt I was lucky to get away with the resounding silence this got: http://www.unfogged.com/archives/comments_16996.html#2050980

...but yes, it's either prayer, or regimentation.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 7:13 AM
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There is an issue with kids confiding in their friends that they are thinking of killing themselves. It would be great if kids could tell adults about that to prevent suicides without it being about punishment.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 8:55 AM
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I had a chat with counselor and principal in high school, I think before 9/11 but after Columbine. My notebook had been found with an alt-hist fantasy of a violent socialist revolution in my time and city specifically. There were also some timings-out of time to get through representative hallways in our building, which were entirely unrelated. I gave some denials of seriousness and from what I could tell that was the end of it.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 8:56 AM
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The district office for our son's school now informs me that children that are expelled can't be home schooled until the expulsion term is up. So now, not only does the school not have an obligation to educate our child, we have lost the right to educate him ourselves.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 9:10 AM
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The what? I don't even understand what that means -- he's not allowed to learn anything until the end of October?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 9:16 AM
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Or does that mean that the time in the alternative school is non-optional -- that you have to send him to the alternative school before he's allowed back into regular school?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 9:17 AM
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Yes, no learnin' until October, unless a religious school will take him. Once he the expulsion term is over he can go to alternative school or we can home school him. Mind boggling.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 9:23 AM
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Obviously we have lost control of our child so how can we be responsible for educating him.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 9:33 AM
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The whole thing is crazy, but that's super crazy. I mean, that's like something out of a dystopia played for black comedy -- enforcement officers come to your house and bust you letting your kid read before October. Obviously they can't actually enforce it, but that they're even saying nonsense like that is demented.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 9:37 AM
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Like, I could imagine an insanely misguided but sincere reaction to your kid's joke that was about keeping other students safe -- the idea being that he has to be isolated from other children, and then in a restrictive setting, for a while. But this is just about inflicting academic damage as punishment? Or I can't even think of what the plausible justification could be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 9:39 AM
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I'd definitely get a lawyer involved at this point


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 10:08 AM
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Yeah, that last bit is so not CYA anymore, and more about flexing their muscles and believing their own koolaid that punishments make kids change. Fucking bullshit from powerhungry dillweeds.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 10:31 AM
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100: That's so crazy-pants I have to believe there is some level of misunderstanding somewhere (quite likely by the person communicating the policy to you). I could maybe believe "You can't enroll in the official supervised homeschooling program that provides additional resources to the parents" or "You can't do it for credit" until the expulsion expires(which might or might not matter at the pre-high school level), but not a general prohibition on doing homeschooling itself.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 10:37 AM
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Reading this yesterday made me so angry I wrote and deleted two unhelpfully intemperate comments and gave up trying to say anything at all.

I can't do much better today but to second this:
I really agree with Heebie's original point that this is all an outgrowth of the national refusal to face squarely the issue of guns.
and elaborate that as time goes on this whole gun thing and particularly what we are willing to put the whole country's children through because we have lost the ability to collectively address an obvious and urgent social problem seems like the most damning evidence for America as a state in the process of failure.

As an expat academic in the UK I get asked on at least a weekly basis if I plan to move back to the US and every time I'm reminded of stuff like this I think, there's no fucking way.
There's something about the perversion of everyday life even when there's no shooting going on, for a whole generation of kids, that's MORE infuriating to me than merely processing the horror of the latest shooting.

Anyway if it were me actually dealing with this I would probably be such a rage monster as to be a liability to my kid's best interests, so good on you, chill and boy's mom, for keeping it together, and good luck to you, and fuck your fucking school admin right into the sun.


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 10:40 AM
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Dave W, correct. They can't prevent our child from learning! But he can't get credit for anything until October as far as I understand it. I've talked to two people so far and get the same story from both of them and now I'm waiting to hear back from the district legal counsel who is in charge of approving home school requests. We are looking into private (religious) and charter schools but I fear they will also not accept students that have been expelled.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 10:55 AM
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What are the consequences of getting credit, in middle school? That is, are they going to try to hold him back at the end of the year rather than letting stay in the same grade as his age peers because he doesn't have credit for the fall term?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 11:01 AM
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We are looking into private (religious) and charter schools but I fear they will also not accept students that have been expelled.

My guess is they're hungry for enrollment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 11:46 AM
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I pretty much endorse everything in 107, sigh.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 12:05 PM
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109: I was wondering if it meant that he had to be held back a year.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 1:38 PM
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110 I'm just guessing about everything at this point. I think he will have to repeat 8th grade if he starts alternative school in October because he won't have enough instructional days. I think we could start officially homeschooling in October and make up time on weekends, breaks, and summer to get enough days in so he can start high school next year. We've only had three days of trying to figure this out and I'm sure we're missing a lot of information.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 1:48 PM
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What a nightmare! Best of luck.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 1:53 PM
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113: I've had to erase the sentence a couple of times because I was swearing more than was appropriate. My god they're horrible. Have you considered moving out of state?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 2:14 PM
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It would be a good time to finally get out of South Carolina.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 2:38 PM
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Still too small for a republic and too big for an insane asylum?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 2:43 PM
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Grrrrrr. This school is so messed up.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 4:08 PM
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I'm so sorry this is happening to chill and Boy's Mom. It's interesting that the school system seems so overcome with petty power that they somehow both want to push you out of their system and punish you by preventing you from homeschooling your child. If they were being more calculated, you'd think they'd make it easier for you to homeschool. Seems very consistent with SC, though.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 7:53 PM
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Chill and Boy's Mom, I'm sorry you're having to go through this. We had to homeschool our son for a few months when he was in the third grade. (Long story, but the short version is that unlike public schools, private schools are free to ask your kid to leave midyear rather than spend money on accommodations they deem necessary to keep him there.) We wound up hiring a nanny/tutor through an agency to manage the homeschooling because both of us were working full time. When we enrolled him in the public schools for fourth grade, we kept her on as a homework monitor for after school care until we got home. (The public school had a limited number of spaces for after school care, but you basically needed to enroll your kid from kindergarten on in order to get one.)

Hiring the nanny was pricey, but better than having one of us quit our jobs. Best wishes for finding a good solution to your problem. I don't know if anything in our experience would be helpful to you (different state, different time), but at least I can lend moral support, and feel free to ask if you want more details.



Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 09-19-19 9:14 PM
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Another thought: does your district have online public school? I know some do, and it might save you from the requirement to attend alternative public school and then reenter. That would leave the gap for expulsion, but I'm really leery of the alternative school and would avoid that at basically all cost. Private online school seems like a reasonable option, too, and you could select one with no religious affiliation. You'd need to find some way for him to see other kids, but I assume there's something where he could go play violin not associated with the school.

Again, I'm really sorry you're in this unwinnable situation. Hope the kid is doing OK. I'd have been terrified about my permanent record.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 5:12 AM
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Oh, yeah. From what you've said about the alternative school, I would put that below unsupervised TV watching as an educational option.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 6:12 AM
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The kid seems to be doing fine. He is learning to pour concrete this week. We are talking to lawyers. I still haven't cried, at least not much more than a brief whimper.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 7:32 AM
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Best wishes for you and your family.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 7:35 AM
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He is learning to pour concrete this week

Awesome. Good for you all seizing the opportunity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 7:37 AM
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Please do keep us posted on how this unfolds.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 11:12 AM
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I was unaware of this site before this week. Thank you all for the support and the advice. It helps soften the blow of being abandoned by the people I've trusted with my kids for the past 6 years.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 1:50 PM
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It's almost always worthwhile to send a lawyer letter. If nothing else, it would be a formal request for them to clarify the terms of the suspension and formally state that there was no due process. Anything they say can be used against them in a court of law. A good lawyer will get them to restate their version of the facts of the case. Right now, they can just say any old thing that they want. Once a lawyer is involved, they will start being more careful. If they don't respond, that becomes grounds for legal action. This doesn't always work, but it works often enough to be worth the few hundred dollars it might cost.


Posted by: Kaleberg | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 4:01 PM
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I am grateful to LB and CC (and others!) for lawyerly perspectives and I am back hoping for more.

Also, damn, I need an editor. I just typed and erased four paragraphs.

We want to hire a lawyer and we have an appointment to talk to a well-connected one. We also know a journalist who happens to be already investigating the shortfalls of the alternative school system, and of course wants in on what happens with us big time. We already checked the "we want an open, not closed, hearing" box when we filed the appeals form. Everything moves so fast it's all happening at once. Now the dilemma:

If the lawyer says "ooh, bringing the press in is a bad idea" I am not sure what to do. If the lawyer is as good a listener and as convincing a talker as you guys, OK, fine, we agree to change it to a closed hearing and tell the journalist to wait. (lol Boys Mom asks what I'm doing and when I tell her says she can't remember the name of this place and always thinks to herself 'is it Unhinged? what is it called again?') But if the lawyer's interests don't seem to align with ours (in re journalist), if they say "oh just trust me" but can't explain why, what then?


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 4:16 PM
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"Unhinged" is close enough.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 4:19 PM
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I am at the far tail of the distribution opposing the involvement of journalists. I can't say that I've never spoken to one about a case* -- although that's been quite rare -- but I think I can say that I've never sought one out to tell a client's story. Or at least I don't remember doing so.**

Your lawyer's advice is the same I always give. That doesn't make it right for your circumstances, of course.

* Nearly always in connection with GTMO, because the journalists are very good, and because I've thought that there's a genuine value in public knowledge. I don't mean that I nearly always talk to journalists that ask about the cases, but that almost all my talking with them has been about that. An extreme example: a bit more than 10 years ago, a NYT reporter was very interested in an aspect of our case (we ended up getting a special counsel appointed for a thing). I talked to him on background a few times, but wasn't really all that forthcoming. Fortunately, he found a lawyer representing different prisoners, not involved in my case, who would bloviate for the record. So I'm on vacation and call my then-newish secretary to see what's going on, and she asks me "who the fuck is [other lawyer] and what the fuck is he doing talking about our case on the front page of the fucking New York Times?" (She was a lot more upset about it than I was). I'll add that I never became aware of any benefit to the client from this news coverage.

** For the benefit of Boys Mom, some biographical details. I've been participating in the Unhinged community for about 15 years, just like most everyone else, so they all know this stuff. I'm a 60 year old lawyer, with nearly 30 years experience. The first 2/3ds of that in DC, last third in Montana. Mostly civil litigation of various kinds -- including administrative -- sometimes against the federal government, sometimes employment related between private parties, sometimes business disputes. Not a South Carolina lawyer, although I argued an appeal in Spartanburg in the 90s. Never had anything to do with a school board.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 4:50 PM
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And, um, to be fair, I've often had clients who are less sympathetic than members of Al Qaeda. In Spartanburg, I was defending a health insurance company that had denied a claim for surgery to correct the congenital heart defect in the child of an insured employee. (The surgery had been performed, and my opponent was the hospital.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 5:22 PM
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I think you should take the lawyer's advice on the journalism. In my experience, people are less likely to to back down if they have to be seen backing down in front of others.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 5:34 PM
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Thanks for both those, 131 and 133, though it took about 1.5 readings before I was sure *which* tail of the distribution you were claiming in 131. 133 seems sound and important. I had been thinking the opposite, that the people hearing the appeal would have a harder time being [all the bad adjectives] if they might end up in the paper. I'm having trouble thinking straight sometimes, though.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-20-19 6:36 PM
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I think both are consistent. If someone has already thrown down the shithead-gauntlet, being in the public eye will make them stick to it. If someone has not yet crossed the shithead Rubicon, the threat of publicity may encourage them to consider all points of view before they take action.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 4:17 AM
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(In this situation, of course, some gauntlets have already been thrown and other Rubicons yet to be crossed. But I agree with trusting the lawyer, still.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 4:19 AM
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Shiticon?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 5:09 AM
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No thanks, I don't role-play.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 5:11 AM
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It's called "acting".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 6:16 AM
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131.last: I thought the canonical identity was that you're a balding 40something typing from your mother's basement. It's like I don't even KNOW you.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 6:41 AM
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135: shithead Rubicon is good, but shouldn't Mitch McConnell have some sort of naming rights here?


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 7:03 AM
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Last night, I had to cut my son off with a "never mention that to anyone from school" when he started going on about a practical joke that involved spreading diarrhea during dodgeball.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 7:10 AM
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Honestly, that would be a shiticon.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 7:14 AM
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"Shitcoin is like Bitcoin, but honest."


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 7:56 AM
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One of the worst gigs I ever played was in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was a frat-party tailgate at Wofford College, and some of the tailgaters showed up with a pickup truck rigged with a thirty-foot flagpole featuring (you guessed it) a Confederate flag.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 10:02 AM
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||
Speaking of guns and knives:

There is a rather rude fellow just finishing up his haircut in S Mpls., who has no idea how lucky he is that I didn't have a log chain on me today.
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 11:08 AM
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As a journalist who has actually had a cup of coffee with Charley I second the advice about being careful with journalists. There are good people on both sides, all newspapers, of course, but once you have put a story into the public domain you no longer own it and anyone who wants can try to use it against you.

It does matter which side of the shithead rubicon your opponents are on: the threat of being held up to public obloquy is usually much worse than the reality. That Fred J. Pettynazi is a shitheel is news that will always stay news to Fred J., but the rest of the world will soon enough forget it. Fred J. doesn't yet know how little he interests the wider world, though.

So the credible threat of public exposure may be a useful device before they are committed; but once they have painted themselves into a corner media exposure is more likely to provoke self-justification than repentance. This is importantly not true in consumer journalism but I don't think school boards are analogous to companies caught stiffing their customers. I mean, where else are the parents supposed to take their "custom"?

But I know nothing about the state of public opinion in SC. Without that knowledge I am just blathering from first principles. All I can really say is that the power of the press is a bit like the power of the Queen of England: it often works best when it remains unused.

Your situation is a genuinely horrible one and you have my sympathy.


Posted by: The lovechild of CP Snow and Ada Lovelock | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 12:04 PM
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I'm very late to this, but:

Chill, you have my sympathy, and also my empathy. Went through something very similar with my son when he was 12 years old. He said something stupid, as a dumb joke, as a dumb in-joke with an equally clueless adolescent friend, as 12-year old boys sometimes do.

The administration's over-the-top (zero tolerance!) over-reaction was completely crazy and unreasonable. They wanted me to take him to a hospital, and have him isolated (in solitary confinement, basically) for 12 hours to do a psych test, because he posted something stupid on snapchat. Because he was 12 years old, and dumb and feckless and clueless.

We ended up changing schools. And it was awful at the time, just so, so crazy; but it ended up being a good thing for my son.

(He's now a college freshman at a school that he really likes: so, happy ending!)

But I totally feel your pain. I remember how crazy, and crazy-making, was this situation.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 5:53 PM
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147 thanks.

I am sleep deprived and today was just a wasted day, but it's the weekend so what the heck. Chores and laundry got done. Boy's Mom has fully accepted that this is our new reality and is working hard on home schooling options for the coming year, doesn't ever want him back in that school anyway, perhaps not an another middle school either (next year he would normally move to high school). I still have delusions of making such a compelling argument at the appeal (because I'm fucking right) that it will change things. As always, we don't really know anything, and we are pretty powerless. Maybe the goal now should be simply to have it the record of this not travel with him to high school. But I think they intend to have it travel with him, the sadists, and having hopes is pretty crushing when they get crushed. I am not at acceptance yet, though. We meet lawyer Tuesday, appeal perhaps as early as Thursday.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 6:08 PM
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148: wow, so similar. What is wrong with these people? Is it inherent in something about school systems, or is it just that with 100 million students even rare miscarriages of justice means everyone knows someone with a horror story. Around here everyone we run into to says the school system is a horror show of unjustice, though, so our case it is the system and the people designing and implementing it. I am so sorry you had to go through the nightmare, too (I can't stop shouting in my head: they're friggin tween boys! Everybody should expect moronic behavior!). I am so glad your son came though it and it ended up with a good change in the end. Happy stories are very much valued and I/we appreciate your sharing yours.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 6:18 PM
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(I can't stop shouting in my head: they're friggin tween boys! Everybody should expect moronic behavior!).

Yeah, this.

And of course we should teach and enforce standards, because that's how they learn. But in my experience, a tween boy is basically a mental and moral idiot. With proper care and nurturing, however, he will grow out of it.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 6:41 PM
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"But in my experience, a tween boy is basically a mental and moral idiot"

100,000 or so of them just went on strike on Friday because of the mental and moral idiocy of their parents' generation. I'd say they're not doing too badly, to be honest.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-21-19 11:08 PM
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..and we are back to das Jugendfrage again, aren't we?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 1:33 AM
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I'm on team JPJ about boys. They are not incapable of good behaviour but they have to be trained to it, like pea plants. Like peas in a pod, they are conformist or if, as I was, non-conformist, their whole persona is defined by unconformity. If 100,000 of them do the right thing, it is partly because each one saw 99,999 others doing it.

I don't have very many systematic political ideas or principles but one thing I learned from schools is that the worst of all possible forms of government is the rule of teenage boys.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 1:45 AM
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"If 100,000 of them do the right thing, it is partly because each one saw 99,999 others doing it."

Er, yes. That's how humans work.... humans of all ages and genders.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 3:22 AM
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I really didn't notice Newt being more demented than Sally at that age. Can we agree that children don't know how to behave yet and need to be taught, without the implicit assumption that girls are imbued with appropriate behavior from the civility fairy?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 6:26 AM
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Well, exposure to American television suggests that the rule of teenage girls in high school may also be dystopian (kakistarchic?), but I suspect it is differently dystopian.


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 8:08 AM
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Sure. They get treated differently, they have different expectations placed on them, so they behave differently. They just don't have access to some innate ability to be sensibly compliant that's unavailable to boys.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 8:36 AM
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It's just that girls haven't been known to shoot up a school because you need a prostate for that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 8:42 AM
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The great thing about Americans shooting each other so much is we should soon know if mass shooters have the same gender ratios as all other criminals.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 8:52 AM
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People are terrible. Teenage boys are a subset of people.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 10:44 AM
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I don't think the assertion is that boys are inherently bad/moronic etc, but rather that as we're experiencing (i.e., raising) them, they're bad/moronic etc.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 10:50 AM
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Not that I disagree with what he's saying here, but I kinda want to read a defense of the characters in Lord of the Flies in Ajay's voice as somehow demonstrating (as most things do) the unique greatness of the British boy.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: “Pause endlessly, then go in” (9) | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 11:13 AM
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||

If nothing else, his truncated presidency and death--of an apparent heart attack--underline Egypt's abject and terminal mediocrity on the world stage.
|>


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 11:17 AM
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Lord of the Flies was written, remember, by a teacher at a British public school in the 1950s. If we really want to argue that teachers at 1950s British public schools have fantastic understanding of kids, of the kind we could not possibly hope to achieve ourselves, then I guess we can, but I dont think many of their pupils/victims would necessarily agree.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 1:19 PM
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162: but that's wrong too. Most teenagers (male or female) are not bad. Or moronic. They are mostly ignorant, inexperienced and callow, but that's just because they're young.
Sometimes the awful ones are racist or violent or drive each other to self-harm or suicide. And sometimes a lot of the not-awful ones don't do enough to stop them. But that's just because they're human.
To 163, I admit I haven't met many teenage Americans and that may be why my opinion of teenagers is so good, given that almost all the Americans (and Canadians) here seem to think that their teenagers are uniformly horrible. But British teenagers are fairly decent on the whole.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 1:29 PM
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145, for no very good reason: One of my best days fencing was against the Wofford club. Those of us who could make the trip, i.e., me and M or maybe me and M and H, thrashed their whole club. Each of us fenced all three weapons, something we basically never did, and we knocked them down one by one. I don't think any of us lost a bout that day.

Wofford did not invite us back the next year.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 2:26 PM
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As a recovering journalist, I'll add that public scrutiny can definitely be a mixed bag for the people most directly involved. On the other hand, what journalism is good at (ideally like lawyers but often ahead of them) is discovering a pattern. If it's just you this administration being horrible to, it's kind of a roll of the dice, but if it turns out there's a pattern of horribleness, then change is more likely.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 2:33 PM
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I'd say they're not doing too badly, to be honest.

God, ajay, you're so damn earnest. In the next life, you will surely come back as an American (and not an English schoolboy, after all!...),

I'm sorry if I offended with my admittedly hyperbolic description of teen boys.

On teen boys versus teen girls, I have some thoughts and opinions. But for the purposes of internet comity: yeah, sure, there's no difference, no difference at all.

(Well, except for that part where it's a teen boy who shoots up the school; but that must be merely accidental, surely, and nothing to do with gender whatsoever, nothing at all, at all).


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 6:47 PM
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Chill and Boy's Mom, I just wanted to say how sorry I am and that I am thinking of you. I hope so much that you are able to find a way out of this, and it does sound as if your son might be a really good candidate for homeschooling. as you know, south carolina has to do everything in an unusually stupid, stubborn, and unjust way. the only thing surprising about this story is that you seem to be white (or you probably would have mentioned it if not). no, I guess if you were black your son would be in actual jail. in any case the most surprising thing to them must have been that you don't have guns in the house, since it's been my experience that if you don't have any the s.c. government will probably throw you a few, just for parity.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 8:15 PM
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169 makes it clear where kids get it from.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-22-19 10:15 PM
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The appeal hearing failed. I don't think there was anything we could have done or said that would have made a difference. We heard that in our school district 2 or 3 kids a week are being expelled for the same kind of thing but others were not appealing the expulsions. Homeschooling until at least the Christmas break. I'm sad, but glad it's over.


Posted by: Boy's Mom | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 11:15 AM
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2 or 3 kids a week?! That is insane!!! It seems to be begging for a class-action lawsuit.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 11:20 AM
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That is absolutely crazy.

Are you still talking to a lawyer to make sure it doesn't follow him to high school?

I hope homeschooling turns out to be a really great opportunity to explore some passions, and eff their curriculum.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 11:35 AM
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Man, numbers like that, pretty soon you're looking at a big chunk of the school population. The district sounds horrifying and demented.

Anyway, here's to a relaxed, cheerful couple of months doing low-pressure but engaging homeschooling. All the good parts of youtube, any interesting books the kid will have time to read, work on some solo violin pieces.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 11:48 AM
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Before this "parent's board," the appeal board, we were advised by our friend who used to serve on those boards not to bring a lawyer. The lawyer we talked with agreed, so we didn't retain her yet. Do we lawyer up, take the final appeal option (which is clearly a rubberstamp and will not change anything for the boy), then sue, or do we just get on with our lives? I think it's going to be the latter. Heck yeah, a class action suit seems like a great thing in the abstract, but not in the here and now. And if the other expelled students didn't/don't go through the whole appeal process, they're probably not eligible to join in, and it sounds like almost nobody did. Yes, you inferred correctly that we are white. It will follow him to high school and possibly to college application process. We really don't have much good news, and there is plenty of bad that we aren't bringing up because why bother. On to home school....


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 12:35 PM
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168: Pattern of horribleness yes. Journalism you know, maybe we do what we can there, make our story available. It crosses my mind but we're raw.


Posted by: chill | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 12:44 PM
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