Criminal charges for spitballs in school

by Walter Olson on February 5, 2011

Most striking part of this Spotsylvania County, Va. story:

Capt. Liz Scott [of the] Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office says while Mikel’s punishment [and misdemeanor assault charges] may be controversial, “assault is assault is assault.”

“There were three victims that were involved in this, and I think the public needs to remember that,” Scott told FoxNews.com.

Scott said those victims, two females and one male, complained of feeling a “pinch” or “sting” when they were hit with the pellets and one even had a welt on her arm as result.

Perpetrator Andrew Mikel II is 14 years old. In other school and zero-tolerance news, police in Hammonton, New Jersey have charged a 7-year-old for bringing a Nerf-style toy gun to class [NBC Philadelphia] A lawmaker in Hawaii is proposing to ban the sale of squirt guns to minors [Free-Range Kids] A St. Lucie County, Florida kindergartener who was “voted out” of his classroom by fellow students at his teacher’s suggestion has won a $350,000 settlement. [TCPalm/Orlando Sentinel] And lawsuits by parents against school districts over alleged bullying of kids are said to be burgeoning in Florida [Orlando Sentinel]

{ 13 comments }

1 nevins 02.05.11 at 5:26 pm

On the kid ‘voted’ out of his class.
That seems like a perfectly reasonable attempt by the teacher to utilize peer pressure to reign in a child behaving outside the norm. That he was later diagnosed with a behavior disorder (asperger’s) merely confirms that attempting to engage the child in understanding his impact upon the group was necessary. As aspergers folks often have a hard time relating to others perceptions, this very attempt to get him to recognize how others view him seems proper.

2 John Burgess 02.05.11 at 7:04 pm

Is a kindergarten class really the source we should be looking for to deal with peer psychological issues? Would they manage it well were the issue psychopathy rather than Asperger’s? Or how about if they told the kid with Down’s what they really thought he should be doing? And can they ‘vote him off the Island’ for his skin color? Six- and seven-year-olds? Really?

The teacher was wildly derelict in having the kids address this student on any grounds. Rather than remedial, it reeks of the ‘self-criticism’ imposed in Communist China.

3 gitarcarver 02.05.11 at 9:56 pm

The teacher was wildly derelict in having the kids address this student on any grounds.

And what would you have the teacher do?

Send the kid to a time out? Did that. Many times. Didn’t work.

Notify the parents? Did that. Didn’t work.

Send the kid to the principal’s office? Did that- some 37 times in 30 days. Didn’t work.

The day of the “voting,” the kid had just returned from the principal’s office where he proceeded to crawl under the table, and lift the table up, preventing other kids from writing and drawing. After repeated warnings, the kid refused to stop.

What would you have the teacher do?

All I have ever heard is from people like yourself who say that what she did was wrong. I have never heard offer anything of what she could have done to get the kid to behave.

Nothing was working. At what point in time do the needs and education of the other students come into play? At what time do people say “enough is enough, we have to think of all the kids?”

This teacher tried something that was unique because the circumstances were unique. The parents had failed her. The principal had failed her. The system had failed her. She was on her own in a quagmire of not being able to teach other kids and not having support or help on how to get the kid to behave. So she tried the only solution she could think of because no one else was helping her and thinking of another solution.

The kids were asked how the actions of the child in questions made them feel and then they were asked if they wanted him to be sent back to the principal’s office again. That is the “voting out of the class” in question. The other kids voted on whether to send the miscreant back to the principal’s office for some more time.

Poor baby. Scared for life. How dare a teacher show him how

The teacher shouldn’t have been disciplined and the school shouldn’t have paid a dime. The teacher should have been given an award for creative thinking, something that others failed to do with her.

4 gitarcarver 02.05.11 at 9:56 pm

Poor baby. Scared for life. How dare a teacher show him how

Should be: Poor baby. Scared for life. How dare a teacher show him how his actions affect others and have consequences. What a terrible lesson to teach a child.

5 cgage 02.06.11 at 7:44 am

Pinches and stings and welts! Oh my!.

6 spo 02.06.11 at 9:32 am

With respect to the kid with cerebral palsy, back in the day, most dads, upon hearing that their son was picking on a kid who couldn’t defend himself would have beaten the crap out of his kid, the bully. And the bully would have deserved it. But now, that option isn’t available.

I hope my kids never do something like that.

7 Mannie 02.06.11 at 1:58 pm

How does the teacher having the kids “vote him off the island” differ from a bunch of mean kids trashing him in MySpace? He should have been sent to a special needs class and let the normal kids get an education.

As far as charging the kid with the nerf gun and the spitwad shooter, it is an object lesson to the kids that the school system is out to harm children. All the teachers, cops, and administrators involved should forever be banned from working with children, or approaching within 1000 yards of a child.

8 gitarcarver 02.06.11 at 3:37 pm

How does the teacher having the kids “vote him off the island” differ from a bunch of mean kids trashing him in MySpace?

He wasn’t “voted off the island.” This was a child that had disrupted the class for over a month. Nothing the teacher said got through to him. Nothing his mother said got through to him. Nothing the principal said got through to him. The teacher thought that maybe the kid would listen to kids of his own age.

The “vote” was whether the kid should be sent back to the principal for that day. That’s all. That single half a day.

That is not “voting off the island.”

The funny thing is that when the kids told him how his disruption hurt and bothered him, he reacted in a different way. He listened. He hadn’t listened to anyone before but he heard what the other kids told him.

He came home and was distraught thinking the other kids didn’t like him when in fact they did like him, but they wanted him to stop making the classroom a living hell for them.

The mother focused on how her son reacted rather than seeing that what the teacher had done was effective. The kid could have come back to school and all would have gone merrily forward. Instead, the parent made the teacher the focus of a witch hunt rather than focusing on her son’s actions and her lack of accountability.

The other parents in the school stood by the teacher. She was bright, energetic and loved by every kid and family that came through her class.

She is gone now. She left teaching.

So because one teacher didn’t have the support of a parent and a system, hundreds if not thousands of kids lost a person who was great teacher.

Oh, and just so you know, the kid couldn’t be put in a special needs class because he hadn’t been diagnosed with anything at the time of the incident.

9 DensityDuck 02.07.11 at 4:56 pm

Yeah, what a little pussy that kid was. He should have manned up and just dealt with it. You can’t go through life without a few bumps. Aof, obviously, having a teacher encourage the entire class to mock you is nothing more than a bump.

“Nothing the teacher said got through to him. Nothing his mother said got through to him. Nothing the principal said got through to him. ”

Tough shit! If the kids his own age want to say something, then that’s their decision.

Maybe if we hadn’t spent thirty years telling teachers to squash “fighting”, then the other kids wouldn’t have been scared to say something.

10 Bob Lipton 02.07.11 at 5:09 pm

What astonishes me about this is the dereliction of duty by the teacher and the principal . Spitballs in class? Over to the principal’s office, phone home, the kid is kicked out of school for a few days. End of subject,

I understand that a lot of people are worried about lawsuits. I am worried about waste of money. The people in charge are supposed to make decisions. If we take away their ability to make decisions, then we might as well follow them. Replace them with a bunch of magic eight-balls.

Bob

11 gitarcarver 02.07.11 at 6:33 pm

Aof, obviously, having a teacher encourage the entire class to mock you is nothing more than a bump.

That would be one thing if that had happened. It didn’t. The class was asked to tell the kid how his actions affected them if they wanted to. No one was forced to say anything.

Tough shit!

Right! Because we all know it is about this one kid. It is not about the other kids. They have no rights in this. Heck, let’s just ask that they come to school and create chaos like this one kid was doing. That work for you?

What is amazing to me is that we always criticize teachers for not caring about their students and classrooms and when a teacher gets thrust into a set of circumstances where no one is helping here and nothing is working with the kid, we castigate her for finding a working solution.

If the kids his own age want to say something, then that’s their decision.

Which is exactly what happened.

You obviously disagree with what the teacher did. So I ask you the same thing that I have asked others: What do you think the teacher should have done?

The only thing that worked was what she did and she got the shaft for it.

What specifically should she have done?

12 Bumper 02.08.11 at 11:32 pm

Git you asked, “What specifically should she have done?”

Here’s an answer from someone who was raised by a teacher, married to a teacher and helped raise a teacher.

Take the kid to the principal’s office, state your case and let the principal deal with it. That’s why they get the big bucks. At that age a kid’s understanding of peer pressure is pretty limited, but removing him from the class with one or more trips to the principal’s office is something even a two-year old understands. Plus if the errant behavior continues it becomes the principal’s responsibility to resolve it to a solution. The teacher tried to fix a “kid” problem with an “adult” solution, it had FAIL written all over it from the beginning.

13 gitarcarver 02.09.11 at 10:56 am

Bumper,

Thank you for your response. I hope you read my reply with the respect with which it is intended.

Take the kid to the principal’s office, state your case and let the principal deal with it.

That had been done. In the 30 days the child had been in school (he had transferred in) he had been sent to the principal’s office over 30 times. It is clear to see that sending him to the principal’s office was not working or having any kind of effect.

At that age a kid’s understanding of peer pressure is pretty limited, ,,,,

Yet the “peer pressure” is what finally got through to the kid.

….. but removing him from the class with one or more trips to the principal’s office is something even a two-year old understands.

Not this child. Once again, the child was averaging over a trip to the principal’s office a day. In fact, when teacher brought the kids together in a last ditch attempt to control her classroom, the child had just returned from being sent to the principal’s office. Within 20 minutes of returning from the office, the kid was disrupting the class again to the point where kids could not complete their assignments and the teacher could not teach.

The plan of “send the child to the principal’s office” had not worked in the past, did not work that day, and there is no indication that it would have worked in the future.

Plus if the errant behavior continues it becomes the principal’s responsibility to resolve it to a solution.

You would think so, but that didn’t happen here. Apparently the school district had a policy of not having a child stay in the principal’s office more than half a day. So once the kid got to the half a day mark, he was sent back to the classroom. The teacher had met with the mother of the child. The mother, the teacher and the principal had met to discuss the child’s behavior. Nothing was working and yet the teacher still had 15 other kids to worry about.

The teacher tried to fix a “kid” problem with an “adult” solution, it had FAIL written all over it from the beginning.

I understand that is your feeling, but the fact of the matter is that after going through everything, the teacher was still left with the misbehaving child.

The only thing that did work was what the teacher tried as a last resort. It may seem like a “FAIL,” but in fact was a “SUCCEED.”

That being said, and now knowing that the teacher had tried your suggestion more times than either you or I would have had the patience for, plus knowing that your solution had not worked in the least, I ask again, “what would you have the teacher do?”

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