28 March 2012

Indiana Still Backward

A geeky looking seventeen year old high school senior, Austin Carroll, in Garrett, Indiana was EXPELLED from school, (really) from making a cute little tweet joke about the many linguistic uses of the word "Fuck" on a private twitter account while not at school at 2:30 a.m. (the school claims it was tweeted from a school computer, but "The principal at Garrett High School claims their system tracks all the tweets on Twitter when a student logs in, meaning even if he did tweet it from home their system could have recognized it when he logged in again at school.", and why expel someone for that ever, in any case?).

Let me restate that again, in case you weren't paying attention. This kid was kicked out of school permanently, not for having a gun, or raping someone, or dealing drugs, or being truant, but for making a half-intellectual tweet. He has to attend an alternative school in order to earn his diploma, for the next three months.

It makes the town in the movie "Footloose" (1984) that banned dancing look permissive by comparison.

The batshit crazy principal at Garrett High School who made the call appears to be a fellow by the name of Matt Smith. It certainly isn't obvious from the student handbook at Garrett High School for the school that this kind of conduct would be a ground for expulsion (although one can twist the language to come to the conclusion that it could be possible).

What they fuck was he thinking? Seriously. Courts have frowned on this kind of disciplinary action by schools. But, more importantly, it just doesn't make any kind of sense whatsoever. This Matt Smith guy reminds me of the Jet Blue pilot who flipped out and had to be restrained from trying to re-enter the cockpit by the flight attendants and passengers earlier this week. An authority figure who just disconnected from reality all the sudden.

Notably, this same principal said upon taking the job in 2007 (his second administrative post) that:

Mr. Smith always encouraged his three priorities, which are God, family, and career.

“I chose God as my first priority because I feel it’s important to be a servant leader and help people become the best they can be,” said Smith.

To help his students become the best they can be, Mr. Smith treats those students, he comes in contact with, the way he would treat his own family.

“Instead of issuing punishment, I try to focus on the student and building a relationship with that student,” he said. Mr. Smith said he does the same with his own children.

One of Mr. Smith’s goals this year is focusing on Garrett becoming the best school that it can be.

“I am going to try to do everything I can to make this school the best school in the state,” he said. “We are labeled a small, blue collar community, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be the best.”

Clearly, Jesus would expel a high school senior for making a tweet that used the word fuck in a non-sexual way at 2:30 a.m. from home.

District Superintendent Dennis L. Stockdale apparantly lacked the presence of mind to realize that his subordinate, Matt Smith, was an idiot, and has backed the decision. In an interview, he revealed that:

Garrett schools Superintendent Dennis Stockdale tells The Journal Gazette he cannot comment on any student's case. But he says the school has never disciplined any student for anything they posted online using their own computer outside the school's network.

Until now, that is. A couple more points from another account of the story:

Carroll’s mother, Pam Smith, told KPC News that her son will not be able to finish his senior year with classmates, can't attend the senior prom nor attend commencement practices. He will be allowed to participate in graduation, but will receive a blank diploma that night. Stockdale will give him the signed document following the ceremony. . . . Smith and her son were called to the school principal’s office March 12 regarding the incident, and administrators showed her printouts of the tweets. Smith said she has not seen complete documentation regarding IP reports and times.

Stockdale said federal law allows the school to filter content used by students.

The final decision on punishment is made by the superintendent, at the recommendation of the student’s building principal, according to Stockdale.

Parents can request a hearing with a hearing officer to appeal a decision. Stockdale said during his five years as superintendent, three or four hearings have been held.

Smith said she waived the opportunity for a hearing because she didn't fully understand the process at the time.

Carroll posted on his Facebook page Monday: “I agree with the administration that what I did was wrong and I shouldn’t have done it,” he wrote. “But the punishments they put me through were way too harsh. I shouldn’t have gotten in trouble at all. It wasn’t the school as a whole that did it, though. I love Garrett Schools with all my heart. The students and teachers are the best ever. They think of one another as family,” Carroll’s post said.

There is also some history to the case. But, it is harmless stuff:

Last October, Garrett High School senior Austin Carroll got into a rub with school officials after he used his school-issued computer to post an online comment via Twitter that contained obscenities.

Carroll was given an in-school suspension and, according to his mother, quickly learned that he should use the school-issued laptop strictly for homework assignments.

Meanwhile, Carroll continued to get into almost silly conflicts. He wore a kilt to school one day but was ordered by the principal to change. His mother, Pam Smith, said she argued that the kilt was no more of a distraction than girls with short skirts or low-cut tops. Later, the superintendent agreed that Carroll would be permitted to wear a kilt on Irish holidays.

This month, Carroll’s mother was called to the school to discuss her son’s attendance. Carroll, she said, suffers from migraines and other health issues and does miss school often.

At the meeting, though, the topic wasn’t attendance but Carroll’s Twitter posts. School officials, she said, had print-outs of some tweets that contained more obscenities. School officials wanted to expel Carroll.

Smith said she objected. The tweets had been sent from his home computer at 2:30 a.m. While she doesn’t approve of the obscene language and said she confronted him, what he does on his home computer in the middle of the night is his business.

But school officials said the tweets had the school’s IP address. She said she was told that if Carroll had his school laptop running, it would appear the tweet came from the school computer.

The bottom line, still remains, what kind of brainless fools are Matt Smith and Dennis Stockdale, and why can't they just learn to admit that they screwed up?

People like Matt Smith and Dennis Stockdale do not deserve to be trusted around children. They should find a new line of work, in an S&M club maybe. If I were on the school board, I'd vote to immediately fire both of them for proving that they have no sense of good judgment whatsoever, shaming their school, their town, and their state in the process. Small minded people like them in positions of power are the kind of blight that mains our country and our future. (Colorado has them too).


andrew said...

A few more details of the unknowning wavier of appeal rights.

Dave Barnes said...

What kind of idiot has a "school computer"?
Buy you own.
Tweet to your heart's content.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Dimes to dollars, if you mom has a different last name than you do, and your and your mom are both overweight, and your mom doesn't understand what an expulsion hearing is and just takes the pronouncement of the superintendent that your son is expelled for a tweet as the way it is in life, and your kid is missing a lot of days of school, your ability to do things like buing a computer is pretty limited. Our young man shows few signs of being upper middle class or even middle middle class.