Sunday, January 24, 2010

Guns, Stupidity, and Willows, part 2: The Glenn County School Board Strikes Back

It's one thing to give an honest and reasoned explanation on why you overturn an expulsion on a questionable issue.  Even if this issue was a tad in the realm of arguable (and the more you look at it, it wasn't), the reaction from the Glenn County Board of Education can only be described as one thing, bending over for public pressure.

Let's look at the two sides.

First, the Willows School District, which stated that Gary Tudesko (the student with shotguns in his truck on a street next to campus) broke two educational laws.  First, he was in possession of a firearm on the way to school.  The school is responsible for the student while in route to and from the school.
California Education Code 48915: California law also adds a requirement for the mandatory suspension and the recommendation for expulsion of students who:
  • Possess, sell, or otherwise furnish a firearm
So, let's say for the sake of debate, that Mr. Tudesko was not on the campus and therefore doesn't fall within California Ed Code (which creates all sorts of interesting precedents).  How about Federal Law:
The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990:
(1) It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.

The term school zone means in, or on the grounds of, a public, parochial or private school; or within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private school. 
Wow, now call me crazy, but shotguns in a truck on the street next to a high school classroom would probably be pretty close to breaking that law, no?

And the defense argument against all of this?
officials should know the difference between a hunter returning from a morning of bird hunting and a "guy in a trench coat."
Oh fine, and I'm sure that the principal in charge of a thousand individuals is supposed to stereotype only the people that wear trench coats and not the one defiant teenager that has a history of racism, intolerance, and violence.

And the Glenn County Board of Education prepped for their prostate exam by stating:
In addition to reversing the Willows Unified School District board's decision, the county trustees ordered Tudesko's expulsion be removed from the school record.

It also ordered "any costs incurred by the pupil or his parents be reimbursed by the district.

The county board ruled the district had "acted in excess of its jurisdiction" because the act "did not occur on school grounds or at a school activity."

Furthermore, the county board stated that Tudesko did not have an opportunity for a "fair hearing" before the district board, because he "was not provided timely written notice of all evidence...."

The board also found "prejudicial abuse of discretion by the district" because it failed to show how other discipline choices were not feasible, or that Tudesko was a "continuing danger to the physical safety of the student and others."

The final finding stated that the board "need not reach a determination" about whether relevant and material evidence existed or "was improperly excluded at the hearing before the district governing board."
I just love that "prejudicial abuse of discretion by the district" tune along with showing "how other discipline choices were not feasible".  As if 25 referrals, shouting "Nigger" in class, using hate speech against staff, and fighting weren't clear signs to our Educrats that the student didn't belong at the high school at all.

Still, I'm not at all surprised at the reaction of an elected board from Willows capitulating because their best friend is in the board room, or afraid that the really nicely dressed man from the NRA is whispering something about canceling their subscription to the monthly newsletter.  The decision was politics, not education, and the end result allows for a student that has no regard for the school to return at the peril of peers and staff.
Tudesko said he felt his prior disciplinary troubles had been raised to justify his expulsion.
"I think that's really the only thing they had on me. They couldn't get me for the guns," he said.
"I won," he added.
One of Gary's last statements was that he promised not to get into trouble and to "grow up".  That's fine and dandy, but I'd prefer it that he grow up first, then own the gun.
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