Victims of the blackboard jungle
Posted: April 20, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
The horror that happened at Mifflin High School in Columbus, Ohio, is happening in public schools everywhere. While the names and ages of the young victims vary, one thing is constant across the country: spineless education bureaucrats more concerned about covering their hides than protecting innocent children from harm.
On March 9, according to press reports, a developmentally disabled girl told Mifflin school officials that four boys dragged her into the school auditorium, punched her in the head and face, pushed her to her knees, and forced her to have oral sex with two of them. A crowd of students watched, and one student videotaped the incident. The 16-year-old girl's lip was bloodied in the alleged gang attack – dazed and crying, her face swollen, she reported the assault immediately to her special education teacher, Lisa Upshaw-Haider.
One monstrosity was piled upon another. When the girl's father, who had been summoned to the school by the teacher, insisted on calling police, an assistant principal twice urged him not to call 911, according to Upshaw-Haider. Assistant Principal Rick Watson implored the girl's father to call the non-emergency police line instead of 911, a violation of Ohio state law, because "a news channel might tape his daughter and cause her further mental trauma," according to his statement to school investigators.
Meanwhile, according to witnesses, the school's principal, Regina Crenshaw, shuttered herself in a meeting about bell schedules and curriculum for a half-hour while underlings scrambled to perform damage control.
Cover your ears, cower in a classroom, and pray that the media stay out of it. It's all about the children, right?
Witness statements revealed that none of the administrators bothered to call a nurse to assist the girl. Only after the girl's father called police himself did law enforcement come to the scene. By the time the cops arrived, all of the administrators had gone home for the day.
The principal is now in the process of being fired. The animals accused of assaulting the victim were suspended and may face criminal charges. But two of three assistant principals, including alleged cover-up man Rick Watson, are protesting their measly suspensions over the incident as "unwarranted." Worried as ever about his own hide, Watson said through a lawyer that he hoped to be "spared the public ordeal of a full hearing."
What about the girl's ordeal? As is frequently the case in these situations, this was probably not the first time the disabled student was attacked. Police are investigating claims that she had been previously assaulted on a school bus, and that boys had tried to disrobe her at school.
Public-school Pollyannas will dismiss the Mifflin High School horror story as an isolated case. Open your eyes. Smell the stench. It's in your neighborhood.
The New York Post reported recently that assaulted or sexually abused students and staff members collected $6.9 million in negligence claims against the New York City school system in fiscal 2004, an 18 percent increase in payouts over the previous fiscal year. The largest settlement, $1 million, was awarded to a Bronx high-school student whose classmates stabbed him in the head with a screwdriver. The school had refused his mother's request for a safety transfer before the assault.
In my home county, Montgomery County, Md., a local government report revealed that nearly 12,000 children ages 12 to 17 are bullied, abused or robbed by peers and others. Of that number, more than 1,000 are victims of sexual assaults. The school system, which is not required to inform police of these crimes, has been bombarded with complaints by parents that school officials ignored the victims or downplayed sexual assaults, including a number of incidents involving young girls attacked on local school buses.
These are heart-stopping nightmares every parent fears. You send your children to school to learn, not to be assaulted by classmates and abused by the negligent overseers of Public School Classrooms Gone Wild. If these assaults occurred in private schools, the institutions would be shut down. Instead, the government dance of the lemons continues, as abominable administrators skip away with "sensitivity training," "reassignment" and eternal protection from accountability.