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Teen Assaults Teacher, Activist Worries About Teen?

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, News | Posted on 09-11-2007

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A 17-year-old run­ning back assaults a high school teacher for doing her job.1 He toss­es her around and breaks her fin­ger.

Who would you wor­ry about? The attack­er, or the vic­tim?

That depends, appar­ent­ly, on whether you’re a “human rights activist” who focus­es on “black uni­ty.” That describes Ger­ald Rose of the New Order Human Rights Orga­ni­za­tion.

Does uni­ty mean defend­ing inde­fen­si­ble actions, like assault and bat­tery? Appar­ent­ly so, if they involve a black per­son with a some­what famous father assault­ing a white per­son. I’d give you good odds that if this inci­dent involved a white stu­dent and a white teacher, the soi-dis­ant activist would nev­er had noticed it. If the stu­dent were white and the teacher black, he might have got­ten involved if the school didn’t press charges against the stu­dent.

But since the stu­dent in ques­tion is black, and he did assault a white teacher, Rose saw a chance to get his name in the papers. I’m bet­ting he smelled mon­ey, too, because the student’s father is semi-famous. Mon­ey is impor­tant to Rose, who spent 44 days in the Cobb Coun­ty jail for fail­ure to pay over $26,000 in child sup­port. Whoops! Maybe some of that activism should start at home?

So far, Rose claims to have met with the high school’s prin­ci­pal to “express con­cern over the inci­dent.” 2 Why would the prin­ci­pal agree to meet with this per­son? Pri­va­cy rules would keep him from actu­al­ly dis­cussing the case with Rose, so did Rose get in to see the prin­ci­pal on false pre­tens­es?

Rose claims that “he will appeal to Cobb Coun­ty school dis­trict offi­cials not to rush to judg­ment in decid­ing pun­ish­ment for a Las­siter High foot­ball play­er arrest­ed last week.” He’s also try­ing to get in touch with the student’s fam­i­ly, “to offer sup­port.” And hope­ful­ly col­lect dona­tions!

The boy turned him­self in to police, and got out of jail the same day on a $5,000 bond. One con­di­tion of the bond is that he stay away from Finch, which appar­ent­ly means that he can’t return to that school after his 10-day sus­pen­sion. 3 Is that what Rose is appeal­ing? Per­haps he thinks the teacher should leave, instead?

The boy’s fam­i­ly was expect­ed to make a state­ment Mon­day (Novem­ber 5), but if they did I haven’t found a trace of it online.

The races of the peo­ple involved are irrel­e­vant to me, as they should be to the school, the court sys­tem, and every­one else involved. None of the media out­lets felt it nec­es­sary to bring up race. Rose, how­ev­er, seems to see every­thing through an “us against them” fil­ter, lead­ing him to see racism where there is none. A “human rights orga­ni­za­tion” that is only con­cerned with one kind of human is absurd. Rose and his orga­ni­za­tion would be far more cred­i­ble if he just admit­ted that it’s a “black rights orga­ni­za­tion.” There’s noth­ing wrong or shame­ful about that, as the NAACP has shown us for many years.


1 http://​www​.ajc​.com/​s​p​o​r​t​s​/​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​/​s​p​o​r​t​s​/​h​i​g​h​s​c​h​o​o​l​/​s​t​o​r​i​e​s​/​2​0​0​7​/​1​1​/​0​3​/​l​a​s​s​i​t​e​r​_​1​1​0​4​.​h​t​m​l​?​c​x​n​t​l​i​d​=​h​o​m​e​p​a​g​e​_​t​a​b​_​n​e​w​s​tab

2 http://​www​.ajc​.com/​m​e​t​r​o​/​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​/​m​e​t​r​o​/​c​o​b​b​/​s​t​o​r​i​e​s​/​2​0​0​7​/​1​1​/​0​5​/​l​a​s​s​i​t​e​r​_​1​1​0​5​.​h​tml

3 The fact that he’s sus­pend­ed, instead of expelled, is wor­thy of a rant of its own.

Comments (5)

I have no inten­tion of tak­ing sides on this, but I do wish to com­ment. And this is not in defense of Rose or Full­wood, it’s just about our cur­rent soci­ety in gen­er­al.

You say:
“The races of the peo­ple involved are irrel­e­vant to me, as they should be to the school, the court sys­tem, and every­one else involved.”

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that’s not the way it is. Rose isn’t the only one with the ‘us against them’ men­tal­i­ty, though he might be the only one out­spo­ken about it. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many teach­ers, many judges, many police offi­cers, and many oth­er peo­ple in our soci­ety are racist and prej­u­dice, though they’d nev­er come right out and say it.

I’m not say­ing this is one of those inci­dents, but racism still exist, and until we as a soci­ety start to get that right, there are going to be peo­ple like Rose, some with good inten­tions oth­ers not so good, ris­ing up and speak­ing out.

I have con­tacts in the edu­ca­tion com­mu­ni­ty, and at Las­siter, specif­i­cal­ly. The media has giv­en you a real­ly flawed impres­sion of what hap­pened, and your writ­ing seems to derive accord­ing­ly.

The sto­ry — the stu­dent had a cell phone, which was turned on. The phone was some­how dis­rup­tive (sto­ries vary here as to if it was SMS or a call). The teacher came up to the stu­dent and demand­ed the phone. The stu­dent refused. The teacher stood OVER the stu­dent (a vio­la­tion of pol­i­cy for Cobb Coun­ty and the state), and repeat­ed the demand. The stu­dent stood up quick­ly to respond, knock­ing the teacher back, who then fell to the ground and suf­fered an injury.

First, the teacher is wrong for vio­lat­ing the space of the stu­dent. And, I will expect this is going to be addressed pri­vate­ly by the admin­is­tra­tion. As well, the stu­dent is in the wrong for run­ning into the teacher. This is an act of unin­ten­tion­al assault, and he should pay the appro­pri­ate penal­ties. He should also be removed from school for the time required for caus­ing a dis­rup­tion (the phone) and for imped­ing a teacher. The stu­dent should NOT be expelled, unless that is the pun­ish­ment reg­is­tered by the county/​state, for the two vio­la­tions. The stu­dent wasn’t fling­ing peo­ple around, as many of the news sto­ries implied.

The judge has, by requir­ing the stu­dent remain away from the teacher, put the edu­ca­tion of the stu­dent at risk. This is a defac­to expul­sion with­out alter­na­tive edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ty (once the sus­pen­sion is over, the stu­dent starts acru­ing absences). This action is rep­re­hen­si­ble, and it is not at all unrea­son­able to want to pro­tect the right of the stu­dent to a pub­lic edu­ca­tion. The fact that a large man caused injury to a slight woman may be what caused the Judge to make such a rul­ing. It may also be race. It even could be some­one sup­port­ing the cult of the ath­lete over edu­ca­tion (some­thing that always gets my blood boil­ing). The only way to know, and to address this prop­er­ly, is with the right advo­cates on all sides.

Giv­en that Fulwood’s first sto­ry was (accord­ing to oth­er sources in edu­ca­tion) that the teacher addressed him, he turned around and “bumped into her,” and she then fell down stairs, injur­ing her­self, I have to ques­tion yet anoth­er ver­sion of events.

If it does have any truth in it, let’s look at “stood up sud­den­ly.” The boy is an ath­lete. He knows his body. He knew he’d impact her if he did that. I’ve seen a pic­ture of the teacher, and she isn’t a large per­son.

The boy had the phone on him dur­ing the school day. He was vio­lat­ing both Las­siter and Cobb Coun­ty school sys­tem poli­cies. He knew that. He chose to mis­be­have. He chose not to turn the tele­phone over as soon as he was told to do so. He pro­voked a con­fronta­tion.

The teacher may not have react­ed per­fect­ly, but it’s dif­fi­cult to talk to some­one sit­ting down with­out “stand­ing over” him. She was prob­a­bly try­ing to avoid fur­ther class dis­tur­bance by being close to him. She cer­tain­ly wouldn’t have expect­ed a vio­lent reac­tion.

The boy has an impulse con­trol prob­lem, at the very least. He’s 17, not 7. The teacher has a right to go to work with­out fear. It is quite nor­mal for restrain­ing orders to be issued in these cas­es. It’s much sim­pler to move the boy than the teacher, and there’s no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for fur­ther dis­rupt­ing the life of the vic­tim.

The boy could attend the alter­na­tive school in Cobb Coun­ty (I’m sure they have one). He could trans­fer to a char­ter school. He could attend a pri­vate school. He could be home­schooled. It is ridicu­lous to thing that his edu­ca­tion must be inter­rupt­ed because he can­not attend Las­siter.

Ari­ah, I know that there are far too many racist peo­ple in the world, and I know that racism per­me­ates the “crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.” I just fin­ished some research into cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment and how it is admin­is­tered in the U.S., and if I had any doubts before, that would have erased them. It should not be there, though, and it’s up to every one of us to change that. Yes, the boy deserves fair treat­ment. I want him to be treat­ed exact­ly like he would be if he were my child, or a cop’s child, or the judge’s child. None of that should mat­ter.

The boy is not the vic­tim here, though. The teacher is. And I’m real­ly sick and tired of hear­ing peo­ple advo­cat­ing for offend­ers, rather than wor­ry­ing about the wel­fare of vic­tims.

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