As I was going through
my regular list of websites of various newspapers and television
networks as part of my daily routine, I came across a New York
Post article that was posted on the FOX News Channel website
which caught my attention. The article dealt with the suspension
from school last week of Scott Switzer, 14, from Colts River,
New Jersey. It seems young Mr. Switzer's actions came about
because he 'drew a "patriotic" stick figure of a U.S
Marine blowing away a Taliban fighter', according to school
officials, in the report filed by the New York Post.
further reading the article, it is learned that both the young
man's father and stepfather are serving in the military - his
father is a Navy engineer serving in the Persian Gulf, and his
stepfather is in the Army. Curious to see if there was more
to this story, I called the school, which referred me to the
superintendent's office, where I asked to speak to Dr. Leonard
Kelpsh, who is the Tinton Falls (New Jersey) school superintendent.
His assistant Fran referred me to their attorney on the matter.
After speaking to their attorney - Martin Barger, he informed
me there was indeed more to the story than was being reported,
and that the picture of the stick figures had in fact, the name
of another student above the so-called 'Taliban' figure, and
THAT was the reason for the suspension.
I asked him if he
could fax me a copy of the drawing, to which he initially said
no, because the name of the other student was on it. When I
suggested that "if he black out the last name of the student,
neither one of us would get bit on the butt", he agreed
to make a copy available, which arrived in my office about five
Given that young
Mr. Switzer has attention deficit disorder as well a history
of prior disciplinary problems in school, to include three 'minor'
incidents and an earlier suspension (according to family members),
the school was not only right in suspending Scott, the fact
of the matter was the kid got off light - especially in the
politically-correct times we are currently under siege in. If
I were young Mr. Switzer OR his parents, I wouldn't even THINK
of filing a lawsuit against the school district, for I can tell
you right now as a rule of law, this one is a no-brainer. The
school district would not only win, they would probably fight
back and have the Switzers assessed court costs, which would
add up to a hefty sum very quickly, and on a military salary,
they would very definitely feel the pain.
Scott Switzer made
a very stupid move by placing the name of the other student
above the so-called 'Taliban' figure. It's akin to walking a
tightrope with a stick of dynamite between your knees - a recipe
for disaster guaranteed to make nobody win and everybody lose
- especially Scott Switzer. This young man needs to be thinking
for his future - both in the short and especially the long term,
lest the remainder of his life be ruined all because of what
he thought to be one cute practical joke literally blowing up
in his face and coming back to haunt him for as long as he lives.
With the recent
disclosure in Colorado that the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
had information as far back as 1997 on the Columbine shooters
yet failed to act on it, the need for vigilance in actively
seeking to prevent any kind of violence of this kind - however
large or small can never be overemphasized, nor can it be blown
off as was shown by the body count at Columbine High School
two years later. Whether Switzer is just a kid blowing off steam
or someone seeking to even a score is something for the professionals
to figure out, but as a parent, if my kid's name were above
that 'Taliban' stick figure, I'd have demanded that Switzer
be placed in a rubber room for 60 days for a thorough head cleaning
inside and out.
any parent to argue that one with me.
© 2003 Timothy Rollins
Rollins is Editor of the American
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