This Teacher Calls BS On Those Who Are Defending South Carolina School Cops Behavior (IMAGE)


It has been several days now since the incident involving a school police officer and a female student in South Carolina. In the polarized climate that is 21st century America, it became quickly apparent that there would be no public consensus on the issue. Lines have been drawn, as they seem to be for everything, with police supporters who feel the officer was justified on one side, and those who see a problem with a grown, physically fit male manhandling a female high school student on the other.

I am a 29.5 year veteran of the public school classroom, and over the years I taught, I sent a number of students out of the room. Some refused to leave, and I required the help of an administrator to get them out of the room. Oh, but things were different then, youll tell me. Not really. Teenagers, for want of a better word, are crazy. The best honor student will occasionally do something stupid. They always have, and they always will. But zero tolerance policies and some schools willingness to use what should be a last resort as a first response are partly to blame for incidents like this.

One meme that is floating around suggests that the problem with todays students is that they are somehow different than students in the past; that they are spoiled brats with no parental guidance. News flash: that type of student has always existed. Just because the people sharing the meme never got into any trouble, they seem to think that no student ever acted up, or got into trouble. The difference is that we now live in a society where many feel that every problem has to be addressed by an application of force.


Mark is a teacher in Maryland, and Im happy to say that he was one of my first students. Im not fully identifying him here because I dont want him to get hate mail. You can send that to me. Mark shared a post with his Facebook friends in which he makes four exceptionally wise points about the South Carolina incident, and others like it that have been in the news in recent months. Out of all of the things he has to say, this sticks out the most to me:

We decide what we contribute to the communities in which we live, and our communities are the sum of those contributions. The only way to make our communities better than the knucleheads make them is to behave better than the knuckleheads.

Who could argue with that point? Heres Marks complete (and completely brilliant) commentary from Facebook.

Commentary 4

Featured image via NBC News screen capture


@WesWilliams_AI or on his Facebook page, LeftOfLiberal.

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  • Charles Oliver Graham

    Funny, when I went to school 60 or so years ago, we also had problem students who would act up and disturb the class. I only saw a student have to be removed from the class by a teacher and principle only once or twice. That student was then suspended indefinitely from school and their parents were called. When the parents got to the school they were pissed at the student not the teacher or principle and punishment was administered at home. The parents did not come in crying what did you do to my kid to make him act out.

    For lessor offenses misbehaving kids got paddled by the teacher or principal and this was again done without public outrage or upset parents. And when we got home we got it again from our parents. For minor offenses we sat in the corner or against the wall during recess.

    I keep hearing they should not have tried to remove the kid forceable, but nobody says what they should have done. The punk kid had refused to obey the teacher and principle repeatedly. They then did call the SRO to deal with the disruptive student who was disrupting the class room and preventing students who did want and education to receive it. As the officer tried to do his job she struck him at least three time….. That alone was an assault on a LEO.

    As I see it the YOU CANT MAKE ME Punk kids win again and everybody else loses.


    • mdhome

      Physical violence does not belong in a school! So she swatted at the resource officer, still his response was to escalate the interaction, not the way to get desired respect or response. Granted maybe he did not get the kind of training for this situation, but his action was wrong.


      • Karblaze

        She did not swat at him. I have watched all of the videos available over and over. So many say she swatted/swung at him. Not from anything I saw. The only time her hands were in the air was first when he grabbed her left arm. It went up in the air out of his way so he could put the chokehold on her. Then her arms were flailing through the air as he was slamming her backwards onto the floor, then throwing her across the room. I guess she was suppose to be keeping track of where her arms and hands were flying as SHE was flying around the room!


        • mdhome

          No argument with you, I was trying to pacify those who said she hit him, my viewing agrees her arm only went up when he grabbed her. His actions were undeniably wrong showing a complete lack of training or anger management issues.


    • johnsawyer

      Mr. Graham: You accurately point out that the world has always had some kids who are disruptive, and then you describe how you saw those kids handled when you were a kid, which didnt involve calling in an officer to rip them out of their desk using a headlock and throwing them to the floor.

      And yet, even though you point out that in your time, a non-violent or lesser-violent response to low levels of disruption in school resulted in things more or less working out OK, you change direction and ask What should be done?, and insist that kids today, even when theyre no more disruptive than the ones you saw in your time in school, somehow require or just deserve more violence than you witnessed when you were a kid. Wheres the sense in that? Upping the stakes with overwhelming force against a kid whos not being violent just makes things worse, rather than maintaining the steady state of normal disruption and careful response that you say worked well when you were a kid. Were not engaged in some kind of escalating war on kids that we should somehow ultimately win at any cost.

      Even if we were to accept the unproven idea that kids today are much more disruptive, that doesnt mean that all of them are, and so it doesnt mean that one of the less-disruptive students should be treated like the ones who are. Why should a less-disruptive student be treated as if theyre engaging in the most disruptive behavior? Kids as well as adults have a very strong sense of when an imbalance of force has been used, and it creates a very strong impression on them that often turns a kid who might simply be mildly disruptive every now and then, into one thats much worse. Thats how things work, so thats what needs to be taken into account when a response is gauged.


    • Dani

      I implement behavior management programs in schools. There are a MULTITUDE of strategies that could have been used. No child should be assaulted in a school. EVER!


      • Charles Oliver Graham

        I note that you also do not say what should have been done to get the disruptive kid out of class.


        • greatconsumptor

          He picked up that desk and that child pretty easily right? I wonder if this cro-magnon man had the strength to drag the desk (with her in it) out of the room.


        • ycajunorg

          As you have not yet received a reply to your question and as a teacher of 40 years experience (albeit in the UK) I will tell you exactly how the situation would have been handled if it had been allowed to reach such a level in my classroom (which I would sincerely hope it never does and I can say with certainty it never has). I would have drawn up a chair next to her and the young lady would have been asked, quietly so that the other pupils could not hear, if she was sure she wanted to reach the position where her refusal to cooperate must result in further sanctions and if she remained recalcitrant and once more refused to leave the room to discuss the matter further then the other pupils would have been removed to another room where the lesson could continue and the young lady would have been isolated in the first classroom until she had had time to think and to calm down.
          By deescalating the situation in the first place I have always found that even the most truculent of pupils will listen to reason except in extreme situations and then they are best left to calm down until they are ready to do so.
          She would know that her actions would bring repercussions but she would not care if she was so worked up. By allowing the situation to cool then she would bring her own anger under control and she would be amenable to learning a lesson from the experience. She would even be able to see that the punishment which would be meted out for her behaviour was just and reasonable. After all we are meant to educate pupils for life in our schools, not brutalise them.


          • Charles Oliver Graham

            Must be nice to work in a school with extra class rooms. And the time to move all the students around. My bet is this was not the first time she showed her belligerence and for me a major factor is the other students who supported the officer.


          • Anita Page

            She was new to the school, so no, the other students didnt even know her.


          • ycajunorg

            Your reply seems less than relevant. All large high schools have spare rooms they do not allow 100% occupancy. It takes very little time to move a class to another room and there is absolutely NO CIRCUMSTANCE in which an adult in a position of responsibility should allowed to use this level of force on a pupil. Any previous incidences of a similar nature should have informed the actions of the teacher and others in authority. After all they are the trained and responsible persons here and they have a responsibility as professional people. Resorting to excessive force is teaching the wrong lesson full stop.


        • Dani

          It appears that you got many responses, with appropriate strategies. I understand this child was recently orphaned. Children who experience understandably have trouble giving up things. And, my guess is that she had pictures on her phone that comforted her. I would have asked her to put the phone in a pocket or purse and to see me after class. I would have listened to her and, even if her seat was moved, I would have made sure the phone was near her.


        • Dani

          Oh. And, but the way. Taking anyone down with students nearby is dangerous. The man, thankfully, has been fired. He placed students in harms way.


    • Jennie Hallbrown

      You do realize that this GIRL who was attacked by a GROWN MAN was recently orphaned, right? Or that when she was asked to put her phone (which she was not even talking on) away she did just that? THEN the officer was called in confiscate the phone, which more than likely had pictures of the mother she just lost on it. Why would you condone a man beating a woman? Before you go and make snap, ignorant judgements learn the facts.


      • Karblaze

        Not all of your details are accurate, but you got the gist correct. The teacher demanded she hand over the phone that yes, she was only looking at. Her only response was no. He told her to leave the classroom. Her only response was, no. He called the assistant principal. He told her to leave the classroom. her only response was, no. He then called the SRO. The SRO told her to come with him. Her response, I dont know you. So, he went animal on her.


        • Jennie Hallbrown

          Thank you for the correct info


    • Dawn Stewart Hoenes

      Where did you get your facts??? that the girl was disrupting the classroom? Said she sent a text in math class. As a former teacher, I dont find that disruptive enough to go ballistic and interrupt my teaching. A talk with her after finishing the instruction should have been the way to handle it. Then if there were an issue of disrespect (one-on-one), a disciplinary note should have been sent to the principal who could decide the appropriate action. BUT, no matter what, this was an out of control ADULT male who used inappropriate force against a MINOR girl. Doesnt matter if he was a policeman, a preacher, a teacher, or a parent still unacceptable.


    • http://batman-news.com John Herold

      Where do you get off calling the young lady a punk kid ? If anyone is a punk around here…..it is YOU! The young lady sounds to me like a person in trouble who needs a friend and some understanding, not some bully dragging her out of her chair and throwing her across the room. What was her crime? Was she acting up and disturbing the class? She was looking at pics on her phone. Big deal ! How did the teacher approach her?
      Did you ever see the movie; To Sir, With Love. Now the kids in that class were really acting up! Did the teacher use violence? Only in a few cases and those involved only tongue lashings.
      Can you imagine a different scenario where the teacher handled it differently by asking her to share the pictures with the class, and talk about what she was going through.
      I hear what you are saying about how it was 60 years ago. Yup, that was a good system ! After all, it produced you…..a person who thinks violence is the answer !


  • nehpets123154

    A lot of the White Populous in the United States still adhere to the stereotypical, Plantation/Slave Owners attitude and mentality. That Black People are Inferior and Subservient to them and deserve to be handled an treated in this manner. If the script was flipped and a Black Police Officer did this to their Sons or Daughters all heel would break loose and Ill guarantee their reactions would be totally different. Racism wasnt thrown into the mix it was already there. Something they refuse to acknowledge and deal with openly and honestly !!!!


    • Jevins

      I think youre right, and your point alone is proof that what the officer did was criminal.


    • snoozi

      Get off the black pity pot. Slavery was not in your time or mine, it was in our great-great-great ancestors world. Its history. Race has nothing to do with this…..except racist like you keep it going!


      • fjwalker1959

        crawl back under your rock


        • snoozi

          Whats the matter, did I hit a nerve with you? Up yours fudge packer.


          • greatconsumptor

            That sounds like a decent job, mmm fudge! I wonder if he gets a discount?


          • brian nunziato

            Your shoe size is higher than your IQ. Go back and play in your sandbox kid.


        • Diana Holcomb Evans

          comments like that only cause trouble and are unbecoming.


          • fjwalker1959

            sometimes its necessary to dumb it down so they can comprehend. low comprehension skills as exhibited by the intelligent response.


      • Andrew Jones

        Ignorance is not a valid excuse. Systemic racism in every major public institution is well documented if youre smart and curious enough to research. You not liking it has the same effect as a kid clenching their eyes trying to be invisible: zero.


      • bugmenot2013

        Segregated buses, water fountains and lunch counters were within my lifetime. De jure and de facto school segregation were within my lifetime. Medgar Evers was brutally murdered within my lifetime, and I just missed Emmitt Till. Stop pretending this is ancient history; these incidents, and many of these comments (never mind the n-bomb-filled ones that get filtered out prove it is alive and all too well.


      • Lacey Gentry

        Slavery is a dead horse, but racism is much more than just the idea that its okay to own people because they are black. In this case, the prevailing and extremely racist belief is that because this girl was defiant while also being black she deserved and should have expected to be manhandled by a cop. Reality is that white girls and boys from supposedly good homes, who earn good grades and participate in every club their schools have to offer, are just as likely to be defiant when challenged by authority figures. They dont get assaulted until they throw a punch that cant be dodged though, because if they are wearing clothes from the GAP that cop knows he runs the risk of getting himself and his department sued into oblivion if Daddy sees a bruise on his little princess. Outside of school I find that I do have the most problems with the disadvantaged kids, but in the schools? There the worst attitudes and most abhorrent behavior that cant be understood by me is the little teenaged white girls whose pictures show up in the yearbook 17 times. Those little monsters truly think that they are indestructible and they have the unearned self confidence that goes along with that belief.


      • Barb Sutherland

        I beg to differ … and I am caucasian. In the south, there were chain restaurants that had to be ordered, under federal mandate, to end their segregated seating and bathrooms. This was in 2004 not 1964. There are events, public service businesses and many venues that still practice segregation, even if covertly and being done coincidentally. There has been a resurgence of White Knight and KKK organizations in the last decade and disproportionate arrests, brutality, killings and sentences against our black citizens. Racism is alive and well in these United States and those who choose to deny it so vehemently are often a large part of the problem, whether knowingly or otherwise..


    • Alyson Mitchell

      Populace


    • Lacey Gentry

      Im not going to try and dispute that there isnt a significant portion of the population for whom brown skin is enough of an offense to warrant an automatically authoritative response and extra vigilance when looking for reasons to exert authority. Its true and its wrong and it needs to stop. What I will say in addition to that is that black and brown arent the only qualifiers that can cast a person- adult or child- into that role of needing to be treated this way. Especially within the schools, any students whose appearances and lives outside of school dont mirror those of the majority of the staff members working in the school are subject to more intense scrutiny and harsher handling when they are observed stepping out of line. That is just as big of a problem that needs to stop because when youre talking about poor black kids from broken homes youre only seeing 8-10% of the student population. Poor kids of all the other races who live through many of the same struggles due to poverty and screwed up family situations represent a much larger percentage of the whole and they are just as likely to be targeted in schools where they are the minority population- viewed as the problems standing in the way of the better kids being able to enjoy what they deserve to have given to them- and they are being subjected to the same treatment.


  • Ken Mullis

    Ill bet that if these kids knew, like we did in our school days, that you were going to get three swats from either the principal or the gym teach she would have jumped out of that desk and ran to the office. How many parents would want or encourage their child to act the way she did?


    • Kasper

      How did you know there were three swats waiting for offenses if you never offended? Was there a verbal warning first? At what level of offense did you get body-slammed and put in a chokehold? Im honestly quite curious, so please dont brush this off.
      Yes, I am a bleeding heart. That said, even people in favor of physical punishment tend to work with some sort of degrees-of-offense system. The girl didnt get slapped, she got a takedown better suited for berzerking meth-heads. Without bringing up the fairness of three swats, can you say if you approve of the tackle?


    • Gant 101

      Youd lose that bet.


    • no2rdifferent

      oh yes, bring back the perverts who forced us to wear dresses to school and then grab our ankles for the paddle. I didnt understand it then, but now I do. We should NEVER let children be disciplined by school administrators…dont get me started on the pervert coaches that look for small schools so that they can accost young people. Call the parents or guardians, period.


  • Emily Fay Reese

    I would be interested to hear from the author of this article, or other teachers, on the following things that came to my mind:

    1) As a teacher myself, of at-risk high schoolers, my very first thought, after the initial anger toward the treatment of the child, was: how did the teacher originally handle this situation, which led to this outcome? What kinds of classroom management strategies did he employ first before calling the admin? What could have been done differently?
    2) Was there a struggle of pride between the two and he was going to win at all costs?
    3) At what point could the teacher have sought to understand or show compassion instead of insistence?

    From what I have experienced, it is clear that this child is an at-risk teen. Did the teacher know of her situation in life before he, I assume, adamantly pushed the child in front of her peers to do what he told her? Most students pridefully dig in when called out in front of the class. Could he have quietly spoken to her first, or handed her a post it note with his request? Thats what I do and usually get great results. If a student truly respects the teacher, using authority is rarely needed.

    I am not blaming the teacher exactly, but the discipline reaction started first with the teacher. At what point could it have been changed that could have kept this whole thing from happening?

    In my opinion, a cop in a school should never be used for non-violent infractions of classroom procedures and expectations. I can think of a host of other strategies that could have been attempted from the very beginning. Of course, there are so many details I dont know, but I think questioning the discipline policies of the classroom and admins is worth exploring. It should be something all teachers can learn from so that this kind of thing does not happen again. I would be mortified if it happened on my watch and I hope it never does.

    I believe all parties involved are somehow culpable; the student, the teacher, the admin and the cop all played some part in this. I am hoping my fellow teachers will see my meaning, and not feel degraded. Being a teacher is tough, and there are extraneous pressures that make classroom management difficult. But a cop, forcibly removing a student over a non-violent cell phone infraction, is unacceptable to me.

    Peace to the student and all the parties involved.


    • Dani

      I cant agree with you more. I have worked to implement programs in alternative settings for high-risk youth. I believe this student is a foster child and probably experienced abuse and neglect at home, which lead to removal from the home. Her phone may be the only way she felt safe so she could call for help if she needed it. Now she doesnt trust them either.


      • SithRose

        She was recently orphaned.


        • OUR12

          Twice, her mother and than her grandmother. I cant even begin to imagine how alone she must feel. Perhaps in the classroom that day she just didnt give a damn.


    • Karblaze

      Yes, but, shoulda, coulda, woulda is a mute point now. In this case anyway. No matter how he came to be in that classroom, he acted like an animal attacking that child the way he did. Also, the teacher and Admin. that were there and called him, had to have had a good idea of what was going to go down. The kids did. That is why they were ready to film it. The officer was known as Officer Slam. I dont think that the teacher and Admin were unaware of this.
      There are programs out there that teach SROs how to work in schools, since they are now being used as part of the staff. However, SC refuses to have their SROs trained in these programs. Im hoping that after this horrific tragedy, ALL states with schools that have SROs on campus as staff, get their officers trained to handle children and especially teens. I raised 2 daughters. They were high energy, independent, opinionated, stubborn, willful…However, I raised these 2 kids to a productive, happy, adulthood without ever laying a hand on them. No excuse for violence on people, especially children, just because you cannot get them to comply with your wishes or demands.


      • greatconsumptor

        He got that nickname after this incident. The school admin was appalled by this video and said before all else her main concern is for the safety and well being of her students. The officer was also banned from participating in any other school functions. He was a football coach there as well.


        • Dianne Russell

          Wrong on the nickname. The student who filmed and spoke out during and after the incident (and, since you have so much to say), was cuffed and arrested; said that that was a common nickname known to all the students. She said she knew when the officer was called to the room what was going down and actually told the class to get out their cameras.


      • Dianne Russell

        I always thought the purpose of SROs in school were to provide a level of PROTECTION for the students and faculty/staff in the building, and Ive only been out of teaching for 1.5 years after almost 40 years in the profession. It never occurred to me to use the SRO as an arm of classroom discipline.


      • Emily Fay Reese

        Karblaze,

        I am not disputing the responsibility that the SRO has in this scenario. Not at all. I also agree that if there is not training for SROs on how to handle classroom issues, there should be.

        Of course the should, woulda, coulda can not be changed for this horrible outcome in SC. My point is to use it to learn from for the future, and especially for teachers. In fact, I contend, that teachers (including myself) and admins need continued training in classroom management and strategies so that SROs are never needed in the classroom for rule infractions.

        Using a cop for a cell phone issue is beyond comprehension to me.

        My main point is to explore this example so that it never happens again anywhere in our schools. Totally unacceptable.

        Peace,
        Emily Reese