I watched this presser the other morning, and it was one of the more remarkable I’ve seen of a District Attorney announcing charges. She’s being attacked for announcing them before the arrests were made, which allowed the Crumbleys to make a weak attempt at flight. Apparently this woman is unpopular with Republicans. But what I found remarkable is that she left her script when asked to comment on whether the school dropped the ball, and she hesitated and then pretty much, well – I guess you can accuse her of not only “poisoning the jury” for the criminal case, but also the inevitable wrongful death cases against the school. Most in her position would have simply said, “You will have to ask the school officials about their decisions.” Apparently right wingers only like pols who “say it like they see it” when they’re rich white men.

The school officials not taking action despite the disturbing drawing and other warning signals resonating with an experience I had as a substitute teacher some years ago. I attended Law School at night and for the first couple of years I subbed during the day. In this one high school schedule of classes I was told I would be placed for the maximum of 15 days because they were still looking for a permanent teacher with an English credential to take them over as they had been thrown together at the last minute because other classes were overcrowded. Teachers were asked to send some of their students to these classes and unfortunately at least a couple of them took the opportunity to dump off the problem students and so these classes were very challenging. I was the third or fourth of the 15 day stints – the maximum a sub can be in a classroom without a credential for the particular subject matter.

Of course there was no lesson plan. The textbooks had not even been handed out – not even been given to the subs because the idiot in charge of the b for another time). The class was unruly from the start, so to keep them occupied I asked the students to take out some paper and write a page on something about them that even their friends don’t know about. I was making it up on the spot as I was going through the paperwork trying to figure out what they had done, which wasn’t much.

So at the end of the day I read all of the essays and one 14-year-old girl had submitted a piece in which she said that when she was younger she had wanted to tie her babysitter up and drown her in the bathtub. And also she wanted to hang her stepfather by the neck from the pipes in the parking garage at the Nordstrom’s downtown. She drew pictures of it.

It was couched in jokes. She was not a reclusive girl. Very pretty blond girl and popular – the center of attention, and in all likelihood just thought she was being funny. That’s what she would say later on. But was a mandated reporter and it was a little disturbing ooks didn’t trust subs with them (I just went in a grabbed them from the storage room one day after a fruitless discussion with the principle in his last year before retirement – story, so the next morning I brought the essay to the school counselor. She read it and then looked at me and asked, “What was the context of the assignment?”

I was kind of taken aback. I explained that I was really just trying to buy time to put together a lesson plan, and added that I wasn’t sure I understood the point of the question.
She said, “Well, if you don’t want to see results like this, you should provide more guidance in your lessons.”

That kind of pissed me off.

“It’s not a question of what results I would like to see. I brought it to you because I’m worried that this may be an indication of abuse by her babysitter and/or stepfather.”

She got testy, “Oh, is that your professional opinion?”

I shrugged at that point and said, “I’ve done my duty as a mandated reporter. It’s in your hands ma’m.”

She was called out of the classroom and they had a conversation. The girl came back to the classroom the next day and looked at me and said, “It was just a joke man!”

I said, “I’m really glad to hear you say that. But that is how some children alert teachers that they are being abused at home. Do you understand that? Because children to have the right to be safe. From anyone who might hurt them.”

She said, “I know that. I’m not dumb.”

I really hope the counselor snapped out of it and did well by the girl.

I don’t want to give the impression that all schools are this way. I did come across some excellent administrators in my time as a sub. But as we know, the decision making in those positions can be as crucial as those in police or rescue services.