No Ordinary Princess

...anything but ordinary...

Friday, September 29, 2006

This is Outrageous

I was innocently tooling around on the internet this evening, minding my own business. (Aside: They called me yesterday from THAC to ask if I'd do 7AM to 3PM or 11AM to 7PM today instead of my expected 3-11 shift. I jumped at the 11-7, can I tell ya? Get a four-hour head start on my weekend? You betcha!) Anywho, I stumbled across this old news item and am so disgusted I simply have to spew it or burst, even if it is old.

It seems that somewhere in Missouri a couple of years ago, a fourth-grade student was not compliant with completing her schoolwork. Okay, she might have outright refused. Well, haven't we all been fourth-graders? Apparently, being a slacker in MO carries harsher penalties than it does on the east coast. The parents went to a conference with the school superintendent/principal to discuss their daughter's lack of initiative and discipline. The principal, Dan Doerhoff, offered only two disciplinary options: suspension or " the rock punishment."

The rock punishment, apparently the device of the diabolical mind of this particular elementary school administrator, involved sending the reprobate, alone, to a playground at the edge of the school property and adjacent to a surface highway to collect small rocks in a bucket. The rocks are then carried by the student and deposited in the woods nearby. I've made an assumption that this involves more than one trip per day. The punishment was meted out over the course of three consecutive days. The parents gave their permission for the penalty to be carried out.

The only other option offered them by the superintendent was to allow their nine year-old daughter to be suspended.

When a caring, young teacher who had taught the student two years prior saw the child going to the side of the highway to pick up rocks, she protested the punishment to the principal. The principal refused to give in. The teacher, in her free period, accompanied the girl on her task and offered advice. When other teachers witnessed the punishment in action they, too, donated their free time during the day to supervise the girl in her duties. The principal believed the girl would be safe in the task because she was able to be viewed
from within the school by closed circuit television.

It gets worse.

Two years prior, just after the student had completed grade two, she was struck by a truck and hospitalized for her injuries. She had just completed the second grade in the classroom of her teacher/heroine, Christa Price.

Price was fired by the superintendent/principal for insubordination and failing to support the administration. Seven of the remaining nine teachers at the school resigned in protest of Price's firing. Doerhoff even went so far as to refuse to sign Ms. Price's recertification papers, necessary to obtain another teaching position.

This is the way she was described in one of the articles I've referenced:

Price was wrapping up her fourth year in East Lynne, and until then, her performance evaluations had been glowing. By all accounts, she inspired young children to learn. Parents liked her. Colleagues praised her.

"I love this woman," the mother of the girl who was punished said Tuesday. "What happened to Christa is beyond belief."

From the mother of the penalized child.

Since the punishment occurred in September of 2004 and the firing in May of last year, the trail was long cold before I stumbled onto it tonight. I can't find any more information on Christa Price. I don't know whether she is still teaching. I sincerely hope she is. She doesn't have a Wikipedia page, which is a shame. She deserves some credit and recognition. She deserves to be teaching children. I wish she had taught my son. I hope she got the help promised by a Department of Education official in securing her recertification. She is a true American folk hero and I wish there were more like her in the country right now.

I do know what happened to the villain in the story, though. Dan Doerhoff, the principal/superintendent? Remember him? He's still superintendent for the East Lynne School District in Cass County Missouri. Yes, you heard me right. He was not fired. It doesn't even seem as if he was disciplined for his incredibly poor judgment and callous disregard for the safety of a nine year-old child entrusted to his care. According to the information on the 2005-2006 school year in East Lynne he's been with the school district for 8 years. And Christa Price is, apparently, still gone. I hope she and the parents got a great lawyer!

Why is this man still at the helm in East Lynne, MO?

There is a term for this, you know. It's called mental illness. Adult men who must be the epitome of control. Men in positions of authority bullying and brutalizing nine year-old girls. It's called abuse. Sounds to me like nothing a little incarceration won't cure. In a small cell. With a large man. Named Willie Lee.

There also this item I found on Talk Left.

Bright spot of the evening:

Along the road tonight I found another amazing site on ethics. If you have an interest in the topic, you will love the Institute for Global Ethics. I promise.

tags: discipline / education
/ ethics / justice / mental illness / remind you of anybody?


Blogger messytess said...

Unfortunately, Doerhoff is still the czar of the school. My son had been punished for writing messy, then when he wrote neat most of the time and messy sometimes, Doerhoff implied to me that someone else had been writing the neat work instead of him. This is supposed to be Doerhoff's last year. He is ruthless and doesn't give a damn. I have heard one parent say they don't know how he gets out of the school every day alive, and I wonder the same thing.

As for Mrs. Price, I saw her at Walmart one day and she was still not teaching, but taking more college courses, possibly in regards to counseling or psychology, I can't remember for sure. She was the best teacher there ever was, the kids really responded positively to her style. Her style was not to punish bad behavior, but to reward good behavior.

Please pray for those who are still at the mercy of this madman.

Thank you.

14/10/06 6:18 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Oh, that's such disheartening news, Tess, except for the bit about this being his last year. That's good news for you but one has to wonder where he'll go to spread his depravity next. Let's hope he doesn't have any political, especially presidential, ambitions! We've got enough troubles already!

I'm particularly sad to hear that Mrs. Price is not teaching. From what I read about her, she sounds like a person who is meant to shape young minds. What a great loss to the school and society at large. I wish all teachers had her ability, commitment and courage.

Every dog has his day and Doerhoff will have his, too. I just hope he doesn't do too much damage before that day comes.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and everyone suffering under the tyrant's thumb.


14/10/06 6:51 PM  

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