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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 07/20/2010

Education law 'tales of the weird'

By Valerie Strauss

Here are some stories about education law printed in the American School Board Journal's June edition that are, well, sort of weird. The man who collected the stories, attorney Edwin C. Darden, is director of education law and policy for the national organization Appleseed, a network of public interest justice centers. These are just a few of the stories in Darden’s piece; you can find the rest in the journal of the nonprofit American School Board Association.

Shut it, or I’ll shut it for you
In what might frightfully be called a trend, elementary students in two separate Prince George’s County, Md., schools had their mouths taped shut. Seven third-graders experienced the indignity in one place involving a teacher; the other featured a paraprofessional and a single student. In both cases, masking tape was the silencer of choice.

"It’s certainly not appropriate conduct," John White, then district spokesman, said in 2009. “It’s contrary to expectations parents have of what happens in the classroom where children are learning.”


When push comes to shove
Did not. Did too. He pushed me first. If this sounds like kids squabbling about a schoolyard incident--think again. It was a Detroit school board member and a citizen describing a post-board meeting encounter that turned physical.

In October 2009, a jury found Detroit board member Marie Thornton not guilty of misdemeanor assault and battery charges in connection with the fracas. Thornton was involved in a heated exchange with a 60-year-old minister, Loyce Lester. She admitted knocking Lester down, but said she was defending herself after Lester bumped into her following a September 2007 school board meeting.

Lester admitted bumping Thornton but accused her of spilling gravy on him from a container of food she was carrying. The board, meanwhile, voted in December 2007 to sanction Thornton because of the incident.


Bus driver gone wild
A Loudoun County, Va., school bus driver was charged with seven misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Her offense: Offering $20 to anyone on the bus who would pelt wayward student passengers with snowballs.

Two students were arguing on the way home and the driver tries to intervene. Frustrated, she allegedly grabbed a microphone and announced a reward for anyone who would throw snowballs and push snow down the 13-year-old boy’s shirt. At his stop, the boy’s fellow riders grabbed handfuls of snow and the barrage was on. The snowball throws weren’t criminally charged but they also didn’t collect any cash.


Devil in the details

A Texas teacher filed a lawsuit claiming her religion prohibits her from being fingerprinted as part of a criminal background check. Courthouse News Service reported in November 2009 that Pam McLaurin had said that “fingerprinting is the Mark of the Beast foretold in the Book of Revelations.”

An Evangelical Christian, the kindergarten teacher told a federal court that state law requiring fingerprinting violates her religious and due process rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. McLaurin has taught in the Big Sandy Independent School District in Dallardsville for more than 20 years.

McLaurin said submitting to fingerprinting would feel like she was being “tormented in burning sulfur.”


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By Valerie Strauss  | July 20, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Tags:  education law, strange education stories, weird education stories  
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I have had students who taped their own mouths shut in an effort to be quiet. It happened a long time ago, but as I remember it sort of turned into a game where all the third graders put masking tape on their mouths while I was working with a small reading group. Very funny, those kids. They were not humiliated and I had to insist that they remove the tape.
That was my second year of teaching. I will never forget that rowdy class of kids. (they did score well on their standardized tests, by the way, since that is all anyone cares about these days)

Posted by: celestun100 | July 20, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I've had to tell kids to take the tape off their mouths because they had put it on themselves. They thought it was funny. I obviously disagreed with them.

Posted by: jlp19 | July 20, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh please, kids tape their mouths all the time...they glue their fingers together too!

This blog is WEIRD!

you're better then this Strauss...

Posted by: TwoSons | July 20, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh please, kids tape their mouths all the time...they glue their fingers together too!

This blog is WEIRD!

you're better then this Strauss...

Posted by: TwoSons | July 20, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

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