Former Student Sues District Over Right To Defend Yourself


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onerifle
August 14, 2005, 01:57 AM
Essentially the "gun control" mentality, as adapted by our educational system(s). I would fully expect to see this in PRNYC, but not in Texas.... :(


Yeah...I'm beginning to think we're...(deleted in deference to Art's Grandma...) :D


Former Student Sues District Over Right To Defend Yourself

http://news.yahoo.com/s/kprc/20050812/lo_kprc/2876523

Fri Aug 12,11:51 AM ET

A Houston-area teenager is suing his former school district over a brutal assault at school. He claims he ended up in a hospital because he was afraid to fight back, and he wants the policy to change, Local 2 reported Thursday.

Matthew Meloy said when four students jumped him and beat him at Hastings High School in September 2003, he did not defend himself because of the district's zero-tolerance policy on fighting.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 215-pound senior was on the baseball team. Then 17 years old, he was walking a frightened younger student to class when he was attacked.

Meloy's jaw was shattered and wired back together. Two years later, he still has problems eating.

"The doctor said he said he'd never (seen the) severity of the damage that was done," father Rick Meloy said.

Rick Meloy blames the school district and its zero-tolerance policy toward fighting. He said his son did not defend himself because teachers told students if they hit someone back, they would be expelled, too.

"He'd say, 'Dad or Mom, I didn't hit anybody. I didn't want to be kicked out. I didn't want to be suspended from school,'" Rick Meloy said.

"(Rick's) over 200 pounds who is certainly adequately equipped to defend himself. But because he was made fully aware of this policy, he intentionally did not defend himself in this situation and suffered tremendous consequences as a result of that policy," attorney Jess Mason said.

Mason and the Meloys filed a lawsuit against the district and the four former students in the attack for unspecified damages.

Local 2 asked Assistant Superintendent Paula Smith about the district's zero-tolerance policy.

"We encourage children, at all costs, not to engage in any kind of physical contact, not to ever fight," Smith said.

"Does this mean that some kids think that they cannot defend themselves?" Local 2's Cynthia Hunt asked.

"I can't speak for what kids think," Smith said.

Smith showed Local 2 the student handbook, which states that self-defense is considered before a student is expelled.

The Meloys said they want the district to change the policy or clarify it so students can feel free to defend themselves.

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O.F.Fascist
August 14, 2005, 02:18 AM
I hope he wins.

chris in va
August 14, 2005, 03:32 AM
There's some serious evil going on in high schools. Even when I was in 20 years ago, there were stabbings and various crazy fights going on.

Man I don't care what some :cuss: piece of paper says, I'd defend myself as best I could.

armoredman
August 14, 2005, 10:55 AM
When I graduated 20 years ago, fights were uncommon, and drugs pretty mild. Our campus security guard carried his old Chicago PD retirement gift 357 once a week. Now, who knows...campus is tighter than one our level 2 yards....and still has violence, drugs, you name it....what the blank happened? :(

4v50 Gary
August 14, 2005, 10:58 AM
Self defense is a God given right and not something conferred by any administrative body including a school board. I also hope this kid takes them to the cleaners. The human resource mindset needs to wake up to the fact that some violence is actually the lesser of two evils.

AirForceShooter
August 14, 2005, 11:27 AM
I ran into this attitude some years ago when my son was in elementary school.
I got called to school by the principal all upset and totally put of control. My son was in a fight.
I get there my son is in a room all by himself and he's 10 years old. A teacher, the principal and my son and I all gather at the table and I have 2 questions. Did my kid start it and who won.
All I'm hearing form everybody is there was a fight and my son was involved and maybe the death penalty was too little for such a horrible thing to have happened.
Turns out my son didn't start it he was defending himself. When I asked who started it I was told that was a school matter and thet couldn't tell me.
When I finally got the details ( and that took 2 hours) turns out a kid was throwing rocks at my son's head. A teacher was nearby and did nothing.
My sone took 2 swings at the guy and hit both times. To me that's not even a fight. Want to hear the best part??? My son was on crutches with a broken leg.
They gave my son 4 days of suspension. I sat there and told him we could use the time to go camping. School staff goes nuts. Aren't you going to punish him?? All that crap.
So I lay it out for them.
10 Year Old on crutches, Teacher nearby doing nothing, another student throwing rocks at his head, lot's of witnesses, and all my kid did was defend himself. Can you spell LAWSUIT?? Failure to protect a student.
All of a sudden no suspension, no mention of any punishment at all.

All in all it was so dan'd stupid.

AFS

WT
August 14, 2005, 12:12 PM
6' 3" at 215 lb and he won't defend himself against an illegal attack?

This kid should not be allowed to breed.

Gray Peterson
August 14, 2005, 12:17 PM
I had the same problem in high school. My father told me as long as it was self defense, any suspensions, I'm not grounded. It was fun. Granted, I had to do more housework, but I also was playing Quake 1 and 2 during those suspensions, so it was awesome.

lee n. field
August 14, 2005, 12:45 PM
Rick Meloy blames the school district and its zero-tolerance policy toward fighting. He said his son did not defend himself because teachers told students if they hit someone back, they would be expelled, too.

"He'd say, 'Dad or Mom, I didn't hit anybody. I didn't want to be kicked out. I didn't want to be suspended from school,'" Rick Meloy said.

He needs to sue school district and perps until they've got nothing left.

fastbolt
August 14, 2005, 01:08 PM
AirForceShooter, good for you ...

Okay, so it's been ... uh ... 34 years since I graduated HS. That means it's been a bit longer since I was in JHS ...

Anyway, I carry a bit of pencil lead in one side of the bridge of my nose, immediately adjacent to the corner of one eye, as the lasting effect of someone attempting to jab a pencil through my eye, reaching around from behind me in a fight which occurred in JHS. I didn't think to meekly submit to the attack, though, and fortunately the pencil missed my eye ... barely.

Both of us were sent to the principal's office for fighting, and we each received one hellacious whack from the cricket bat (okay, it seemed like one at the time) kept on hand for such purposes. I can't remember if the attacker was suspended, though. I sort of remember that he might've been. I wasn't. Pencils weren't banned after that, either, BTW.

I hated bullies as a youngster. I really did. Most of them used hands & feet back then. Some carried knives. I only saw one kid that tossed a gun into his gym locker one day.

Bullies were the reason I originally took up the martial arts. Oddly enough, the young man that caused me the most grief, and which finally influenced me to start learning the arts for self defense, tragically died in a car crash soon after I began my studies. Life is strange ...

I taught my son & daughter to avoid fighting if at all possible, but not to let anyone hurt them, either ...

Mongo the Mutterer
August 14, 2005, 04:00 PM
AirForceShooter +2 -- fiancees daughter defended herself, fiance called in from work. Principal said she was to have in school suspension. Okay.

Other kid was bussed in from the inner city to the suburban district where we spend a lot to live. Principal said she wasn't going to be punished.

Fiancee sat back and looked around the Principals office. Then said, "I'm going to like this office, after I sue you and the school district... by the way, what type of car do you drive? I hope its a nice one ... "

All penalties were forgotten, dispicable cowards :barf:

dpesec
August 14, 2005, 05:00 PM
Well, I did some teaching in a school for kids with emotional problems. I'm not defending the teachers, but If you have 20 kids, and it's almost impossible to notice everything.
Some kids were excellent at causing troublewithout being caught. It's a terrible problem, but the person who started the fight, either by throwing the first punch or taunting the student should be kicked out. Acutally, if blows were exchanced that student should be arrested.

chaim
August 14, 2005, 05:39 PM
From my 2 1/2 years as a subsititute teacher I've seen quite a bit (even though it isn't much time). I also have several friends in the school systems (teachers, psychologists and counselors) so I've heard plenty of reports from others.

I'd say the blame goes primarily to the administration. School administration is horrible. Good leaders and good teachers stay teachers, or get out. It is the politically reactive and petty tyrants who try to move into administration. Even the handful of good people who decide to become administrators are broken down by the system and driven off quite quickly.

There are bad teachers, but even the good ones can't really buck the administration and are bound by idiotic rules.

A teacher often doesn't see who starts a fight. Even if they don't see it, they may know by previous experience who was likely the culprit, but they can't do anything about it. Even when they see the whole thing school rules usually tie their hands.

Parents are also part of the problem. Today, there is no respect for authority. When I was a kid I was afraid my parents may find out if I got in trouble at school. Today they tell the parents and the parents scream at the school. So, teachers and administrators are almost scared to "single out" the trouble maker and punish him/her- if anyone is punished they both must be. Even if the kid has a history of trouble and was seen throwing the first punch the parents won't believe anything bad about "their angel" and schools always cave.

As for teachers who won't get involved, it is fear of lawyers and pain. G-d help you if you pull a kid off another kid and squeze their arm too hard. Then there was the middle school where I had a long term assignment. There were constant fights there. There were certain teachers who would disappear whenever there was a fight (especially between some of the larger students). There were two students who I was one of 4 adults in the school who would ever break up the fights between them because most of the teachers were scared stiff they'd be hurt breaking up the fight, and there were the threats from one of the kids to "meet you in the parking lot" if you had the nerve to get in the way of what he wanted to do (this wasn't just fighting, but in the case of any attempts to control his misbehavior).

Another problem, a good kid is more likely to get into trouble for such a thing than a bad kid. Yes, you read that right. A trouble maker has been in trouble before. After so many in school suspensions or detentions rules call for kids to be suspended. After being suspended so many times, eventually the rules call for expelling the kid. Schools don't want to expel kids for "just fighting" (ignoring that it isn't just the last incident, but the cumulative incidents, that come to the result). Also, if there are too many suspensions and expulsions it reflects poorly on the principal and vice/assistant principal. Then there are the parents and the two 'L' words (lawyers and lawsuits). So, kids who are constantly trouble will eventually get no more than a slap on the wrist to avoid automatic penalties and/or trouble from parents who keep hearing about the "unfair" teachers and administrators from their kids. Meanwhile, the kid who usually keeps out of trouble will have the book thrown at him or her.

What can be done? The article above, and some of the people on THR who have posted about what they did (like AFS), are the solution. The good kids and their parents who get caught up in this when the kids defend themselves must fight back. Parents must get involved, and do like the bad parents- don't take it lying down. When the situation is bad enough, avail yourself of the civil legal system.

Matthew748
August 14, 2005, 07:09 PM
6' 3" at 215 lb and he won't defend himself against an illegal attack? This kid should not be allowed to breed.

It is probably not that simple. When the confrontation took place he was probably thinking about the effect that a suspension, or possibly an expulsion, would have on his chances of getting into college and landing a scholarship. The fact that public schools put children into these types of no-win situations is inexcusable. I hope he win his lawsuit. Of course if he does win big, the expenses will just be passed on to the residents through increased property taxes.

SJG26
August 14, 2005, 07:22 PM
had problems ---mid school kids share campus with the high school. Seems a high school punk decided to assert himself on the younger kids.
My sons comes home ---3 days in a row- very upset. Wife and I finally get the story from him- older kid pushing him off his bike and whaling on him.
Now my son has a good build - many years of karate lessons - but with explicit instructions to avoid a fight from his instructor.

So we talk to the school admins------I note their "Bullying policy" and that they
needed to intervene.

I also told them I gave my son VERY clear instructions that he WILL defend himself and I would fully support him if called to the school office.

Fast-forward a week later - bully picks on my son - 1st time he gets back up and dusts himself off. Bully comes in again ----BIG MISTAKE---son sweeps his feet out and lands a shot to his chest-----leaves kid stunned for awhile.
His friend comes in to help---gets my son's foot up-side his head!!!

So here is the 6th grader kiching the stuffing out of 2 10th grade idiots.

There were no future "incidents" or and calls from the school!

Lucky
August 14, 2005, 07:27 PM
You can't get burdened by other people, they're individuals and beyond your control. (IF) I have kids I'm going to teach them the same I was taught, that you run away, and if you can't get away or you would cause other's harm by running away, then you fight for your life. No fun, no games, life and death. Same if a dog or bear attacks you, vicious animal is attacking you run if possible, else fight to kill and fight to live. And if you are punished for surviving, then that's the way it is, you do the time, it's better than losing a life and death fight.

Standing Wolf
August 14, 2005, 07:52 PM
10 Year Old on crutches, Teacher nearby doing nothing, another student throwing rocks at his head, lot's of witnesses, and all my kid did was defend himself. Can you spell LAWSUIT?? Failure to protect a student.

Way too much!

pax
August 14, 2005, 08:23 PM
To those who are employed by the public school system: thanks for doing the jobs you do. You're working with an impossible system and if it weren't for the work you do, the whole thing would be even worse than it is now. Keep fighting the good fight there, because the whole system isn't going to go away any time soon.

To those whose kids are unhappy at school: Get them out of there if you can! Even if you win whatever individual battle(s) your kids do tell you about, there are all kinds of other battles that they aren't telling you about. Remember your own school days? Did you tell your folks everything that went on at school? It just doesn't pay to keep sending kids into a situation that's making them miserable ...

pax

LeonCarr
August 14, 2005, 08:33 PM
I have a good friend that I have known for about 15 years, and at one time all three of his sons were in high school at the same time (1 freshman, 1 sophomore, and 1 senior). One day the freshman got beat up by a bully for no reason whatsoever. about five minutes after the fight, the other two brothers found the bully in the hallway, and beat the snot out of him. When my buddy got to the high school, all three sons were in the assistant principal's office. My buddy asked the freshman son who started the fight, and he said the bully did. My buddy told the Asst. Principal that if one of his sons gets in a fight, and he did not start it, the student who starts the fight will fight all three. The Asst. Principal tried to say something, and my buddy said, "My sons will defend themselves, and each other".

They did not ever have another problem with a bully, and there was no disciplinary action.

Just my .02,
LeonCarr

beerslurpy
August 14, 2005, 08:34 PM
I hope he takes them to the cleaners. Self defense should be encouraged.

Hawkmoon
August 14, 2005, 09:41 PM
Local 2 asked Assistant Superintendent Paula Smith about the district's zero-tolerance policy.

"We encourage children, at all costs, not to engage in any kind of physical contact, not to ever fight," Smith said.

"Does this mean that some kids think that they cannot defend themselves?" Local 2's Cynthia Hunt asked.

"I can't speak for what kids think," Smith said.
Can you spell C-O-P O-U-T?

What drivel. "We teach kids to never, ever fight ... (but it's okay to defend yourself)."

What the heck does this twit think defending yourself is, if it isn't "fighting"?

SMMAssociates
August 14, 2005, 10:05 PM
Seems to me that the school administrators are the blissninnies who think that a "no guns" sign will keep the BG's out of the school building, and a zero tolerance policy on fighting will prevent fights.

Telling a child not to defend himself/herself is equally stupid.....

I do understand, and recommend, teaching kids when and how to fight, and would accept that the kids might choose not to do it for any reason they feel good about.

You can bet that the faculty (full time, at least) know who the troublemakers are, and letting them run loose is fairly criminal.

I ran into two bullies growing up. One got a split lip (and I got a split knuckle - he had braces). The other one I sort of walked away from. No witnesses.... No idea what happened to the first guy - that was at "sleep-away camp", but he left me alone for the remaining couple weeks. He was older, and should have known better, too The second guy married a gal about 20 years ago, and apparently his new father-in-law objected. With a .38.... We never really became friends, but we both outgrew the problem. I think he realized that it wasn't fun if I just walked away.

"No witnesses" - simply my view that it would be my word against his. Not cowardice - he was picking the time and place too well, and I was where I had to be (or else!). 'Course, if a teacher had been handy, I might have adjusted his attitude. Moral victory, I guess, and I knew I'd have to be "around" this kid for many years.

The camp kid was from another town, and I'd likely never see him again. He was a PITA from the first day at camp, and there were others around. He was also a bit older, and a bit taller. I had him on the weight, though. I guess he didn't expect me to fight back. I didn't really want to, but the stars were in just the right place....

To an extent, I think that kids should be left to solve their own problems without the courts getting involved. But once in a while something comes up that they can't handle. To tell them that they aren't allowed to deal with it, well, upsets me....

Marshall
August 14, 2005, 10:20 PM
Maybe I'm skeptical but I can't see someone having three others attack him and not trying to fight back to defend himself, it's human nature. He must have incredible self control to actually think and make a decision to let his ass get whipped while going against what every instinct tells you to do, try to make it stop. I hope he wins the lawsuit but this smells funny.

hillbilly
August 14, 2005, 10:26 PM
I teach at a public college.

Both my parents teach in public schools, and have done so for more than 20 years apiece.

The vast majority of public school administrators are not interested in anything other than covering their own asses.

That's about it. They may give lip service to "helping kids" and "shaping minds" but they usually don't mean it. They are primarily interested in their own salaries and covering their own asses.

This reality can sometimes cause bad things to happen, like idiotic "zero tolerance" policies.

These "zero tolerance" policies are nothing more than an ass-covering technique employed by school administrators who are afraid of losing their salaries, which are typically friggin' huge when compared to the salaries of the teachers....you know, the folks who do the actual work at the school?

On the other hand, once a parent figures out this simple reality, it does make dealing with administrators fairly cut-and-dried.

All you have to do is have a real, plausible threat of taking the protective cover off that usually well-padded ass......and VOILA!

Things get done.

hillbilly

hillbilly
August 14, 2005, 10:31 PM
I don't think this smells funny at all.

I'm going to bet that the big basketball player is probably the classic "good kid' and maybe even an honors student.

He's terrified that getting expelled will hurt his chances to get into college.

That's why he didn't fight back......because he was told explicitly that if he did, he'd be expelled from the school.

Those of you who are saying this "smells funny" are looking at this situation through much more experienced eyes than the eyes of some 17 year old who, I'll bet, has never been in serious trouble before in his life.

bcochran
August 14, 2005, 10:31 PM
Agree with Marshall. Probably not getting the full story.

We now have 300,000,000 people in this country. Just think. The bad 5% element is only 15,000,000 people!

ziadel
August 14, 2005, 10:39 PM
He wouldn't have gotten kicked out if he fought back against 4 other people.

Heres a true story. Students are given box cutters in art class to cut out whatever. One student takes said box cutter and slashes another student multiple times. As the assailant (student A) is being led out in handcuffs, his victim (student B) is being carried out on a stretcher. Student B spots student A, jumps off of stretcher, and proceeds to beat the crap out of student A, who is in handcuffs.


I've never seen anything like it. Student B wasn't suspended.

Chrontius
August 15, 2005, 01:12 AM
Those of you who are saying this "smells funny" are looking at this situation through much more experienced eyes than the eyes of some 17 year old who, I'll bet, has never been in serious trouble before in his life.

There's a very simple answer here -- he was more afraid of the dean/principal/kampus kops/whatever than he was of the four people beating the ???? out of him. It's not that hard, especially if as was the case at my school the dean has a reputaton for being able to handle two brawling football players and being a general badass. It may not be rational, but with fight-or-flight responses going full swing, I don't expect him to be rational.

On the other hand it might be rational after all -- he's less afraid of the beating than having to say "Would you like fries with that?" for a living for the rest of his life. I can understand that point of view, and it's depressing to think that people are actually being forced to think like that. :(

c_yeager
August 15, 2005, 02:09 AM
6' 3" at 215 lb and he won't defend himself against an illegal attack?This kid should not be allowed to breed.

It sounds callous and is probably over-simplified, but i agree.

Seriously, i dont for a minute buy that someone is thinking "gee im gonna get expelled" while they are getting pummeled, and then chooses to do nothing. And even if that actually DID happen, it still doesnt change the fact that he doesnt seem capable of rational thought. If an authority figure told this kid to jump off the roof of the school would he do that too?

Remember that this kid is 17, that isnt young enough to be excused from independant thought.

SMMAssociates
August 15, 2005, 03:29 AM
C Yeager:

Seriously, i dont for a minute buy that someone is thinking "gee im gonna get expelled" while they are getting pummeled, and then chooses to do nothing. And even if that actually DID happen, it still doesnt change the fact that he doesnt seem capable of rational thought. If an authority figure told this kid to jump off the roof of the school would he do that too?

Sort of a "you had to be there" in more than one sense. What would concern me would be the disciplinary history of this student and the school. If somebody got expelled last week for the same situation, the kid might just think about it.... Or, if his own disciplinary history was iffy and he didn't want to blow it....

Yeah - I think I'd have fought back, but who knows.... Could the other kids have been armed? After all, those "no guns" signs really work well....

I remember being 17.... My daughter doesn't quite believe it, and my wife barely remembers breakfast, but it's true. People, in general, aren't always rational, and I think it's the law if you're 17....

Actually, I think a 17-year-old is quite rational, but playing by a different set of rules, or a different world-view. This can apply to adults, too, of course, like the "I want it, you've got it, so I'll take it" rules that criminals work with.

I vote to share the blame here - a youngster who chooses not to defend himself for whatever reasons that made sense to him at the time, and, the perception (or reality) that his actions would result in the system doing significant harm to him.

Just IMHO....

No_Brakes23
August 15, 2005, 11:59 AM
I hope this kid wins.

Fortunately my kids won't be in a position where they have to choose between college or defending themselves, (I hope.)

However my son already ran into problems with bullys as early as kindergarten. I still can't believe that at 5 years of age, I had to teach my son how to beat up another kid. In a school that only had military kids/parents no less.

After repeated unsucessful attempts to stop the problem by "telling a teacher", he finally had enough and gave one of the kids a good throttling, (Or at least as good as a clumsy 5 year old can give.) He got scolded by some of the school admin, but his teacher confided in me that she was glad. (My son wasn't the only one getting picked on.) My boy was deathly afraid he would be in trouble, but after getting the whole story, I took him out for ice cream.

Since transitioning out of the military, I have moved to a nicer area, and he now goes to a school free of that ghetto element. Surprise, no bully.

wmenorr67
August 15, 2005, 01:02 PM
I have told both of my children that as long as they don't start it and are defending themselves I or their mother will take care of the situation with the teachers or principal.

LoneStranger
August 15, 2005, 02:19 PM
BTDT, only couple of weeks until graduation and I would be free from the idiocy and foolishness of High School. Underclass, smartass punk, later worked with his brother and his brother didn't like him, starts jacking around trying to start trouble. Let him live because, in toto, he was not worth my having to deal with consequences.

Note that by virtue of the beating he took this kid should be able to get large sympathy vote when it comes to awarding damages. Tough way to earn it though.

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