Just What Happened At West Sabine Elementary?

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West Sabine School, located in the eastern portion of Texas, has a turd terrorist. Not just any turd terrorist, but possibly a fourth grade turd terrorist. According to an article by Newser staff member Mark Russell on February 15, the unknown little shit had successfully crapped on the gym floor of the school five times and managed to go undetected. Frustrated, the principal ordered the school nurse to divide the children into groups according to their gender and to check all 47 of the students' underwear for poop. And so she did, in a manner she claimed to be "like you would check a baby's diaper," by tugging at the waistline of their pants to look inside their underwear. She denied actually pulling the pants down.

Furious when they found out, parents called the school and the news crews about what they considered to be a violation of their children's privacy; and like all automatic defense-regurgitating school administrations these days, the school superintendent backed the principal's Operation Detect Brown Bum tactics.

In another article that named the principal as Deborah Lane, the superintendent as Mike Pate (school district address 101 Timberland Highway NE, Pineland, TX), and the nurse as Jo Ann Clark, the story changes. While no one particular person is quoted, new claims were stated that the children's pants were pulled down to their legs. And here the story begins to get on my nerves. Now coaches, a nurse, the principal, and the superintendent were said to have given their renditions of what happened, but were they all actually present? What coaches? No one mentioned any coaches.

Curious, I searched online for a later article, and now by the February 25 retelling of the event, a parent was suing the school in federal court, and the butt-peeking had turned into a strip-search. Writing for the legal journal Southeast Texas Record, Michelle Keahey uses the title West Sabine School sued for strip searching kids for feces.. Well, that escalated quickly, didn't it? Dad Wes Little, who, by the way, was stated as the only parent who voted against superintendent Mike Pate when he ran for the position, filed in federal court claiming his son's Fourth amendment rights had been violated. (The Fourth amendment is our guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure, and via New Jersey v. TLO, 1985, children in school are guaranteed the standard of reasonable suspicion to having their belongings searched. I would assume one's butt is his or her own belonging.)

What happened, I wonder? Did the nurse look in the back of the kids' pants, or did she make them drop trou? And why is Mike Pate being quoted as saying anything if he was not there? What's up with this guy? Furthermore, what if a few of the children were bad wipers? We might have seen an innocent kid with skid marks unjustly hung out to dry for the unknown turd terrorist's work, which means the violation was unnecessary. Well, I thought, we might as well look at the federal document itself.

According to Wes Little and Minor plaintiff v. West Sabine Independent School District, Deborah Lane, Mike Pate, and Jo Ann Clark, on page three, it appears as if all three defendants were present in the gym, as they are all listed as making decision to do some pants-lookin'; however, only Clark is listed as an actual peeker:
13. Defendant Clark pulled each individual child’s pants and underwear down past their buttocks in order to conduct this “inspection” of the children for feces. (I do not like this wording. First, the grammar Nazi in me sees that even in federal court documents, the pronoun is not matching the antecedent: "individual child" does not match "their." Second, the grammatical error leaves the question of who did what to be ambiguous. Why not "his or her"? I would have insisted on "his or her" just to send the message home that a female nurse was looking in both little girls' and little boys' pants.)


So what actually happened? Did the nurse lie (and the principal, and the superintendent), or did the children lie? And do we even know the children were the ones who stated their pants were pulled down all the way past their butts? Maybe it was one of these unnamed coaches.

And why does it matter, you may ask me? Here's why this occurrence and subsequent articles bug me: too much ambiguity. I cannot imagine how this story has been carried by numerous news sites and stations, and yet of all the ones I read, not a single reporter felt the need to verify who was present at the search and who was not. I would like to know this information. One of the other issues I have is that no one has determined who stated that the nurse pulled the children's pants and underwear down past their butts. While it probably was the children themselves, maybe one of the coaches came forward to say something. By the way, what were their names? Are we just witness to lazy reporting, or is there a serious snow job going on right under our jock straps?

The biggest problem I have with this incident is that I do not know who to believe. I have dealt with the school system here, and I can assure any of your readers who do not have children in today's school system that today's school employees and administrations are taught to deny everything and admit nothing. Nothing. Look at what happened when Phoebe Prince committed suicide. Students and teachers alike witnessed the bullying, and they also witnessed the mother's asking for help, but the school principal denied all knowledge after Phoebe hung herself. Just today I read an article about a sleuthing sophomore in California who, in an attempt to catch a locker room thief, caught her gym teacher on video rooting through the students' belongings . . . and the principal told her to delete the video! Yes, he told her to destroy evidence in a possible criminal investigation. She was smart enough to send it to her father, and this may be the only reason we know what happened.

Mike Pate may just be doing what he thinks is his job, but in my opinion he failed to interview and represent the most important witnesses -- the 47 children who had foreign hands in their skivvies.

Still interested? You can access the plaintiff's complaint here for yourself. Let us know what you think happened.

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7 Comments on "Just What Happened At West Sabine Elementary?"

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
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It's kinda sad that people with such scant amounts of grey matter are in charge of teaching our children. Obviously no one was intelligent enough to install an inexpensive camera in the gym and catch the culprit that way. That would also have had the benefit of not opening the way for a lawsuit.

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runninggrrl2's picture
Comment Quality Moderatork 500+ points

Did they even think of the possibility of the culprit bringing some TP with them and cleaning up the aftermath, thus leaving no skidmarks? If the kid was smart enough not to get caught, he was probably smart enough to wipe. The whole situation is absurd.

An apple a day keeps the ExLax away!

daphne's picture
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I totally agree with both of you. Chief, a camera would have been an easy fix, for sure. I have read some comments in the articles to which I linked that now make racially charged accusations; no one wants to be associated with a turd terrorist. It's weird how this blew up so quickly.

The sad thing is that little to nothing will happen with this case, most likely. And if it does, the nurse will probably be the one removed, and the administrative position-holding employees will be fine. You know, the more I think about this, the more I think it's probable that the nurse was a bit more involved with Operation Detect Brown Bum than she stated, and that may have been at the behest of one of her superiors. I sat and considered how I would detect a skid mark on a child's pair of underwear, and I tried to imagine the child's reaction. Most likely these kids were humiliated, mortified, and embarrassed, and so they were clenching their bums in and tucking their hips forward, especially the bad wipers. How could anyone see the underside of the underwear if a kid is in that position? It sounds rational that the nurse pulled the pants down of some of the kids who were not as compliant as the others, and this may be what we find out. All this to possibly find someone's dirty underwear, which would tell us nothing. Yes, why not a camera indeed.

You know what? I bet the administration and faculty were just so disgusted that someone was getting away with pooping on the floor that they overreacted and did not take the time to think about their actions. I'd love to interview the dad, but now that he's files charges in federal court he most likely cannot discuss the case.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

MSG's picture
Comment Quality Moderatori 2000+ points

I taught at schools ranging from elementary to graduate school for well over 40 years. In that time I saw some stupid things, but this one would go near the top of the list. Having a bowel movement is not an instantaneous operation, so if a child is actually doing it on site, in the gym, sooner or later he or she will simply get caught. Wait for it; faculty members could be encouraged to look into the gym while passing by on other errands or during planning periods, and could catch the perpetrator on one of those inspections. If the child is doing it in the restroom and either catching or retrieving (ugh!) the poop to take it into the gym, that is simply another good way to get caught eventually. The undies search might catch poor wipers, but is surely not conclusive enough to convict the feces donor, since poop is poop, they all do it, and one person's specimen is very like another's. For me, the cameras, while possibly effective, would likely count as a needless expense.

On the other hand, I do know what awkward problems can arise, and how difficult it sometimes is to find a good solution. The school administrators have my sympathy. Their solution, however, was both ineffective and (now) notorious.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

I just did some online shopping and found surveillance cameras as cheap as $37.89. I suspected they could be purchased cheaply after a store owner I worked for a few years ago bought some to place over the registers and help weed out dishonest cashiers. They also have the advantage of being tiny.

http://i01.i.aliimg.com/img/pb/102/181/416/416181102_735.jpg

A phantom turd terrorist would never notice anything this small.

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

runninggrrl2's picture
Comment Quality Moderatork 500+ points

You forget that this school is in Texas...I have a feeling common sense doesn't exactly grow on trees down there, lol.

An apple a day keeps the ExLax away!

the thin brown line's picture
j 1000+ points

An armed guard in the gymnasium area....sigh...problems solved.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175654/tomgram%3A_chase_madar%2C_handcuffing_seven-year-olds_won%27t_make_schools_safer/

Seriously, the school fucked up big time. In this time of increased scrutiny about puplic schools, the line of reaction here will not go down well. I will wager that there will be a shakedown within the school. If this happened in LAUSD right now, the administration would have been removed, and the school turned into a charter. That's the real shit on the gymnasium floor.

Somethin' mysterious made an exit from the gift shop.

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