Just What Happened At West Sabine Elementary?
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.