Slippery slopes are paved with good intentions
October 22, 2013
By David Hayes
One has to sympathize with Allen Anderson for what transpired Oct. 10.
The longtime custodian at Issaquah High School has regularly worn a camouflage-printed jacket and carried an umbrella into work. But this particular day, someone mistook his signature look for that of a mysterious gunman.
The high school and other nearby schools went into lockdown. When Anderson realized it was he who had caused the confusion, he told school administrators who advised him to turn himself in to the police surrounding the school.
Anderson said in an interview with KOMO News the police forced him face down in the parking lot and held him at gunpoint until the misunderstanding was cleared up. The experience was so traumatic, he missed several weeks from returning to his job.
On the flip side, one has to sympathize with the school district. On Sept. 24, 2011, the school district had a close encounter with a real gunman, Ronald Ficker, 51, who was armed with two rifles, more than 950 rounds of ammo and unknown intent. Luckily, only he lost his life that day in a shootout with police on the Issaquah Middle School campus.
It seems some of the craziest things happening around the country are taking place on school campuses. Here’s just a few incidents within the last couple weeks we’ve been lucky to avoid:
- A substitute teacher passes out in a Pittsburgh-area classroom after taking heroin before work.
- A Dallas, Texas, Spanish teacher is allegedly fired after it’s revealed she posed for Playboy while in college.
- A special-needs student in a South Carolina school is suspended after drawing a cartoon bomb and showing it to other students.
- A seventh-grader is suspended from a Rhode Island middle school after a it was discovered he had a gun keychain no bigger than a quarter.
- A volleyball team captain is suspended after showing up sober at a party to pick up a drunk friend. The district’s zero tolerance policy made no allowance for being there at the same time the party was busted by police, even though the captain had good intentions.
As the incidents show, it’s easy to slide down that slope of erring on the side of caution to overreacting with zero tolerance policies.
Since I don’t live in Issaquah, I can’t vote in the upcoming school board race between Lisa Callan and Alison Meryweather. But if I did, my nod would go to the one, whoever it turns out to be, who brings the most common sense to the position. We’ve got a great school district. We need leaders who’ll help keep it that way. Do your homework, voters, and make sure you pick the right one.