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.

David Hayes Press reporter

David Hayes
Press reporter

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.


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3 Responses to “Slippery slopes are paved with good intentions”

  1. Sally on October 26th, 2013 12:13 am

    I am thoroughly disgusted at the treatment Alan Anderson received under the hands of the IPD. I suppose no one could believe he had an umbrella and walks DAILY to and from school. The cops should know this. The school administrator was no big help either. The resource officer has been there for years and the “commander” was there for two. If the staff and new supt are to be in leadership, maybe they should know the personnel. Anderson is a gentle person and although he can be gruff sometimes, he would do most anything for a staff member. I understand the efficiency, paranoia, what ifs and ramboism but enough was known about this incident to call the swat team off. And stop calling that jacket “camouflage”, that is misleading. A shameful action and I hope the IPD had the guts to apologize. And yes to be safe is wise, but stupid –not so much.

  2. Sally on October 26th, 2013 12:15 am

    And btw, L Callan is a level headed candidate who believes solidly in the PUBLIC school system and ours particularly.

  3. Doug on October 29th, 2013 11:34 am

    If the person that called the police reported a man with a gun then that person should be charged criminally for making a false report. They should also have to pay this man’s wages for the time he was unable to work.

    Traumatizing someone for life should not be taken lightly, mistake or not.

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