A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tolerance for school shooter in Nevada?

Apparently the Old West mentality lives on in Reno, where a middle school student has received his sentence for shooting a schoolmate in March.
A judge on Friday agreed that a 14-year-old Pine Middle School student who shot a classmate should be sentenced to house arrest.

Prosecutors challenged Court Master Janet Schmuck's May ruling involving James Newman, who said he brought his father's gun to school March 14 because he was sick of being made fun of.

But Washoe District Family Court Judge Frances Doherty sided with Schmuck's ruling, dismissing claims that Schmuck abused her discretion.

Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick had called Schmuck's ruling "crazy," and during Friday's hearing, Deputy District Attorney Jo Lee Wickes said Schmuck's decision did not consider public safety.

Wickes added that Newman would benefit more from being incarcerated because he would have more education, socialization and recreation opportunities.

Before shooting Alex Rueda, 14, in the arm, Newman told one of his friends to run. Gym teacher Jencie Fagan persuaded Newman to throw down the gun, and hugged him until police arrived.

Rueda was treated and released. Kenzie McKeon, 14, was hit by a ricocheted bullet. She was treated at the scene.

Newman had been held in the county's juvenile detention center for more than two months when he was released on house arrest. His mother is home-schooling him.

Newman's attorney, David Houston, said the boy is doing well on house arrest and that psychiatrists deemed him a low risk to commit similar violent offenses.

Houston said the prosecutor's claim that Schmuck abused her discretion was based on "societal revenge" because he was not incarcerated for a crime that sent fear through the school and the community.

I am intrigued by the ADA's claim that actually jail would be more fun for the youngster. So actually, house arrest is MORE of a punishment than juvy. Oh. I also wonder if, had gym teacher Jencie Fagan worked in New York City, he or she would be in big trouble for disobeying the directive not to intervene in student altercations. Meanwhile, Newman's attorney claims that Newman has the mentality of a 12-year-old. And he's --what?-- fourteen? I've known a lot of 14-year-old boys that would fit that description.

And by the way, as further punishment, Newman is not allowed to get a driver's license until ninety whole days AFTER his 16th birthday, nor is he allowed to get a hunting license for two whole years. Man, that frontier justice sure is tough out in Nevada. Of course, all the weapons in his house are supposed to be removed while he is under house arrest and being home-schooled.

Of course, in all seriousness, now, this would all have been avoided had intervention taken place regarding the bullying. Or if his parents had locked up their weapons and ammunition.


At 7/21/06, 11:07 PM, Blogger quakerdave said...

I think I'd have to quit teaching if I taught in that community. It's open season on teachers and students there now.

We'll see if we hear complaints about "activist judges" from the usual crowd when this gets out.

Must link to this story: I'll be sure to give you the attribution.

At 7/21/06, 11:42 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

You can't MAKE stuff like this up....

At 7/22/06, 2:16 PM, Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Another great post, Ms. Cornelius! This is the quote that struck me the most:

Houston said the prosecutor's claim that Schmuck abused her discretion was based on "societal revenge" because he was not incarcerated for a crime that sent fear through the school and the community.

I think this is another example of judges and other people in authority having no clue about the effects their decisions have on schools. I hope they don't end up with other kids getting shot in that area, but the judge hasn't done a lot to discourage it. Bring a gun to school, shoot somebody, and your punishment is that you have to stay home, and you'll have to wait an extra 90 days to get your drivers license. Yikes!

At 7/22/06, 5:19 PM, Blogger Bob V. said...

Maybe it's just me, but a judge named "schmuck" in this case seems to fit the bill. What the hell was she thinking? If that had been her son who was the victim, chances are good she'd be looking for the hanging rope. What's going on with people in this country who are in positions of authority? I'd judge that schmuck to be an idiot.

At 7/22/06, 5:21 PM, Blogger Bob V. said...

Doesn't the name "Judge Schmuck" kinda say it all? What in the world was this person thinking? "Oh Johnny, it's OK to shoot your classmate. We'll just sentence you to your house." Isn't that where the halfwit learned this behavior already?

At 7/22/06, 11:55 PM, Anonymous kontan said...

Don't lock him away for the rest of his life, but give him something.

At 7/23/06, 6:46 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

I know-- I found the "Schmuck" name just deliciously funny.

I find this incredibly ironic given the fact that usually we see zero tolerance taken to the other extreme, like suspending kids for having nail clippers.

And, seriously, what does it mean to say that a 14 year old acts like a 12 year old? Sometimes we're lucky if the gap between chronological age and emotional or intellectual age is only that large.

It's not "societal revenge" to expect that serious actions receive serious consequences. It's called punishment. There is NOTHING wrong with that.

Although, since we don't know anything about the family, maybe being under house arrest with them IS worse than jail.

At 7/23/06, 6:46 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7/23/06, 10:32 AM, Blogger happychyck said...

Although I'm 300 miles away from that school, as a teacher in Nevada, I'm afraid now. Dennis nailed it--the message is that you get to stay home from school if you bring a gun to school AND SHOOT SOMEONE! Right now I can think of a handful of student who'd jump right on that bandwagon.

Nevada has perfectly good alternative schools (lock down, in the middle of nowhere) for dangerous students like him. I've known students who've done time in some of them, and my husband worked in one of them. Attending one of those schools WOULD be a good opportunity for him! Education, socialization, and recreation--would that help a young man like him? You'd be amazed.

As for the judge, well maybe since that judge was shot in Reno last month, other judges just don't want upset anyone...

At 7/23/06, 12:05 PM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

No wonder she was saddled with that name. You'd think after a lifetime of that she'd throw the book at anyone.

Maybe she's overcompensating.

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