Monday, May 23, 2005


A series of fights broke out today at Taft High School ahead of a scheduled visit by Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, and school officials disputing claims by parents and students who said the brawls appeared racially motivated.

As many as 17 patrol cars and an LAPD helicopter were dispatched to the Ventura Boulevard campus about 10 a.m., a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman said. Taft Principal Sharon Thomas said there were three separate fights among ninth-graders lining up to take standardized tests in a multi-purpose room. Six students were detained for questioning and the others were sent to their home rooms, she said.

Sandra Torres, 18, a senior, said she saw a number of students hop a fence onto campus and run toward a group of students. "They started beating up on anybody they came across. There must have been 50 people involved. Ten people were hurt with bloody noses (and) lying on the ground. "It was a lot of violence," she said. "I was scared."

Thomas and Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Roy Romer said the fights were not between Latino and African-American students, despite what many students reported. "It was a limited thing," Romer said. "It was not racial." Villaraigosa, appearing with Romer during a news conference, reiterated district officials' comments that the violence was not racially motivated.

But Erika Robles, 17, a junior, said the fighting occurred between African-American and Latino students. About 40 parents rushed to the campus, many of them called by students using cell phones. Carletha Lee, whose nieces and nephews attend the campus, said the district and the mayor-elect were not being candid with parents. "You can only stomach so much, the fact that (Villaraigosa) is downplaying a serious situation.... He wants to discount this as a simple fight between students. We clearly know this is not the case," she said.



It all started last year, when the now 56-year-old teacher allowed a student to take an exam a day earlier than his other students. The student then sent an e-mail message to about 50 students, with the answers to the exam, Dorson said. No explanation or apology was ever received, he said. This year, when the student, whose name the district has withheld, was in the running for a prestigious scholarship awarded by the Flinn Foundation, Dorson said he could not support that. The Flinn is a well-respected scholarship awarded to Arizona students for use at the state's public universities. Students are judged strongly on moral character, in addition to scholastic achievements.

Dorson's road to resignation began when he went to the school's administration and said someone should speak up about last year's cheating incident, Dorson said. It was then, Dorson said, that he was told by the administration to be quiet, that if he spoke out about it he would be fired. Contrary to rumors about the controversy, Dorson said it never crossed his mind to contact the Flinn representatives directly; he just wanted someone to deal with the situation. He was only trying to protect the district, not cause trouble, he said.

In the weeks that followed, no one from the administration responded to Dorson's request, he said, which finally prompted him to say, "enough." He wrote a letter of resignation in February and the board immediately approved it. "I think there are people that wanted me gone," Dorson said.

Foothills High School Principal Wagner Van Vlack said he could not comment on the situation. "I'm reluctant on a moral ground to comment in a story that doesn't get to the moral truth," he said, adding that he could not comment because it is impossible to get to the whole story because of privacy laws and certain information that could not be disclosed.

In the months following Dorson's resignation, students, parents and teachers have supported their favorite teacher and have called upon the board to look into the matter. More than 60 people attended a May 10 board meeting, many of whom spoke in support of Dorson. "People throughout all of metropolitan Tucson know and love this individual, the man whom you do not value," said Ann Moynihan, as she spoke to the board. Moynihan, whose son is a student of Dorson, said that soon after her son joined his classroom she began to notice a difference in him, something she credits to the tremendous teaching skill of Dorson. "He puts the fire to the tinder," Moynihan said......

Zamkinos said she fully understands the reasons Dorson is leaving, and admits there is a cheating problem that is not being addressed within the district. School officials have said they take cheating very seriously and deals with each situation accordingly. One way students are cheating is by text-messaging exam answers to each other's cell phones, Zamkinos said. According to the district's student discipline policy, forgery and cheating are "prohibited student conduct."

Kareem Hassan, another student of Dorson, said that "the main issue is not whether or not Dorson is the best teacher in the world, but that the school can't even follow its own policy regarding cheating." Cheating should be taken seriously, something Hassan said is not happening within the district. Hassan said the administrators are not promoting integrity when they can't stand behind one of their own when a teacher is trying to make sure a student is punished for not having integrity. "He was essentially forced to resign," Hassan said.....

Dorson could, however, face an investigation and possible teaching certification removal by the Arizona Board of Education. On May 6, a Catalina Foothills administrator reported an alleged violation of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, said Lisette Flores, chief investigator for the board. Flores would not say who reported Dorson. She said, only, that it was regarding the matter of Dorson sharing the discipline of the student who cheated. Dorson said he was shocked when he received a phone call from a newspaper reporter telling him about the report. He was stunned that no one from the district told him first, he said. "They have confused dissent with loyalty," he said. "The emphasis has been on keeping things quiet."

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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