Monday, Collin went back to school. All his friends greeted him warmly and apologized to him for not standing up to those jerks. Of course, the talk of the school, that day, was the pending School Board meeting to be held later that evening. Some of the teachers were concerned about the outcome as they hadn't stepped in when they knew they should have. Others were looking forward to some sort of condemnation and serious rules implemented to curtail any more of that sort of behavior. As far as Collin was concerned, all he wanted to happen was that he be allowed to be a regular kid again and enjoy his high school years.
Over at Three Finger Cove, Mr. Ken and his lawyer Bill Jackson, along with Andy Marshall listening in, were discussing what actions they could take if the School Board failed to take immediate and meaningful corrective action so that no other student at any level would be exposed to bullying and harassment even closely resembling what happened to Collin.
The three adults also discussed the hospital's Board of Trustee's meeting that was going to be held Tuesday night, concerning the treatment Mr. Thomas received in his attempts to see his legal ward, Collin, the day of his injuries from the attack at school.
After a full day's worth of research and planning, Ken, Bill and Andy felt they had everything laid out as best they could? They tried to plan for every contingency and stalling tactic each respective Board could muster but they knew they had state law and public opinion on their side and would press the issue in the newspapers and radio and television in order that changes are made that will ensure things like that never happen again.
The School Board meeting was scheduled for 7 PM and there was only one item on the agenda and that was the discussion of the incident that put one of their students in the hospital. The hastily scheduled meeting was heavily attended by the media, parents and students. Everyone wanted more information than had been released and they also wanted to know what the school board was going to do about the harassment and bullying that had been ongoing for some time with nothing ever being done about it.
"This school board meeting will come to order," gaveled the school board's president, Mr. Benedict Ransberger.
As everyone got seated, and the room quieted down, another school board member spoke up and said, "Point of Order, Mister President, I move that this meeting be terminated and the item be added to the end of the next regularly scheduled meeting. This is unheard of that we are here tonight to hear and discuss some school yard incident. This is a waste my and everyone else's valuable time," said Matthew Drucker.
When the audience heard what the man had said, they immediately began saying, "Boo, No, No, Boo, No" and then called for him to sit down and shut up. The board president, seeing he was already losing control of the meeting, and it hadn't even started yet, began to repeatedly slam his gavel down in an attempt to quiet everyone and restore order.
Then another school board member, Mr. Tobias Jordon, spoke up and said, "Mister President, I make the motion that this meeting be held in Closed Session. It is apparent that the people here in attendance will not be civil and we can handle this matter in less time if we do so."
Again the people began to shout out "No, No, No" at the board member and the president for even considering such a thing. They wanted to hear about the harassment and the attack on a student and what the school board was going to do about it.
Again, the board president had to use his gavel to restore order in the meeting room and when he had done so, he said to everyone there, "This Board meeting will be held in a civil manner, or I will have any and all removed from these premises that interfere from now on. Now, there are two motions before the Board. Do I hear a second on the motion to terminate this meeting and add this item to the next regularly scheduled meeting?"
The board president looked around at the other members and then saw that Mr. Jordon had raised his hand to second the motion. Mr. Ransberger became inwardly pissed that he raised his hand and then called for the vote. The motion was defeated 3-2 against.
Then Mr. Ransberger asked if there was a 'second' on the motion to make the meeting a 'closed session'. This time it was Matthew Drucker who raised his hand to do the honors. Again, Benedict Ransberger got a bad taste in his mouth as he saw what those two were trying to do. He again asked for the vote and it too was defeated by a 3 to 2 margin. Ransberger made a sigh of relief when the second motion was defeated. He was up for reelection soon and he didn't need to have this particular meeting being held in private without the voters present. He also didn't want to postpone it for the same reason.
Out in the audience, Ken Thomas and William Jackson were discussing, amongst themselves, the two board members who had tried to delay the meeting. But, the question they had most of all was, the why. Not having any idea to either reason, Ken told Bill he would get someone to look into it right away and they sat back and waited for the board to begin the discussion.
The board president began to call up people to tell what they knew of the incident. The first person called was the high school principle, Mr. Mark Stanley. When asked what he knew, he stated that the two boys had gotten into an argument and that one boy fell down and received an injury requiring a trip to the hospital. When the crowd heard what he said they again began to get unruly and called him a liar and that he should resign. The board president again had to gavel the meeting to order.
When the school nurse, Louise Gracey, was called to answer some questions she reported she had been called to attend the injured student by another student who told her that the boy had been struck in the middle of his chest, and couldn't breathe. She recounted what symptoms the injured boy complained of and, in her professional opinion, this was not the result of any school yard brawl as the hit to the open chest could only occur when one is not defending themselves. She repeated that she was told by numerous students, who witnessed the attack, that the injured boy hadn't done anything to his attacker and that the attacker was calling him names and that he wasn't wanted at that school.
Then, the board members who had asked for the two different motions both spoke out and clearly stated that what the nurse said was all hearsay and couldn't be believed; and that the nurse should be considered for disciplinary actions for what she said.
The crowd again became incensed over what the same two board members, who initially tried to curtail the meeting, had just said and they began calling for them to resign. It was then that Ken and Bill began to smell a rat and began discussing the actions of the board members and to what the principle offered in his testimony. They decided they needed to look into the not only the board members but also the high school principal and the kids involved as well and what interaction there was between them all as a whole. Bill kept meticulous notes and the two sat back to listen to what the next people called had to say.
Witness after witness was called to tell the board what they knew or saw and over time it became apparent to the onlookers that what the teachers had to say was totally different from what the students, who were actually there, had to say except for one teacher who knew the accused students. Then, when it was Collin's turn to speak, one of the two board members, who tried to delay the meeting, made a motion for a recess and was seconded by the board member who tried to close off the meeting to everyone. This motion caused the crowd to rise to their feet and they all began demanding the board to all resign if they were going to continue to stall at getting to the truth. "Resign, resign, resign," was all that could be heard in the large room above the president's gavel.
As the crowd continued their chant, the board president called for a vote on the motion and on a vote of 3 to 2 the motion was denied. The people up front heard the vote and began to tell the crowd to 'sit down and be quiet' and let the meeting continue. It took approximately five minutes for order to again be restored. Even after the board president's threat to remove those who interfered with the meeting, not one person had yet been expelled from the meeting room.
As Collin approached the front of the room, the onlookers all began to quiet down. By the time Collin was seated, and ready to give his account of what happened, it was apparent the spectators wanted to hear what the teenager had to say, so they all became totally silent. Only the sounds of the cameras, taking Collin's picture, could be heard and then the gavel came down and the picture takers were told to stop so they could proceed.
As the board president began to ask Collin to tell what happened the day he was attacked, Matthew Drucker, the board member who tried to terminate the proceedings, made another motion. This time his motion was that the witness be sworn in under oath and that he was to be held accountable for his lies and the waste of time the board had to endure that evening. But before the crowd could even begin to muster its indignation, one of the other board members, Gregory Seitz, spoke right up and told the man to stop trying to run the meting and to shut up and stay seated and if he needed something to do he'd give him a coloring book to keep him occupied. The crowd, upon hearing the 'coloring book' comment, came unglued and had a good laugh.
Then, Mr. Seitz told Drucker that he was to keep silent for the rest of the meeting or he would file a motion for him to be censured. Then Greg Seitz looked over at Tobias Jordan, the other man who had tried to interrupt the meeting, and said he'd get the same treatment if he so much as said another word. After that it was so quiet that you could have heard the proverbial 'pin drop'. Then, after about ten seconds, the room erupted in a loud uproar and began clapping their hands showing their approval over the actions of this now favored board member.
"Now, Collin … please tell us what happened to you that day that you were injured," asked Mr. Ransberger, the board's president. "Take your time."
"Well, sir, it was right after lunch on Wednesday. That's when Rodney Costa came to me and began to call me names and said that I wasn't anyone special, especially to him. He then started to poke me in my chest with his finger. Tha … that was the first time, any of the boys who had been harassing me, had physically touched me. I wasn't too scared because nothing but pushing and shoving and tripping was all the boys did to me up 'till then. It wasn't until Rodney began to poke his finger into me HARD, that I began to get scared.
"There were other kids around watching us, but none of them got involved. They didn't say anything nor did they try to get us apart and there were no teachers around the area and there should have been. It was as if they knew something was going to happen and … and they didn't want to be around so they couldn't be accused of helping … but I believe they did so by their absence. I know which teachers should have been there or at least close by but none of them were there.
"Anyway, I asked Rodney what was it that I did to him, or the others, and why they were harassing me. He said something about them never inviting me to attend 'their' school and then he mentioned something about all my money and important friends and asked 'why didn't I just go back to where I came from.' Then, I saw that Rodney made this fist as if he was going to hit me and before I could move away he hit me square in the middle of my chest.
"I was knocked right down … and I couldn't breathe. I was gasping for my breath and … well, then I guess I passed out from the pain and not being able to breathe. The next thing I knew, I was at the hospital." Collin was finished explaining what happened to him and the crowd was still quiet.
"Collin, you said that there were other boys harassing you. How long was that going on and did anyone else know that was happening, such as any teachers," asked the board president?
"Well, my friends Ryan and Danny and Conner knew about the harassment when it began on Monday, so the guys stayed with me as much as they could. As for the teachers, I am new to this school, so I don't know them all that well, yet, so I am not sure which teachers knew, or may have known. All I know is that teachers are supposed to be out in the halls during the time between classes. I don't remember seeing any. You can ask the person who went and got the nurse. I bet they would know if any teacher was close by and who they were supposed to be."
The board president asked Collin a few more questions before asking if any of the other board members had anything they wanted to ask. Getting no response Collin was excused and he went back over to Ken and Bill and sat down. The board president then said they would have a 15 minute break before they heard any more discussions on the matter of that night's Board meeting.
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