Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"High School" Crisis- Pseudo Aunt Jillian don't read because you hate hearing about high school

This mornng I was called into the principal's office immediately after the opening announcements were read. Also arriving at the same time was a boy with whom I am marginally acquainted at best. He's a defensive back on our school's football team and does not take honors classes as far as I know. He was a shot-putter on the track team on which I was a hurdler, but the runners often have little contact with those participating in filed events at practice and at meets. I'm fairly certain we've never actually been in the same section of a course. I was curious as to why I had been summoned to the office, but the idea that my business there had anything to do with his didn't even cross my mind.

When the principal's secretary returned my greeting with, "Sit down and shut up," I began to suspect that trouble was headed my way. This is unusual for me. When I was a freshman, there was the unfortunate incident involving the Internet, the potential child predator, and the FBI. It really didn't have anything to do with the school, as no contact was made during school time or using school computer equipment. I was contacted by the FBI at the school because my parents both work, and the only way the feds could contact all of us during the day (God forbid that they should have to work one minute past 5:00 p.m.) was to have me called into the school office and to have my parents contacted during the day at work and summoned to the school. I had one other incident involving a teacher complaining to my parents that I refused to volunteer to answer questions in class, but this was handled by the teacher contacting my parents. The office was in no way involved, and no record of the incident exists in my file. (There are advantages, though few, and though far outweighed by the disadvantages, to having one's parent be a high-ranking official in the school district one attends.)

If the truth were to be known, I played a prime role in two incidents of mischief that, were my school administration to be aware, they would possibly seek retribution even though no laws were broken and no real harm was done, and despite the fact that under any non-Draconian system, the statute of limitations would have long since expired. When I turn eighteen, am in college, and have been granted whatever scholarships, high school diplomas, or honors I'm ever going to receive from this antiquated institution in which I'm presently enrolled, I may choose to divulge the details of my two past indiscretions. Until then, however, it would require stupidity beyond which I am capable to give out any details even in a forum as anonymous as this one.

Despite the uncivil greeting from the secretary being an indication that something unfavorable to me was in the works, I doubted that it was in any way connected to my indiscretions from previous years. I still had no real clue that the boy seated across from me was in any way connected to the issue, although his disinclination to make eye contact with me should have been an indication.

The two of us sat in the uncomfortable plastic chairs for well over an hour with the secretary, who was busy typing and occasionally answering the phone, although she paused from her duties to glare at each of us from time to time. I was at the time unaware of the circumstances surrounding our total waste of time sitting in the hard plastic chairs accomplishing absolutely nothing. The reason, I later learned, was that parents were to be involved in the discussion of this situation. As my mother would be considered a direct supervisor of the site administrators handling the matter, it would be a conflict of interest for her to be there acting as my parent. My father was and still is in Los Angeles. My mother refused to ask him to fly back to our city to act as my parent in this situation.

When I first learned of the nature of the situation and of my mother's refusal to involve my father, I thought it was the typical "He's not coming back here because Alexis isn't worthy of our time" sort of response that has been given on my behalf before, which greatly angered me. It was only later that I understood that the matter was so inane that my mother refused either to incur the expenditure of plane fare or to interrupt my father's work for a situation that should never have involved me in the first place, except perhaps as the recipient of an apology.

The next choice was to have the matter handled by the district superintendent instead of the site principal. My mother was in favor of this option, as it would not involve interrupting the daily routines of any of our relatives to act on behalf of me. Furthermore, she said, even if the principal were dealing with a relative of mine instead of with her, a conflict of interest could be perceived because I am still her daughter, which could result in either ill will on her part if she disagreed with the way the situation was handled or could result in reverse discrimination by the principal bending over too far backward to be fair to the student whose parent was not his job superior. Both the principal and the father of the other student disagreed with this solution. The principal's primary motive for disagreeing was presumably that he didn't want the superintendent interfering in what he considered to be his domain. It was tentatively decided that the principal would adjudicate the matter with my Aunt Heather acting as my advocate. Then the district superintendent attempted to contact my mother in her office and was unable to reach her. He demanded to know where she was and what was happening, and then appointed himself as the official in charge of the matter.

The whole incident, as I didn't learn until after hours of sitting in the principal's outer office under the watchful eye of the Rottweiler-turned-secretary, centered on a paper I had authored in my sophomore year of high school for my required U. S. History course, for which I took the Advanced Placement option in order to earn college credits. The title of the paper was, "The Cold War, McCarthyism, and Accusations of Communism Inflitration." As my compositions go, it was somewhat unremarkable. It was technically and factually sound, and met the requirements for an Advanced Placement-calibre paper, but wasn't one of my more creative efforts. Considering the topic, it probably shouldn't have been one of my more creative efforts, anyway.

The intructor for my course had a policy of photocopying all "A" papers, filing them by topic, and keeping them for at least ten years so that in the event that a paper seemed familiar as he was grading it, he could consult his file to see if the paper had been recycled from a previous author and submission. The file cabinet in which the papers were kept was usually locked, but there were occasions in which it wasn't secured. The student seated across from me in the office had been my U. S. history's teacher's assistant for a Freshman Studies course the next year. At some point the file cabinet containing "A" papers was apparently unsecured and unsupervised for just long enough for him to go through the cabinet and purloin my paper.

The moron was so lazy that he didn't even bother re-typing the paper in its entirety. He merely retyped the title page, then whited out and retyped the header on each page, ignoring the differences in formats required. Because I wrote the paper for a social science course, the APA format was used. English courses almost exclusively require MLA formatted papers. The essence of this was lost on my peer.

The plagiarism would have gone undetected except that my plagiarist's English teacher was so incredibly inmpressed by her student's work, as it was far beyond anything he had ever done, that she submitted it for a writing award.  She retyped the paper for the thug into the MLA format, which is standard for Englsih department papers.  (The thug who stole and submitted my paper  probably culdn't tell the difference between the APA and MLA formats and whatever format it is that grafitti artists use when sharing their gangs'  messages with the world at large.  The committee charged with deciding upon the winner of this award happened to consist of both the English teacher who submitted the student's paper and my U. S. History teacher, who had originally received the paper two years earlier. My teacher immediately recognized it as having been turned in by one of his students immediately. The English teacher disagreed vehemently and accused me of being the plagiarist even though, once my u.S. history techer realized thr original source of the paper, knew that it had been turned in to him two yers previously.  The English teacher, who offers proof positive that not all English teachers are of even average intellect, offered ss evidence the plagiarist's originally submitted paper, with the title page and headings not even in the same font as the body of the paper, then showed how she had helped him to retype the composition into the correct format.

The argument between the two faculty member of the panel charged with choosing a recipient for a particular writing-acroo-curriculum  award,   soon made its way into the principal's office, where it immediately became a disciplinary matter. The principal was unimpresed by either the lack of match in font of the title page and page headers of the body of the paper to the overall lack of pertinence of the topic of McCarthyism and communism to American literature.  (A skilled arguer and writer could have bridged the disparity between the topic and the course's subject matter, but this plagiarist made no attempt to do so, presumably for reasons both that he saw no need to do so [both the course title and the compision's title contained the word American; that alone, in his mind would have been more than eufficient commonality between the content of the coomposition and the subject matter of the course and, by extention, the topic for the speficic compositiona as assigned by the teacher] and that he lacked the skill to create such a bridge or segue of sorts  had he known one was needed.)

Parents were soon involved in the  dispute. The plagiarist's father, a prominent local banker, argued that even if his son had plagiarized the paper from me, I, too, must have plagiarized it from some other source, as the paper could not have been authored by any high school student. My former social science teahcer asked that my English teacher  sned in samples from my English portfolio to refute the plagiarists' fagther's assertion. My mother pointed out that my SAT writing score had been a perfect 800. The banker didn't understand that. His son hadn't taken the SAT, and the writing portion did not yet exist in the olden days when he himself took the test.  the principal seemed to be swallowing some of the plagiarists' father's arguments. the plagiarists's mother was oblivious to the significance of  sall that was occurring. When asked a specific question concerning when she might have observed her son working on the  composition,as he claimed to have written it entirely at home, his mother smiled snd uttered, even thoug her answer didn't come close to addrrssing the question she was asked, "I can hardly believe my son was nominated for a writing awatd. I'm just so proud of him.' 'Thank God the superintendent took over.

The U. S. History teacher left to consult his file, but found my paper missing, even though it was indexed. He came to the outer office to ask if I still had a copy of the paper. I keep hard copies of all of my papers, in addtion to  copies in backup files of computer and on an external Q-file device.  I told my mother exactly where she could find it in my room.  I told her thqt even though the paper had been typed originally on the desktop in our home library, it was on my laptop in my room as well. I told her where to find the hard copy in my file cabinet, where to find the external Q-file device, and whereIi had puy away my laptop. She was back twenty minutes later with the original paper, complete with title page and date, which matched the index maintained by my history teacher. The text and font matched the plagiarist's copy of the body of the original document  before his teacher retyped it (which was, incidentally, against the rules for papers submitted for the particular honor). Furthermore, the topic was well-matched to my assigned topic of mid 1900's politics, as opposed to the plagiarist's course  topic of  American literature. (I believe his actual assignment for the paper  had something to do with  using both a poem and a work of prose, each written by an American auhor or poet -- eithet the same or a differrent authot  from the same time period would have been acceptable - to cature and illustrate an aspect of the popular culture of the time. My paper in no way met this assignment, as works of American liture were not featured prominently and only appeared incidentally in the few literary allusions included in the paper.

The plagiarist's father was still unconvinced of any guilt on the part of his son, or at least pretended such was the case . The mother continued to beam with pride and  to make inane comments such as, "I always knew [thug] was bright, but I didn't realize writing ability was part of his giftedness,"  to no one in particular, as no one was either talking  or listening to her.. The superintendent told [thug's] father  that it didn't really require his assent to decide in my favor, but, just to prove the point, each of us would be called into the inner office to answer questions about the composition's content. Following that, we would each be assigned a five-paragraph essay on a given topic, which would need to be completed in the inner office in the presence of parents and administrators, after which the essays would be analyzed for writing style. The superintendent even conceded that the topic would be one about which the plagiarist should have presumably more background information than I.

I answered each question asked, in each case,  elaborating beyond what was presumably expected. (Senator Joseph McCarthy and his "anti-communism" platform had long held my fascination. My parents owned several non-fiction texts including biographies by actos who were black-listed and lost work as a result of appearing on McCarthy's lists of actual communists or sympathizers. The movie and subsequent motion picture, The Way We Were  were based on  the chilling effects of McCcarthyism on Hollywood and on specific actors .The plagiarist apparently had no answer for most of the questions. He had no idea who joseph mCarth had been and any of the signifcance of political work.  eventually he made some connection with  geeneral douglas MacArthur and went off on a brief tangent concerning General Patton, citing scenes he remembered from a movie about general Patton's life. I didn't see any of this, as we were questioned separately, but my social science/ U.s. history teacher said, as wrong as what the thug did was, he was almost beginning to feel sorry for him except that the thug was so utterly witless than he though his answers were on the mark and were helping to establish his case. The boy''s father said, "So [thug] is confusing a few generals with a senator. That hardly proves he stole the paper."

The original plan for the essays was that they would be written by hand, but the plagiarist's father complained that his son had problems with spelling and would be at a disadvantage if computer use were not allowed.  A cuple of nonnetworked laptops were brought in for use to use.  We were given a seventy-five minute limit for our essays. The  topic  announced. The topic was "Advantages and Disavantages of the BCS System in Determining the NCAA Football Championship." I'm far from an expert on this topic, but I evidently have more knowledge of the system than does my plagiarist. I focused upon the lack of objectivity in determining who gets into the major bowl games in the first place, the disadvantage created by an early loss by an otherwise superior team, and the lack of a playoff system in determining who makes it into the actual bowl game that is determined to be the championship game. I conceded that the BCS system is clearly superior to the old poll system with sports writers and coaches determining the national champions (sometimes without consensus between the two voting bodies)  but insisted that the current system  was in need of  major overhaul before it can be deemed acceptable. My plagiasrist didn't even complete a single paragraph.

So I spent almost an entire day helping adults who should have known better to decide that I did not plagiarize a composition. Most of the day was wasted, although, since part of the day was spent writing, that portion could not be considered a total waste of time. The next half hour was devoted to an argument concerning whether my plagiarist and I would be required, or even allowed, to make up the work that ws missed. In an extremely rare show of support for me, my mother said that if the district wanted me to continue enrollment in the district, I would be given full credit for any daily assignments missed in the day's classes. Any portions of the classes that were devoted to projects, she said, should be my responsibility to make up. The plagiarist's father insited that his son be granted the same privilege. The superintendent told him that his son's privileges and consequences would be discussed in private shortly. At that point, the school day was over.

The head varsity football coach had heard of the situation and had made his way to the office, demanding to know what was happening. The superintendent dismissed him and told him he would be notified as soon as any decision that affected his team had been made, still, he lurked in the outer office, witing to here of the resolutio to this issue, as it impacted likely would his starting lineup for Friday's game.

Note: I'm adding this to the original text. It can be found in greater detail in a subsequent retelling of the assault in a later blog (thugh even then, some details were omitted because I felt too humiliated to shared them. I'm no longer humiliated byy any of the details. the humiliation should and now does belong to my attackers,. but at the point this blog was originally written, and even in a later post when I shared nore details,   I was not yet up to full disclosure of the assault.  I now have little problem talking about it.

This should have been the end of the whole matter, but it wasn't. I had been stuck in an office all day with no food or bathroom privileges. Although I was hungry, I was even more in need of a bathroom visit. I hurried as fast as my crutches would allow me to a bathroom just down the hall from the principal's office before heading home. I heard the outer bathroom door open as I was in the stall, but thought nothing of it. When I emerged from the stall to wash my hands, I saw two girls standing idly. Girls sometimes stand idly in bathrooms, so I still though little of it. Then one of them said to me, "Just what the fu@&amp  did you think you were doing?" I recognized her as the plagiarist's latest hook-up.

"Using the bathroom," I answered.

She slapped my face with sufficient force that I fell against the wall. Fortunately I was using the sink located against the far wall, so I fell against the wall instead of onto the floor.

The other girl said, "That's not what she meant, and you know it, [female dog]."

I still had my baby cell phone, which my parents had traded for my original cell phone because I had exceeded our the minutes or numbers or whatever of  texts covered by our  plan in an  outrgeously expensive  manner  because I had been under the mistaken impression that our plan included unlimited texting.  It ended up being one of the few times if not the onbly time  that, after the fact, both my parents and I were unbelievably  grateful  for the action that led to seizure of my real cell phone and what had seemed at the time like a rather draconian punishment my parents had handed out and they were grateful that I had run up the hge bill, motivating them to take my real cell phone away and replace it with a kiddt  cell phone.  The hone had the capacity to dial my home, my parents' cell phones, my mom's work numbers, my Uncle Steve's and Aunt Heather's phones and home, and 911. A quick mental assessment told me that 911 would be my best bet, especially since it sas the top button on the phone. The phone was in the pocket of my jacket, which I had been wearing all day because the principal's thermostat was set at about 65  degrees.  I talked loudly and made liberal, virtually non sequitor reference to my precise location,  hoping that the 911 operator could get information about my whereabouts from my end of the conversation, and also hoping my voice would cover up that of the 911 operator. It's possible tha - almost non sequitut t knowing 911 hade been called might have cause the girls to abort their opertion, but then again, they might not have know abut the gPS on my phone, and furthermore, I didn't really know how quickly the could determine my location from the GPS-tracking device,

I still don't know if I made things worse or better by hiding the fact that 9-1-1 had been dialed. It's possible the girls would have run out as soon as they learned of it, or it's possible they would have bashed me over the head with my own cell phone, then continued to beat up on me, confident that law enforecemnt would have no way of knowing where to find any of us. I didn't know it, but my kiddy phone also had a GPS-like device on it, so the 911 operator was able to locate me. I decided that the best thing was to keep the girls talking as much as possible. I lied to them about how I had tried to take the blame but that the superintendent wasn't buying it. It told them that I deliberately blew my essay, but that the plagiarist had blown it worse. When it became plain that they weren't buying any of my lines, I tried pleading to their senses of dignity, asking them if they really felt right about two relatively tall and normal-sized girls double-teaming someone who weighs 77. (I still haven't gained back all the weight since I was hurt and sick.) Eventually the talking ceased to stop them; one of them pushed me to the floor, The other one crawled on top of me and put her hands around my neck.  Th one not on top of me kicked me in the mid-right portion of my rib care, then stepped onto my leg, more or less directly on the portion of my leg that sustained the worst of the fractures. I lost consciousness.

Note: I'm adding this to the original text. It can be found in greater detail in a subsequent retelling of the assault in a later blog (thugh even then, some details were omitted because I felt too humiliated to shared them. I'm no longer humiliated byy any of the details. the humiliation should and now does belong to my attackers,. but at the point this blog was originally written, and even in a later post when I shared nore details,   I was not yet up to full disclosure of the assault.  I now have little problem talking about it.

When I regained consciousness, the male who had plagiarized my paper had joined the girls and me in the bathroom. He directed the girls to undress me from the waist down, He unzipped his zipper and removed his male appendage. from the direction he seemed  to be headed, It appeared that ny mouth was his first intended target. I vomited, which appeared to have the effect of causing him to lose the ability to perform the function he had intended to perform on me.  He kicked the side of my head hard  my head so that it would be forced into the vomitus. He then kicked my side, kicked my leg in the approximate areaof the original injury, and delivered an especially swift  and bruising kick to my vaginal area.

At that point, a security officer entered the restroom, followed closely by another security officer, the school football coach, the superintindent,  add the principal. (My mother had been sent to a meeting in placer of the superintindentent, who had assured my mother that he would see to it that I arrived home safely. The girls  tried to run  out, but were stopped by a teacher and and approaching law enforecment personnel, wh had been dispatched ot th scene.. The perps were carted off. I don't know if they were tansported to the police station or to holding facilities. At least one of the two perps was already eighteen and a legal adult as such. Another of the three, as it turned out, was also above the legal age of majority, but I don't believe any of that had been sorted out by then. In any event, they were all released to their  parents on their own recognizance with preliminqary charges pending. the attonry my parents later hired to represent my interests said that it was wrong to releaseany of them prior to sorting out charges.

The football coach, who lived around the corner from my family's home,  suggested that someone should put my pants back onto me. The officer in charged siad that photos of the crime scene needed to be take first. The coach told them to hurry it up with the pictures, a nd took off his shirt and covered me with it  as the officers  were organizing the photo shoot.

The fall itself didn't  hurt me, nor, in any significant way,  did the initial slap, but the various kicks and sthe step upon the area of my leg that was healing from the earlier serious compact fracture, as well as kicks to my rib cage, head,  and groin area were all considered signnificant injuries. An ambulance was summonned, and I was transported to the university hospital in an adjacent city, where I spent the night.

The public school system in California is truly exemplary. That's the reason, I assume, that our governor's children attend private schools.


  1. Oh my!! That was a horrible day! I certainly hope you press charges against those girls... ):

  2. Good God. Have your parents heard of home schooling?

    Oh, wait! How good would it look if the child of someone who worked for the school system got taught at home or, worse, went to a private school?

    Sacrificed for the greater good? Gee. Thanks.