First, by visiting the Guilford High School web site, you can access the Student/Parent handbook. The make-up homework section reads as follows;
MAKEUPNumerous reports, blogs and commentary fail to get this simple fact straight. Nathan Fisher had no responsibility to bring the make-up work to anyone. He broke no rules or protocol. None.
All makeup work is the responsibility of the student. Arrangements should be made with individual teachers, however the teacher and the student are mutually responsible for communicating what work needs to be completed. Work missed because of an unverified absence or "cut" may not be made up for credit.
All absences from school must be verified by a parental telephone call or note. Students will have at least one day to make up missed assignments or to prepare for tests, quizzes, and projects for each verified absence. (Tests, quizzes, and major projects may require multiple days.) This deadline can be extended if mutually agreed upon by both the teacher and the student.
As we know from a previous post, the summer reading list that all other students chose from was simply a recommended list. Nate was kind enough to offer make-up choices that could be quickly finished (say, over the Labor Day weekend)so as not to punish the new student for a missed assignment she had no knowledge of.
In a comics blog called The Beat, the mother of this teen claims to give us the facts and all of the quotes from the mother originate in her correspondences there.
The mother tells us "Her brand new English teacher asked her to stay after class so he could give her an assignment to read over the labor day long weekend"... "on the second day of school". It is important to note this because on the following Tuesday, the THIRD day of school, our mom who expects immediate gratification claims her complaint falls on deaf ears. My guess is that the THIRD day of school's morning after a long holiday weekend is chaotically hectic. The mother claims she "was brushed off" by the school.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. Sequentially, the next set of claims concern the "discovery" of the book assignment. This event has two different explanations but first let's talk about what most kids do when they bring homework home.
If my teens come home with a book my wife and I both know it. We ask, "Do you have any homework" and reading always yields a set of moans that means they have something to do and we find out what it is.
Privately, this is what the teen says happened in her household as well. Comments left here previously claim, "The girl showed her parents the book, her mom didn't "discover" it. I know. I heard her telling people."
But that's not mom's story. Mom claims she "discovers" the book on Saturday because her daughter, having been warned that the book contained mature themes decides that sharing these mature themes with her younger siblings is the thing to do. Mom claims to be shocked, "So I said to the group of children - “what’s so funny you guys!” So the kids reply - We are laughing at the reading assignment from her teacher - “The two kids are doing it” - So I said - Give me that!"
This ambiguity is striking because if the daughter told the parents about her homework assignment and showed it to them as the daughter claims, the parents had numerous ways to resolve the issue.
First, "I don't want you reading this book."
Second, notify the teacher why you object. Guilford's high school web site offers an email complaint line, phone numbers where messages can be left, and the student/Parent handbook describes the complaint process; 1. notify the school then, if not satisfied, 2. notify the district, 3. superintendent 4. Board of Education.
What is doubly disingenuous about the mother's account is the inclusion of the younger children in the claim. It's a surefire tear-jerker. But if they knew about the book's contents and allowed it to happen then shame on them.
One also has to wonder if the family "picnic" she refers to was a meeting with the family relative who is a "police detective in another town". If so, it may indicate a deliberate deception. The dad, later interviewed by the New Haven Register, seems like a seething character needing sedation or and anger counselor and this is days later.
If this book was the topic of discussion at the family picnic one can imagine dad being fit to be tied. The decision to escalate the book incident to a police matter had to be a consideration on Saturday. But, let's face it, complaining about a book is not enough. The family would have to think of an angle to make this teacher pay. It takes no stretch of the imagination to speculate that someone said, "Hey, what if the guy is a pervert - we could fix him good if that were the case." Indeed.
The mother, in disclosing the "facts" is careful to point out such details. "Why would this teacher think my 13 year old would want to read this! I could not imagine what this teacher had in mind with my daughter by giving her this comic. I was fearful that I knew what might be on his mind!" She says this in reference to first seeing "the fluffy blue bunny page" on Saturday.
In other words, the mother believes the teacher has made an untoward advance on her daughter because of a dialog a fluffy blue bunny character in a book has. Let's assume she really believes her own imaginings. One would think that she would not only say, "you aren't reading this book" but "AND we're changing teachers on Tuesday". Nothing of the sort happens.
Nor does either parent research the book or author. Nor do they ask their daughter why she might have chosen the book. The mother offers a lame explanation that her daughter thought it was about shooting pool which makes no sense at all. The book is obviously not a book about playing pool and cracking the book randomly would yield this information.
The mother also goes to great lengths to frame the idea that "I showed the school and the resource officer what was given to my daughter and they were very surprised, this is not part of the allowed reading material for teachers to give." Yet as you can see the curriculum is rich with sophisticated reading material and teachers and students negotiate appropriate assignments.
What transpires on Tuesday can have many contexts. The mother's explanation cleverly sidesteps the seething anger of a father who even most recently swears to see to it that Nathan Fisher "never teaches again" and threatens Fisher with legal action.
At face value, one has to wonder if, during the family picnic, it was decided to frame Fisher as a sexual predator. The family police insider could easily call in some favors and set the stage. Or, mom, knowing that this insider was in her back pocket could play a handful of Aces and Jokers.
In other words, the school and its administration would be hit with such an immediate and unrelenting bursts of claims and counter-claims that Nate Fisher would be unemployed and legal jail-bait before anyone could react - a shock and awe offensive.
Mom claims, "when I went to the police and the school, we were not on a witch-hunt - we weren’t out to get anyone fired and we were really hoping this was all a big mistake. We thought possibly that maybe some kid stuck this in his classroom as a joke and that happened to be the one she picked up thinking it was about playing pool."
Really? Why would she think so. Her daughter chose the book and told her parents so. Here the explantions start to unravel. The mother first claims "One book was about shooting pool, or so she thought - This would be Eightball (issue #22)." Her claim is implausible. She knew and admits to what she knew about her daughter's choice yet claims she hoped it was all a big mistake. What field of magic would intervene?
In actuality, we know from dad's media exposure that they had and have every intention of not only getting Fisher fired but claiming sexual deviancy in his actions and threatening lawsuits on these claims.
Her revised explanation of this same event claims, "on Tuesday morning I called the school and requested to speak with someone about it. I was brushed off. Apparently, the administration felt that I was what almost everyone who doesn’t have the facts think I am, a crazy overprotective mother who has a religious or other agenda.
At this point, I spoke with family members, one of which is a police detective in another town in CT. He, and all of my family members advised me to bring the matter to the attention of the police department. I went there Tuesday morning, and they referred me to the school resource officer, who is a police officer who is stationed at the high school."
This second explanation contradicts the first. Seeking immediate gratification, she claims getting brushed off in a phone call on one of the most hectic and busy days of the school year. She leaves no message?
And, she claims that she immediately calls all family members on Tuesday morning and they insist this (what?) is a police matter. Why are the police needed to switch homework assignments or switch teachers? And why, if she believes the teacher is a predator, allow her daughter to go back to class? Again, this is implausible and inconsistent.
After that (same morning) she drives to the school. "I went there Tuesday morning, and they referred me to the school resource officer, who is a police officer who is stationed at the high school.
I showed the comic, and asked for advice on what I should do. He immediately brought me to see the principal, and an investigation was started through the school administration."
Her actions are frantic, calculated, she touches all the bases required to set the teacher up if that is an intention and touches none of the procedures needed for due process. The steps she describes are almost orchestrated for dramatic effect and plausible deniability. She has set all the wheels in motion to frame the teacher yet never says, "I don't want my daughter reading this book and I want her class reassigned."
Her daughter attends class that day and the mother says, "She told him that she really thought it was disgusting and inappropriate and he said yes, I told you it might be a little bit mature." The mother offers no more of the conversation. Did Fisher apologize? What happened?
She describes her reaction, "Well when I heard this, I was really disgusted. What can I assume in this day and age was this teachers motives?? I put her back in the car and I went back down to the school. I asked to see the principal again and I told him what was said to her after class."
Disgusted by what? What motive could be implied except something manufactured? Why didn't mom go and talk to Fisher after class with her daughter?
Could the answer be that the whole thing was staged? Choreographed using insider information to deny Fisher due process, the ability to understand or respond to the unspoken concerns of the parents, or to defend his integrity due to an overload of the due process by aggressive, disingenuous police activity instigated not by any real crime but by family connection?
Is it possible that the family has suffered stock market or hedge fund losses and created a perfect storm scenario for a civil suit to restore lost assets?
In region 19, teachers have a classroom phone that they can be called on and email addresses to be contacted off-hours with. Why didn't the police allow the school investigation to complete before strong arming the administration to laying out an ultimatum with Fisher that amounts to little more than institutional blackmail and a fate of personal humiliation for Fisher?
If I were a heads-up insurance fraud investigator I would look at a case like this and salivate at the opportunity to question witnesses, examine phone records, time-date stamps, family relationships, due process violations, and so on. Fisher never knew what hit him nor did the school but we're much closer to knowing that now and it isn't pretty.