Thursday, December 30, 2010

No Signs Of Intelligence

Following the week's theme on the abuse of power by administrators and policy maker's comes a companion story underlining the utter lack of wisdom that so often goes hand in hand with people in such positions of power.

Ashley sports the blank look of incredulity.
Ashley Smithwick, a seventeen year old high school student who had been playing on the school's soccer team and taking college level courses mistakenly took her father's lunch bag for her own.  So she ended up stuck with the liverwurst sandwich and the wrong kind of chips?  Oh no, because this school has the grown-ups of the school administration, who have the capacity to turn a mix up in lunch bags into a criminal offense.
An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities. Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox. Smithwick said personnel found the knife while searching the belongings of several students, possibly looking for drugs.

The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, her father, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.
“It’s just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple,” he said.
Yeah well, that wont get you any play with the fat headed dolts that run your daughter's school. Listen Mr. Smithwick, they have another agenda, and your daughter's future is not a part of it.
Ashley Smithwick said she had never gotten in trouble before and was surprised when the principal opened her lunchbox and found the knife.

The teen was initially given a 10-day suspension, then received notice that she was suspended the rest of the school year.
"I don’t understand why they would even begin to point the finger at me and use me as an example," she said.
Yeah, well, that's what bureaucrats do. It doesn't have to make sense. It has to do with demographics, ratios, presenting the appearance of even handedness, all very important, you know. Getting it right, that doesn't count for much.
This month, Ashley Smithwick, a soccer player who takes college-level courses, was charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds. She is no longer allowed to set foot on campus.
It's as asinine as charging kindergartners with sexual harassment for giving a classmate a goodbye hug.

Well, where are these administrators that have taken on the responsibility of disarming Ms. Smithwick of her father's paring knife, rid the school of this dangerous person and charged her with the crime?
Darla Cole, the chief school resource officer in Lee County, told WRAL News she could not comment on the case. Lee County Superintendent Jeff Moss told the Sanford Herald that he can’t discuss the specifics of the case, but school policy allows principals to consider the context of each case and determine discipline.

“When the principals conduct their investigations, what typically is fleshed out is the true intent,” he told the newspaper. “Bottom line is we want to ensure every child feels safe on our campus.”
Well, you've utterly failed in that regard. If this is the kind of brainless leadership we have in our schools, I wouldn't feel safe to have my daughter anywhere nearby when these clowns are driving their cars to work.

Ashley Smithwick is completing her coursework through Central Carolina Community College, but says she worries what a criminal conviction will do to her future prospects.
“When you have a criminal record no school’s going to look at you,” she said. “I have a pretty nice talent. I’m good at playing soccer and that talent is just wasted now.”
Yes, that's true. It goes a bit farther than wasting your soccer talents though.  If they can saddle you with the conviction you can forget about applying for a professional school. It's considerably harder to get a job as well.

I doubt, however, if any of those things were on the minds of administrators Darla Cole and Jeff Moss.

Update December 30th, 9:00 pm

Jeff Moss has crawled out from under his rock and offered the following explanation at the Lee County School page:

Statement from Lee County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss Regarding Ashley Smithwick

This is in response to the media coverage of the alleged long-term suspension of Ashley Smithwick, a student at Southern Lee High School. The facts recited by the media are erroneous and without foundation.

On October 20, 2010, a faculty member at Southern Lee High School discovered a student on campus with marijuana. Based upon information obtained in the interview between school administration and the student in question, a search of several other students, including Miss Smithwick, was promptly conducted. During this search, a 3-inch paring knife was found on the person of Miss Smithwick in her purse. The knife was not found in Miss Smithwick’s lunchbox as reported by her family and the media.

Miss Smithwick has not been long-term suspended from Southern Lee High School. She is currently enrolled as a student at the school. Over two months after the event it is a mystery to us that the Smithwick’s concerns were not brought to our attention by the family through normal appeal procedures prior to going to the press.

Moss, students that are suspended are still enrolled at the school. This is the end of December. Is Ashley attending classes at your school or not? If not, than you can forget the pretense of the phrase "alleged long term suspension". Your administrator claims the paring knife was found in her purse, not in her lunchbox. Did Miss Smithwick inform the administrator that the paring knife was from her lunchbox, was her Dad's and was discovered accidentally? Did the administrator ascertain what purpose Miss Smithwick intended for the paring knife? Is the school supporting the criminal prosecution of Miss Smithwick? Does the school consider Miss Smithwick a threat to the safety of her fellow students?

Two months after the event with a criminal prosecution going forward, and it is a mystery to you that anyone would be out of sorts regarding the manner in which the school has handled this situation? How about your recent interest in revisiting the issue - another mystery?



  1. I bet you the principal who decided this disciplinary case is in support of 18-year-olds announcing that they are gay in the first week of Basic Training at Camp Pendleton.

  2. Oh yeah, you bet. A policy, a policy, my kingdom for a policy. But actual leadership? Wisdom? Responsibility and moral courage? Not a chance. And that is why they cling to a policy... because that is all there is for him or her to cling to.

  3. Coco - over fifty thousand hits in just under five months?


  4. Moss, how about coming clean and provide answers that reflect the events, rather than your administrations spin on the the events? The knife was in her father's lunchbag, and her father's lunchbag was in her rather large purse. Secondly, though she is enrolled, the agreement the school required her to sign forbids her to step onto school campus. Thirdly, though you claim your administration takes the whole of the student's behavior into consideration, this student had an excellent record and no prior problems with her fellow student's or the school's administrators, and yet she is suspended from attending classes for the remainder of the year.

    Dr. Jeff Moss should apologize for the behavior of his administration, re=instate Miss Smithwick immediately and resign from his position as superintendent of schools.