Schools and Education: A Continuing Parade of Tragic Failure

(l. to r.) Jonathan Jewth, Alecz Fujimoto

     I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, until as many people get the message as is needed for things to change; our schools are failing our children, more and more miserably as time goes by. If one goes back and looks through my blog entries alone, they can find several instances where schools have been remiss in their duty to safeguard the welfare and education of our youth, and if that’s the case, then there has to be way more happening that we haven’t been made aware of. In the last few weeks, two more issues have popped onto the radar, one in New York and the other in Missouri.

     In the Bronx burrough of New York, NY, nine-year-old Jonathan Jewth has died as a result of brain damage caused by a choking incident at Public School 47 on December 5th. During lunch at the school, Jonathan began choking on a meatball and lost consciousness. According to Andrea Perez, a witness present in the cafeteria at the time of the incident, cafeteria workers were not able to render aid, and did nothing except yell at the boy (who was unconsious by this time, mind you!) to stick his finger down his own throat. Contrary to witness statements, the official incident report filed by the school to the DOE states that aid was rendered by another parent and the assistant principal prior to the child losing consciousness.(1) (2)

     (SOAPBOX=ON) This should be a cautionary tale for every parent with kids in grades K through 8, to make sure that wherever there’s a possible choking hazard, (within reason) staff are properly trained in multiple lifesaving techniques, including the Heimlich maneuver. This is especially important where the schools are in rural areas, and where response times by emergency personnel are affected. In the case of PS 47, I would be very hesitant to send my kids into a cafeteria where the staff doesn’t even have brain one among them, and all they would do is yell. I also find it interesting that witness statements run contrary to the report that was filed by the school. If I was in a position of power in NYC, there would definitely be an investigation going on. (SOAPBOX=HOLD)

     In Park Hills, Missouri, a 14-year-old boy who suffers from Down’s Syndrome has been suspended from school due to an alleged incident of sexual harassment against a bus driver’s aide. According to Desi Mayberry, Central R-III School District Superintendent, young Aleczander Fujimoto “grabbed her around her waist, like a bear hug, and then he gets on top of her and moves in a sexual motion, imitating a sexual act.” Mayberry adds that the aide “screamed for help,” which prompted the bus driver to separate Fujimoto and the aide. The boy’s mother, Tonia Fujimoto contends that her son was merely hugging the aide, and that the allegations of sexual harassment are incorrect. The aide in this case is no longer considering bringing charges against Aleczander Fujimoto, however a notice sent to the student’s home indicates that the case has been turned over to juvenile authorities. The superintendent indicated that all of the district’s busses are equipped with security cameras, but added that Ms. Fujimoto was not allowed to view any footage of the incident that may have been recorded by those cameras, despite her requests to do so.(3) (4)

     (SOAPBOX=RESUME) During most of the 1990’s, I worked as a long-range delivery driver for a pharmacy in Central California, delivering multi-dose medication trays to several board and care facilities. In that seven-year period, I got to know plenty of kids and young adults with Down’s Syndrome. Plainly put, they’re “huggers.” They love to give and receive hugs. There’s nothing untoward there, just an honest display of kindness, love and amity on the part of these kids, and it was my joy to return each and every hug and smile. It strikes me as odd that the school district says that this happened, and that they have video evidence of it happening, yet they will not allow the parent to view that evidence. It also strikes me as odd that the aide that this supposedly happened to is no longer going to be pursuing charges, yet the school district still suspends the boy.

     I smell a few lawsuits in the air here. If these schools are going to get the message that things need to change, we need to start hitting them in the only place that will make an impact; their wallets. My fine young readers, our public schools keep getting worse, and something must be done, and done soon. Otherwise, it’s our children who pay the price.

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