Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brody's Notes... Michigan School District Says Suspended Teacher Ignited Anti-Gay-Bullying Incident

Howell High School Teacher Jay McDowell  Photo By Alan Ward The Livingston Daily Press & Argus
By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) NOV 18 | An official investigation by Howell School District officials in Howell, Michigan into the incident which led to the suspension of popular Howell High School economics instructor Jay McDowell,  over an alleged Anti-Gay incident,  has found that McDowell himself ignited the controversy.

Last month, during the National Spirit Day honouring Gay teens who had taken their lives over bullying, an argument with 18 year old senior Daniel Glowackii who defended another student's wearing a belt buckle displaying the Confederate Battle Flag, escalated when Daniel Glowacki answered a question from McDowell about LGBTQ people. When the student answered, “No, it’s against my religion,” McDowell threw him out of class.

An investigative article published today by the local Livingston County Michigan Daily Press & Argus newspaper's staff writer, Jason Carmel Davis, reports that students who witnessed the controversial Oct. 20 exchange between McDowell and the two students he kicked out of class say McDowell called them “racist,” was irate, slammed doors, yelled and discussed their discipline in front of the other students.
School officials on Wednesday morning gave the Daily Press & Argus a summary of witness statements taken the day after the Oct. 20 incident involving McDowell and 16-year-old student Daniel Glowacki in an economics class.
The statements were part of the investigation that led to McDowell being suspended a day without pay. In the statements, taken from about 12 of the 29 students in McDowell’s sixth-hour economics class, students allege that once McDowell removed Glowacki and another student from the class, the teacher went into the hallway and yelled at the two students.
Davis wrote that McDowell, when asked to respond about the investigation denied the allegations.
Howell Public Schools Board of Education President Debi Drick told the Daily Press & Argus:
“The teacher made a bad call. Kids asking questions isn’t a reason to kick them out of class. The story has been told, not just locally, but on a national level,” Drick said. “The story that’s been told isn’t complete. The written statements contradict the story that’s been told.”
Howell Superintendent Ron Wilson said:
"At this point, we feel compelled to respond with the facts as they have been presented to administration. With many other serious issues before us, it is time for this debate to end."
Drick and Wilson on Wednesday discussed McDowell’s recent appearances on MSNBC and Detroit’s WDIV-TV Channel 4.
Wilson said the district has upheld the decision to suspend McDowell.
“He is not helping the district by going on TV talking about this issue,” Wilson said. “I’ve even gotten calls from California from people saying we should reverse our decision. I’m the CEO of the largest corporation in Livingston County. I don’t have the authority to deviate from board policy. This has really put our schools in a bad light.”
National attention was drawn to the ongoing debate after a 14 year old openly Gay student of McDowell's defended him at a school board meeting and told school board members they needed to lift McDowell's suspension.
Graeme Taylor quoted the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and then said;
"The best thing you can do right now is just give him his pay for that day, and just reverse the disciplinary actions," Taylor told the school board. "He did an amazing thing. He did something that's inspired a lot of people. And whenever — ever — I have a teacher stand up for me like that, they change in my eyes. I support Jay McDowell, and I hope you do too."


Tim Trent said...

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Jay McDowell, and I think the School Board has a good handle on this one from events reported locally at the time, we'd never have seen Graeme Taylor without him.

I covered McDowell initially, then dropped it like a hot brick once more facts came to light.

But Graeme Taylor, if we were the same age I'd propose marriage to you! MInd you I'm taken and so are you by now, I shouldn't wonder!

El Genio said...

From this article, it sounds like the teacher could have disciplined his students in a more professional matter. I absolutely agree with that.

However, the district should still be in hot water over this. The easiest way out is to suspend the student for a day too. Zero tolerance bullying. ZERO.