more Key West High School 9th grader suicide fallout

blind-justice.jpg Mosquito Control Board member Steve Murray-Smith responded to yesterday’s bullying and hazing – 9th grade Key West High School student takes own life post:
thanks for posting this Sloan. I too am heartbroken that we lost another beautiful young man. This happens way too much.
Regards,
Stephen Murray-Smith
*Florida Keys & Key West
*Florida Keys Mosquito Control, Board of Commissioners
* Board Member, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association
Great Key West information: www.gaykeywestfl.com
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Tim Gratz of Key West replied to yesterday’s post:
Great column today. I am sure it will be news to many of your readers. Tim
I replied:
I suppose, maybe if The Citizen had done its job, much of what I published today would already be old news. Got a hot email a bit ago from Dennis Ward, to which I replied. Might be in tomorrow’s post, angels okaying it.
Tim replied:
There will be a memorial service at noon tomorrow at the KWHS [see end of this post for correct time for memorial]. I understand it was indeed gay-related because he belonged to the Gay Straight Alliance.
I replied:
Doesn’t surprise me it was gay-related, if he belong to that alliance. FCAT also in play, however. Perhaps if he had not had that stress on him for a while, I imagine, he might have weathered the hazing better. No excuse for the hazers, though. Nor for the school teacher, school officials, school district, school board, for not getting tough about bullying/hazing, regardless of the jello coming out of Tallahassee.
Tim replied:
I made an error–although Connie did it–there is no rally planned (yet) but they want people to wear purple tomorrow.
I replied:
Personally, I don’t feel this is a good time for a rally. What I think it is a good time for is anyone torn up about what happened should write to School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths expressing how he/she feels about young Matthew’s suicide and what led up to it, with a copy of that correspondence to the other Board members and Superintendent of Schools Mark Porter.
I am concerned this will migrate into a gay rights reaction, like what happened after Tom Milone was beaten up and nearly killed while out for a walk in Old Town one night. I went to that meeting at MCC [Metropolitan Community Church]. I heard the cries for additional protection for gays, even though Tom being gay had nothing to do with the attack. What had to do with the attack was Tom was an elderly white man and the attackers were young black KW High School students, who already had gone after another white man not long before.
What needs to happen is the School Board and Mr. Porter, and the principals and teachers and support staff, and the students all need to have the fear of God put into them, that this community will not stand for bullying and hazing in our public schools. Bullying and hazing of any student, regardless of age, sex, skin color, sexual orientation, religious persuasion, etc. Sloan
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Andy Griffiths (Andy.Griffiths@keysschools.com)

John Dick (John.Dick@keysschools.com)

Robin Smith-Martin (Robin.Smith-Martin@KeysSchools.com)

Ron Martin (Ron.MartinSB@KeysSchools.com)

Capt. Ed Davidson (captecoed@aol.com) (School District website not showing Capt. Ed is on the School Board, nor his School Board email address)

Mark Porter, Superintendent Mark.Porter@KeysSchools.com

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Nashville J responded to what I published yesterday:
So sorry that the young person felt it was the only way out for him. We discussed this several times after the little boy was stuffed in the locker last year and all the Principal did was make them shake hands. We wondered what would happen if the little boy brought a gun to school to get justice since those in charge would not protect him – we hoped it would never happen. I am sad! J
I replied:
Yes, J, really sad. And, yes, I thought about what had happened at Coral Shores High School last year, but it didn’t seem I should include that in what I posted today, even though it indicates a pattern in another high school than Key West High of ignoring bullying.
I told also ex-lawyer Tim Gratz yesterday that it would not surprise me to see a massive damage suit filed against the School District and School Board. Not that I feel that is what should be done; it would prolong and deepen the agony the boy’s surviving family.
Sloan
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Former State Attorney Dennis Ward replied to yesterday’s post, which led to a lot of back and forth, hot at first, later cooling, most of the content of which is not relevant, nor appropriate, for airing at this fragile, painful time. However, some of it was relevant and appropriate, and I did my best to put that together.
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Sloan, I know that you think you know all there is to know about how the legal system works. The truth is …you don’t. You have no idea what conversations took place between the student’s mother and myself …
You have no idea what efforts I put in to help identify and curb bullying in our schools. You have no idea what types of things go on in the school system. You continue to pontificate, but it seems to me only when your so called angels tell you to run for office …
I do remember introducing an anti-bullying educational course to teachers and counselors for students from K – 5th grades. I do remember you showing up and bad mouthing the program because it didn’t meet your standards, of course again, you know more than these professionals.There also were plans in the works for programs dealing with middle school students, as well as high school students. Obviously, they are currently on hold …
Again, you have no idea how the justice system works. You can’t go into court and prosecute someone based on innuendo. You must go in and prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Being a graduate of some prestigious southern law schools, maybe that didn’t apply up there. You need victim cooperation, witness cooperation to have success. Things are done according to the Constitution. I challenge you, or anyone else, to show me a situation that I knew about and did nothing about it. In the meantime sit in front of your computer and pontificate.
Dennis.
I replied:
I told you privately, more than once, that anti-bullying training for grade school children was a good thing, but it did not deal with bullying when it happened, and you needed to get involved, since the school district/school board were not going to do anything …
It was you, Dennis, who told me late in your bid for reelection, that you were wanting to go after the gay-bullying/hazing case at KWHS, which I first learned of in the letter to the editor in the Citizen probably two years before, and you asked me to tell the mother you wanted to talk to her. It was you, in that same conversation, or near it, who told me you were going to go after the kid who got stuffed in the locker at Key West High School.
There was no innuendo in the Coral Shores’ case. The boy was stuffed in the locker for an hour, that is assault, a crime.
There was no innuendo in the gay bullying/hazing case. The kids who did it were confronted and they didn’t deny it. They had to attend Saturday “sensitivity training”. That was in administrative records. Amber Bosco, KWHS’s principal, and others under her blamed it on that gay boy, and accused him of making up being gay. The boy’s mother was an eye witness to that prevarication. Her son was an eye-witness to that one, and to several earlier bullying-hazing events over some period of time.
Sloan
Dennis wrote:
And you continue, and probably will keep continuing, to publish false accusations about me and my handling of those cases. Again, you have no idea how I pursued those cases.
I replied:
All I know is what you told me, Dennis, and what I saw. You are welcome to explain to me in writing how else you pursued those two cases, and I will publish it verbatim.
I found myself thinking as I came out of a nap dream in which you and I were having further discussion, before I went back online and saw this most recent email from you, that what happened last Friday, and what led up to it, damaged the Florida Keys school system and community far more than the Acevedos damaged it.
Sloan
Dennis wrote:
Sloan, I am not about to relate to you conversations I had with the Key West victim’s Mother.
In the closet case, to this day I have heard from neither him nor his Mother. This after leaving messages for them to call us.
I replied:
By closet case, you mean the kid stuffed in a locker for an hour at Coral Shores High School? If so, in not prosecuting, the boy and his mother became part of the problem.
The Key West victim’s mother wrote the letter to the editor? If so, I told that mother it was important to bring you into it. I told her that several times. And that if she didn’t, she was contributing to the problem. I also told her that going along with her son dying his hair pink after she had written the letter to the editor was a very bad idea, it waved a red flag in front of the bullies/hazers. The mother and her boyfriend got very upset with me for that, and for my publishing it. I replied that I was upset that the mother had told me the boy never did anything to draw special attention to himself …
Sloan
Dennis wrote:
I don’t think that they would appreciate us reopening this event.
On another note, there is still a program, ready to go, for middle and high school students. Don’t know if anyone will follow through.
I replied:
I agree, too much time has passed, but the past is instructive.
I agree, an anti-bullying/anti-hazing program for middle and high schools would be a good thing. However, the sort of things that led up to young Matthew killing himself needs to be stopped in its tracks, and I have not seen any interest in that kind of intervention in the school board/school district. Perhaps young Matthew’s tragic death will change that, but I am not holding my breath …
I imagine if that kid who was stuffed in a locker had returned to school with a gun and shot that bully and other kids who stood around laughing, that would have been the end of that principal’s job in the school district.
I imagine if young Matthew had done the same, that would have been the end of his teacher’s and Amber Bosco’s jobs in the school district. The parents in those schools would have demanded it. And they would have fired the School Board at the earliest election opportunity.
I wonder if they will fire Andy Griffiths and the rest of the School Board at the earliest election opportunity, for the death of young Matthew. Time will tell.
Dennis wrote:
So many criminal acts occur at KWHS that the general community is unaware of.
We would find out sometimes weeks or months after a criminal incident. I was told on a number of occasions that the principal was instrumental in covering up these acts. It is time for a change in leadership at that particular school. There needs to be complete transparency in the day to day operation of our schools.
When crimes are committed, law enforcement should be notified, and proper reporting procedures need to be followed. School Resource Officers have a sworn duty to investigate and enforce the law. They should not be influenced or intimidated by School Principals. Until this stops we will constantly face these issues.
I replied:
I bet Andy Griffiths, John Dick and the other the School Board members, and Superintendent Porter and Amber Bosco would be thrilled to see that KWHS F-minus praise report go viral in the Keys.
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The Key West Citizen finally reported on young Matthew’s death today – www.keysnews.com.  The memorial is at 7 p.m. today, in the KWHS campus courtyard, not at noon, as Tim Gratz wrote to me yesterday.
If you wish to pay to open and read that article, you will see Amber Bosco’s version of what led up to this tragedy. According to her, there was no warning. Nobody knew anything was wrong. They don’t know why young Matthew killed himself.
I suppose this is what I get for writing a few days ago, that if I never get involved in school stuff again, that will not be a long enough vacation from school stuff for me.
Sloan Bashinsky

About Sloan

Darn, that would take a while. Try the autobiographical pages in the header. Ditto for header menu pages at www.goodmorningbirmingham.com. Hatched and raised there, eventually I ran away from home. Here's a short list: Born 1942; male; single; accused of all sorts of imaginable and unimaginable things, perhaps some true. Live on Key West of Weird asteroid. Publish something most days on this website, been at that since July 2007. That's heaps of catch-up reading, probably not recommended.
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