Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Steve Hansen My principal jumped to conclusions instead of checking the facts

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Steve Hansen

Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:10 am, Wed Feb 22, 2012.

" … . And another thing, Principal Wordsworth (named changed to protect the innocent.) My daughter can't go to the University of California because her counselor, this Hansen guy, didn't tell her about the Algebra II requirement!"

Of course, she didn't have the grades for UC, had failed Geometry and Algebra I, but that was irrelevant to this parent.

Facts, documentation and details always tip the scale when resolving issues like this.

In my experience, some school administrators tend to jump to conclusions without gathering all the facts. One thing you learn in law school is that the facts are the be-all and end-all. Always gather as much as you can of these pesky little critters before drawing any conclusions.

Anther thing I learned is documentation, documentation and documentation. As a school counselor, I kept copious daily notes. This included dates, times and summaries of conversations held — especially on parents who could be potentially problematic.

Everyone wants to be a good parent, but it's one of the hardest jobs out there. When things don't go as planned, some take responsibility, some claim circumstances beyond anyone's control, while others look for the first person to blame.

For this particular situation, I wrote a "brief." Using notes from the last three years, I presented my side of the story to the principal. He read it to the parent in question who just stared dumbfounded. The father left without a whimper. Later, Wordsworth said to me, "You didn't have to be so detailed."

Oh yes, I did! Another lesson from law school: details, details and details. The more details one examines, the more opportunity there is for a change in perception of the facts.

Of course, details can work both ways. The more detail contained in a document, the less opportunity there is to question the meanings of phrases and sentences. (Have you tried buying a house or a car lately?) It also makes it more difficult to evoke the "parole evidence rule" (using facts and definitions outside of the written contract).

People who don't have legal backgrounds tend to jump to conclusions about what the law actually is. They learn their legalese by watching news stories (told by reporters who have no legal knowledge either) or by viewing TV lawyer shows designed to entertain, not teach laypeople about the justice system.

A church spokesperson once asked Wordsworth if he could display an ad in a public school gymnasium. The principal's immediate assumption was "no," since he had heard about "separation of church and state." But the principal was smarter than the average bear. He decided to consult the expertise of an attorney assistant principal and myself (at the time, a student of the law) on his staff.

We gave our united opinions, but not expressed as "legal advice." Wordsworth could NOT deny the church access among other business displays based on the "limited open forum" concept upheld by the Supreme Court (Lamb's Chapel vs. Center Moriches Union Free School District) et al. Once a public school opens up to some, it can't deny that forum to others. It cannot discriminate against race, gender or religion.

When young people tell me they want to go to law school, I often say, "Why?" Why would you want to put yourself through that pain and suffering, spend as much as $150K on a three-year program, take a flunky job working 14 hours per day and, on average, make less money than a community college instructor or a secondary school administrator?

The answer may lie in simply gaining a better grasp of logical thinking as well as obtaining insight into this elite group that runs our daily lives. As many as one third of law school graduates never practice. But that does not mean their training is absent from everyday human activity. The search for the facts, documentation and details may still dominate their lives.

One thing is certain: The world does not look the same coming out of law school as it did going in.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and law school graduate.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 9 hours ago by Rick Houdack.

article: Letter: Political correctness is decept…

It doesn't really work Shane's way, either. God needs superstitious humans to exist; without ignorance, God is nothing.

More...

Posted 10 hours ago by Christina Welch.

article: Joe Guzzardi: Millenials still sufferin…

[lol] Mine, too. But, then again, don't we all when we're young?

More...

Posted 10 hours ago by Christina Welch.

article: Letter: Political correctness is decept…

Well said, Mr. Marcus. I couldn't agree more.

More...

Posted 10 hours ago by Christina Welch.

article: Editorial: State should lead in researc…

Excellent editorial, LNS. [thumbup]

More...

Posted 16 hours ago by Kevin Paglia.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

Why do I stand against the hate, malice and contempt the Liberals post against cops defending their lives by being authoritative and occasi…

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists