Wednesday, November 11, 2009

25 Chicago middle school students jailed in food fight; lounge food fight by "Castle Park Family" teachers seems to increase status of participants

A comparison of two food fights, a recent brawl by students in Chicago and a 1999 outburst by teachers belonging to the "Castle Park family":

It took two janitors over a week to clean walls and shampoo rugs and upholstered furniture in the teachers lounge at Castle Park Elementary School after a small group teachers went wild after the students left on the last day of school in 1999. (The teachers never reimbursed the taxpayers.) The teachers brought the leftovers from class parties to the lounge, including lots of fruit punch and whipped cream.

These teachers ruled the roost at the school, getting rid of principal after principal that didn't do what the "family" wanted. One principal acceded to so many demands for spending that he plunged the school deep into debt and was fired. Another allowed teachers to engage in so many illegal actions that the district ended up in court for years defending those teachers. Principal Ollie Matos was hired to get the teachers under control, but the teachers union, Chula Vista Educators, prevented him from doing so.

25 Chicago Students Arrested for a Middle-School Food Fight
New York Times
Published: November 10, 2009

CHICAGO — The food fight here started the way such bouts do in school lunchrooms most anywhere: an apple was tossed, a cookie turned into a torpedo, and an orange plunked someone in the head. Within minutes, dozens of middle-school students had joined in the ruckus, and spattered adults were ducking for cover.

By the end of the day, 25 of the students, ages 11 to 15, had been rounded up, arrested, taken from school and put in jail. A spokesman for the Chicago police said the charges were reckless conduct, a misdemeanor.

That was last Thursday afternoon. Now parents are questioning what seem to them like the criminalization of age-old adolescent pranks, and the lasting legal and psychological impact of the arrests.

“My children have to appear in court,” Erica Russell, the mother of two eighth-grade girls who spent eight hours in jail, said Tuesday. “They were handcuffed, slammed in a wagon, had their mug shots taken and treated like real criminals.”...

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