Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Zero-tolerance, California-style

The Willows, California Unified School District has expelled 16-year-old high school student Gary Tudesko for having two shotguns with ammunition, as well as a pocket knife with a 3-inch blade, present in his truck while he was at school.

A fitting punishment? Maybe, that is until one finds out that the firearms were unloaded and that Tudesko's vehicle wasn't on school property, but rather was parked on a nearby public street after he had spent the early morning before class that day engaged in bird hunting:

"The incident began on Oct. 26 when scent-sniffing dogs detected something in a pickup on the street north of the tennis courts on West Willow Street. A Willows police officer did a search of the license plate and traced the pickup to Tudesko."

Why, pray tell, are police in that town performing warrantless searches, without any reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, on privately-owned vehicles legally parked on city streets? That would seem to be the most pressing question in this story.

Ironically, Tudesko didn't drop off his firearms at home after hunting because he didn't want to be late for class. Yep, he's the kind of kid you summarily flush without a second thought.

"Tudesko came out to the vehicle and said there were two shotguns and shells in the pickup. He opened his vehicle for a search"

Never, ever, ever consent to a search of your person or vehicle. It almost always won't be to your benefit even if you are completely innocent of any wrongdoing, as Mr. Tudesko unfortunately found out, and the cops will simply go ahead and dig around anyway if they feel they have sufficient cause. Let them explain to a judge why they felt such a move was necessary. (Standard disclaimer: We are not attorneys, nor do we wish to be. This should not be considered legal advice.)

"Willows High Principal Mort Geivett and other district officials did not appear to dispute that the parking space was off school property, but they cited several justifications. One of them was the legal doctrine of in loco parentis — where school officials may act in place of a parent for school functions.

Geivett said the school was responsible for students traveling to and from school as well as during lunch. He said he believed that students should not possess weapons within 1,000 feet of campus.

Geivett said he believed off-campus parking around the school was under the school's jurisdiction, in part because it is primarily used by students."

Principal Geivett (mostly incorrectly) "believes" a lot of things, but it seems that a rational enforcement of his school's policies (especially considering that Tudesko apparently was neither arrested nor charged with a crime) isn't among them.

The story reports that Tudesko's mother is now planning to home-school her son. Good for her. Her son has already received enough life lessons from that particular place of "learning".


Anonymous said...

Thank you for visiting the Willows High School website. We are very proud of our school.

Communication between school and home is very important to student success. This website is designed to provide another way for us to exchange information. Please feel free to e-mail or phone me, your child's teachers, counselor or other staff members about any concerns you may have. You are welcome to drop by the school office at any time and we encourage your participation in classroom and school activities.

Enjoy our website and thank you for your support of our school.

Mort Geivett
530-934-6611 x2002

Bike Bubba said...

That response to your post is priceless, Douglas. Complete cluelessness about what you had just said about the level of thinking there.....

....and given that school officials often work together with social services, I'd suggest that the parents would do well to join the HSLDA. Nothing says a cheerful good morning to an inquisitive social services worker like "would you like to talk to my lawyer?"

Anonymous said...

Sue here! Sue now!

I'm serious. The more you let those clowns get away with, the more they try to get away with. If the school district loses a million dollars or so, they will probably correct their approach. Sadly, nothing else seems to get their attention on doing the right thing.

Sue the cops, too.sly

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

FYI: Susan Parisio was one of several people in our community who fought to defeat a recent school bond that would have raised money for Willows Unified School District, which is very close to being taken into receivership by the state. The bond was defeated. Wonder if that has anything to do with the board's decision? You go Susan and Gary!!!!

Anonymous said...

What a shame that senseless government employees, in this case, police officers and public education officials, would single out this young man and form a lynch party, and use ill-conceived laws to slam him, a 16-year-old school boy. I really hope Spears, the Police Chief is disappointed with his decision to deploy the police dog. The whole lot of them smell like a huge dogpile! These government wellfare recipients have nothing better to do between their 15-minute breaks, I guess.

Gary's Mom said...

Gary is typical in this small community where kids hunt, work on cars and talk about what to weld for next year's fair. How is he a danger? Geivett is the one who poses the greatest threat because he is in a power of authority and 'believes' his opinions are more relevant than the actual Ed Code. He also 'believes' he can enforce the 1000' penal code provision even though he is not a law enforcement officer. Cause for concern... Please realize that the local police were NOT involved, as the dog came via Iterquest K9 firm in Chico. Thank you for all the support. The appeal hearing will be Tuesday, January 15th at 10am in Willows. Gary's Mom.

Gary's Mom said...

I'm including a link to the Internet posting of the brief written for the Appeal Hearing. There's alot to read, but it's amazing how much they have to say about how this whole fiasco was handled. Thanks.