6 Shockingly Evil Abuses of Power by School Officials
Obviously, any profession is going to include a certain number of loathsome shitheels. It's just that you think of school teachers and administrators as people who got into it for the love of kids. It's not like those jobs pay much, after all. So while you may get some lazy or incompetent faculty, you don't expect these people to be running toddler fight clubs in the basement.
And yet, all too often you hear about disgusting shit like ...
California School Districts Steal Low-Income Students' Lunch Money
Low-income families can't always afford to send their kids to school with lunch money, so to prevent these kids from coming in every day with a pack lunch consisting of a block of dry ramen and bread crusts, schools allocate funding to provide lunches for them. Unfortunately for kids in California, some schools have regarded this funding as free money that taxpayers have thrown randomly at them to spend however they like. And "however they like" rarely involves cheap meals for poor kids.
"If anyone asks, just say that we're cracking down on childhood obesity."
To be specific, eight school districts around California were found to have misappropriated this money, but the good news is that it was only, uh, $170 fucking million. They channeled the cash into other school expenses, like staff wages (because teachers gotta eat, unlike poor students, apparently), building repairs, and goddamned catering for school board meetings.
It gets worse. The missing money for reduced-cost lunches obviously had to be offset somehow, and schools achieved this by serving kids lower-quality food, cutting down on cafeteria maintenance, and shortening lunch periods -- all of which served to discourage the poorest kids from using it. And it worked! The result was a significant drop in the participation rate for the program. And remember that here "drop in participation" means "an impoverished child didn't eat."
Unless they ate each other, which officials said "basically solves the problem."
But hey, you can't claim these kids aren't getting an education out of it. Finding out just how little the system gives a shit about them is the most important lesson they'll learn all year. You just might not like what they do with that information.
A School Runs a Sweatshop for the Disabled
Disabled students are born into a world that automatically hands them a shit sandwich in terms of their employment prospects. Luckily there are some schools, like the Harold H. Birch Vocational School in Providence, Rhode Island, that are willing to help these students obtain the skills necessary to become productive members of society. And by that we mean they converted the school into a sweatshop.
Classrooms are already pretty much designed like sweatshops.
In an apparent experiment to see if life could truly be lived like a Charles Dickens villain, school officials forced students to work long days building and bagging jewelry that the school could sell, possibly to offset the costs of the cold gruel students were no doubt being force-fed. In return, students received the generous salary of 50 cents to $2 per hour and a piss-poor education.
To boil the blood even more, the whistle was blown on this racket back in 2011. Rather than follow the recommendations of city officials who wanted to pink slip the pants off of the school's principal, school officials and parents voted to keep him, possibly because by this stage he'd engineered some kind of North Korea-style cult of personality.
Plus they really dug the guy's jewelry designs.
On a positive note, the local government and school board saw to it that the Harold H. Birch Vocational School shelled out back pay to the tune of $250,000. In light of the exploitation observed, the Department of Labor is looking into adding regulation to prevent schools from horribly misusing their students that way.
Hey, you know what would be even better than having that rule? Living in a world where "don't use disabled kids as slave labor" doesn't have to be spelled out for people.
A School Superintendent Leaves Children Behind
The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act provided a paid incentive for teachers based on how many of their little tykes passed their standardized tests. Students could bet their semiliterate asses that, if nothing else, their teachers would make sure they could pass the tests, even if that meant forsaking all other educational priorities and bathroom breaks. But in El Paso, Texas, school superintendent Lorenzo Garcia masterminded an easier way to get his hands on those sweet, sweet incentive dollars -- by making sure that only his top students took the tests.
This also earned the school major kudos for reducing classroom size.
Yep, this meant that students who were likely to do poorly on the test were either given an automatic pass or simply kept home. In some cases, truancy officers were sent out to kids' houses like Mafia goons to tell the students not to show up on test days (it's unclear whether this involved giving them an offer they couldn't refuse).
Some low-performing students were skipped ahead a grade in order to prevent them from compromising the test scores. In some cases, students were given "turbo-mesters," allowing them to earn credits for entire semesters of school with a single three-hour computer program, hence removing any need to contaminate the pool of successful test takers. In other cases, parents were encouraged to send their lagging children to charter schools.
Some kids were told to leave school and get on with their lives.
While Garcia was raking in financial bonuses and randomly using public money to make shady construction deals with his mistress, the students he was failing would sometimes drop out of high school altogether, internalizing their artificial failure as a sign that they were beyond saving.
Garcia actually went to prison for this, getting sentenced to 3.5 years behind bars (his sentence was later reduced, because of course it was).
School Employees Form a Textbook Cartel
California schools (along with the rest of its government) have been in a real financial pinch, resorting to such desperate measures as seeking commercial sponsorships from corporations to offset the crippling cuts their budgets have endured. But if you think that financial desperation makes employees feel bad about stealing from the schools -- for instance, by taking thousands of textbooks away from kids and pawning them for quick cash -- you'd be so very wrong.
"Shit, when you see how little stores pay us for used books, you should feel bad for us."
A theft ring consisting of 13 people, including two librarians, a warehouse manager, and a former campus supervisor, set up their operation with Corey Frederick, a book buyer for the totally legit-sounding "Doorkeeper Textz," a company with ethics even more dubious than its spelling. For sums ranging from $600 to $47,000, the school employees would pilfer textbooks from the school, at which point Frederick would have his pick of the booty to resell to businesses such as Amazon and various textbook distributors.
Doorkeeper Textz would even sell the pilfered textbooks back to the schools that they were stolen from, owing to the fact that their most assured customers were schools that had just inexplicably lost a large number of textbooks. It probably left little Johnny and Susie wondering why their new books contained the same profanities and doodles they'd left in their old ones.
"Awesome, now we can finish drawing the battle of Benedick Arnold and Thomass Jefferson."
Between 2008 and 2010, the Danny Ocean of academia had amassed at least 7,000 books from four ailing school districts, paying out $200,000 to his 13-person crew. But it all came crashing down when one of the honest employees at an Inglewood school blew the whistle. We'd like to think the judge threw the book at Corey Frederick and his band of erudite thieves, but they probably would have just stolen that shit.
A College Official Steals Student Aid From Children of Migrant Workers
The children of migrant workers have a lot going against them, often being forced into the same backbreaking labor that their parents have been subjected to. That's why there are financial aid programs that give them the opportunity to attend community college and hopefully escape the cycle of drudgery. Unless you're unlucky enough to have your financial aid handled by someone like Anna Catalan, who worked for Santiago Canyon College in Orange County, California.
"The children are our future, but my bills are present."
The director of the college's student aid program intercepted government money intended for migrant workers and either kept that shit for herself or doled it out to others (like family members) while feeding the rightful recipients a bunch of bullshit about why they didn't qualify. All the while, she was spending the money on jewelry and holidays while cackling to herself in front of a background of lightning bolts.
Over three years, Catalan robbed students of more than $46,000, just enough to afford the flying monkeys she always wanted. But the lives she ruined were at least somewhat avenged by the $89,000 in restitution she was ordered to pay by the courts and her 27-month stint in federal prison.
Still cheaper than student loans.
Teachers Turn Their Students into Drug Pushers and Customers
You already know that drugs are a problem in our schools, because odds are you attended one and may very well have bought some drugs there. Schools have to be relentless about enforcing anti-drug rules, because even legalization advocates agree it's not good for teenagers to be doing that shit. And that's not so easy when some faculty see it as a chance to make a quick buck.
"So raise teacher salaries to win the War on Drugs!"
Take English teacher Meredith Pruitt, who decided to teach a 15-year-old student the basics of running a street pharmacy. Splitting the profits with her understudy, Pruitt had the student sell anxiety pills to classmates. Others have eliminated the middleman and taken a more direct route, like Edward Diaz, a counselor and tutor at Willow Glen Middle School. Entrusted with mentoring youngsters through his "THINK Together" program, Diaz would eventually find himself charged with selling pot to two of his students.
Diaz's "No Stoner Left Behind" program has since been suspended.
But the hands-down worst case might be teacher aide Anthony Davis, who, rather than forging partnerships or exploiting people's trust, relied on brute intimidation. Davis attempted to force weed into a student's pocket on two separate occasions, making it clear he would flat out kill the kid or his family if he didn't join his operation. To illustrate his sincerity, Davis plunged a friggin' knife into a table, at which point the student was probably thinking the same thing you are right now, after reading this article:
"Is there not some kind of screening process for these assholes?"
A.C. Grimes is a raving Cracked fiend who enjoys writing. Feel free to check out his various observations and wacky compositions here.
Related Reading: Speaking of abuses of power, watch what baggage handlers do to your stuff when you're not looking. If you prefer absurdly petty abuses of military power, watch these drunk Russian soldiers ram a tank. We've got plenty more hilarious abuses of power where those came from, so dig in.