Thursday, January 4, 2007

Hey, it's not MY fault...

I was reading a story on MSNBC/Newsweek online about 5 cheerleaders at a high school in a suburb north of Dallas, Texas, who allegedly could do whatever they wanted and get away with it. "By many accounts, the group of cheerleaders, known as the 'Fab Five,' were out of control—an elite social clique that flagrantly flouted school rules but faced few sanctions."

Okay, nothing really out of the ordinary here - this sort of thing happens all the time, in schools all over the place. There always seemed to be one group of students that could get away with things that would result in expulsion for "lesser mortals," and they gloried in it. When I was a freshman in college, for instance, the football team was known for being more or less above the rules. Just about anybody on campus could tell you a story about something that they'd seen or heard of a football player doing that we'd been SPECIFICALLY warned would get you thrown out of school during student orientation. But this particular story gets a little better...

"But there's an added wrinkle to their tale: the Fab Five's alleged ringleader was the daughter of McKinney North's principal, Linda Theret."

Is good to have friends in high places, no?

So anyway, after the girls post pictures of their exploits on their MySpace pages. (One of these days, people are going to learn that posting pictures of yourself doing things you ought not to be doing on the World Wide Web is a bad idea. Until then, they're going to provide the rest of us with no end of water-cooler chitchat.) With the help of a cheerleading coach who'd decided that she'd had enough of being one of the girls' targets, word gets out, and the school district hires a lawyer to investigate how such goings-on could be happening in their upstanding little community. Perhaps not surprisingly, said lawyer finds that there's more than enough blame to go around, including a helping for Principal Theret.

But here's the best part, and the point of all this.

"Theret recently reached a settlement with the school board, agreeing to resign in exchange for a payment of around $75,000 and a letter of recommendation."

Wow. THIS is why people spend tens of thousands of dollars and several years going to law school. (Ex-) Principal Theret's lawyer(s) likely made a bundle by getting the school district to pay their client off, AND agree to write a letter recommending her for a job that they just ousted her from. This is where people point when they say that the American legal system is out of control. Even if the school disctrict turns out to be able to prove that Principal Theret was derelict in her duties as principal, it would like cost them at least $100,000.00 to prove it in court. By seeing to that, the principal's counsel was able to, in effect, get the school district itself to cast Principal Theret as a victim of what happened, rather than someone who should be held accountable.

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