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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hellementary Education: Cases for Home Schooling 3

January 1989-May 1992
Scarsdale, New York

     When I was a kid, the vast majority of elementary teachers were women, some mild-mannered and kind, others hard-nosed and borderline cruel. But the notion of an elementary teacher committing a vicious, cold-blooded murder, was simply out of the question. I imagine people thought the same thing about Carolyn Warmus.

     In September 1987, Carolyn Warmus, with a B.A. from the University of Michigan, and a Master's Degree in Education from Teacher's College, Columbia University, landed a job as a third grade teacher at the Greenville Elementary School in Scarsdale, New York. It was there she met and fell in love with a married fifth grade teacher named Paul Solomon. Carolyn, while having an affair with Paul, associated closely with his wife Betty Jean, and the couple's daughter Kristan. At some point in her clandestine relationship with Paul, Carolyn asked him to leave his wife, and marry her.

     Just before midnight on January 15, 1989, Paul Solomon came home to find Betty Jean shot to death. The killer had pistol-whipped then shot her nine times with a .25-caliber handgun. Investigators initially suspected the murdered woman's husband. However, when Paul established an alibi, they began looking at other possibilities.

     Following Betty Jean Solomon's murder, Paul ended the affair with Carolyn Warmus and took up with another woman. This infuriated the school teacher who began stalking him. On one occasion, Warmus followed Paul to Puerto Rico. She also telephonically harassed Solomon's new girlfriend and her family.

     Warmus' pathological behavior caught the attention of the detectives investigating the murder, and she became their prime suspect. They learned of the affair which provided a motive. Moreover, shortly before the homicide, Warmus, using a driver's license she had stolen from a co-worker at a summer camp, purchased a .25-caliber Beretta. Forensic ballistic analysis determined that the fatal bullets had been fired through the barrel of that handgun. At the interrogation following her arrest, Warmus proclaimed her innocence.

     Indicted in February 1990, Warmus went on trial in April 1991 at the West Chester  County Court House. Twelve days later the judge declared a mistrial after only eight jurors voted for conviction. In January 1992, at Warmus' second trial, the prosecution presented new evidence in the form of a bloody crime scene glove that belonged to the accused. This jury, after deliberating six days, found Warmus guilty of first-degree murder. The judge sentenced her to 25 years to life. She is currently serving her time at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. (The West Chester County prison has been home to several infamous inmates including Amy Fisher (no relation), Jean Harris, Barbara Kogan, Pamela Smart, and the child serial killer, Marybeth Tinning.)

     Carolyn Warmus was one scary school teacher who liked to get her way, and if she didn't get it, watch out.

January 2012
Hercules, California

     It would be interesting to know what it is about elementary education that drains so many school administrators of their discretion, judgement, and sense of proportion. Is it the job, or are people devoid of these qualities drawn to this line of work?

     In Hercules, California, a 6-year-old boy at the Lupine Hills Elementary School, while roughhousing with a male schoolmate during recess, touched either the boy's upper thigh or his groin. The school's principal, Cynthia Taylor, upon learning of this incident, suspended the alleged offender. In her suspension notice, Taylor wrote that the suspect had "committed or attempted to commit a sexual assault or sexual battery."

     The young suspect's mother, thinking that being labeled a possible sex offender was not a good thing for her son, sought advice from an online forum for bay area families called Berkeley Parents Network. When other parents learned of this idiocy, they expressed their outrage. If this could happen to one kid, it could happen to all of them.

     Elementary education experts believe such overreaction is caused by school administrators' concerns over bullying. Fine. In America we are concerned about a lot of things. We are worried about another 911 terrorist attack, but that doesn't justify yanking 92-year-old women out of wheelchairs and bracing them against airport walls for strip searching. We should also be concerned about idiot school administrators, and mindless airport security personnel. Maybe we should overreact to that reality. How about firing this school principal, and dumping half the TSA?

     In the Lupine Hills Elementary debacle, thanks to the firestorm of criticism, the 6-year-old boy was cleared of sexual wrongdoing, and the record of the incident purged. What we shouldn't purge, however, is our memory of what happened, and who was responsible.

February 2012
Redwood City, California

     A teacher's aid at the Roosevelt Elementary School, having witnessed behavior toward students by one of the teachers she considered abusive, called a state child protection agency. Following an investigation, a child protection agent notified the police.

     Alexia Aliki Bogdis, a 44-year-old who taught developmentally disabled and autistic children at the school, had allegedly slapped a 4-year-old boy and twisted his wrist. Bogdis, hired in August 2006 as a tenured employee, was also accused of denying another 4-year-old boy food, and kicking him in the stomach. She also kicked the back of a desk chair that banged into another kid. These events, and presumably others, took place over a period of months.

     After being booked into the San Mateo County Jail on five counts of child cruelty, and four counts of battery, Bogdis made her $5,000 bail and was released. A week later, following an internal investigation by the school district, eight Roosevelt teachers, suspected of abusive behavior themselves, were placed on paid, administrative leave.

February 2012
Cleveland, Texas

     At the Eastside Elementary School, fourth grade teacher Carlos Artieda got into an argument with a fifth grade boy. The confrontation intensified to the point where the teacher choked the student. The boy's parents filed charges, and the police arrested Artieda. He stands accused of causing injury to a child, and is on paid administrative leave. Artieda has been working at the school since August 2006.

January 2012
Kansas City, Missouri

     Matthew J. Nelson, a 33-year-old second grade teacher at the Grain Valley Prairie Branch Elementary School, has been charged with one count of child molestation, and three counts of sodomy. He is incarcerated in the Jackson County Jail under a $250,000 cash-only bond.

     According to witnesses, this teacher fondled young boys in class when they approached his desk for help with assignments. In addition, Nelson allegedly abused students during reading and movie sessions. One of the sexual molestations allegedly took place at a Kansas City Royals baseball game during the 2009-10 school year.

     Nelson, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, has taught second and third grades at the school for ten years. In 2007, he was honored as the "Teacher of the Year." Since the initial sexual molestation charges were filed against him, four other students have come forward with accusations of sexual abuse.

February 2012
Winona, Minnesota

     On a lighter note, a 9-year-old student at a Catholic school in Winona, was suspended after he grabbed his crotch--Michael Jackson style--at a school fundraiser. The boy, at two previous fund raising events, had entertained approving adults with Michael Jackson moves absent the self-groping.              

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