Earlier this week, I linked to King Banaian’s post about Tyler Hurd, a student teacher who had to withdraw from his assignment at Technical High School in St. Cloud after a Muslim student threatened his service dog. King reports that a flood of angry e-mails have flowed after this story broke into the blogosphere, and Fox News even covered it on its Special Report. Unfortunately, the coverage has blamed St. Cloud State University, where Hurd will complete his baccalaureate in education, instead of Technical High School and the local school district:
I came home from work and turned on Special Report just in time to see the Grapevine’s coverage (third item) of the story of the service dog. The graphic carried only the picture on this blog and the university’s seal. I’m told that the university administration has received a number of angry emails about it. As I mentioned Tuesday, it’s not clear what the university could have done here, and I’m really surprised that people are writing to the university rather than the school district, which would not guarantee the service dog’s safety and concluded that the threat the student teacher perceived was “a misunderstanding” and that “the student did not make a direct threat.“
St. Cloud State has no control over the actions of the school district. The university relies on the district to offer slots to its education students for required internships, which means that SCSU got stuck in the middle in this issue. It’s a little unfair to heap criticism on SCSU for a situation over which they have no control at all. The criticism should get directed to ISD 742 and Technical High School for not acting to protect Hurd and his dog, forcing him to withdraw.
In fact, King points to a weird, rambling post at the St. Cloud Times’ community blog by a member of ISD 742’s board, Jerry Von Korff. He writes about he got falsely accused of stealing a student’s purse as a child, and how it would get blown out of proportion in today’s environment:
I wonder if in today’s world, it would have happened a bit differently. Perhaps I would have gone home and my parents would have filed a complaint of some kind with the administration. How dare you treat my kid that way! Her parents would have been on the phone too: what kind of slipshod school administration could allow a student to lose a purse. You are going light on Jerry because his dad is at the University, or whatever. Maybe the Minneapolis Tribune would have covered it. “Honor student accused of stealing purse, parents demand apology.” I could have gotten on Rush Limbaugh and all the blogs, if they had them. What was a little cuffuffle, might have been blown up into a national media event. Pretty soon the families, friends, and everyone else who knew us would have to be taking sides. In just 24 hours, I could have been tried and convicted by the press, or my accuser could have been excoriated for falsely accusing me of a crime.
In this case, however, a student reportedly threatened violence against a service animal — and the district apparently didn’t take steps to make the student teacher feel secure. When Von Korff was a student, that kind of incident would have been handled differently. The student would have been expelled as an example to anyone else who thought they could get their way through intimidation. Today, ISD 742 appears more concerned about the person making the threat than the victim of the intimidation. But that doesn’t reflect on St. Cloud State University.