Earth To Judge Kravitz:
Come Back From Whatever Planet
You Have Been Inhabiting Over The Past Year
By ANDY THIBAULT
The Cool Justice Report
June 20, 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
BURLINGTON - Hours after Karissa Niehoff pulled Avery Doninger into her office on April 24, 2007, the exasperated Lewis Mills High School principal wrote a memo about Jamfest to student council advisor Jennifer Hill.
"Oh, my gosh, what a day, huh?" Niehoff said to Hill. "Yes, things spun out … but you need not apologize … it's the work of the kids. Quite honestly, I don't know if they've ever been told NO in their lives … they definitely have not been taught the proper protocol for expressing their opinions."
Niehoff was reacting to students seeking a redress of grievances about the repeated postponement since January and then cancellation of the popular battle of the bands.
Acting upon the advice of Hill, their adviser, students wrote to seek community support for their event.
Here's Niehoff's perspective on the students' effort to lobby for support.
"I'm sure you've heard about the email that the kids sent to the Student Council, Board of Education members, and even the first selectman in Burlington … oh man, it caused us a bit of grief! I spoke with Avery this morning about it, and dealt with a number of kids and parents today. I also told Paula [Superintendent Paula Schwartz, co-defendant with Niehoff in a federal civil rights suit]; you can imagine how upset she was when parents started calling her … "
We don't have to imagine.
Niehoff told Avery Doninger that afternoon.
"Mrs. Schwartz wasn't happy with all the phone calls and was very annoyed," Niehoff told Avery Doninger.
"As of now," Niehoff said, "Jamfest is cancelled."
Students seeking redress of grievances -- [an activity protected by the Constitution, depending who is enforcing it] -- pissed off Schwartz.
No disruption was caused by students. Among disruptions caused by administrators: suppression and seizure of free speech t-shirts, tampering with student records, stealing an election ...
Schwartz and Niehoff, meanwhile, equated accountability by taxpayers as a disruption.
In Niehoff's contemporaneous memo to Hill, the distraught principal concluded: "Regarding the Jamfest, I'm not sure at this point if Paula will even let it run in the auditorium after the grief the kids have caused."
This memo, by the way, was among documents sought in a series of Freedom of Information requests and complaints beginning Aug. 1, 2007. In response, Schwartz and attorney Christine Chinni said this memo and others that have surfaced did not exist.