Victimizing Rivals Hoping to Win BigAs the attorney who...


June 12, 1993

Victimizing Rivals Hoping to Win Big

As the attorney who represented Amanda White in the injunction action against the Baltimore County Board of Education and Dulaney Senior High School, I would like to add to the perspective of what we were trying to accomplish.

But first it is important to stress the following point: Neither Amanda White nor Angela Lee did anything wrong. Period.

They both did everything that the school asked them to do, and they both had glorious high school careers. And we, as parents and as citizens of Baltimore County, trusted the schools and the school administration to teach the children proper lessons as they prepared for the rigors of life.

They have obviously failed.

Superintendent Stuart Stuart Berger, principal Thomas R. Hensley and Wendy Mopsik, the head guidance counselor at Dulaney, should be ashamed of themselves.

P When they realized that the computer printout showing Amanda ranked as No. 1 after the junior year was inaccurate, they had the opportunity to stop the madness. Unfortunately, the adults to whom we entrust our children's education decided that they would do no such thing.

Instead, they told Amanda that they would give her special permission to attend night school -- not to soak up education for the sake of learning, but to garner enough credits to vault her back in the lead. And they told her to keep it confidential.

What a horrible set of messages to send in the first place. And to compound the mess, when they then told Angela of this, the school also gave her permission to attend night school and they didn't tell that to Amanda. Amanda learned the bad news in mid-May, after she had already done all that Dr. Berger, Mr. Hensley and Ms. Mopsik had asked of her.

We shouldn't blame either Amanda or Angela for this. Being valedictorian is a worthy goal, and they are both to be commended, applauded and held in awe for their efforts. But I wonder why the school officials never asked Amanda and Angela to sit down together, face to face and see if they could come to a compromise.

That would have been a valuable lesson to teach. You can't blame the children for not doing that on their own either. They are, after all, children who have been encouraged to believe that the prize is the only goal. Rather, the school administrators kept the battle for No. 1 live, despite the ever-moving finish line.

The point is that if we are to rank one of these two students "lower" than the other, shouldn't it be based upon some lapse in her performance?

Should we allow school officials to tell her three times what she needs to do to accomplish a specific goal, and then, after she does all that, tell her she can't have it because of their mistake which they refuse to address? I think not.

When these people refused to fix the mess they had created, Amanda's parents wanted to teach her to stand up for what is right and not to accept mediocrity even in the face of horrible odds.

And so we attempted to have the court enforce the deal that was made -- and at least name these two outstanding students co-number one.

Judge Joseph F. Murphy ruled that the court had no jurisdiction. But if he is right and if courts don't have the power to tell public officials that when they make a deal, they have to live up to it, then how can we teach children in civics class that courts can protect people and that they should rely on courts to settle disputes?

The sad lesson is that we asked for excellence from the children and we gave them nothing but mediocrity. These children are victims because the administrators and the court let them down.

Jeffrey L. Forman


Clinton at 'the Wall'

Memorial Day and Veterans Day are solemn occasions for Vietnam Veterans, their families and their friends.

Ignored or rejected by most of our countrymen, we annually journey to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington to honor our brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice defending this great nation. We are normally a quiet group and simply wish to be left alone.

Bill Clinton's appearance at "the wall" has, for many of us, defiled sacred ground. How could any person who refused to serve his country, for whatever reason, choose to address the very same veterans he turned his back on? This has been the most grievous insult to Vietnam veterans ever received from any previous Democratic or Republican administration.

Even though some of us haven't always agreed with Al Gore's politics, we would have welcomed his appearance at the wall as a comrade-in-arms. There would have been little or no protest, and a volatile situation would have been avoided.

Why was the vice president vacationing north of Rehoboth Beach, instead of being with us at the wall?

For the Clinton White House staff, Secret Service and Park Police to have swept the wall area of unwelcome Vietnam veterans and then to have herded them into a distant, controlled, holding area is unforgivable.

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