Page 2


woo WE’LL LEND YOU A LOAN. gi eg &peso 1 1th and Interregional In Union there’s strength. For a new car, a new camper, a piano, a diamond ring, a boat, a new stove or dishwasheror just about anything you might want. Because anyone that works as hard as you, deserves all the good things. And we want to help you get them. A loan that’s good for you is good for us. MOM NATIONAL BANC could understand what had happened. Clark noted that the “front office” keeps saying it was “a mistake by the computer.” But, as a good computer man, he says that of course computers do not make mistakes: it’s just that sometimes people feed wrong information into them. He says there is no way to trace the mistake to its source now. “If the school had notified us two weeks after it happened, we would have been able to find out how . .” Clark says he believes that it was “an honest mistake,” probably made by “one of the girls here,” a key punch operator who transposed an I.D. number. Clark says he’s prepared to take 50 percent of the blame, though the source of the error just can’t be traced at this point. “I honestly think that’s what happened. We’ve got so many people they [the front office] don’t get along with. If they really wanted to foul her up, they could have done so many other things. They should have done something about it .when it [the drop in rank] went to the school. I think it hurt her some, but there are other things they could have done to hurt her worse. I really think if it was anything besides a mistake, it was someone out there at the school level. Jim’s paranoid about it. I’m sure it wasn’t these guys upstairs [central school administration] . I’ve worked here eight years and only seen Dana Williams down here twice. It could have been something else, but I don’t think so, I don’t know that.” Clark also said that the error in Bibi Bright’s record was not the first made by the school district because humans are prone to error, even if computers are not. BRIGHT FOLLOWED up at one more meeting with school district officials. He asked that Bibi’s class rank at least be corrected. He said that he expected at least a letter to both UT and the Texas Society of Professional Engineers, where Bibi had applied for a scholarship, saying, in effect, “My God, we’ve made a horrible mistake.” All he got was a one-sentence letter that went to the UT office of admissions. It said, “An error has been made in the rank for Bibiana Bright. The rank is approximately 18 in, a class of 639.” No notice, as far as Bright knows, was ever sent to the Society of Professional Engineers. In fact, Bibi’s final ranking is either 17th or 16th in her class of 639, something that is still not clear at this late date. And that does put her in the top five percent of her class. The Observer asked Dana Williams if any apology had ever been made . to the Brights for the error. He said, “Our people talked to Mr. Bright. I didn’t talk to him. That is, I talked to him one time and referred him to the proper people. But our people met with him and offered him all sorts of apologies. There was an error made and nobody knows how. Of course what this involves is that the Brights themselves have had a different point of view about the schools, and Bright thought it was a personal affront to him. It was unfortunate, but I just can’t imagine anybody working for a school system who would ever consider taking it out on a child.” “Being human,” maybe somebody would. One thing Jim Bright is quite clear on is that no one connected with the school system ever offered any form of apology, either verbal or written, to him, his wife, or Bibi. “The closest thing we got to an apology was when Pete Sprinkle said he thought it must have been a clerical error,” said Bright. Of Williams, Bright said, “He was supercilious at the beginning, to put it kindly. When we got into it, he suddenly didn’t understand how the class rankings were done. Well, I can understand that. I don’t like him much either.” Aside from the fact that no one yet knows how the famous error came to be made, there are still some specific mysteries. Tom Clark can explain why there were three computer cards in Bibi’s file instead of the usual one. But no one yet knows why someone at Ray wasn’t concerned about Bibi’s major drop in rank, or whose grades were so mysteriously added to Bibi’s, or why, even if an I.D. number were transposed, the’ grades that were added got added to the wrong quarter’s record \(they were added to her 10th grade record during the first quarter of her senior year, which one assumes Bibi has been accepted at UT’s school of architecture for this fall. She is a non-political young woman and not inclined to worry about the matter. Her parents thought about filing a lawsuit over it, not for Bibi’s sake, but with the hope of preventing this kind of “inexplicable error” in the future. But they felt it wouldn’t do much good, the source of the error probably couldn’t be proved, to carry on about it Might have made Bibi too aware or even bitter, and, maybe, after all, they were being a little paranoid. And UT is almost as good as MIT. But, they keep thinking, it doesn’t matter what is done to us, we can handle anything they do to us. But our children? Jim Bright is still quite, quite sure that no one connected with the schools ever apologized to the Brights for the mysterious mistake. M .I. September 5, 1975 5 The Outpost Austin’s Best Barbecue 11:00-7:30 Monday-Friday Closed Saturday and Sunday David and Marion Moss .345-9045 Highway 183 North Williams said, “I just can’t imagine anyone working for a school system who would ever consider taking it out on a child.”