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An Austin Tradition! Before Ceniral Market.. Before Whole Foods. —`’wzmar r there was Wheatsville. . 0,-*:4-….4… Ci tu ir eatsvi 1 –,..-z-. food Co-op 3101 Guadalupe 478-2667 We’re your community-owned grocery stare! .Experience shopping on a human scale! Since 1976 On the last page of the article, Nate and Karen stated that the school took Anise Tolson to court. Again, this was false. A quick check of district court records and a short refresher course in civics would have shown that Tolson sued the school, not the other way around. Tolson, a resident of Louisiana, had falsified and lied about her residency. When her son was denied the right to illegally attend Joaquin schools, Tolson sued. The court did not order Tolson to pay Joaquin I.S.D. thousands of dollars. After it became clear to Tolson’s attorney that Tolson had not been truthful in court about her residence, her attorney approached the school’s attorneys and worked out an agreement. In the agreement between the school and Tolson, Tolson agreed to pay back tuition for some of the years in question. This is all public record. Why didn’t Karen and Nate take the time to find the truth? The reason is that the truth did not fit into the type of sensational story that they wanted to create. A large part of the article dealt with two assaults and drug use on the high school campus. Senate Bill 1 and state law are very clear in what is to be done in cases of assault or drug use. These episodes cannot simply be ignored. There were many things Karen and Nate discovered during their visit to our small community. Most of what they reported was distorted or outright wrong. Many things were purposely left out of their article because it did not fit their biased, prejudiced view. They didn’t mention that one of Joaquin’s city councilmen is black. That the parents on the high school and elementary site-based committees are both black. That the director of the Senior Citizen Center in Joaquin is black. That the regional educational service center recently recognized Joaquin schools as “champions of migrant students.” The service center noted that even though Joaquin has a small migrant population, the school and community went far beyond what is required in providing services to migrant families. As any school or town, Joaquin has its share of problems. At the present time we have no African-American teachers. \(We picture painted by Karen and Nate did not reflect a true picture of our community or school. Nate and Karen made a point of leaving out anything that did not paint Joaquin as a hate-filled town. Randall K Smith Joaquin Nate Blakeslee and Karen Olsson respond: We very much regret two significant errors in our story. First, 30 percent \(actually poverty rate in Joaquin, not the unemployment rate which, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, is 9.9 percent. Second, as Mr. Smith correctly points out, it was Anise Tolson who brought the lawsuit which resulted in her paying thousands of dollars of “back tuition,” and the case was settled out of court. We apologize for misspelling Ms. Herogize for getting the highway number wrong: Highway 59 splits off from Highway 84 about twelve miles west of Joaquin. And, having mistakenly assumed the “Save Our School” event was organized by the school, we stand corrected: when faced with serious charges of abuse of power by its high school principal, the town spontaneously erupted into rallying. While we did speak with Smith, Principal Barlow, and members of the multicultural committee, many school supporters \(including the school board president, the superintendent, the city marshall, the sitebased committee’s community representative, and state Representative Wayne return multiple phone calls. We did not contend, or try to imply, that Barlow created before-school detention. There is no way for us to know for certain how many licks Principal Barlow administered; we reported what Anise Tolson says that students told her. , The reason we did not delve further into the school’s calculus of swatting is because as with the questions about inappropriate use of Alternative Education placement the more significant allegations against Barlow have to do with whether punishments are meted out in a discriminatory and/or overzealous fashion, not just with numbers of swats or A.E.P. placements. As for whether parents sign a form so that their children will not receive corporal punishment: we made it clear in the article that this is school policy. We also did not include allegations, which we heard from several sources, that parents are not consistently informed when their children are disciplined, and that Barlow has in the past pressured students and parents who’ve opted for detention to relent and let him use the paddle anyway. We did not try to characterize Joaquin as a “hate-filled” town, but rather as a place where many people are in denial about problems at the high school. Our article described how students have been \(according campus by the city marshall brandishing a gun, jailed for three weeks as the result of an argument with a teacher, taken into custody for no reason, ridiculed by Barlow in his newsletter, and made to feel “targeted” and unwelcome because they are lower-income or nonwhite or learning-disabled or, in the words of Ricky Gibson, “anything other than middle American white class.” It is strange to us that Smith’s response doesn’t address any of these charges. But not that strange. When we asked students which teachers seemed to lend the most support to Barlow’s disciplinary regime, the first name mentioned was usually that of Smith’s wife, Sue Smith \(“She just hated Mr. Smith presumably gets much of his information about what’s going on at the high school from his wife and from Mr. Barlow himself. Smith would hear a different story if he took the time to listen to the kids who’ve left Joaquin High School because of their bad experiences there. The school has done a great disservice to these students. And all that’s necessary for this evil to persist is for good men to sit around and count little factual errors. APRIL 2, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29