Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Lust for Power - and Resulting Stupidity

It's commonplace to cite Lord Acton's dictum that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Who can doubt it, as we look around in the world?  But I want to look here at one of my current cases, Rowland Unified School District.

These parents and this school district will never be good friends.  They need a divorce.

Since this arose, they've taken a couple of steps to ensure that we have to defend the family.  The kid is owed 50 minutes a week of speech and language services, so after the IEP meeting the vice principal chose to sit there, and that was fine.  What wasn't fine is that he interfered, chitchatting with the speech and language pathologist (SLP) and keeping the kid from getting the service, which we can prove.

And then they stepped things up, sending an "intern" named Guzman to do the service, supposedly, but actually to ask a lot of nosy questions about the kid's family life and other things which CA Ed Code 51513 forbids them to go into.  It's pretty obvious that Guzman, if that's his name, is a school cop in plain clothes.

So, obviously, the kid can no longer go to school.  It's not safe.

This play for power is pretty stupid, we think, since it requires the parents to keep him out of school and to push back, which we've done so far with a flyer detailing this and other stunts.

Among other things, when we stepped out of the IEP meeting, they promptly yukked it up about how stupid I am, which is fine - I'm better off conceding that point!  But then the SLP began to boast about how she was going to "stalk" me on the internet, and indeed went on to state that she was going to take a couple of kids to "TP" my house.  My house has been toilet-papered before, and was none the worse for wear, so I'm not trembling.  But the proposal was - shall we say? - unprofessional, and for their lawyer to sit there and condone the suggestion was pretty unprofessional too.

Their attorney is quite confident that if we taped these goings on we can't use it because it's forbidden by the Penal Code - 632 is the provision that might apply.  Just as Vladimir Putin is not so far presenting the evidence surely in his possession that MH-17 was in fact shot down by a missile and cannon fire from a Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi-25, I will sit for now on just what evidence we have for these remarkable things. 

Enough for now to point out that this district's insane conduct is driven by their lust for power and domination over the kid and his parents.  A rational calculation would lead them to settle up and be rid of the whole thing, which will be getting a lot worse for them in several ways, the higher cost of fighting being only one of them.  Only their insane need to dominate and bully the family makes them just keep digging deeper.

It does seem proper here to say that if we did get this information by taping without their knowledge, it is in fact a perfectly lawful tape, fully admissible in any proceeding, because Penal Code 632 and its exclusionary rule do not apply - for two reasons:

1. The CA Ed Code provision states than when we give 24 hour notice of taping, then "notwithstanding Penal Code 632," we can tape.  The "Rule of Surplusage" in statutory interpretation holds that "a statute should not be interpreted in a way that renders a word superfluous."  Accordingly, since Penal Code 632 doesn't apply anyway if it's known that you're taping - there's the recorder on the table, and that's why credit card companies tell you on the phone that they're taping - "notwithstanding Penal Code 632" can't mean anything if it applies only when they know they're on Candid Recorder.  It can only mean that taping the meeting without their knowledge when you've given notice that you're taping the meeting does not bring in 632.  If they actually wanted privacy, they could have left the meeting, as we did.

2. Moreover, even if that were not so, the CA 2nd Court of Appeal ruled in Evens v Superior Court in 1999 that 632, and therefore its exclusionary rule, does not apply if it can be expected that the conversation will leave the room.  The Evens court spoke of a classroom, and the expectation that people will talk about it outside.  How about the IEP meeting while we were out?

Clearly the district people in the room when we were out had no expectation that their conversation would not leave the room.  The SLP was going to talk to the kids about TP-ing my house.  The vice principal was going to talk to his boss and others about why he was going to be spending all that time in the room with the SLP.  The lawyer was going to talk to the special ed director and others about the meeting, to shape their plans accordingly.  Anybody in the room that didn't like the unprofessional conduct that she witnessed might have talked to us or someone else.

It's easy to see how stupid the district people are being here, just as it's easy to see how stupid Samson was, or the disciples of Jesus in the gospels.  But the lesson is that just because we don't see ourselves being that stupid doesn't mean it isn't so.  None of these others saw how stupid they were either, when caught up in it.

We see here what it does to your brain cells to be a control freak - and let's learn it well.  But let's not mock!  "Thank you God that I'm not like other men" never ends well.