This was a traumatic incident that shouldn't ever have happened at an elementary school that prides itself on its ability to be peaceful and caring - and which offers a heavy dose of anti-bullying and tolerance training in all grades.
Last year David Parker was arrested and made national news over the school's refusal to notify him when adults discuss homosexuality or transgenderism with his son, then in kindergarten. The school system has continued to refuse to notify any parents. On April 27, 2006, Parker, his wife, and another family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the school system.
The thing about this that stands out is the enormous hypocrisy. Schools in Massachusetts get lots of testimony by "gay" kids and adults about alleged beatings, taunting, and harassment. Much of it is more than a little far-fetched and obviously well-rehearsed. But none of it is ever questioned or examined by the schools or the community. Instead, it's taken at face value, and used as the basis for all kinds of pro-gay "diversity and tolerance" training in the schools. Those programs usually make life at school worse and less safe for those who hold differing opinions.
What if it had been a "gay" child who had been beaten, or even taunted? Across Massachusetts children are routinely suspended from school for even using the term "gay" in a less than positive fashion.
This is a situation where there were witnesses, an initial investigation, and the facts were generally agreed upon at the time of the incident. But the callousness and hostility being directed at the Parkers since this became public clearly demonstrate that the school authorities have no interest in true diversity and tolerance. It's all about a one-sided social agenda.
In the end, this is also about selfishness and a degree of narcissism. Certain people feel that because they choose certain "exotic" lifestyles, they and the children affected must be pandered to by everyone else in the community.
Here's what happened.
On May 17, 2006 - the two-year anniversary of same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts - David Parker's first-grade son, Jacob, was beaten up at the Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington during recess, receiving multiple blows to the chest, stomach, and genital area.
During the recess period, a group of 8-10 kids suddenly surrounded Jacob and grabbed him. He was taken around the corner of the school building out of sight of the patrolling aides, with the taunting and encouragement of other kids. Jacob was then positioned against the wall for what appeared to be a well planned and coordinated assault. Many children stood, watched silently, and did nothing as the beating commenced.
The group of kids surrounded Jacob and he was beaten and punched. Then, as he fell to the ground, another child was heard saying to the group of children, "Now you all can finish him off," and as he was down on his hands and knees, the beating continued on his back. Then, fortunately, one little girl ran to contact the oblivious playground aides to stop it.
Four of the participants were from Jacob's first-grade class; the others were from other classes at Estabrook.
It has been suggested that this began as a minor misunderstanding over seating in the lunchroom earlier that day. But if so, how could it escalate into a beating later during recess involving several other children? Who influenced this?
How the school handled the incident.
The Parkers were notified by the first-grade teacher within an hour of the incident. The teachers' aide had determined that since she could not see external bleeding, and since Jacob apparently was not hit in the face, she did not send him to she school nurse.
Immediately afterwards school authorities indicated to the Parkers that the beating was indeed planned and not spontaneous. The Parkers' conversations with their son generally corroborated with that conclusion.
Although this was very traumatic for the Parkers and their son, the Parkers were increasingly annoyed at the casual and even condescending attitude of the school about the incident.
The principal never contacted the Parkers to acknowledge what had occurred or to tell them what, if anything, the school had done about it. When Mrs. Parker directly asked the assistant principal for a report, and what action had been taken, she was told "It's personal and private, and there's no report." The school refused to tell the Parkers anything further.
It appears from the school's press releases that no kids were suspended from school, or even severely chastised. The Superintendent was not notified, even though he is named in the Parkers' recent Civil Rights lawsuit regarding parental notification.
The Parkers were told that the class got an extra dose of the "Open Circle" program diversity training because of the incident. But after a few days, the school refused to discuss the incident further with the Parkers - which upset them even more.
It's interesting that some of these first-graders are more mature than most of the adults in Lexington. After the incident, the boy who had led the beating felt very bad about it and apologized to Jacob. Jacob accepted the apology, and later went to the boys house to play. (Other kids, we are told, are unfortunately not so charitable.)
Some people have suggested that the Parkers should have called the police and/or medical authorities. But we think the Parkers acted responsibly. This was not a criminal matter, it was just a nasty incident involving elementary schoolchildren. It would have been absurd to call the police. And Jacob was clearly not physically injured. We all know that kids are relatively more durable than older adults.
Year-long public campaign of anti-Parker hate by activists in town. Young children polarized by intolerant atmosphere created by adults.
It seems apparent that this terrible incident had little to do with children -- that it was fueled and incited by adults (and, yes, school officials) in the town of Lexington. And that it reflects the culture of extreme intolerance, and even rage, against anyone with traditional beliefs, and the willingness of adults to bring children into adult issues:
Letters home with the kids. The school sent relatively hostile letters home with the schoolchildren when David Parker was arrested, when the "King and King" book incident surfaced, and when the lawsuit was filed.
Climate of anger at school. Parents and some teachers at the school have purposely fueled a general climate of anger against the Parkers at the school itself, to the point where the Parkers are often uncomfortable to go there. (This further exposes the hypocrisy of their "tolerance and diversity" mantra.)
Book on gay relationships put in Jacob's class. Jacob Parker's first-grade teacher has the book "Who's in a Family" -- the book that started this whole controversy, which teaches kids about homosexual relationships -- in the first-grade classroom for all the kids to read. This is an "in your face" action against the Parkers. And it also constantly reminds kids about the "trouble" that Jacob's father caused.
Angry anti-Parker website by Lexington parents and gay activists. A group of adults in Lexington maintain and regularly update an angry anti-Parker website, www.LexingtonCares.org. In addition to posting angry anti-Parker diatribes, they meticulously catalog all anti-Parker letters to the editor, newspaper articles, etc., write absurd "facts" about David Parker and his activities, and even name citizens of Lexington whom they accuse of being friendly to Parker. They also post "commentaries" from their group attacking Parker in every way possible.
Rallies and demonstrations against David Parker, often involving children. At virtually every public appearance of David Parker -- including even his court hearings -- the enraged anti-Parker contingent has been there with signs and slogans to harass and attempt to intimidate him. They also and go on TV and radio at every opportunity.
Children holding signs at anti-David Parker demonstration, September
2005. The kids' signs have particularly insidious messages: "Support ALL Our
Children, Families, Schools" and "Anyone Can Go to School." Note that these
imply that David Parker does not support all children, and that he believes that
not everyone can go to school. This is the angry mindset these people have, and
they're transmitting it to young children.
Entire families in Lexington holding signs at anti-David Parker rally,
September 2005. (This, and the pictures above and below, were at a
counter-demonstration called to coincide with an announced event supporting
David Parker across the street on the Lexington Battle Green.)
Inflaming the crowd. Estabrook parent and lesbian activist Meg Soens
exhorts the crowd at anti-David Parker rally.
LexingtonCares pro-gay activists came to every one of David Parker's
hearings to intimidate & harass him and his family. This was taken
outside of the Concord District Courthouse 6/1/2005.
Vicious campaign of letters to the editor. Adults in Lexington have conducted a nasty and hateful anti-Parker letter-writing campaign in the local newspaper, the Lexington Minuteman, that has lasted for well over a year.
Even more vicious email campaign in Lexington. Worse than the letters in the newspaper is the stream of vile and very hateful emails that are regularly circulated through Lexington via the town's political discussion group. Unlike the letters in the newspaper, these emails are unedited and free to make all kinds of unsubstantiated charges against Parker and those who support him.
Reminding kids about Parker incident in the elementary school library. The Estabrook Elementary School library continuously displayed two particular issues of the local Lexington Minuteman newspaper which depict David Parker in big articles on the front page on a prominent table where kids often go. Those two issues were displayed over a period of time, witnessed by three adults on three occasions. The librarian later told a gay group that the Parkers took the papers and put them there!
Calculated to incite? In this picture, taken June 2, 2006, in the
Estabrook Elementary School library, these two back issues of the Lexington
Minuteman are prominently placed on a table for children to look at. The top newspaper has the headline "Curriculum controversy - Parents upset
with 'King & King' and a color picture of the cover of the book. It also has the
headline "Standing in Silent Support" and a big picture of students and adults
supporting the pro-homosexual event "Day of Silence" in Lexington. The
bottom newspaper features the headline "Parents file federal suit" about
David Parker and other Estabrook parents filing a federal civil rights lawsuit
against Estabrook school officials, and others.
Pro-gay "tolerance" training in the school. The Estabrook Elementary School uses a program called "Open Circle" to teach "tolerance" to the elementary school children. Open Circle has strong ties to national homosexual organizations such as Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and is meant to be used by schools to promote homosexual issues.
Is it accidental that this happened on May 17 - the two-year anniversary of same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts - a day when emotions were particularly high among certain activists?
Conclusion: This outrageous incident should not come as a surprise to anyone. The hatred and vituperative nature of the homosexual activists and their allies, both in the schools and in the community, toward anyone who does not agree with their agenda has been well documented. This also clearly demonstrates the complete ineffectiveness and moral bankruptcy of the so-called "safe schools" programs, which cause far more problems than they solve. Unless things are forced to change, more innocent children will be at risk.
Statement by David Parker:
"We understand that skirmishes happen on the playground. What concerns us greatly is the premeditated, well planned and coordinated nature of the assault.
"We are aware that the school administration sent notices home with all the young children concerning the Parker arrest, the "King and King" incident and the federal lawsuit. In addition, the school administration prominently displays the front-page Minuteman [Lexington local newspaper] biased headlines of such incidents in the elementary school library for the children to see, read, and discuss. We also know that activist lesbian mothers and vehement anti-David Parker parents are spewing hateful, inflaming rhetoric, and probably also to their young children. What kind of atmosphere are they creating? Are their children acting out their parents' hate? Was this attack part of the "group think" that the pro-homosexual crowd espouses?
"Isn't the school supposed to be addressing safety and preventing bullying and violence? Or are such programs only focused on children with homosexual parents? You can be certain that if this happened to a child with homosexual parents more would be made of this and that "lessons" teaching tolerance and diversity of homosexual behavior normalization would be forced upon the young children."
June 14: MassResistance makes it public
On Wednesday, June 14, after a month of Parkers' waiting to see if the school system would act on its own, and being denied information on what the school was doing about it, MassResistance finally brought this terrible incident to light through press releases and emails.
The following day it was in the Boston Globe and on the front page of the local Lexington Minuteman newspaper. Over the next few days the news spread across the country and Canada. Radio stations as far away as California were calling for interviews.
month later, the school had not done anything substantial to address this
very disturbing and traumatic incident, so we brought it to the public's attention.
June 15: School officials react - give "facts" to pro-gay, anti-Parker group for negative press campaign.
On Thursday, June 15, the pro-gay, rabidly anti-Parker group "LexingtonCares" published its own press release which crudely attacks the Parkers' version of the incident and MassResistance, and contradicts the schools' original conclusions.
But what is particularly outrageous is that LexingtonCares references information they received from the Estabrook principal, assistant principal, nurse, teacher, and school librarian. For school officials to discuss an internal issue with a gay activist group is not only unprofessional but compromises any legitimate investigation.
Press Release, June 15, 2006
Contrary to a statement released on June 14 by Brian Camenker of MassResistance, an altercation that involved David Parker's son at Lexington's Estabrook School was totally unrelated to his father's activism. Lexington C.A.R.E.S. views the accusations in the MassResistance press release as baseless, meaningless and without merit. This is nothing more than another publicity stunt by Brian Camenker.
Dr. Paul Ash, Lexington Superintendent of Schools, says, "The school department is conducting a thorough investigation. The safety of all children is our utmost concern." A statement is expected after the investigation is complete.
Staff and parents at Estabrook School have related the following account of what happened on May 17.
A classmate, who is a friend of Mr. Parker's son, was mad at him because he sat in someone else's seat at lunch. At recess, the boy went over and started punching him. Other children stood around and watched. The playground aide noticed a cluster of children and headed over. She was met half way by a girl who ran to get help. The aide soon arrived and broke up the fight between these two 7-year-olds. Mr. Parker's son indicated to the aide that he was not hurt and that he did not want to go to the nurse.
The classmate who started the fight was brought into the assistant principal's office to write a "think sheet". He had to write down what he did wrong, what he could have done differently and how he could make it up to his friend. He also missed two recesses and wrote an apology to Mr. Parker's son. Mr. Parker's son wrote back "that's OK. You can still be my friend."
That afternoon the teacher discussed the issue with the entire class using the Open Circle format. At that time both boys had their arms around each other and were friends again. The teacher called both sets of parents and everyone seemed to be satisfied with the outcome.
Mr. Parker's son subsequently went to the other boy's house for a play date. The Parkers never contacted anyone at the school including the principal, assistant principal, nurse or teacher to say their son had been injured or that they were dissatisfied with how things had been handled. They also never contacted the school superintendent or the police to say their son had been "assaulted".
The MassResistance press release also stated that editions of the Lexington Minuteman newspaper with front page stories related to the Parker case were being prominently displayed in the Estabrook School library. The Estabrook librarian has said that the Parkers had been to the school library looking for old copies of the Lexington Minuteman newspaper. She directed them to a pile of newspapers that were on a stand above the view of young children.
It is our understanding that these two boys are still friends, thanks to the quick intervention of the aide and the teacher, and that the Parkers never complained to the school about the incident. It's a shame that Brian Camenker would misrepresent this incident and try to further divide our community.
June 16: Superintendent issues hostile press release - calls on District Attorney, police, and DSS to investigate.
On Friday, June 16, Superintendent Paul Ash published a press release with yet another version of the events. First he attempted to explain that this was a trivial incident, but then announced that he is referring the matter to the District Attorney, Lexington Police Department, and Massachusetts Dept. of Social Services (DSS).
Over the past year, Ash has made numerous public statements in the newspaper, radio, and television very hostile and condescending to the Parkers' position on parental notification, and this press release reflects that attitude. Ash has a history of blatantly misrepresenting David Parker's positions and motives in the press. For example, Ash told "ABC World News Tonight" that Parker wants to keep children from discussing certain subjects among themselves. But from the very beginning, Parker has been emphatic that he does not want to control what kids say to themselves.
Ash's version has now "evolved" with some new spin to diminish the incident. But this "investigation" raises serious questions.
- The investigation was conducted by principal, Joni Jay, who is a defendant in David Parker's lawsuit, so is not unbiased.
- These interviews were conducted a month after the incident, with kids, in the very emotional atmosphere now permeating the school. None of these "facts" can be taken seriously. Were kids fed "leading" questions? No one knows. The press release suggests that this "Based on the childrens' accounts, this all may have happened in under a minute." A month after the fact, how reliable is a 7-year-old's sense of time? Also, young kids often have a self-interest in pleasing authority figures.
- The assertion that the Parkers "casually" inquired about any of this is insulting. This is mainly meant to confuse the issue and demean the Parkers, and is simply not true. The Parkers asked, and were told that the school would release no information to them.
- We question whether any formal "procedure" was followed, or if one even exists. It was by all accounts completely haphazard. If this was documented at the time (as they seem to claim) no one was given access to any documentation.
- They are correct that MassResistance did not contact the school. It's not our job, nor would we presume that the school would discuss an internal investigation with us..
Press Release: Paul B. Ash, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools: June 16, 2006
Some of you may be aware that the press has received a news release related to a playground incident at Estabrook. The Estabrook principal has investigated the issue over the past two days, talking to the adults and children involved. The following are the facts as she understands them.
On May 17, several first graders were involved in a disagreement over who would sit where in the cafeteria. As a result, upon going outside one child took another by the hand and brought him to a third student in an area of the playground that is somewhat difficult for the adults to see. (The student who was hit said that he went willingly.) All children who saw agreed that the third student then hit the student who had been brought to him two to four times in the chest/abdomen (children's accounts vary) and he fell to his knees. The student who was hit says he was hit when down; the other children say he wasn't. One child reports that one student held the arm of the student who was hit; however, the child who was hit and the other children did not report this. The children involved named five children who were nearby watching but not directly involved. Several other students were close enough to see a cluster of students but not close enough to see what was happening. The student who did the hitting suggested that others also hit, but none of them did so. Based on the children's accounts, this all may have happened in under a minute. The aide on duty saw a group of children gathering, and as she walked toward them was approached by a child that said someone was being bullied. When the aide inquired what was going on, the child who was hit identified one student who hit him, and the other children agreed. The child who was hit said he was not hurt and did not want to go to the nurse. He reported that his feelings were hurt, because the child who hit him was his friend.
The child who did the hitting was sent to the assistant principal's office and while talking with her acknowledged his behavior. As a result, he filled out a "think sheet," to reflect on his behavior and choices, missed recess on two days, and wrote an apology. In addition, the classroom teacher called both sets of parents and a class discussion was held about not hitting and speaking up when there is a problem on the playground. The teacher indicated that both parents took the matter seriously and seemed satisfied with the outcome. Following the incident the boys were observed arm in arm at school and subsequently the child who was hit went to the house of the child who hit him for a play date.
On May 31, the parents of the child hit casually inquired of the assistant principal as to the consequence given to the other child, and they were told that the child's parents were informed and a consequence given. Other than this brief interaction, between the time of the phone call by the teacher to the parents on May 17 until June 14, there were no complaints of injury or dissatisfaction with the process to the teacher, nurse, or the administrators. On June 14, school administration received a call from a local paper stating that they had received a press release that a child had been assaulted at Estabrook.
In this case, we followed all of our usual procedures and worked with both sets of parents to resolve this issue. We are surprised that it has resurfaced in a press release issued by a group calling itself Mass Resistance without any prior contact with the school. The press release states that the incident was "fueled and incited by adults (and yes, school officials)." We have found nothing in our investigation that would support this allegation in any way. Nonetheless, in the interest of an open and thorough review of the incident, the matter has been referred by the superintendent to the Lexington police, District Attorney's office, and the Department of Social Services for independent investigation.
At Estabrook, playground safety and student behavior are school improvement goals each year. The school, like all of the schools in Lexington, works hard to establish behavioral expectations, teach students social skills, and provide strong supervision on the playground. In the seven years that Joni Jay has been principal, we have more than doubled the adults watching students on the playground and our coverage ratio at Estabrook is at or above all other Lexington elementary schools. We have separated older and younger students and have fewer students on the playground at one time. We have trained and hired skillful aides who stay actively involved with children, equipped with walkie-talkies and actively walking around identifying potential problems and working through them with students. The Open Circle program, adopted this year, has provided students with skills to help them resolve problems verbally. Administrators discuss with children the reasons for what happened, the consequences, and future alternatives every time there is a problem. We involve parents and teachers when a child has broken school rules, and if the nurse treats a child due to a playground incident. Each incident is documented, and referrals are made to the counselor and other support personnel when appropriate. As a result of the efforts of staff and parents working together, physical altercations on the playground have been reduced significantly.
A major goal of the Lexington Public School system is both to help all children feel safe as well as to help the child who has erred learn. We are continuously looking to improve the playground experience for children and welcome your input.
June 19: Superintendent issues second hostile press release, announces that all three agencies decline to investigate.
On Monday, June 19, Superintendent Paul Ash issued another press release announcing that the
District Attorney, Police, and DSS all suddenly decline to
investigate the matter. He also changed the story even more -- to be just one first-grader hitting another first-grader. A further insulting, cynical attempt to demean the Parkers.
Of course, the fact that all three government agencies announced within one business day the same conclusion strongly suggests that their being called was a sham from the beginning. How many government agencies can can receive a
request, conduct an assessment of the situation, discuss it, make a decision,
and announce that decision -- all in less than ONE BUSINESS DAY? None that
we've ever seen.
Press Release: Paul B. Ash, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools:
UPDATE: JUNE 19, 2006
Recently, the media reported on a playground fight at Estabrook School in
Lexington, Massachusetts, where one first grade student hit another first grade
student. After the media focus on this incident, the Estabrook School principal
issued a letter to parents reporting the details of this incident and the
school's response, and the Superintendent of the Lexington Public Schools issued
a similar report to the community and the press. Because of an allegation that
the incident was "fueled and incited by adults (and yes, school officials)," the
Superintendent, after having conducted his own investigation, referred the
incident to the Lexington Police Department, the Middlesex District Attorney and
the Department of Social Service(DSS).
The Lexington Police Department has issued the following statement, "The school
department is handling this situation involving two first graders professionally
and does not require action from the police." The Child Abuse Prevention office
of the District Attorney and the DSS have each declined to initiate
investigations, in part because the parents of the first grader who was hit have
not filed a complaint, and in part because they found no basis for an
investigation in the facts and circumstances reported. The School Committee and
the Superintendent have both concluded that the allegation of adult involvement
in and/or incitement of this minor playground incident is entirely without
June 20: Superintendent outlines newest version of incident in Boston Globe article.
In the Boston Globe on Tuesday, June 20, Paul Ash continues his latest twist of the truth, stating
that "These were two first-graders having a child squabble on a playground" and
also blames MassResistance for "exploiting these children for political purposes." And he adds some hearsay about playdates, etc.
It begs the question: If this is so trivial, why did Ash ask the District Attorney
to get involved? Why is it being reported in the Boston Globe? The answer:
a group of public officials are doing their best to silence a legitimate
Official says father's view on gays didn't spark
Lexington boy beaten at recess
By Maria Sacchetti
Boston Globe Staff | June 20, 2006
Lexington's school superintendent yesterday denied assertions that a
first-grader was beaten up on a playground last month in retaliation for his
father's campaign to stop the school from teaching his son about homosexuality.
School officials, citing interviews with the children involved, said the fight
actually started over where students would sit in the cafeteria and then spilled
onto the playground. The student, the 7-year-old son of David Parker , who filed
a federal lawsuit in April over the teaching of homosexuality in school, was
punched several times during the May 17 fight.
``These were two first-graders having a child squabble on a playground," said
Superintendent Paul Ash . ``Some adults are exploiting these children for
The playground fight ballooned into a School Department inquiry after a
Waltham-based parents' group, MassResistance, alleged that a group of children
pounced on the boy on the two-year anniversary of the legalization of gay
According to school officials' investigation, one child hit Parker's son two to
four times during recess, and the boy fell to his knees as about five students
watched . A teacher's aide intervened. The child who hit Parker's son was sent
to the assistant principal's office, where he wrote an apology and was denied
recess for two days. Parker's son and the boy have since had a play date, Ash
School officials contacted authorities, who declined to investigate, Ash said.
Parker said he was unconvinced that the fight had nothing to do with the outcry.
He said other students have talked to his son about the issue.
Parker was arrested last year when he refused to leave Estabrook Elementary
School without a guarantee that his child would not be exposed to teachings
about homosexuality. In April, he filed a federal lawsuit over the issue.
Parker said he never filed a police report and doesn't want children to be
investigated. ``We don't want to vilify the children," Parker said. ``We do want
to get along, even though there's very powerful differences in beliefs."
Brian Camenker , president of MassResistance, said he still believes Parker's
son was beaten up because of his father's views. ``The kids have been incited on
this," he said. ``There's a lot of anger."
Boston Globe web version here
What do we learn from this?
Most people don't realize the vehemence that school officials are capable of when it comes to protecting their various agendas and silencing those who might get in the way, no matter what the cost to parents, children, and others in the community. The hostility, unprofessional behavior, and manipulations of the truth that we've seen in just this incident is incredible. It's truly frightening that there are probably many, many other incidents that have never seen the light of day because school officials and their activist allies were willing to do whatever it takes to discredit, demonize, and intimidate people.
It shows the need for civic groups such as MassResistance and people willing to stand up, take action, and not be afraid or intimidated. Otherwise, this shameful incident would have been completely buried.