Class dismissed in Warren


The world got a great glimpse of today’s Washington when, a few weeks back, President Trump sparred in the Oval Office with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and N.Y. Sen. Chuck Schumer in an unprecedented jab fest before lens-flashing media.

It was a circus that took the esteem and nobility of public office down a notch or four.

I think the same now as I read the evolving nature of the Warren principal ticketgate.

The Warren event has made the start of 2019 a series of professional public shamings and grandstandings in that city. It started with a privileged principal ignoring valid arguments. It continued Monday when 30 Warren police and firefighters showed up to protest at the Warren school board meeting seeking a better apology than what they already received.

While a resolution between the two groups requires further work, what has to stop is the public spectacle of it all. It’s a no-win for any side, and none of this advances the cause of the students.

Better judgment has been missing on many sides of this event.

The first rule in any story:

There is way more to the story than what is in the public, and the real story is one we’ll likely never know. That is no doubt true here.

This is a district and police-force relationship that is still sorting the handling of a teacher who had a gun and knives stolen from his car while on school property. He was sanctioned by the district, consistent with its policy, but not cited by police because they viewed it to be legal.

What we know about ticketgate:

Principal Carrie Boyer thought it was OK to repeatedly park in a handicap space in the school parking lot. No one is arguing for her that there was a reason beyond privilege.

That was plain stupid given A) the importance of that space to needy individuals, B) the example she’s supposed to set for students and staff, and C) the fishbowl that is a small community such as a school building.

Before Officer Adam Chinchic finally ticketed her, is there anyone believing her action was not the scorn of other staff, and that it had become a spectacle within the entire school? The school has two other principals. They had no reported parking issues.

No one debates that Chinchic and police had previous conversations with Boyer about this. Knowing this outcome now, I would love to go back and see videos of those conversations. She clearly blew them off.

Nobody likes to get blown off – whether you’re a cop, principal or average citizen.

Chinchic finally had enough and ticketed Boyer. Surely, he was within his job to do it. She was flat wrong.

But clearly he and his superiors knew that by taking this step, it was not just a normal traffic ticket that he was writing.

The school-district and resource-officer relationship is among many where there is shared ownership of actions.

Hate it as you will when I write this, but different rules apply in this life as they do in all our lives.

Different rules are just how life works, despite how loudly we say the rules should be the same. If your brother cuts hair, your sister makes pizza or your uncle is a plumber – there are different rules.

It’s why in “Goodfellas,” Ray Liotta comes in through the back kitchen door to bypass the line out front, and then gets a table in the front row on date night. It’s why you heard people last week keep score of whose neighborhood was better plowed because so-and-so lives there.

We hate when we see it happen – discounting when it happens to us.

Rules were broken a few different ways in ticketgate.

When Superintendent Steve Chiaro apologized for dismissing Chinchic from campus immediately, he acknowledged his decision first should have been run up the chain of command within the city that owns Chinchic’s job. That is acknowledging a different set of rules for how to handle Chinchic.

Same for Boyer and the ticket. The school-city relationship required a different approach than what the city applied – regardless of how infuriating was Boyer’s obstinance.

While there are many outcries on social media and at meetings, this issue is best to just go away until there are elections and promotions. Deal with it then. Calls for firings are missing the vast layers of protections many workers enjoy – especially those employed in schools, police stations and firehouses.

The police just have to go back to what they do. I don’t think a 30-person show of force helps – except to perpetuate to the community the “protect your own” police ethos.

If there’s a city-schools discussion to continue, it’s between the mayor, the chief, the superintendent and the board president.

Boyer is forever tagged with this and is unlikely to earn any substantial school administrator promotion anywhere outside of Warren – and maybe not even in Warren.

And ultimately, the place is about the kids.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.

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