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Did Weston teacher violate student’s rights?

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POSTED June 11, 2009 2:19 a.m.
RIPON – Colton Brock just wanted to be treated like any other student.

Even after he transferred to Weston Elementary, Brock – a GATE student who had always excelled in his schoolwork – seemed to be living the life of a typical eighth-grade student.

But everything was about to change.

Back in January, Brock claims that a teacher informed several students of why he had been transferred to Weston – specifically that he had been a problem child at his previous school – and the attitude of his peers and those around him began to change.

Both Brock and his parents claim the allegations are false.

And when he filed a formal complaint citing that his rights had been violated under the Family Rights and Educational Privacy Act, Brock maintains that several of his classmates that had agreed to back up his story recanted their testimony when they were called in for questioning.

During Monday’s meeting of the Ripon Unified Board of Education, Brock – who had the item formally placed on the agenda – addressed the trustees and the school administrators that he feels dropped the ball when it came to dealing with the issue.

“What was done was illegal, and how it was swept under the rug shows how lightly the people in charge have handled this,” he said. “I could have sued for what was done, but I’m not looking for monetary damages.

“But if a legal action is necessary to get resolve, them I’m willing to go the distance.”

Brock alleges that over the last six months, numerous meetings have taken place with everyone from the teacher in question to the Superintendent – noting that the teacher referred to the remark made as a “teaching moment” and that she’d do it again. The same teacher, he said, asked him if he “learned anything” from the experience.

He also said that Superintendent Louise Nan backed up the teacher during the meeting.

Since the incident broke in January he’s had to endure harassing phone calls from anonymous students calling him a problem maker and issuing other insults, and has dealt with some of the same issues while at school.

Reached for comment Wednesday night, School Board President Larry Stewart said that administration couldn’t comment on the issue because it was a personnel matter, and if they did so it was likely a violation of state law.

All of the district’s administrators were in end-of-year meetings Wednesday and could not be reached.

“All I was really looking for was an apology, and that’s not even something that they completely gave me,” Brock said. “All that they said was that they were sorry for what happened, and that just isn’t good enough for me.”

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