Get That Kid Out
of My Classroom


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Get That Kid Out of My Classroom
by David C. Long


As a child I attended public schools. I am also the father of three children who have either attended, or are currently attending, public schools. For the last ten years, however, I have been waging a crusade against the public school system through newspaper articles, administrative hearings and federal lawsuits.
 
I have been practicing law for more than twenty years. My legal education and early legal experience was that of a federal tax attorney with the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Tax Court, several large urban law firms and eventually in private practice in rural Pennsylvania. My transformation from a federal tax attorney into a civil rights and school law attorney was unintentional.
 
In 1995, a distressed father and mother were searching for legal representation regarding the local public school district’s treatment of their daughter. The father contacted me at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night and explained that he had already contacted all of the other attorneys in town, and that they had all expressed their regret that they could not represent him. According to the distraught father, each attorney that he had contacted candidly confessed that their own children also attended the same public school system, and that they feared retribution by school personnel if they were to provide him with the legal representation that he and his daughter needed. I agreed to help them.
 
The student’s complaint against the school district was a valid one. I prevailed on the student’s behalf after an administrative hearing, a review by an administrative appeals panel, and finally an appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The frequently expressed fear of retaliation by school district personnel against anyone who helped the troubled student, however, was also well founded. It was ultimately necessary for the Office of Civil Rights to intervene regarding the school district’s treatment of one of my own children.
 
My filing of a legal complaint against the local public school district generated significant coverage by the town newspaper. Surrounding regional newspapers also began reporting the story. I was soon inundated with a flood of letters and telephone calls from parents and students, all involved in untenable situations created by their local public schools. Over the years I would receive calls for help from as far south as Georgia and as far west as California.
 
The range of situations confronting parents and students in their dealings with public schools was, and is, virtually limitless. Many of the parents’ and students’ factual allegations regarding their public school experiences were nothing short of incredible. During my near decade of litigating against public schools, I was ultimately compelled to arrive at one disconcerting conclusion regarding the current state of education in America: the problems in our public schools are either directly caused or significantly exacerbated by the noxious attitude of public school employees about their work and towards the parents and students they are paid to serve. I wrote this book to expose that attitude and to provide the impetus for change.