A group of approximately six parents picketed outside Hawkins Elementary School to protest the fact that 4th grade science teacher, Veleka Setsor, is still in the classroom. (More photos here) Setsor was charged last week with aggravated assault following an argument with her 18-year old daughter. The Hawkins County school system, in compliance with Tennessee state law, is conducting an investigation into the matter. Until the issue is resolved, an aide has been placed in the classroom with Setsor.
The small protest, however, is making big news. A WJHL camera man was on-scene earlier. According to one parent, WYCB has also agreed to cover the event. Joel Spears from the Rogersville Review was also on hand with his camera. And Jeff Bobo at the Times-News had a lengthy piece online this morning, although I think the reference to Maintenance Supervisor Ralph Hurd, is out of place. (Typically, maintenance supervisors are not protected by state tenure laws.)
Inside the building, things seemed to be business as usual. Principal Barry Bellamy said a few of the children had noticed the protesters, but it didn’t seem to be creating a problem.
I’ve also talked to protester organizers, Kim Moore and Robin Robinson, neither of which have children in Setsor’s class. According to the women (I’m paraphrasing here) everyone from Phil Bredesen to Jesus himself has promised to come and rain hell down upon all those who cross them. Um, yeah.
Those sources (well all of them except for Jesus) deny making statements.
For the record, I did not support the demonstration, and my reasons are simple:
a) News reports, such as the report on Setsor, come primarily from police reports. Police reports, particularly in assault cases, rely heavily upon the victim’s statement. I also realize that Tennessee is a “preferred arrest” state and the law is here.
c.) I don’t feel my child is in danger at Hawkins Elementary School. At all. Period.
While I support parent activism and demanding accountability, I’m more of the mindset that you work within the system to have your needs met. Then, you work to change the system. And honestly, I’d if I had my druthers, I’d druther the protesters not be at my child’s school, standing in the front of the parking lot all day causing passing cars to honk their horns and scream – “HEY, ARE YA’LL HAVIN’ A CAR WASH!”
Jeff Bobo has an excellent video report covering the HES demonstration here.