Hockey parents scorned (5×8 – 2/26/13)

Don’t mess with the hockey team, the frac sand debate: Take the money? And: Nick Anderson’s reward, the homeless man and the engagement ring, and the winter bike ride.


1) THE DANGER OF KEEPING SECRETS: ANGRY PARENTS

In the state of hockey, you don’t mess with tournament time. That much must be clear to the officials at Mound-Westonka High in Minnesota who suspended six hockey players after they participated in a “Harlem Shake” video that their school had apparently approved.

It happened just a few hours before Mound-Westonka’s hockey team was to play – and lose to – Blaine Blake.

The cops had to be called to the school cafeteria and initially filed disorderly conduct charges. But the school backed off and reduced student suspensions from two days to one. But the kids had permission to make their video and an announcement was made in the cafeteria that they’d be shaking. Still, they got disciplined.

That’s not good enough for the hockey parents, who hit the school board last night looking for someone’s head. And they got it.

“There ought to be, like, zero tolerance for bone-headed, knee-jerk-reaction administrators,” said one man in attendance. “Put that in your policy pipe and light it up.”

Westonka School District Superintendent Kevin Borg apologized to parents last night and then announced that activities director Dion Koltes was placed on administrative leave, WCCO reported. But, Borg wouldn’t say why Koltes was suspended.

This is the latest in the cat-and-mouse situation where school districts can’t or won’t share information on which they base their decisions about students. That only fuels the anger. It motivated an editorial in today’s Star Tribune.


If they indeed have video evidence that supports their disciplinary decision, school officials should share it at the very least with the suspended students and their families. Those accused and punished for a violation have a right to see and hear the evidence against them. And officials should share more information with the public to help citizens understand why the punishment was necessary.

The discipline in this case may or may not be justified. But a poor lesson is taught by a climate of secrecy in such matters.

Absent that evidence and a thorough investigation, it is understandable that some parents and students are upset about even the reduced suspension. It’s not enough for school officials to simply say “take our word for it” without providing more proof.

This is the latest in the cat-and-mouse game between school districts and the public when it comes to not explaining actions. It motivated the Star Tribune to editorialize about it today.

More apologies: This one really has the journo community up in arms. In North Carolina, a small town newspaper asked the local sheriff for gun permit data. The community backlash prompted an amazing apology from the paper’s publisher. (Romenesko)

If only it were the State of Band: Stillwater might eliminate music in elementary schools. (Patch)

2)THE FRAC SAND DEBATE: TAKE THE MONEY?

Dr. Wayne Feyereisn of St. Charles could have taken the money and walked away. He’s got a contract with the owner of a proposed frac sand mine to buy his land. Instead, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports, he’s spearheading an effort to find out what health effects the sand mining might have on people.

“I can’t just ethically and morally walk away from this,” he tells the paper. “I think you’re going to have silica-sand mining happening, definitely. But how do you do it in an environmentally responsible manner?”

MPR’s Elizabeth Dunbar and Tom Scheck report a legislative committee is about to vote on a bill which would impose a production tax on the industry and require the state to conduct a generic Environmental Impact Statement on silica sand mining.

“This silica sand mining has been going on for years,” said company spokesman Mitchell Bublitz. “If Minnesota puts in place a statewide moratorium, all it’s going to do is allow Wisconsin to sell all the more. Wisconsin is moving tons and tons of silica sand as we speak.”

But not everyone in Wisconsin is selling out. Mark Dietsche in Dunn County says he knows he’s sitting on a gold mine, but he’s not giving up farming. (See video)

More politics: Sunday liquor sales? Forget it. (Duluth News Tribune)

3) NICK ANDERSON’S REWARD

Over the weekend we told you the heartwarming story from Texas where a basketball coach, his team, and a good kid on the opposition conspired to make a dream come true for a young man with great challenged.

Here’s another one.

At Holy Angels in Richfield on Friday night, Nick Anderson, who has cerebral palsy, got the starting assignment on the school’s basketball team.

“I was so happy and so relieved to finally score,” he told Mike Max. “I mean, when I was younger I was told I would never play the game of basketball.”

4) WITH THIS RING

Over the years, we’ve learned many rags-to-riches homeless person stories don’t work out with happy endings — the homeless man with the great voice, or the man who was befriended by a cop who bought him new boots, for example. Maybe this one is different.

Sarah Darling accidentally dropped her diamond engagement ring into Billy Ray Harris’ donation cup. She realized her mistake the next day and went back to where Harris was asking for money. He had saved the ring for her and gave it back. So she set up a fundraising site. At last check, it’s raised $148,000.

5) EMBRACING WINTER: THE BIKE RIDE

Remember back when people used to put their bikes away for winter?

Ride, 2-23-2013 from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Bonus I: How a small schoolhouse was turned into a home in Nova Scotia. Beautiful pictures. (Tiny House blog)

Bonus II: How language shapes the gun debate. (NPR)

TODAY’S QUESTION

The horse meat scandal that began in Ireland last month has spread across Europe, with horse DNA now having been discovered in IKEA meatballs sold in 13 European countries. Some European leaders are calling for new labeling regulations in hopes of bolstering confidence in the food supply. Today’s Question: Does the horsemeat scandal in Europe raise questions for you about the food you buy?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Should a wolf hunt be allowed in Minnesota?

Second hour: Is there a future for electric cars?

Third hour: Because of complications in the tribal justice system, many assault cases on tribal lands get overlooked or bounced around between tribal law enforcement, state police, and the federal government. Will the Violence Against Women provision help close a tribal justice loophole? Supporters say it’s not a perfect fix, and the fate of the bill is unclear, but many think it’s a good first step in addressing a decades-old problem.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): –“Justice Denied: How the Federal Courts Enforced Slavery.” (Humankind special about early abolitionists and the Dred Scott decision)

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – Dexter Filkins considers the future of Hezbollah if Syria’s regime falls.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – NPR looks at how parents navigate the competing demands of the weekday evenings and the changing tradition of the family dinner.

MPR’s Dan Olson profiles the refurbished instruments at the Cathedral of St. Paul.