Left out in the cold

Disastrous school trip to inauguration cries out for acountability

  • Follow Editorials

We don’t know if it was a sham, a scam or a failure to plan. But Butler High students sure got taken for a ride recently – thanks to a decided lack of oversight by the adults around them.

The 30 students, two teachers and two parents boarded an overnight bus to what they thought would be choice seats and other special perks at the Jan. 21 inauguration of President Obama. But when they arrived, the organizer – a woman identified as Erica Jones with the shadowy DRBJ Legacy Foundation – announced there were only three tickets. The rest of the group had to stand in a nonticketed public area so far away from the event that they could enjoy neither the video screen nor the audio.

The trip cost $135 a person.

No one seems to know what the organization is. It’s not registered with the state. We couldn’t find a website or Facebook presence – neither could the students – nor any news articles about it apart from this incident.

The woman involved apparently gave no one a working phone number, and the cell phone she called others from was a “blocked number,” meaning no one got to see what number she was calling from.

It gets better.

The woman claimed at a pre-trip student assembly to be actually talking to President Obama live on the phone – even seeming to make him wait at times while she interacted with the students.

The students were told their names would be put into a lottery to meet the president; that a photo of them would hang in the president’s library; and that first lady Michelle Obama had read one student’s letter out loud at a dinner and had cried.

Not even Burger King serves up that many whoppers at once! The only thing they weren’t told was that Mr. Obama was stranded in an airport without his wallet and needed cash wired to him quickly.

We can understand the excitement of the students. But how could school officials have been so world-class gullible and negligent?

Moreover, Richmond County School Board member Alex Howard tells us that The Chronicle story Sunday was the first he’d heard of all this.

“It bothers (me) very much that this person was allowed in the schools,” he wrote to us Monday. In addition, he said the trip and the organizer should have been reviewed ahead of time by the district’s lawyer and ultimately approved or disapproved by the school board. That didn’t happen.

What if the students had met with peril? The district, which had no oversight, nonetheless would likely still have been liable. More so, it would seem, since school officials appear to have performed no due diligence to learn anything about this person or her organization.

As it was, students were left out in the cold, as was the school board.

At least one online commenter suggested the White House should make the students’ dreams come true and invite the kids to Washington. We think that would be fabulous.

Meanwhile, Butler High officials must be called to account for this outrage. It may rise to the level of a fireable offense. On the thinnest of information, they allowed someone access to those kids in a school environment, and therefore helped perpetrate the trip from hell. And they seem to have done it without any curiosity about the grand promises being made, the woman’s ability to deliver on them, or the obligation to let the district office in on any of it.

Butler Principal Greg Thompson refused to discuss the situation withThe Chronicle, claiming the trip technically wasn’t a school function. Tell that to the jury; it was sold on campus, and students say the school bookkeeper handled the funds.

You can understand the students wanting with all their hearts for all those promises to have been true. It was up to the adults to figure out they weren’t.

Comments (36)

Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
CobaltGeorge
138587
Points
CobaltGeorge 02/19/13 - 08:37 pm
3
0

harley

I strongly get the impression that I have rub you the wrong way. In no way was I wanting to do that. I checked my past post and then I realized that I had cut Richmond county down. I really apologize if that was the unintentional rub. I have stated in the past, I don't follow the political actions of Richmond county that close and have stayed away from getting involved in any of the debates. Most of my information comes from everybody on hear. Most of the time it doesn't sound too good. I have met and know many friends that live in Richmond county and would support them in any way I could. I say again, please accept my apology if that was the rub given.

harley_52
19524
Points
harley_52 02/19/13 - 08:57 pm
2
0

Not To Worry, CG...

...there's no problem. I'm used to seeing people take cheap shots at Richmond County, I had just never seen you do it before. It happens so frequently, I can easily see how you could just fall in line.

And I was only half kidding about the points. I really don't have any use for them.

Really...don't worry about it. I considered you a friend on here and still do.

CobaltGeorge
138587
Points
CobaltGeorge 02/19/13 - 09:05 pm
1
0

Thanks Harley

For a moment there I was trully worried. Richmond does have a major problem but is only caused by actions of a few. I think we all know who they are.

The Government and Education Department.

fedex227
8415
Points
fedex227 02/20/13 - 12:46 am
3
1

Good editorial.

Sorry to see Techfan go but can't say I blame him. This was an excellent editorial- one I hope is followed up with an investigation into how something like this could occur and accountability for those involved. But it is also a story that demonstrates the venom and hate spewed by many AC posters. These kids and their parents did nothing to you personally, you don't even know them. They were taken in by a scam artist- a liar and a cheat. They were let down by those in authority that yes, should have known better, but none the less were taken in by this charlatan. Or worse, were complicit in the scam. Couldn't happen in Columbia County? Tell that to taxpayers who were swindled out of $600,000 in federal education funds by Linda Schrenko. It happens everywhere, all the time.

To say, 'lesson learned', 'you deserve what you get', or 'you were idiots for believing this person' ... where's your compassion?
All they wanted to do was attend a Presidential inauguration- not 'worship their god' or 'bow at the feet of their messiah.' They were promised one thing and got swindled. Naivete is not a sin. It need not be met with such .... condemnation.

rebellious
18691
Points
rebellious 02/20/13 - 01:06 am
1
1

Repost

OMG

Well, I finally stopped laughing, my ribs are hurting.

P.T. Barnum said it and this story proves it.

The twist here is:
1) These people are victims of Obamiopia. The inability to discern reality from fantasy due to the Svengali affect of the mere mention of Barack Hussein Obama's name
2) The racial factor. Dollars to Donuts and I don't know for sure, I bet this is a Black on Black crime. Perpetrated by a black person, on black people.
3) If the principal had tried to debunk, disprove or otherwise hamper this pilgrimage to Mecca to pay homage to the Prophet Obama, he would have been tarred, feathered and then run out of town on a rail.

And lesson's learned? I doubt it. A lesson taught is not necessarilly a lesson learned. That is why the anger will be turned towards the administration, organizer, etc... Not one person (OK victim) will say, much less think, "Boy were we stupid or what".

My Daddy used to say "If you're gonna be stupid, you better be tough

rebellious
18691
Points
rebellious 02/20/13 - 01:23 am
3
0

Ooops

Somebody upset TechFan.

He posted "Probably my last post on here. Goodbye to the haters, racists, and bigots. You won't be missed. Keep it up so anyone who's not from around here who reads the paper can see what kind of kooks this area is populated by."

Yet I bet you, like the rest of us, he is addicted in some strange and indescribable way to the rantings, debate, banter and savagery of these pages. Even when I am unable to post, I find myself reading posts, like a kid who has stormed out of a room hangs down the hallway to hear what is said.

Techfan, you'll be back. Maybe with a new moniker, different twist, changed perspective...but you will be back. You, my friend, are addicted. The proverbial "Crack Pipe" of anonymous posting will call you. And then, at a weak moment, you will lay your fingers on the keypad and type. You will not click on "Save Comment". But you will first think it, then type it, then eventually you will post again.

You are a thinker! An idealist. An American with an opinion. It is in your blood to exercise your 1st Amendment rights in defense of whatever....

Take a break from it. Consider it a timeout. But as I have done, you walk away from the drug.........then you come back.

It is what you are. It is who you are. And whether you speak it, write it, or post it.............you cannot escape the urge to voice your deepest convictions.

To do so would be an injustice to yourself and those who enjoy this America we live in!

seenitB4
72454
Points
seenitB4 02/20/13 - 06:48 am
2
2

Reb...YOU nailed it again...

Take a break from it. Consider it a timeout. But as I have done, you walk away from the drug.........then you come back.

That crack pipe works well ......here you go...take a wiff my friend....
hmmmmm.....mighty mighty good...some of us admit it & some don't!

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 02/20/13 - 07:53 am
1
1

I take it back. This is my

I take it back. This is my last post. No one upset me. I figured I was going to be banned. I'm tired of a site that allows people to lie, then when you call them on it, you are the one who gets the abuse warning and a site where people post insane anti-Obama propaganda and comments with no basis in reality and you're not allowed to point out the insanity. I've never received even one warning on any other site. I'll stick with sites where you can argue facts and policy and not just have snide comments made against you from people who don't debate the topic and just seem to enjoy being a *****. Bye and ☮ to those who just disagree but can intelligently debate a topic.

Sean Moores
80
Points
Sean Moores 02/20/13 - 11:05 am
2
0

@ Techfan

As I told you in my email, you can give almost any opinion, but I will never allow you or anyone else to insult other commenters.

Darby
19104
Points
Darby 02/20/13 - 01:42 pm
2
0

"I truly am sorry that's how you feel."...

No need for sorrow. I'm pretty sure he's happy with his opinion.

Darby
19104
Points
Darby 02/20/13 - 01:44 pm
2
0
Darby
19104
Points
Darby 02/20/13 - 04:12 pm
2
0

Always take it with a grain of salt when someone.....

calls you a hater, racist or a bigot.

I'm reminded of at least two (2) instances in my own experience where fellows who were actually Jewish, were very active in the KKK.

And remember last year when the black student at a prominent university was found to have painted anti-black racist slogans on his own dorm room door.

Some folks just have an agenda.

Darby
19104
Points
Darby 02/20/13 - 04:20 pm
1
0

"Tell that to taxpayers who were.....

swindled out of $600,000 in federal education funds by Linda Schrenko."

Just how does that relate to Columbia county? Other than the fact that Linda Schrenko hailed from there? She ripped off the kids of Georgia, not Columbia county.

You're using something akin to circular logic.

Not saying it couldn't happen in Columbia county, because, although the chances are less, it certainly could.

Back to Top

Loading...