Arne Duncan, the education secretary, is having his minions look into the little matter of California’s Tehachapi Unified School District, his office confirms. The move comes after Wendy Walsh, the mother of 13-year-old Seth who hung himself from a tree and left his mother a suicide note fingering his school for ignoring his torment, teamed up with the ACLU to call bullshit on the district’s failure to intervene. Seth told his mother in his note that he wanted her to “make the school feel like shit for bringing you this sorrow.” The AP reports:
Seth’s mother Wendy Walsh said U.S. Department of Education investigators spent two days in Tehachapi last week interviewing students, teachers and administrators. She said she contacted them when her son, who hanged himself from a backyard tree on Sept. 19, was still hospitalized in a coma. “They put this on their very important list, their priority list,” Walsh said of the federal review. “Obviously, there must be a big problem that needs to be addressed, and it isn’t just around Seth. It’s the whole nation.”
[…] Wendy Welsh is claiming school officials in Tehachapi neglected to take action to protect Seth and to address anti-gay bias in general, even though she and the boy’s grandmother, a former school board member, alerted them several times that he was called anti-gay epithets and threatened in the boys locker room. He attended Jacobsen Middle School in Tehachapi, but twice was given permission to be homeschooled because of the ongoing problems, according to a letter the American Civil Liberties Union sent to the superintendent last week on Wendy Walsh’s behalf. The ACLU is demanding to know what steps the district has taken to address bullying of gay students.
Now it’s just a matter of seeing whether Education Department officials are going to let the pain rain down on Tehachapi, or go easy on them once they institute a firm anti-bullying policy.