Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Nice thing about livin' this far inland...

And on a hill, is that when a hurricane like this one blows up from Mexico or the Gulf and it rains all day and night, dumpin' like 8 or 9 inches of water on your town, you're very unlikely to be forced to flee or watch your car being swept away. Barring any mud slides from the yard above mine, I'll be fine.

Of course, I hate to see the folks who live in low lying parts of town or trailer parks being forced to flee to high ground. God bless those folks. But I think the same thing happened to them the last time one of these hurricanes blew through. Mmmm, maybe those folks from the last time learned their lesson and moved, and now it's a completely new bunch of folks fleein' for high ground?

Anyway, when Hermine hit us yesterday morning, my cats all retreated to the back porch. It's covered and has a nice dry, cozy swing they can sleep on. There's also a heated, electric foam pad (unplugged) out there for them to relax on. From top to bottom: Tiger, Sandy, Rusty, W (starin' at the camera), Hissy, and Lulu. My babies.

Normally, they wander the neighborhood and sprawl out under someones bush during the heat of the afternoon. Or, they come in the cat door and chill out on or under the bed in the guest room. But when a hurricane is spinning off 8 or 9 inches of havoc, even my little pooties are smart enough to know how to come in from the rain.

Considering what's been going on lately, I've got very little to do these days, aside from the few specific tasks I've been given by my attorney. Working on those took much of the morning and afternoon. There was yard work in the mix, and a trip to Temple to do some chores with mom, but the hurricane killed those plans. By the time I got home from one task, it was time to cook dinner.

I'd soaked a few chicken breasts in Teriyaki sauce and chicken fajita seasoning the night before, and there was a tub of potato salad (for Denise), another tub of Macaroni salad (for me), and some left-over baked beans there to go with the chicken. Denise was gonna be home from work some tome around 6:30, so I tossed the chicken in the pan and grabbed my camera.

The car went in to the Toyota place this morning. Now I'm sittin' here, watchin' some show on NatGeo, waitin' to find out how much it's gonna cost to get it back. The show is about how close we are in DNA to chimps. Turns out we share something like 98% of our genes. That's like the difference between a horse and a zebra. Pretty wild.

Today is gonna be fun. A good buddy of mine is gonna drive into town for a doctors appointment, and then after he gets loose from that, we're gonna hang out and go get something to eat. You remember my buddy John, and that possibles bag I was making him?

Well, today's the day he gets it. You can see the finished product there on the left. I hope he likes it. It'll be fun to hand it over. I think he's gonna hand me a big bottle of George Dickel in exchange. Mmmmm, good.

He has a liquor store there in San Saba, and I've been tellin' him about some of the interesting stores we've got around here. So I think we're gonna do a liquor store tour, and then hit a good Chinese food place. Maybe I can talk him into Dynasty in Temple. With my car in the shop, he'll have to drive. We'll see. One way or the other, we'll have a great time.

Aside from all that, I'll be calling and talking to the folks in Austin today who run an accelerated certification program for those who want to teach in the public school. I think that's my best bet for another good, full-time gig with benefits and retirement. Ideal scenario... I get rehired by my old employer, and then I get hired to teach high school in Florence, or somewhere else that's very much like Florence. I could teach AP classes and then high school too. That'd be cool.

After teaching college for 20 years, maybe it's time to switch gigs. I'm still young, and life is a journey designed for learning. We'll see how it goes. Stay dry out there, and I'll keep you informed on everything that's goin' on. Cheers.

Update: It turns out the quick lube dudes failed to put on a drain plug gasket when I had my oil changed last. Dodged a bullet there, so all is well. I'll be able to drive John all over the place and show him a good time. Cheers again.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Last Saturday.

Saturday started out with my buddy Dave (one of the many Daves that I'm lucky to call "buddy") calling and waking us up at about 10 AM. He keeps farmers hours, ol' Waters. Not sure why. He's old fashioned, so he naturally assumed we'd be up by then.

He'd gone over to the home of and old school administrator we both know and had a new purchase to show me.

It's an 1817 Springfield flintlock musket. He laid out all the details on the gun, which he's paying $2000.00 for. Man, I miss that full-time paycheck. One thing he wanted to assure Denise was that this gun was made too late to have taken part in any of the unpleasantness between our two countries. I tell ya, there's nothing like holding a piece of history like this in your hands. Imagine the people who held it, and the history it's seen. If it could only talk.

After showing off the new toy, Dave came in to the house and sat on the couch and we talked about all this mess that's subsumed my life in the last week. He's always been supportive in all of my dramas. He's a great, valued friend.

After Dave (Waters) left, I got a call from another valued friend. Dave (Willingham) was driving up from Florence with the contents of my desk and classroom in two boxes.

I'd called down there Thursday to see if the principle wanted me to come down, get my stuff and turn in the key to the room. He told me that CTC had told him not to allow me back in the building. That shocked me. I told him to give the stuff to Willingham, and that I'd drive down and give him the key. But Dave decided to come up. I wasn't going to argue with him too much.

Not only did he bring up all my possibles, the contents of my desk and the maps I had hangin' on the walls. He also brought up the school custodian's jacket. Apparently, Debbie has a tradition of getting a lot of departing kids sign her Florence jacket. She'd always been good to me, taking care of my room and everything, but it surprised me when Dave told me she wanted me to sign her jacket. To me, it signifies the good will that so many people have been showing me as this drama has ensued. The people who know me, who've known me for years, know who I really am. They know I'm not the person those few powerful people have said I might be.

After Dave left, I got a call from my long time friends, Jim and Terry, in Ft. Worth. They'd talked about drivin' down and stoppin' by on the way down to Austin. Three hours later, after a quick stop for sausage at Green's in Zabcikville, they were here, sittin' in my living room. We hung around the house for a while, and I told them all the dirty details of what had gone on this last week. In time, the subject happily changed to other things, like a new cat, and fond memories of when the three of us floated the Grand Canyon in '03 and '05.

We talked about how cool it feels to be part of the small percentage of the population that's actually left the south rim on a visit to the canyon, much less walked into and out of the friggin' thing. We talked about how cool it would be to do it all again in a decade or so. Next time we'll avoid the walk, and do the whole river in one trip. They'll drive us in to Lee's Ferry and fly us out at the dam about 17 days later. It should be cool.

In time, all four of us piled into Terry's Camry and headed for Austin. We drove down 195 and 35, exiting downtown and driving west on 6th street. After debating the topic for a bit, we ended up having dinner at Hut's Hamburgers, a pretty famous local diner. Jim had been there before, when he was briefly working in Austin, but none of the rest of us had ever tried it.

It's Texas, so there's a Longhorn head up on the wall. There's also a Buffalo head up there. That dude glared down at us as we enjoyed out teas and burgers.

And it's Austin, so of course, there are pictures of Stevie, Jimmie, and Lou Ann on the wall.

The food was pretty good, but it wasn't knock-your-socks-off good. The onion rings were awesome though, so I'd go back.

We drove down by the river and soon found a parking lot that looked like it catered to Bat watchers. $7 later we were walkin' a block or so down to the bridge and beginning our wait.

We were NOT alone. This little wildlife drama attracts bat aficionados from all over the world.

And then there's us local folks. Both Terry and I had seen the bat spectacle before, but it's always cool to check it out again. Denise and Jim had never had the pleasure.

The wait turned out to be a long one. But there was plenty of action on the water to watch as we waited. I had a good cigar burnin', and thought now and then, "If I get busted for smokin' in this liberal, pissy assed town, that'll be the capper on the week." I don't think smoking in public is illegal there, but I'm not sure, and I'm kind'a gun shy these days.

We went down under the bridge, thinkin' we'd get to see all the bats come flyin' out of the slats underneath the structure. By the time they did come out, there wasn't enough light for me to capture them with my camera. You can hear them chirpin' though, over my blatherin'.

Here's what we were lookin' for. It's what Terry and I had seen before. The bats come out in a long streaming flock and twist through the sky. I guess, in retrospect, it would have been better for us to be on top of the bridge.

But then, Terry stayed up there, watching from the north end of the bridge, and she didn't see the cloud ether. Maybe it just wasn't our night.

Finally, on our way back north, we stopped at Rudy's and picked up some brisket, jalapeno sausage and cream corn to go. Rudy's is a wonderful BBQ place, and their cream corn is to die for. I ended up bringing home three jalapeno sausage links, a pound of extra lean brisket and a quart of corn.

Jim and Terry dropped us off at the house, and after making a pit stop, drove on back up to Ft. Worth. Denise and I stayed up a bit longer, and then hit the sack about the same time Jim and Terry probably got home. It was a great, great healing day. I loved seein' all my these good friends. It makes me feel truly rich and lucky.

Well, the holiday weekend isn't over yet. Relax and I'll share the rest of it all with you in a bit. Cheers.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Life goes on.

What do you do when you're newly unemployed? Pffft, go to a high school football game, of course. Denise and I hit the road after she got home from Work. We hit the dry cleaners on 57th street, and the3n went by mom's place. She wasn't feeling up to going out to eat, so we just visited for a while. Then we headed out for the game.

My former students from Florence were playing the kids from Holland, Texas, down in Holland. That's where my daddy grew up, kinda. His daddy moved to a farm just outside Holland after my daddy left to go to the army in the 1040s. It's where my uncle Punk, who was still a kid when my daddy left home, grew up went to school. It's about fifteen minutes south of where my mom lives, so Denise and I decided to check out the game after visiting with mom that afternoon.

It was decidedly werd for me to wander out there, knowing what's gone on, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna hide away in the house. These folks know me, and it was great to run into a few students, and former students.

Plus, it was really an awesome game. The kids came to win, and played that way. The QB was one of my students, as were several other players, and the water boy, and about a third of the cheerleaders.

It's always fun to sit in the stands and see them going through these high school rituals. It's a life lesson. Life does go on, and the world continues to turn.

For the Florence folks, it was a great night, and for Denise and I too. We had a blast, and then we drove home and relaxed with a few adult beverages in front of the big flat screen. Of course, it was also very weird to be there, and to see these kids. I guess I'm still in shock about everything, but I've been hearing a lot of encouraging stuff from students and friends in the last few days. And I've been given reason to hope that everything may soon... well, I don't want to go there.

I have to say that it's all been, and continues to be a very educational experience. I've had people telling me for years that I shouldn't be so open on the blog. So revealing of my inner self. Looking back, I can see how this blog has evolved in time, as I have. I went from Fatty Fridays and a futile attempt at a gross out contest with Dick, to posting about my Dad, taking him out to eat and then to football games on Friday nights.

Frankly, I don't think I have anything in there to be ashamed of, but it's another thing to have other people, with their own opinions and motivations, checking out your posts and judging you by their standards. So, from now on, the blog will be private, and I'll be doing this for my own little circle, which is what I thought I was doing all along, but I was proven wrong. I also wanna say that it's been wonderful to read and hear all the well wishes from folks in that last few days. That almost makes it worth while to go through all of this.

No, no it's not. Nothing could make this bullshit worth while. It's too humiliating and horrifying. But Denise and I will work our way through it. So, you guys be cool, and I'll keep you updated on what's going on. Cheers!

Friday, September 03, 2010

You guys know what's goin' on.

I told you that I'd post that appeal to the Windham School District individual who drafted and sent the letter detailing why I was banned from teaching on any Texas prison facility, which led to my first trauma a few weeks back. It's five and a half pages, so brace yourself. Here goes.

My name is Jeff Wilson, and until recently, I was a college professor contracted to teach History and Government at the San Saba Unit by Central Texas College. This letter is meant as an appeal of the charges leveled against me by the Windham School District (WSD) and Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) concerning my physical contact with a prisoner named XXX at the San Saba Unit in 2010.

I’ve been accused of “pushing an offender without provocation”, of violating several specific provisions of the TDCJs PD-22 General Rules, as well as the WSDs employee guidelines. As a result of these charges, I’ve been permanently banned from teaching at any TDCJ facilities in the future.

The official letter listing these violations, informing me of that ban, includes references to PD-22, Rule 7 (Substandard Duty Performance, Violation Level 4), Rule 24c (Use of Unnecessary Force: Non-Provoked Without Serious Injury Violation level 2), Rule 25c (failure on my part to report the alleged use of unnecessary force), and finally the WSD Handbooks rule against, “Using unnecessary force or coercion in dealing with offenders.

The letter asserts that I have “demonstrated clearly” a “lack of remorse” concerning the incident in question, and that I am therefore incompatible with the “mission of the San Saba Unit, of Central Texas College, and of the Windham School District.”

It also questions my safety on the unit, now that this incident has taken place, and the safety of other CTC and WSD employees, as well as the “substantive liability exposure” this incident has drawn to CTC, WSD and the TDCJ. It claims that, due to the nature of the violation, and what it asserts is my attitude about the incident, my permanent removal from the list of approved contracted personnel is a warranted punishment.

This appeal will attempt to set the record straight, as I see it, and answer the assertions and charges leveled at me concerning this incident. Accordingly, let me describe the incident in question, as I remember it, and answer the accusations dealing with the specific violations I’ve been accused of making.

First, I do remember the incident in question, but I don’t remember the specific date on which it occurred. I believe it was sometime around the week of May 3rd, 2010, but I’m not sure about that. On that date, as my noon-to-2:30PM class was letting out, I was walking out of the Education building at the San Saba Unit, headed for the first in a series of locked doors I would go through to exit the unit.

As I exited the door from the Education building, walking past several guards who were patting down inmates, I saw an inmate in my path that I’d had considerable contact with in the past. This inmate, Mr. XXX, had finished all four of the classes I taught at San Saba, and had repeatedly caused disruptions in the last of those classes. I’d been forced to write two cases on Mr. XXX in that last class, including one case for refusing to follow an order (to stop talking in class), and another case for assault (throwing a small object at me while I lectured, hitting me in the eye).

When the second case was written, Mr. XXX was facing serious consequences for that action. I was told at the time that it could add several years to his sentence. A day or so after the case was turned in, the sergeant of the guards, shift supervisor out at San Saba took me into his office and asked me if I thought Mr. XXX intended to hurt me with the object he’d thrown (it was ether a small, rolled up piece of paper or a piece of an eraser). I said that I didn’t think he had.

I expressed the feeling that as annoying as Mr. XXX was, I didn’t want to do anything to add years to his prison term. As much trouble as he’d been, I didn’t want to mess up his life any more than it already was. I expressed to the sergeant and others at that time that Mr. XXX was his own worst enemy… A smart kid, but he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. The sergeant then reduced the severity of the offense, and the assault charge went away.

Mr. XXX was back in class a few days later, smiling, posing to the other offenders and acting like he’d gotten away with something. In retrospect, I wish I’d asked the sergeant something like “If he’d hit you in the eye with something, would you reduce the charge?” But the water has long since dribbled under that bridge.

Regardless, I still would have reduced the charge, because the punishment would have been extreme, considering the nature of his action against me. As I’ve related, Mr. XXX caused me considerable irritation in that last of the four classes that he took from me. But our interaction did not start out negatively.

One day, during the first of those four classes, as I began my lecture, Mr. XXX gave voice to the realization that he’d seen me before. It turned out that Mr. XXX had attended Florence High School, where I also teach (AP) college classes. He said he remembered me from there. It turned out that we knew some of the same people down in Florence. When I asked those people about him, they all remembered him. A few told me to tell him hello, and to give him encouraging messages.

At some later point, probably in an attempt to curry sympathy, he showed me pictures of his baby girl, and he told me about his offense and how he wanted to get his degree and change the path of his life. Mr. XXX, who has a pleasant, humorous demeanor, always did well in my classes. And he was never a significant problem to me, until that last, fourth semester.

After Mr. XXX finished with my classes, he moved on, trying to finish his degree and I moved on to continue teaching other offenders. We’d see one another now and then in the halls. There was often a lot of joking around, but there was never any serious animosity between us. Other offenders often made reference to the trouble Mr. XXX had caused in my class. The whole thing turned into a running joke, with offenders bringing it all up to have a laugh now and then.

People would ask me now and then if I still harbored any animosity for him, and I told them I didn’t. I’ve been teaching for 20 years, and I’ve had MANY students who acted up in class. It’s part of the job, and nothing to get excited about. But the offenders didn’t want to let it go. I even had one offender offer to beat Mr. XXX up in exchange for extra credit on his Final Exam. I laughed at the offer, treated it as a joke (like when they would, tongue in cheek, try to offer me stamps as a bribe on test day), and told the offender that I didn’t have any bad feelings for Mr. Vences. He was out of my life, and no longer a problem in my class.

However, after that semester ran its course, Mr. XXX began to openly refer to me in front of other offenders as his “Little Bitch.” He’d be standing in line in front of the locked gate, waiting to get back to his cell and he’d say something like “You gotta straighten out your little bitch now and then,” and then smile and look up at me. I’d laugh, riddle him with expletives, or say something like “Yea, stop dreamin’” and then move on as soon as the locked gate was opened.

Whenever those kinds of incidents took place, we would always end up laughing about it. He’d call me something, and then I’d call him something in return, and then we’d both laugh. Of course, I could have written him up for those words, but again, there was no harm being done. It was par for the course there at the prison, and it would have been silly for me to take any of it seriously. I’d moved on, and I didn’t want to cause ether of us any more trouble.

The environment there in San Saba is a very coarse, masculine environment. One in which there is always a lot of joking around, a lot of good natured barbs and insults traded, and almost constant physical contact between inmates. They joke around, insult one another and playfully shove and tussle with one another in class, all in full view of cameras, and no one ever comes rushing in to stop it. The very few guards stationed in Education do what they can, but if they had to run into every one of the half-dozen classes being taught at any one time, every time something like that happened, we would have very little time left for teaching.

So, despite my training, which was minimal to begin with, I guess, in time, I got used to the environment... the joking around, the playful insults, and the personal contact. I suppose, in time I began to take it all for granted. But my behavior at San Saba was always in line with the twenty years of experience I’d had teaching in every kind of environment there is, from teaching deployed Navy and Marine Corps personnel on an aircraft carrier during the 1991 Gulf War, to substitute teaching unruly 3
rd graders in a Ft. Worth public school. I learned early on in my career to adapt myself to the environment I was teaching in. Furthermore, I was always reliable, and I was always absolutely professional in the way I did my job there in San Saba, and the WSD officials there will tell you that.

On the day in question, as I was leaving the education building, headed for the next locked door on my journey out of the unit, I saw that Mr. XXX was one of many offenders who were standing along the sidewalk leading to the gate. Without thinking too much about it, I put my hand on Mr. XXX’s shoulder and gave him a shove, pushing him towards the wall. Mr. XXX said something like “Hey,” and the other offenders laughed.

It had been done as a joke, in the spirit of the moment, and in the context of the environment that existed there in the jail. Mr. XXX and I had been trading barbs, back and forth, and that was just my latest shot. It was done with humor, and I expected it to be taken that way. This was the environment that existed there in San Saba. There were several teachers and others there who regularly traded insults with inmates, but it was all just good natured fun. Nothing was ever taken seriously by anyone.

Furthermore, it was done in full view of the guards who were patting down inmates, and in full view of the cameras, and nothing was said to me. No one came to me at any time and said “Hey, don’t do things like that. It’s against the rules.” In the moment, everyone laughed, and I assumed the act had been taken as it was intended… as a joke.

I’m told that when I went through my original orientation in 2008, the orientation preparing my colleagues and I to teach in San Saba, I was told to never touch an offender. But I don’t remember ever hearing that.

I remember a very short orientation, consisting of several instructional videos, the main theme of which seemed to be that we should avoid engaging in personal, sexual relationships with offenders.
I remember being told, among other things, that I should never bring anything into the prison for an inmate, or take anything out of the prison for an inmate. Most of that stuff was obvious. I also remember hearing that I should never let the offenders know any personal information about myself, like my full name and where I live. Well, the offenders found out my full name right off the bat.

My employer, Central Texas College, insisted that we wear name tags displaying our full name on our chest. Furthermore, spending 95% of the next twenty or so months in San Saba with the offenders, I suppose I adjusted my self to the environment I was teaching in. I never forgot where I was, and I never considered any of the inmates to be my friends, or anything other than inmates. But the inmates were my students, and for the most part, I treated them just like I would the other students in my other classes.

When the time came for our follow-up briefing from the same WSD official in 2009, to keep my certification to teach on the unit, the briefing consisted of sitting in the Dean’s office on Ft. Hood for 20 or 25 minutes, talking to that WSD official about the kinds of things that were going on in San Saba. At no time did he say anything to me about not touching inmates. We basically chatted as a group for a brief time, discussing subjects like the difficulty CTC had experienced finding administrative staff to work in San Saba, and that was it.

So, in the context of what had been going on over almost two years, and the experience I’d had in San Saba, you can imagine my shock when what I’d considered innocent contact with Mr. XXX, contact that had been intended as a joke, began to turn into a major incident. It wasn’t until a few months later that I found out, from another offender, that Mr. XXX was having meetings with the Warden. No TDCJ or WSD officials ever came to me in person, immediately after the event or at any other time, telling me that I’d been in the wrong. Furthermore, since I had no idea that I’d done anything wrong, I had no reason to report what I’d done to the WSD or TDCJ.

Months later, while I was in Kentucky on vacation during our three week break between semesters, the CTC administrator in San Saba (who has since resigned), Mrs. Latona, sent me an email asking for my version of the events in question. I must say that I was a little shocked at getting such an email, and I didn’t realize the seriousness of the situation. The event in question had taken place in an instant, and that instant had been at least two months earlier, so I had to think back and try to remember everything.

Rather than wait to consult anyone and find out exactly what I should say, or how serious the situation really was, I jotted down my recollections of the events, including a little about my history with Mr. XXX. In that statement I expressed my feeling that Mr. XXX was blowing what I considered to be an innocent situation way out of proportion in order to retaliate against me for having written him up while he was in my class. I assumed at the time that this was his motivation. I said something about how I never meant to hurt Mr. XXX, and apologized for the contact, and then I sent the email back to Mrs. Latona.

A week or so later, after returning from that vacation, I had a meeting with the Dean of the Ft. Hood CTC campus, who is in charge of CTCs operations in San Saba. I was informed then that the TDCJ had permanently banned me from ever teaching on their facilities. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and neither could the Dean (who has known me for fifteen years). After a few more weeks, the Dean received the official letter from Don Lawrence, the Director of the Divison of Operational Support for the Windham School District. In that letter, listing my official offenses, several assertions are made:

First, Mr. Lawrence quotes me as saying that “I think it is silly to blow such a small thing out of proportion,” and asserts that these words on my behalf “demonstrate that Mr. Wilson firmly believes that instigating unprovoked physical contact, with respect to his role as an instructor, with an adult offender is an appropriate method of behavior management.” He then asserts that, based on this, I “clearly do not meet the standard of a professional educator.”

He goes on to say that it’s clear that I used my “position of authority to intimidate the offender and/or seek revenge.” He says that I further violated the rules by failing to report my contact with Mr. XXX to the appropriate authorities. He asserts that the conduct I engaged in is covered in the WSD Contracted Personnel Handbook, and is covered in the annual briefing, and that I should have known such contact was prohibited.

In response to these assertions, I would simply point out that, at no time, to my knowledge, was the issue of personal, non-sexual contact between offenders and instructors covered in the briefing. I would also remind you that the original briefing was just that… brief. I’m told that all WSD and TDCJ personnel who are trained to work on prison units in Texas receive a two to three day security briefing. My colleagues and I with CTC only spent two or three hours in a back room on Ft. Hood watching various short videos. And the follow up briefing in 2009 was nothing more than an informal conversation in the Dean’s office.

So, having received an abbreviated security briefing, being ignorant of the rules banning all physical contact with offenders, and having spent almost two years in an environment where there is regular physical contact, it was natural for me to view the physical contact in question within the context of the environment in which it occurred. In THAT environment, and in THAT context, the incident was easy to view as innocent and forgettable.

I would also say that at NO TIME did I ever intend this contact between Mr. XXX and myself to be a form of punishment or “behavior management.” It was something that took place in seconds, with no forethought, and was considered to be a joke, nothing more. Again, in the context of the environment there in San Saba and the things that had taken place between Mr. XXX and I, I can understand why someone would think that I had animosity for him. But I’ve been a professional educator, teaching adults and children for twenty years, and unruly students are a normal part of the job. They come and go, and I would NEVER seek retribution outside the school for such silly behavior.

Furthermore, on the occasions when I did have chances to exact some sort of retribution against Mr. XXX, when he’d been written up for assaulting me in class, or when one of his fellow offenders offered to beat him up for me in exchange for extra credit on his Final Exam, I quickly backed off and avoided such retribution. As I said before, when Mr. XXX was out of my classes, he was no longer a problem for me. End of story.

Finally, Mr. Lawrence states in the last paragraph of his official letter that my actions “were intentional and without remorse,” and that they “pose significant security and safety concerns for offenders and staff, as well as substantive liability exposure to CTC, TDCJ and WSD.”
He goes on to say that the nature of my offense has risen to “an egregious level,” warranting my dismissal from the approved contracted personnel list on a permanent basis.

As I have said before, my action toward Mr. XXX was intended as an innocent, incidental contact, without any intention to hurt him in any way. I will continue to assert that the action in question, considering the context of time and place, is being blown completely out of proportion. From the official wording of Mr. Lawrence’s letter, the reader would think that I cornered Mr. XXX in the classroom and beat him within an inch of his life. One would think I was a raving lunatic, bringing everyone around me into danger of life and limb. In fact, the opposite is the case.

If you interview any of my co-workers out in San Saba, or any of the people I’ve worked with over the last fifteen years at the CTC campus on Ft. Hood, they’ll tell you how shocking these allegations are. The notion that I would pose a physical threat to anyone is bizarre in its inception.

I’m at a loss to explain how these conclusions, laid out by Mr. Lawrence in his letter, could have been arrived at. At NO TIME has Mr. Lawrence ever sought a personal interview with me, or personally observed my conduct in an actual classroom setting. For him to assert, as he does in his official letter, that I “clearly do not meet the standard of a professional educator” is absurd and absolute slander, amounting to defamation of character, and is in itself worthy of legal action on my part.

Furthermore, the notion that what happened between Mr. XXX and I might pose a danger to other inmates or staff in the unit is equally silly. Everyone I know, including those I worked with on a daily basis in San Saba, who have been made aware of what has happened here has expressed shock at not only the response by the WSD and TDCJ, but also the severity of that response.

I’m even told by reliable sources that the other offenders in San Saba are just as surprised by these events as the rest of us, and that they are expressing anger at Mr. XXX because they are now unable to take my classes, and therefore unable to finish their degrees. They are also telling other instructors that Mr. XXX has been bragging since my dismissal about how he “Got my bitch ass,” and making other similar statements.

For my part, I’ve been a professional educator for twenty years, and I will continue to be fully employed as one in the foreseeable future. I enjoyed working in San Saba, helping to try to give those offenders who would apply themselves a hand up from the path their lives have taken. I thought Mr. XXX was one of those. He may well be. I would enjoy working there again. Accordingly, if the WSD and TDCJ ever change their minds about this situation, I will always be available for an interview.

Well, considering what's happened in the last few days, I doubt the letter will have the desired effect. But I sent it anyway. What the hell.

By the way, I've reset this blog to be open to the public. When it comes to the post in question, from the 17th, I believe I never did anything wrong, I have nothing to hide, and nothing to be ashamed of.

So be it (on advise of counsel, I've replaced the offenders name with XXX and made the blog private again. It'll probably stay that way).