The Gentle Reader has probably heard the story of the boy who was taken into custody by police and suspended from school because the school bureaucrats thought his homemade electronic clock looked like a bomb. Popehat has a few good thoughts on the incident here.
I’m not surprised at the way the young man was treated. When my son was in the 8th grade, one of Will’s teachers had overloaded an extension cord powering equipment she was using for some sort of presentation. The cord caught fire. When my son saw the smoke, he pulled the cord out of the wall outlet, and then he stomped out the flames. The teacher wanted him suspended for disrupting her class.
Later that year, he was in a class being held in a large room with no natural light. Electrical work was being done in that part of the building, and the breaker panels had been left open. Someone switched off the lights, leaving my son’s class milling around in a dark space. Will went over and flipped a breaker to turn on a light which allowed the class to evacuate the space. The Principal wanted to expel him for fiddling with electrical stuff again. When I was called to the school office, I rather forcefully pointed out that my son had probably prevented the incident from becoming more serious. The Principal was adamant; a middle school kid shouldn’t have his hands in the breaker panel. I agreed but pointed out two things to the Principal. First, Will had an amateur radio license, and one of the exam sections includes questions on electrical safety. Could the Principal document having passed an exam on that topic? Second, the way the panels were left open was an OSHA violation. Should we drop the matter or should I make a phone call? My son had no further trouble.
Pushback is necessary. If it fails, perhaps we need to bring back tar and feathers.