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Suit Against School District

* I can understand the hurt and sorrow of Maria Franco and Jorge Licea in the loss of their son, Jorge David Licea. But what I can’t understand is, how does him killing himself in front of the school with his father’s gun justify their plan of filing a wrongful death claim against the Los Angeles Unified School District (May 6)? It seems to me the responsibility lies in their hands, not for having a gun, but for having a gun available to their son.

EDWARD P. LARES

Los Angeles

* The tragedy of the fifth-grader who shot himself outside an LAUSD elementary school is obvious to anyone with children or who has chosen the teaching profession and works with children daily. The parents of this child need to vent their anguish and sorrow. However, their legal action to lash out at the teacher who verbally disciplined this child, the principal of the school and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is misguided and wrong.

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The teacher was performing her job by speaking to the student who, as many have reported, had been disruptive in class. The teacher sent a note home and asked to conference with the parents. All of this took time away from the other students in class. It is a daily occurrence at all schools in the district. This incident in the classroom is not the reason a child took his own life. If this were so, there would be hundreds of such tragedies daily.

Once upon a time the function of a school was to educate children. In recent years, the public and parents have increasingly expected schools and teachers to recognize and cope with psychological problems; provide adequate nutrition; teach basic behavioral and social mores, and many other functions previously done by those at home.We are still expected to fit in academic and enrichment courses as well as keep order in the classrooms. This is all with the highest class sizes in the nation and ever-dwindling support service personnel like psychologists, counselors, nurses, and the like.

If this legal case is decided in favor of the still-grieving parents, then what are teachers expected to do when a child is misbehaving, fighting, or otherwise disrupting a classroom? Are they to look away and ignore the rights of all their students to a positive learning environment or are they to discipline the child, write a note asking for a parental conference about the behavior, and be sued for doing their jobs?

HELEN BERNSTEIN

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UTLA President

Los Angeles

* As usual, common sense and decency flee in the face of greed. This was the only conclusion I could reach upon reading that the family of the 10-year-old who committed suicide has filed suit. Seeking to profit from his death is misplaced as well as gruesome. I am anxious to hear how they and their attorney rationalize depriving countless youngsters of a decent education by raiding scarce school funds instead of holding the only people truly responsible, the parents, accountable for ignoring their son’s anguish and supplying him with the means to destroy himself.

When I read the story that ended with the boy’s father saying that he just didn’t want another child to die this way (April 23), the method of prevention seemed clear; don’t provide your children with guns and do foster a family tradition of caring and open communication so they will be able to turn to you when they need guidance to solve life’s numerous and normal hurdles.

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SANDRA A. WHALING

North Hollywood


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