Mental health issues, not books, led to teacher’s suspension
Reports circulated this weekend that a middle school teacher in Dorchester County, Md., had been placed on administrative leave over his two futuristic novels about school violence. That is not that case, authorities tell the L.A. Times.
“It didn’t start with the books and it didn’t end with the books,” State’s Attorney for Wicomico County Matt Maciarello told The Times. “It’s not even a factor in what law enforcement is doing now.”
FOR THE RECORD
Sept. 3, 6:21 a.m.: An earlier version of this post misstated the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act as HIPPA. It is HIPAA.
Also, a statement by Matt Maciarello, state’s attorney for Wicomico County, has been revised by Maciarello. The statement -- “Everyone knew about the book in 2012.” -- has been changed to: “A 2012 police report about McLaw included information about his book, so law enforcement had been aware of it for some time.”
There have been no charges filed against Patrick McLaw, a teacher at Mace’s Lane Middle School in Cambridge who self-published two novels, “The Insurrectionist” (2011) and “Lilith’s Heir” (2013), under the pen name Dr. K.S. Voltaer.
Free-speech supporters who believed the author was targeted for the books’ stories of school massacres in 2902 have been purchasing the novels from Amazon. “Bought this in protest of the local authorities arresting and confining this person just for being a teacher and writing a book about a school killing,” reads a typical comment, one of more than 100.
In fact, McLaw has not been arrested. No warrant for his arrest has been issued.
Concerns about McLaw were raised after he sent a four-page letter to officials in Dorchester County. Those concerns brought together authorities from multiple jurisdictions, including health authorities.
McLaw’s attorney, David Moore, tells The Times that his client was taken in for a mental health evaluation. “He is receiving treatment,” Moore said.
Because of federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations mandating privacy around healthcare issues, he was unable to say whether McLaw has been released.
McLaw’s letter was of primary concern to healthcare officials, Maciarello says. It, combined with complaints of alleged harassment and an alleged possible crime from various jurisdictions led to his suspension. Maciarello cautions that these allegations are still being investigated; authorities, he says, “proceeded with great restraint.”
What’s more, he told The Times, a 2012 police report about McLaw included information about his book, so law enforcement had been aware of it for some time.
McLaw, who is also known as Patrick Beale, was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 22 due to “concerns raised by law enforcement,” according to an official statement by the Dorchester County Public Schools.
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