Just what really constitutes a mistake?

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 3, 2006

A mistake is defined as “to blunder in the choice of; to misunderstand the meaning or intention of; or to identify wrongly.

I offer that as the intro to what I am about to say, because I wanted to know exactly what the definition was when I heard the following story.

It seems there is a school principal in Hampton Roads who is home today, and will be for several more days, waiting out a 10-day, unpaid suspension for emailing pornographic material to his colleagues at the school.


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A number of parents were up-in-arm when they found out, as well they should have been, and suggested the school board fire this man.

However, in their decision pertaining to the principal’s future, the opted for the suspension, saying the man had made a mistake and 10 days off was apparently enough punishment.

Now my take on this.

At first I didn’t think that what this man did fell into the category of mistakes, that is until I found the aforementioned definition, which begins with the word blunder.

Based on that, I suppose I can give the board and the principal the benefit of the doubt and say perhaps what he did was a blunder, but does anybody really believe he didn’t know what he was doing?

What if he had caught a teacher, or a student, viewing the same sort of Web sites, or sending them around the school? Do you think the first word that would come to his mind would be ‘blunder.’ I think not.

And how about those computers at the school? Aren’t they supposed to be filtered and blocked with everything known to man to keep those kinds of sites from popping up, or being called up by the user? It sounds like this man didn’t have filters on his machine, totally ignoring the age-old “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

But then maybe he had all those filters and brought the stuff from home on a disk. If that is true, does that sound like he blundered, that he didn’t know what he was doing? Sounds pretty pre-meditated to me.

I don’t know if I agree with the school board’s decision on this one.

What are the students, and this man’s peers, supposed to do now? A principal is one who is to be looked up to and respected, admired for his or her accomplishments, even revered in some circles. But this man is being talked about behind his back, and I am sure those young, impressionable students are asking why they can’t do it if the adult is doing it?

Unless you work for a company that builds these pornographic Web sites, or work for some law enforcement agency that examines them to make sure laws are not being broken, I can’t think of any company that would allow such activity. And this is especially true in

the schools.

No, I don’t agree with the board. I think this man should be in the unemployment line today, sending a very strong message to those who remain employed that such things will not be tolerated.

And I think the taxpayers of the community should remain up-in-arms until they received satisfaction.

Every story has a silver lining, and I had to think about this one for some time. But this one does have it.

At least this didn’t happen in Suffolk.

By the way, have you already wondered what would have happened to the principal had it occurred here? Just something to think about.

Lower the tax rate

I have a plan for helping city council cut the tax rate. All they have to do is place police officers on Main Street and start pulling over and ticketing drivers and passengers who are not wearing seatbelts.

Sitting at Constance Road and Main Street the other day I started counting these offenders. If my numbers were right, it was about 6-7 out of 10 drivers/passengers.

Douglas Grant is managing editor of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9603 or at doug.grant@suffolknewsherald.com