Cop Abuses his Authority to Gain Access to Classroom
Officer John Mott visited the Spaulding high school in Barre Town, VT at midnight on April 9 while on duty, in uniform, and out of his jurisdiction. He gained access to a classroom, and took photographs of the student projects he claimed offended him as an American and a retired military man.
According to Dorothy Anderson, the Superintendent of the High School, Mott banged on the front door of the high school to get the attention of night custodian Arnold Cliche, and that Cliche opened the door and let him in. Officer Mott proceeded to a classroom and took pictures of the students' projects.
""I find it disturbing that a police officer would wear his uniform under such circumstances thereby intimidating our employee (Cliche) into letting him in the building at a very unusual hour."" - Anderson
Barre Town Police Chief Michael Stevens and Town Manager Carl Rogers have ordered Mott to supply school officials with copies of the photographs, but Mott has refused to apologize for his actions and has refused to comply with the order.
Mott said he took the photographs after attending a school board meeting at which several residents complained about the ""indoctrination"", rather than ""education"" of the students. A local resident Norma Malone said that students from a largely conservative community are being urged to view the world through a liberal lens. ""There's nothing from the center or from the right,"" she said.
Tom Treece, the teacher of the class acknowledges his public criticisms of the war in Iraq and President Bush have irked many in the community. However, he said that he supplies his students with a broad range of resources and encourages them to use them to come to their own conclusions. ""I tell kids from day one: 'I don't want you to agree with me, I want you to be informed and think for yourselves,"" he said. ""I have never squashed dissent in my class in any way, shape or form.""
""As a teacher he (Treece) does present all sides of an issue,"" Anderson said.
Regardless of Mr. Treece's educational approach, Officer Mott abused his authority as a local law enforcement officer to gain access to a school and pursue his personal objectives.
- David Delcore, ""Cop takes 'midnight photos' of teacher's classroom,"" The Times Argus, May 5, 2003.