Tuesday, May 13, 2014

No Ceremony For You!

Amherst Regional High School in bloom


Perhaps the most memorable rite of Spring around our education oriented Happy Valley is graduation day -- especially High School graduation.

A special time with your friends to celebrate what seemed like endless years of dedication and focus, all together as one BIG happy family, perhaps, for the very last time.

But this coming June, as some 240+ ARHS seniors march down the isle of the Mullins Center in their caps and gowns to the tune of "Pomp & Circumstance," one young man will be absent.

In fact he's been absent since January 27 -- the day Amherst Regional High School failed to open due to an "unforeseen circumstance." 

Dylan Akalis, age 18, a white Holyoke resident who "choiced in" to ARHS was on the receiving end of racial bullying by three black students because he dared to use the "N-word" (5 letter version ending in A) as a term of endearment with a friend who is black.

After repeated fruitless attempts by Dylan and his father (a school employee) to get the schools to protect him, Dylan desperately took matters into his own hands by naively posting a vague "threat" on a Facebook confessions site.



School Superintendent Maria Geryk quickly spotted the anonymous post, but by 3:00 a.m. Monday morning (January 27th) town  Information Technology Director Kris Pakunas had identified Dylan as the poster.

Amherst and Holyoke police interviewed the Akalis family that morning but the High School was closed anyway as a "precaution," while state bomb squad officers searched the building.  No bombs were discovered and Amherst police concluded that Dylan had never actually brought a handgun to school.  Ever.

The three black youth who bullied Dylan went unpunished while Dylan was banned for 12 school days, and his parents then decided to keep him out for the rest of his senior year.  Fortunately he already had enough credits to graduate.

Even the Schools internal investigation corroborated Dylan's story, concluding:  "There were separate behaviors during the series of events that are consistent with the definition of both bullying and racial harassment."

On Friday, May 9,  in a meeting with ARHS Principal Mark Jackson, Dylan's parents were shocked to learn he would not be allowed to march in the ARHS Mullins Center graduation ceremony -- even though Dylan has earned his diploma.

Principal Jackson seemed more concerned about public relations than safety, claiming that allowing Dylan to march with classmates could be disruptive.  However, no media have published Dylan's identify, so you have to wonder how a backlash could occur when the audience would not even recognize him?

Yes, the three black students and their parents know Dylan, but since they are all Juniors why would they attend the graduation ceremony this year?

If Dylan was a teacher of color being racially harassed, the Schools would have provided him a bodyguard.  But since he's just a white inner-city kid who will be attending Holyoke Community College rather than Harvard or Yale, he's on his own.

Makes you wonder how many other kids Amherst Public Schools write off because of the color of their skin?  Or should I say, lack of color. 

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

If a black student posted "but since im calm and am able to keep my composure noone dies," he would be in jail.

Anonymous said...

Any word on the progress of the legal proceedings?

Anonymous said...

The decision-making process, such as it is, is so skewed it borders on the ridiculous. I'm grateful that my kids went through the school system before it lost its mind. I'm inclined to think we should dump the entire administration and start fresh.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why I've already pulled one kid out of Amherst and the next is very soon to follow. This town is nothing more than a bunch of hypocritical cowards that will twist the truth or outright lie to save their butts!

Anonymous said...

If the decision has already been made to not allow him to participate then why did another h.s. senior start an online petition on change.org that asks the administration to forbid his participation in events? Seems like they just want to add further insult and injury to this kid, especially when you read some of the one-sided comments on there.

Anonymous said...

Who started the petition? If Dylan's name is now public, shouldn't her's be too?

Anonymous said...

This is Amherst, us white folk can't complain. If u white u got no right to say it's racism. You called it spot on Larry.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, as soon as I get my hands on the petition.

After all, she outed Dylan. Fair is fair.

Anonymous said...

petition started by

https://www.facebook.com/camila.carpio.980?fref=ts

Larry Kelley said...

Do you have a link to the petition?

Anonymous said...

Wow, she sure doesn't like white people much.

Anonymous said...

You have to "browse" through many pages of "recent" petitions to find it.

Anonymous said...

Someone should start a petition to allow him to participate. The way this whole thing was handled has been messed up from the beginning and the ending is just as bad.

Anonymous said...

The way this whole thing was handled has been messed up

No one knows how it was handled, the disciplinary actions the students received, including the black students who bullied the white student, has not been made public.

Unless someone can tell us what sort of consequences all the kids involved received? And if you can't just admit you don't know HOW it was handled.

Anonymous said...

http://www.change.org/petitions/amherst-pelham-regional-schools-forbid-student-s-who-threatened-to-bring-a-gun-to-schoool-participation-in-the-amherst-regional-high-school-graduation-ceremony-and-all-other-amherst-pelham-regional-school-sponsored-events

Larry Kelley said...

Thanks. Found it a few minutes ago. She has her facts wrong.

And sorry folks, for some reason the comments section does not like to allow hot links so you have to copy and paste into your browser.

Anonymous said...

I guess what it comes down to is that, in Amherst, it is better to be the son of a guidance counselor than the son of an electrician.

Anonymous said...

Omg! Why does this angry young girl wield so much power? And who will hold her accountable for her actions if indeed she has gotten her facts wrong?

Anonymous said...

Yikes! This is the same kid who won an "award" for (what I consider) a racist rant about how kids of color are "persecuted" at Amherst High. I believe all students should be held to the SAME standard, and if they misbehave, they should be punished. Color blind. This child read her award-winning rant at the start of school rally on the Common last Fall, and I had to remove my elementary school kids from this angry angry kid. Does anyone really believe that Amherst (of all places) is not a good place for people of color? Just wait until they get into the real world!

Anonymous said...

This is infuriating! I had the same thought that you did Larry. If we can provide a "guard" for a "professional" school employee aka teacher, why the hell can't we insure the safety of the kid. Outrageous. This ship is sinking at a rapid rate.

Anonymous said...

Treatment of Dylan Akalis by ARHS' venal 'imbedded grievance power structure' has been, truly, a gross miscarriage of justice.

Wake up, Amherst: THIS is the true 'institutional racism' that the town 'needs to have a conversation about.'

Dr. Ed said...

"If a black student posted "but since im calm and am able to keep my composure noone dies," he would be in jail.

REALLY?!?!?!?

Jason Vassell sliced, diced and damn near killed two unarmed men for absolutely no legitimate reason, all of this was recorded on not one but two surveillance cameras and he's not in jail.

He first came out with a clothes iron and wearing a ski mask to disguise himself, and then went back into his dorm room and came back out with a knife. He then lunged across the entire lobby and brutally stabbed the two white kids who were cowering in the far corner.

Hey, there's no doubt here, it's on video. And he never even went to trial.

So don't give me any of this bullshit about how a Black kid would be in jail for that web posting. Not unless you think I believe in the Easter Bunny...

Dr. Ed said...

If he is qualified for graduation but they won't let him attend, I hope he files an MCAD and/or OCR complaint. I'd go OCR -- they love to kill trees and Team Maria isn't anywhere near capable of properly filling out the mandated response to OCR.

Larry, I very rarely say this but I'll help fill out the paperwork if that's an issue.

And the real question is this: exactly how many other students qualified to graduate haven't been allowed to attend graduation over the past 10, 20 or so years? And were any of them Black? If not, ARHS is screwed....

Anonymous said...

What I haven't seen anywhere yet in mainstream local media or here is what kind of punishment the black kids who bullied Dylan received, as far as we know they received a "color blind" disciplinary response from the administration. Maybe if they were graduating seniors Jackson wouldn't have allowed them to attend either, maybe they aren't allowed to attend as spectators this year as juniors. As far as we know now they received equal disciplinary consequences.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:15 PM: Who gave Camila Carpio an award for her angry and abusive rant at the back-to-school celebration on the Common? I remember there were at least two school committee members there video recording her "speech" and loudly cheering her on.

Anonymous said...

Ms Carpio won the Hampshire County Law Day Spoken Word Video, and she delivered the winning rant at the back-to-school rally on the Common.
http://www.arhsparentcenter.org/news/camila-carpio-wins-spoken-word-video-contest

Anonymous said...

If we can't trust the school administration or the Amherst Teacher's Union, how the hell are we going to solve this complex escalating school safety crisis in a peaceful and law abiding manner? Perhaps, we should be envisioning solutions instead of complaining! Perhaps, if we "come together right now" and "occupy" the moral high ground, we can "influence" the outcome of this ongoing school controversy in defense of all our children!

Anonymous said...

^ On point and accurate, Amherst used to be the Mecca for all races to blend. This has been bastardized and mutated into a self-serving, political, "look at me I like everyone" façade that has replaced genuine human interactions and bonds with fake, superficial "friendships" that have no meaning other than to keep up appearances. Shame Amherst for letting this happen. Residents are as responsible as town and civic leaders for allowing this to happen. For a town that prides itself on having a say and standing up for rights, you sure to seem to like to get rolled over...

Anonymous said...

8:24am, What effin' cloud do you come from? If you were from Amherst for any length of time, you would know we tolerate everybody but it doesn't mean we agree with it. If you want a pretty little storybook home, just shut-up and move on.
Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

Camila Carpio's rant on the Common at the back-to-school celebration included much more than what is contained in the poem you posted from youtube.

End the lies said...

"you would know we tolerate everybody but it doesn't mean we agree with it."


Lived there 20 years.


Worked FOR the town.


YOU LIE!

Anonymous said...

20 years? I thought you'd lived in Amherst all your long life, Squeakums.

Anonymous said...

Was that title a Seinfeld reference?

Anonymous said...

I heard that a note was found at the high school today, with another gun threat. (that the kid will be bringing a gun to school tomorrow). The families got a robocall and email saying that an investigation is ongoing and there will be police presence at the school tomorrow. I don't have a kid at ARHS so I just heard this via Facebook. I assume you are on it already, and I look forward to reading your blog as the best source of local stories of this nature.

Larry Kelley said...

CBS Ch 3 noticed my tweet of Jackson's message, so they will have that on the 11:00 PM broadcast.

I'm stuck in Town Meeting at the moment. UGH!

Anonymous said...

If you were from Amherst for any length of time, you would know we tolerate everybody

Really?!?!?

I've seen a hell of a lot more tolerance amongst "red-neck" millworkers. Amherst is an incredibly fascist community -- there is no tolerance for those who do not conform to the defined "tolerance" mindset.

Remember what happened when the pro-life group sought to put a banner over the street -- like everyone else could? Tolerance -- not...

Anonymous said...

Amherst: where the silent H stands for the Hypocrisy no one talks about.

Anonymous said...

Just because you have lived here for twenty years doesn't make you a Townie. Hell, you're barely local. Try a couple of generations and then you will be a Townie. Everybody else is a roaming vagabond who thought they would settle down and make this their own little eutopia. That's who the effin' facists are, the A-holes who move here, stay twenty years, interject their ideas, piss everybody off or mess everything up, then try and blame the people or the town on why their stupidity didn't work. Then they move on leaving us Townies here to tolerate the shit they left. Come here, live here, go to school here but please shut-up and leave if you don't like what you get. After 40 or 50 years the same whiny crap from over educated idiots and pointy-heads just gets boring to hear every year at town meeting.

Anonymous said...

I have two daughters. Both have come up in Amherst public schools until this year. I have pulled them out and now we are homeschooling. The school administration should be ashamed. Bullying is rampant in the Middle and High school and the VICTIMS are constantly criticized. Easier to blame the victim than to investigate legit complaints. Not saying written threats are acceptable but saying these are symptoms of people who feel they have no where to go and are pushed to this place. Just my 2 cents.