There’s a lot of pressure on schools these days, both to perform academically and mold their students into productive members of society. Given that most kids are, well, terrible, schools can be given a lot of leeway when it comes to making mistakes. Then you have these 10 schools, which couldn’t have made worse decisions if they tried.
10. School lets kid dress up like Hitler… while students from a Jewish school are visiting
Unless you’re a prominent YouTuber trying to be an edgy douche-lord or someone in the comment section of an article about politics, there aren’t many reasons to ever invoke the image of noted asshat Adolf Hitler.
Apparently nobody told the people in charge of Alice Springs’ St Philip’s College in the UK this when a student asked them if he could dress like the Nazi leader for an event celebrating books and history, and they said sure, why not. Along with letting the unnamed child walk around dressed like the architect of the Holocaust, the school also gave him an award for best costume and let him lead a parade displaying all the costumes people wore that day. The parade, it should be mentioned, was held in front of guests from a Jewish school who were shockingly okay with seeing a child be applauded for dressing like a man who once tried to exterminate their entire race.
9. School tries to ban Harry Potter for being about magic, allows students to read Chronicles of Narnia series
According to figures gleaned from lists of “controversial books,” entries from the Harry Potter series are consistently the most challenged books in public school libraries. While the reasoning given by parents tends to vary, the most common is that the series promotes witchcraft and the occult. Which is bad, we guess?
For example, in the year 2000 a British school banned the series from classrooms for not fitting with the “ethos” of the Church of England, which partially funded the school and its curriculum. This on its own would be okay, because schools can set whatever rules they like for students; however, the school’s reasoning kind of fell flat when the head revealed that students who weren’t allowed to read Harry Potter had studied The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. When asked how they could justify banning one book about wizards and magic but not another, the school explained that the latter book was okay because it “shows an evil witch who is overcome by the powers of good.” You know, because nothing like that ever happens in the Harry Potter series.
8. High Schools gives MacBook to every student, spies on them
High school is already stressful enough, what with the constant pressure from peers, friends, and family to do well academically, socialize with the right people, and be up to date on the latest memes. One high school in Pennsylvania decided to help students with at least one of these things by issuing every single one of them with a brand-spanking new MacBook courtesy of a government scheme to ensure no child would be left behind, when it came to memes.
What the school didn’t tell students is that they could remotely activate the webcams of every laptop issued whenever they felt like it. Something students weren’t aware of until a kid named Blake Robbins suddenly found himself being punished for “improper behavior in his home,” a euphemism we can all see through for what it almost certainly meant. The problem was, the evidence Robbins’ high school presented as proof of his improper behavior was a photo surreptitiously taken with his laptop’s webcam without his permission. Something apparently nobody working for the school saw as either a big deal or something that could result in them having their butts sued off. Unsurprisingly Robbins’ family (and every parent of a kid at his school) didn’t take kindly to learning that some guy could watch their kids undress remotely and promptly sued the everloving crap out of the school.
7. School suspends kid for wearing Pepsi shirt on “Coke Day”
Imagine going to school one day and being told to go home because your school was worried that your shirt would offend representative from Coca-Cola. This isn’t a scenario from an American reboot of V for Vendetta or a heavy handed piece of propaganda about the perils of capitalism, but an actual thing that happened to a 19-year-old named Michael Cameron in 1998 at a school in Georgia.
Cameron was sent home by a school representative on a school day celebrating everything Coca-Cola for wearing, according to a contemporary report, “a blue-and-white shirt with a small Pepsi logo” on it. The school defended their decision by saying that it was disruptive and could potentially offend a visiting Coca-Cola rep who was visiting the school. As for why the school cared, that’s because said rep was potentially going to award the school $10,000 and Cameron’s prank potentially ruined it for them.
Along with bringing up multiple uncomfortable questions about why a school was placing the feelings of monolithic corporation before the education of its students, the whole ordeal made the school look bad because nobody from Coke actually cared. That aforementioned representative who the school was desperately trying to appease went on record as saying it was no big deal, while a representative from Pepsi commended Cameron on his flawless fashion choice and promised him a lifetime of Pepsi branded shirts.
6. School suspends South African student for trying to have himself nominated for a distinguished African-American Student award
In 2004, an Omaha student named Trevor Richards was summarily suspended when posters of him giving a huge thumbs up were found plastered all over his school on Martin Luther King Day, asking for students to vote for him as the school’s “Distinguished African-American Student of the Year.” The crux of Richards’ campaign was that, as he was the only student in the entire school from Africa, he was the only person who technically classified as African-American, so he should get the award by default. Which, if we’re honest, is pretty flawless logic.
The school, however, didn’t agree, primarily because Richards was white, which while also accurate. But it didn’t change the fact he was in fact African-American. The school, not wanting to admit that it didn’t realize white people could come from Africa, quietly shifted the blame to black students, insisting that Richards had offended an unspecified number of them. You know, because nothing says we appreciate and value the opinions of our black students like blaming them for your own incompetence.
5. School shuts down because of first verse of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song
Teachers and educators are in a fairly unique position, culturally speaking, in that they have to be up to date on all the latest fads, media, and slang, even if they don’t care about it, just so that they can be sure that kids in their classes aren’t secretly talking about drugs or something.
This makes it kind of hilarious, then, that a school once locked down like Fort Knox being attacked by a bunch of Transformers when a member of staff failed to recognize the opening verse to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s theme song. The school, which is located in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, locked down while the offending student was tracked down by the police and grilled about whether he was going to blow up his school, because someone misheard him singing the theme song as his outgoing voicemail message and thought he was threatening to “shoot up a school” when he was actually talking about “shooting some b-ball.” The poor student then had to explain to the police what The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was while they listened carefully to both his voicemail and the theme song to ensure they were the same thing.
4. A school once banned To Kill a Mockingbird and got dunked on by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is rightfully considered one of the singular most important books ever written. So much so that academics once claimed every adult should read it at least once and librarians say it’s more important, culturally, than the the Bible. Despite the whole point of the book being that you shouldn’t judge a man by the color of his skin, countless busybodies have tried to have the book banned from schools based purely on the fact it uses the N-word. While this isn’t technically judging a book by its cover, it’s about as close to it as you can get without it bursting into the flames due to irony.
On one such occasion a school board in Virginia tried to ban the book in 1966, citing that it was immoral due to the fact the book contains rape as a plot device. A criticism it turns out was simply a cover for a far more depressing, yet predictable reason for not wanting the book taught in schools: that a white character expresses that they’re attracted to a black one. This so annoyed the notoriously reclusive author of the book, Harper Lee, that she sent $10 to the school board along with a letter advising they use it to enroll in the first grade to learn basic English comprehension.
Mysteriously, after being called out by one of America’s finest living authors, the school board backed the hell down and then claimed that they’d never tried to single out the book at all. Solving the problem forever, until of course schools in the same state did the exact same thing 50 years later and banned the book anyway.
3. School suspends boy for having Pop-Tart shaped like gun
Guns in schools is a fairly controversial topic with there generally being two, if you’ll excuse the pun, schools of thought. On one side you have people who think children we don’t allow to vote, join the military, drink, or watch pornography because they’re emotionally immature, should be able to carry a handgun; on the other you have people who take a zero tolerance approach. Oh, and when we say zero tolerance, we mean it. Just ask the young boy from Anne Arundel County in Maryland who was suspended in 2013 for biting his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun and using it to pretend to shoot other students. The school, seemingly just to rub it in, then tried to have the boy’s school record permanently amended to say he threatened violence against others.
On one hand you can see why some people would feel uncomfortable about this, and feel the need to make a big deal about it. On the other, the boy in question was 7-years-old. People worry stuff they do as a dumb teenager following them around for the rest of their life; imagine having your entire school career ruined because of something you did when you still thought cotton candy was made from girl clouds.
2. School lets asthmatic boy die because he wasn’t allowed to carry around his inhaler
Being asthmatic sucks and for the most part, most educational institutions understand that kids suffering from the condition need to be give special considerations. A Straffordville school in Ontario, it seems, was not one of those institutions when they let a 12-year-old boy under their care die because his only inhaler was being kept in a safe he wasn’t allowed immediate access to.
According to the boy’s mother, Sandra Gibbons, her son Andrew was repeatedly reprimanded by school staff for carrying a spare inhaler on his person during his time at the school and she would constantly have to deal with angry phone calls from staff asking why her son was carrying medicine he needed to breathe in his pocket. Something that was apparently against school policy; a policy, we should add, the school was never able to properly defend because there’s not really anyway you can frame yourself as the good guy when you’re literally dangling inhalers just out of the reach of kids struggling to breathe. Hell, that’s the kind of thing school bullies do and at least a school bully would hand over the inhaler if the kid they were tormenting had a genuine asthma attack.
1. High school teacher makes kids wear cone of shame
Nothing crushes self-esteem more thoroughly than a stint at high school, and teachers are supposed to try and stop that from happening by, say, not making them wear a device specifically created to humiliate them in front of their peers. A sentiment a former Florida teacher named Laurie Bailey-Cutkomp would probably have called “kinda gay” before pushing it down a flight of stairs while a letterman jacket materialized onto her body.
We say this because in 2012 Bailey-Cutkomp was caught making teenage students wear a cone around their heads called “the cone of shame” for misbehaving, a punishment so archaic and ridiculous, she literally stole it from a Pixar movie. Specifically, Up. Upon being caught elbow dropping the self-esteem of teenagers from orbit, Bailey-Cutkomp told everyone it was just a joke, because “it’s just a prank bro” always works when defending objectively awful behavior. Parents and the school board weren’t convinced and quickly removed her from the classroom, missing a prime opportunity to make Bailey-Cutkomp wear the cone herself for an entire school year to prove that it wasn’t a big deal.