Friday, November 9, 2012

Weird Crime: Don't bring a calculator to a knife fight

(photo at dvice.com)


Normandy, Missouri

Being a substitute teacher is very hard; I can attest to that from my personal experience as one during the year before I started teaching full time.

The students can smell your fear/uncertainty like a pack of rabid wolves stalking a lost and wounded moose. This in turn can lead to some of them attempting to establish dominance in the classroom by acting out in much worse ways than they ever would if their "real" teacher was present.

So when 64-year old substitute teacher Stanley Covington stepped into Normandy Middle School on Wednesday, November 7 of 2012, just about anyone could sympathize with him having trouble keeping control of a classroom (especially considering the fact that this middle school requires its students to go through metal detectors before entering the building).

Unfortunately, things got out of hand very quickly, for him as well as the students.

It all started when someone was late to class. As anyone who has been a teacher knows, students never believe that they are late to class, even if they arrive to your class 10 minutes after the bell rings.

Instead of writing the kid up or making a note of it for the teacher, however, Mr. Covington began to argue with him. At this point, the class (predictably) went crazy.



This...this is what your classroom has now become



During the ensuing chaos, someone used their calculator for something besides spelling "HELLO" when you turn it upside down...by throwing it and nailing Mr. Covington in the head.

At this point, the narrative takes two very different paths depending upon who you talk to.

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According to Stanley Covington
After being on the receiving end of a TI-85 head shot, Covington left the room to get help from a security guard. When he returned, a knife that he carried with him had been taken out of his bag by another student and placed on his desk to intimidate him.

Why Covington had a large knife with a brass knuckle shaped handle at a middle school is still a concern (he claimed it was for another job), but at least no one got hurt or was threatened with a blade...

...unless you listen to the students' version of the events.

According to the students
After being hit in the head by a calculator, Covington went into his bag, dug out the knife, and went towards the student that had thrown it at him. He held the knife inches from the 8th grader's chest and threatened to cut him.

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Whichever version of the story you believe, a large knife is something that should not be brought into a classroom, especially one that you may have to leave to obtain assistance from a security guard.

To make matters worse, the incident (which happened in the morning) was not reported to police until hours later (near the end of the school day). This means at best, a substitute teacher left an unruly classroom with an easily obtainable weapon.

At worst, a teacher that physically threatened a student with a knife (and was ticked off at the beginning of school) continued to teach the rest of the day.

Embedded below is a local news report on the matter, complete with a photograph of the knife (and a completely unnecessary slow motion close up of Mr. Stanley's surprisingly pleasant looking mugshot).




Stanley Covington was charged with unlawful use of a weapon. He is currently being held on $10,000 bond in the St. Louis County Jail.


...which depending on the day, may actually
be preferable to a middle school classroom.



To read about schools that hired principals with criminal backgrounds (and the predictable chaos that ensued), click here.

Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.