Miami Edison Attack: Not Gone, But Almost Forgotten

It has been roughly one week since the violence and protest at Miami's Edison High School -- the media has all but forgotten what transpired there, and even the community's outcries have softened. Surely, last week's events still burn in the memories of the student who was attacked by Assistant Principal Perez, the approximately 25 students who were attacked by police and certainly in the thoughts of the 19 students who were arrested. Granted, 18 of those 19 students were released from juvenile detention following the community's protest last Monday morning, but even that gesture is one short and barely scratches the surface of the rallying students' long (but not wholly unreasonable) list of demands.

In reflecting on the way things escalated at Edison, I can't help but question the lack of accountability -- not so much for the hordes of police officers who laid siege to Edison High, but rather for those first few officers who created such a hostile situation, and even more for the school administrators who should have (and easily could have) diffused the situation with explanation rather than confrontation.

In Tinkler v. Des Moines School District, the U.S. Supreme Court held that where a student's protest impedes the school's function, that student may not protest. On its face, one might conclude that the law in Tinkler upheld the actions of school officials and police, but the Court's reasoning paints a much different picture. In Tinkler, the Court recognized the necessity of everyone's right to protest (including students), but went on to say that as important as that right may be, the school's public purpose of educating its students is of even greater importance, and when a protest interferes with the school's ability to fulfill its responsibilities that protest should be postponed. For example, if students were protesting instead of going to class, then that protest should be disbanded, and the students should go to class then and protest later; if students who did not currently have an academic obligation were protesting, but were doing so in such a way that they disturbed classes in session, then that protest should be disbanded and students should protest at another time. What the Tinkler Court is actually saying is that it is more important for the students to be in class getting an education than to exercise their right to protest.

How, then, does the response initiated by the administrators and police at Edison High School further the school's purpose of educating these children? Should the school and its officials not be held to the same standard that the U.S. Supreme Court applies to students?

It seems to me that it would be nearly impossible for the school to fulfill its purpose of educating these students after they've been violently attacked, handcuffed, forcibly removed from the premises, and locked up in jail. Am I missing something here?