12 year-old whistleblower in fire drill debacle, target of brutal backlash
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Apr. 9, 2013
Reporter: Maggie Vespa
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Last week, 9OYS brought you a strange story from one TUSD middle school, of children literally put on parade; a parade of humiliation.
Now, it seems the whistleblower, a 12 year-old girl, is paying the price.
Sarah Morales would like to go back to school.
"Usually I wake up everyday and go in the car with my sister," she said.
But since Thursday, she's stayed home from Alice Vail Middle School.
That's when, after a now-infamous fire drill, a teacher forced her and her classmates to parade around the school, carrying signs reading 'i want to die in a fire.'
9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked Sarah, "Do you still think about that day sometimes?"
She responded, "Yeah. I think about the humiliation and what he made us go through."
What's worse, says Sarah's mother, is the backlash the family has seen since, including online comments, calling this 12 year-old an "idiot" and a "brat".
They've also received threatening phone calls.
"Society has become really cruel, very very cruel," said Sallymarie Schreiber.
All this comes as a key player in the matter, stays silent.
Vespa asked "Have you heard from the school, from the district, from anybody?"
Schreiber responded, "Not a word. Not a word, and that shocks me."
Sarah added, "Makes me feel sad, like the school doesn't care."
But that's a feeling TUSD administrators say they are working to avoid, with phone calls and a letter to parents.
In it, the school's principal talks about how the teacher "...allegedly used poor judgment...",
adding the district "...has high standards for all of our teachers' use of appropriate management methods."
Administrators say beyond that, the matter is confidential.
"We have the responsibility to make sure we're treating our students with dignity and with respect, and whenever we don't meet that mark, then it's our job to follow through and hold people accountable," said assistant superintendent Dr. Abel Morado.
But it's a letter and a call Schreiber says she never got.
"They're saying they phoned everybody. It's funny how we were left out," she said.
And until she does, she says her daughter won't be headed back.
Dr. Morado says, since Sarah hasn't been in school, her mom wouldn't have received that letter. It went home with students.
But he says the phone call is an oversight that administrators will work to correct as soon as possible.