Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It Started With A Question About School Uniforms

I have been following the recent tribulations of a popular milblogger and active duty soldier for a month or so and his battle with the Huntsville, AL school board. I will post some links to allow you to read all the background on this, but for right now I just want to raise your awareness of what is going on and give you the Reader's Digest condensed version of what is happening with CJ Grisham.

A little while ago the Huntsville school district decided they would mandate school uniforms for their students. Bear in mind Huntsville is home to Redstone Arsenal, the US Army Missile Command. The school that MSG Grisham's kids attended held a PTA meeting at which they were going to discuss the upcoming uniforms and the impact on the parents. At the time there were a couple of different styles under consideration. During the meeting CJ asked a question about the cost. The response was basically "sit down and shut up." There was a follow-up meeting and once again CJ and his wife tried to get some answers about the cost and at that time they were told the school had already decided on which uniform they were going to use and that discussion was now over. CJ objected and at that time the school administrators got ugly.

First, they threatened to have him removed from the meeting and, if I recall correctly, he did wind up having to leave, but the school administrators did not leave it there. They contacted his chain of command and in essence said that CJ had threatened them and they then went on to write letters to the editor alluding to fact that CJ may be suffering from PTSD and was a danger to the school.

The chain of command, of course, began leaning on Grisham, who, rather than take down his blog, simply transferred ownership, so to speak, to his wife while they continued their fight to clear his name, which the school officials were now dead set on smearing.

The story was picked up by a local radio talk show host, Dale Jackson, and soon it was attracting national attention, at least within the military community.

There is one aspect of military life that is not widely known except in the communities around military installations, and that is if you have problem with a soldier, a few well placed phone calls to the chain of command is normally all it takes to put a soldier between a rock and hard place. Businesses use this sort of tactic all the time, but to have a school do this over a dispute about the cost of school uniforms borders on the absurd. The school officials throughout this entire episode have acted like petty little tyrants and rather than address the issues, they have done nothing but besmirch and smear this man and his family.

CJ is due to transfer to Ft, Hood soon, but as a result of this incident he had to send his kids to live with some relatives, resulting in what will be about a six-month separation. A separation at a time when military families are already feeling the punch of numerous deployments.

Well, CJ has a lawyer now and he going after the school board. He obviously doesn't have the funds to afford one so he is asking for help, and I can't tell you how much it took out of him to ask for it.

Update: Here is the link if you wish to help.

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