Waterford Kettering High School in Michigan has a curious concept of interesting learning experiences. A teacher reportedly took a class to see an autopsy of a 14-year-old girl from the Waterford Kettering middle school.
After the parents of the dead girl objected, medical examiner’s office has canceled public school tours and Mike Zehnder, the county’s director of public services, says it was “a poor decision.” A poor decision? Buying whole milk rather than two percent milk is a “poor decision.” Taking a class of kids to see another kid from their school district cut up falls into something more serious like “a colossally stupid act reserved for the mentally incompetent” category. Zehnder added “It was just an unfortunate situation.” This may be the king of the understatement. Zehnder no doubt described the Hindenburg disaster as “an unfortunate event involving a heating element.”
What most concerns me is that this colossally stupid act was committed not only by the coroner’s office (which may have limited experience with live people) but by the teachers who should be disciplined for allowing the kids to participate in such a trip. That is not going to happen. Rhonda Lessel, a Waterford School District spokeswoman, said the teacher talked to her class beforehand and asked whether the group wanted to continue. The school district appears to believe that such decision should be made by 11th and 12th graders as a group where a student will look like a wimp if he or she wants to go home. Lessel added “I believe the teacher did what she thought was in the best interest of the students.” And she was wrong . . . right? I think a really learning experience would be to watch a teacher’s disciplinary hearing and suspension.
The school district makes it sound like it was the kids’ fault not to ask to go home and not a teacher who thought it would be interesting to watch a student from the school cut open. They will be fortunate not to be sued for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress. I saw my first autopsy in law school and it was pretty traumatic. I still find them hard to watch. The coroner however says that it had a schedule filled with high school classes. Putting aside the question of whether this is appropriate for 11th graders, it is grossly negligent to allow students to watch an autopsy of a child from their own school for obvious reasons.
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