Education

This is Why High School Sucks for so Many Kids: 16 Yr Old Photog Threatened by Admin for Selling Pics

Texas' Flower Mound HS opens news fronts on the war on students and on photography.

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Aahlad Madireddy

For centuries now, school has produced an ever-enlarging literature of contempt and hate by those of us (read: all of us) unlucky enough to attend K-12 education. I'm betting that Socrates outdoor classrooms were kind of a drag, but certainly from Herman Hesse's Beneath the Wheel to Catcher in the Rye to Blood and Guts in High School to Pink Floyd's The Wall to Frank Portman's King Dork books, the message that school is filled with petty tyrants (both adult and student variety) is based on many people's everyday experience.

Here's a good example of why so many of us disliked school even if we dig edumication.

Via the Twitter feed of Lizbuddie comes the story of Anthony Mazur, a 16-year-old student at Texas' Flower Mound High School. A photographer for the yearbook, Mazur took pictures of athletes and other students and then posted them on a Flickr account where he sold some of them to parents. As it happens, according to his school district's policy, there's no issue with that and Mazur apparently owns the the copyright to work he produces.

Cue administrative outrage:

Back in March, Mazur says he was called into FMHS Assistant Principal Jeffrey Brown's office, where he saw that Brown had his website pulled up on a computer there. He said that Brown was angry at him, and told him that posting the pictures online was illegal, and violated copyright. According to Mazur, Brown also worked the angle (contrary to the policy listed above) that the camera belonged to the district. When Mazur argued that the copyright belonged to him, he says that Brown changed his tune and said that it violated student privacy. Brown allegedly told Mazur at the time that a parent had complained.

Mazur alleged that Brown told him in a coercive tone "I'm just asking you to take the website down, I'm not asking you to return any money." Mazur said he assumed Brown meant the school, with regards to returning money. Mazur said Brown told him that he "wouldn't report [Mazur] to the IRS" over the money he earned from selling the photos. Brown told Mazur that he was issuing an "administrative directive" to take the photos down. At this point, Mazur said he requested that his parent be brought into the discussion.

The school said that a student had complained and posting pictures violated privacy concerns. But that's not what the parents of Mazur were told:

After the meeting, the Mazurs said they received a written administrative directive ordering him to take the pictures down. Len Mazur said the reasoning listed on the directive was not related to privacy concerns, but "because he posted with the intention to profit". The Mazur's would not say how much money, even in general terms, that Anthony had earned from selling his photos. But Anthony said that his customers were all parents of the students in the photos, buying the digital photo for their own use. "It doesn't matter whether he sold one or a million pictures," said Len Mazur, who insisted that it was the principle of applying the law correctly that was important.

It turns out that the school's "acceptable use policy" (AUP) doesn't clearly apply to the situation at hand. The Lewisville Texan Journal has a wide-ranging account of the mess (which is ongoing) and has posted damning documents of the school's bullying tactics. The school district's communications person hasn't gotten back to folks with pertinent information.

Hass declined to answer our followup questions about how the AUP applied to the situation, since his work was related to a class project (yearbook), and since photographs taken at public events have no legal expectation of privacy, or whether Brown threatened him with expulsion, confiscating money, or reporting him to the IRS. 

Anthony Mazur has since bought his own camera and is snapping away. His Twitter feed is here.

Read the whole story, including the school's AUP and the memo it sent Mazur's parents full of "directives" to be followed forthwith.

And then try to re-imagine school as a place that is not the equivalent of a minimum-security prison (attendance is mandatory!) but is instead actually interesting, challenging, and effective in reaching most kids in some sort of individualized way. Sure, school choice has its critics, but maybe the ultimate reason we don't want to destroy the traditional education-as-grim-funless-lockdown is that doing so would rob us of so much artistic expression about just how much school sucks.

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  1. “It turns out that the school’s “acceptable use policy” (AUP) doesn’t clearly apply to the situation at hand.”

    It’s extremely important that the school clarify their acceptable use policy–otherwise how can students know when it’s okay to exercise their First Amendment rights?

    If the parents in question felt genuinely aggrieved by the use of their child’s image online, then they should take Mazur to court. That’s what the courts are for.

    1. i have this funny feeling that the only people complaining are school administrators.

  2. Mazur said Brown told him that he “wouldn’t report [Mazur] to the IRS

    “…IF you take the pictures down. otherwise…..who’s to say what could happen, to you, your mom, or even your little dog.”

    Stay Classy, School Administrators.

    1. I love how the implication is that it’s okay to evade taxes.

      1. What’s to say the kid didn’t pay his pittance to his DC Overlords?

      2. It is okay to evade taxes, for the record.

        1. It’s not cheating if they let you do it.

          1. That’s for the unaccountable bureaucrats to decide. Some days they feel merciful towards the plebs, other days they may choose to be more punitive.

            1. yes, so it IS cheating when they don’t let you, not cheating when they do. The gamble is on if they will or won’t let you.

              1. Prostrate yourself before your betters and they may feel inclined to grant you continued permission to be free(ish).

    2. Sounds like an admission of extortion to me.

  3. Libertarians are made, not born. Hass (that name is far too good to be true) may have just made one, for which, our thanks.

    1. I should send this guy a gift reason subscription…

  4. Len Mazur said the reasoning listed on the directive was not related to privacy concerns, but “because he posted with the intention to profit”.

    Must… Squash… Entrepreneurial… Spirit…

    1. All people of good nature know profits are evil and come from the devil, so that’s why unaccountable bureaucrats in government should be put in charge of everything to make life fair….

      /sarc

    2. Must… Squash… Entrepreneurial… Spirit…

      Indeed! For god’s sake, the kid could have grown up to be the next Charles Koch if not for the heroic actions of that brave school administrator!

  5. He said that Brown was angry at him, and told him that posting the pictures online was illegal, and violated copyright.

    So many things wrong here. First, whose copyright did Brown think the kid violated?

    Secondly, angry? This is where everyone from bureaucrat to cop fucks up. They take it personally, as though their target violated them personally. Settle the fuck down. This asshole was pissed off, didn’t know why, and started throwing things at the wall to see what would stick. Good on the kid if he didn’t back down.

    Third, the attitude on profit. Administrators make a shit-ton of money relative to their responsibilities these days, which is essentially mindlessly quote the rulebook and call the police. They’re working for a paycheck just like everyone else.

    1. Under US copyright law, all materials and documents produced by government are public domain, so it is not possible for a public school district to own a copyright on anything they produce.

    2. As someone who works in law enforcement (but not a cop) I don’t get this “take it personally” shit either. Some of my colleagues feel like they are fighting the holy war, I don’t understand it at all.

      1. It’s a function of narcissism.

  6. Did he take the pictures in a free speech zone?

  7. Bullies are going to bully.

    She also explained that six absences are allowed, and a doctor wrote a note explaining three of the other absences, meaning she was being arrested for her son missing school three times.
    As for her son, she points out that the fourth grader at Screven County Elementary School is on the honor roll and currently has four As and four Bs in his classes.
    Giles did say that she was called in by the administration in January after her son’s fifth absence, but had not heard from them since that time.

    1. Whoops deleted the best bit:

      Screven County Schools Superintendent, William Bland, stands by this decision, and said the policy was important to make sure children are attending school.
      He also revealed that several parents have already been convicted under this policy, with the punishment ranging from a monetary fine to actual time behind bars.

      We will help your child do better in school by jailing you. THIS IS WHAT STATISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE!

      1. He said it was to make sure they were attending. Not doing well. He only gets paid for one of those things.

        1. I know. It’s entirely a “get state money” thing…. We’ve got a similar thing in my kids’ schools, and I even got one of those letters back in 2013.

          The thing is that the parents and the electorate think that the truancy laws are needed to ensure kids go to school and get a good start on life. Hence my frustrated rant.

          1. This isn’t about their desire for kids to go to school and get a good start on life. Schools receive federal funding based on attendance. If they don’t hit certain numbers, they lose funding, thus, this is a financial issue for the school, and nothing more.

            1. And the inherent evil of the school system is revealed when it’s shown that they’re content to put parents in jail and destroy families in order to better extract wealth from tax payers.

    2. Good grades aren’t what get the school district cash money.

      1. Like movie theatres, circuses and prisons – they make their money off butts in the seats.

        1. I thought they made their money off soda and popcorn?

        2. At least theaters and circuses can’t kidnap you and steal your money under the threat of death.

          1. I don’t know… I felt like that’s what happened during Mad Max: Fury Road.

            otherwise why would so many people lie to themselves and say it was a good movie?

            1. Mad Max is what happens when we don’t have taxation. All the good things in life depend on extortion, theft and murder.

              1. wait… the whole plot of that movie was that the life depended on extortion, theft, and murder… and acrobats and oil.

                Oh… I see what you did there.

                1. But mostly oiled up acrobats with funny hair cuts.

        3. my kids school has requested that all doctor/dentist appointments be made after 10am; so attendance is complete and they can get credited with butt$ in $eat$

    3. “‘We are going to fight this issue head on and are by no means running from our problems, but we also have a lot of decisions to make such as homeschooling, relocating to another school district or even private school,’ she explains.”

      Yeah, looks like the school is really boosting its enrollment numbers.

    4. The school district has deleted both its Facebook and Twitter accounts since this made national news. THey really don’t like the attention it seems.

      1. A lot of petty tyrants haven’t realized that, these day, when they screw up the whole world is watching.

        1. The whole world can only watch if you have a facebook or twitter account. Apparently petty tyrants are so egotistical they can’t help themselves and just WANT to tell the whole world about their petty tyranny.

          1. They’re in such a bubble, they believe that people will agree with them, not vehemently disagree, much less stand and fight. They’re always surprised when it happens.

            We kept our kids from the common core standardized tests. The school district did not know what to do with us, but we came to a decent compromise: Our kids will be unaccountably ill. You will not be able to find the time to administer a makeup test. We figured it was the best we could get under the circumstances.

            1. Better to confront the offending school administrator in private, with a tire iron, and ‘explain’ things to him. That sort of thing always seemed to work for that Tony Soprano fellow.

      2. should have thought of that first…

  8. God (or whatever) forbid that LISD actually take a great opportunity to guide the student and teach the kids a little about how to start a career, start a business and make a living. Thanks for mentioning this. My head is exploding slightly less.

  9. I’m so glad my kids are homeschooled.

  10. “The Lewisville Texan Journal has a wide-ranging account of the mess (which is ongoing) and has posted damning documents of the school’s bullying tactics. The school district’s communications person hasn’t gotten back to folks with pertinent information.”

    The school district will probably discipline the principal–saying that he should have called the cops.

    Posting pictures online! Why wasn’t this student arrested?

    They should have cleared out the school until a bomb squad gave the all clear, too.

  11. I’m pretty sure school districts profit off the selling of yearbooks.

  12. His Twitter feed is choke full of pictures of underage girls. There must be a law against it. Damn straght.

    1. Are they hot? I should check that out. For……..research purposes.

  13. Innovation is bad, children, mmmkay?

  14. it’s always great to the the place where I live having problems too…

    This is where my kids will end up going to high school- if they don’t stick with teh charter school we just got accepted to. Lovely.

  15. The kid violated the progressive tenet that profit and individual achievement are evil. “You didn’t build that.” All must be done for the benefit of the collective.

    1. Believe me, we don’t really have a progressive stronghold here. It’s a statist from the other end of the spectrum thinking the kid was a progressive.

  16. Flower Mound

    Great porn name.

    1. You should see the tattoo!

  17. And then try to re-imagine school as a place that is not the equivalent of a minimum-security prison (attendance is mandatory!) but is instead actually interesting, challenging, and effective in reaching most kids in some sort of individualized way.

    My high school was for the most part like this. And it was a public, inner-city school at that. How uncool is that.

  18. And then try to re-imagine school as a place that is not the equivalent of a minimum-security prison (attendance is mandatory!) but is instead actually interesting, challenging, and effective in reaching most kids in some sort of individualized way.

    My imagination isn’t that good. I mean… I went to public school, after all. 😉

  19. It turns out that the school’s “acceptable use policy” (AUP) doesn’t clearly apply to the situation at hand.

    That’ll get fixed by next year.

  20. I agree with FoE, the anger is definitely a huge problem. I’ve been fortunate enough not to encounter it personally in a cop but I’ve seen too much of it at the public schools.

    Also – Catcher in the Rye? That boy was not the victim of overbearing administrators and zero tolerance nonsense. I would argue he wasn’t any sort of victim – just an exceptionally self absorbed snowflake.

    1. I never did make it through that book. I couodn’t shake the feeling that if I knew the kid in real life, I’d want to give him a thick ear.

      1. Really? Loved that book. You should reread it as an adult.

        I mean, if you have problems with cynical dicks who are pretty much alienated from the rest of the world, why in the hell do you hang around libertarians?!

  21. Sending your child to Public School is child abuse.
    III/0317

  22. Is anyone surprised that the college cohort with the lowest aggregate intelligence are Education majors?

    1. Yes. I thought it would be Women’s/ethnic studies

      1. A lot of those people are actually intelligent, just severely misguided. Education majors, on the other hand…

        1. Perhaps. I met one in college that was a friend of a longtime friend of mine. Had lunch with them a few times a month. She was a militant lesbian that looked like The Thing without the connotation of being orange rocks. She was also an editor on the school newspaper.

          She and another editor cowrote an editorial about men were basically all rapists by default and should be neutered. When I saw her at lunch the next week she kept griping about how males on campus were regularly cruel to her. Calling her a ‘bulldyke (she is). I suggested dialing back the anti male rhetoric in her editorials might help. i don’t think she ever made that connection. And to be fair, she was not stupid. But her political rankings were bat shit crazy toy bizarre stuff.

  23. In this case the kid is fos.

    1. wtf are you talking about

  24. “[…]At this point, Mazur said he requested that his parent be brought into the discussion.[…]”

    I hope he and his parents are proud.

    1. It would be a greater point of pride for me if he managed to destroy the career of that school official for his transgression.

  25. “Sure, school choice has its critics, but maybe the ultimate reason we don’t want to destroy the traditional education-as-grim-funless-lockdown is that doing so would rob us of so much artistic expression about just how much school sucks.”

    This is pretty excellent.

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  27. The problem is that he is posting the photo of underage girls online without their consent.

  28. This is what you get with public school because they are accountable to no one, and they know it.

  29. When my kids were in school our friends boy was assaulted by 4 or 5 other boys after school, but did not defend himself because fighting was against the rules. His parents had to go talk to the principal to keep their boy from being expelled even though he had not fought. Later that week we received a notice that fighting would not be tolerated and it was to be signed by the parents. Instead of signing the note I wrote a letter stating that my sons would not be giving up their right to defend themselves against bullies and that if the school took any action against my children for defending themselves I would sue the school, the district and every individual involved for violating my kids rights.

    Tolerance is not an option.

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