The power and confusion of online communities

A firestorm is brewing over this NYTimes op ed article, by Bill Lichtenstein about his daughter, a kindergartener being locked in a closet standing in her own pee in Lexington, MA.  I am a parent and have my own children in the Lexington Public School system. I participate in multiple online parent communities as well as the Lexington online communities. There are, as expected, a lot of "I am shocked" discussions. There are a few "let's wait for the facts" postings in the minority. I am not here to comment about what happened at that time, but to comment about how these online communities have responded. As comments are commented upon, the details of what we know from the article are slowly diluted and changed. Blog posts about the article started to be referenced as additional sources. Law and regulations around these issues are being discussed and I have no way to know whether those are correct.

From reading the article, I have many questions:

  • Was the child attending a Lexington Public Elementary School? Likely but the article never said that.
  • Was the child in a regular class or in a special ed class? We do not know.
  • Were other school families notified? Seems so.
  • Was there a settlement? Seems yes.
  • Were the schools allowed to respond in the public? Not sure.
  • Where people involved fired/disciplined/or more? Not sure.

So I am writing this post with the sole purpose to ask everyone to read the original article very carefully, picked out the facts as mentioned from the article first.

As a final note -- have you noticed the graphics used in the article? Do you think it accurately reflect the situation? Is there a window in the door? Would a five years old be that tall? Would a closet lit by a lightbulb be pitch dark?