Facebook > Email > More Pinterest Print Twitter Play

A Federal Judge Ruled Against A Boy From Wichita Falls Who Was Suspended For Refusing To Shake The School Superintendent’s Hand

By Comments

Here’s an unexpectedly long story about a handshake: An 8th grade boy who, because he is a child, is known only to court documents as P.M., refused to shake the hand of the Petrolia CISD superintendent last spring during his graduation ceremony, where he was named the junior high’s class valedictorian. In fact, P.M. downright dissed superintendent Derrith Welch at the ceremony, happily giving some skin to Principal Gary Waitman, but refusing to offer the same show of respect to Welch. 

Welch responded, according to the court documents, by reaching out and grabbing P.M.’s hand. “P.M. pulled away from Welch’s grasp and walked offstage without causing any disturbance, disruption, or interference of the graduation ceremony.” The document states that, according to the boy’s mother, he and his sister both felt harrassed and singled-out by Welch throughout the school year. 

Principal Waitman responded by issuing a 10-day in-school suspension for P.M., set to begin the first week of his freshman year. P.M.’s family sued, alleging that P.M.’s civil rights had been violated. 

Citing the Canady vs. Bossier Parrish School System ruling from 1998, which found that it was legal for schools to enforce a uniform dress code policy if it was intended to improve educational standards, and not to stifle students’ personal expression, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert K. Roach ruled last week in favor of Petrolia CISD and against the boy and his family

“It was conduct, but the conduct was not coupled the communicative content under [Canady] v. Bossier City case. It was conduct voluntarily taken by P.M. not for purpose of expressing his own views or anything other than his mother’s desire to withhold respect for Mr. Welch as an individual and not in his capacity as SI. This is plain and simple disobedience counseled by P.M.’s mother for which one should expect and be willing to accept punishment and discipline.”

It appears, in other words, that the court found that the boy wasn’t communicating his own position on Welch or the work he’s done as superintendent, but was merely allowing himself to be used as a pawn in an interpersonal beef between his mom and the man who happens to serve as superintendent. In that case, the court says, it’s not communicative conduct, but just a kid disobeying an authority figure—and that sort of disobedience needs to be punished. 

The court seemed mildly annoyed at the case before it: According to ABC 7 in Denver, Roach “found no legal obligation for the student to have to shake anyone’s hand,” but cited “certain social obligations” in which respect to authority is mandatory—before scolding the school for “a total and complete overreaction that could have been avoided.”

“I find that the school district has wholly failed to demonstrate that it had any reasonable apprehension that this incident caused or would cause an insurrection, wholesale disobedience, wholesale ‘dissing’ of teachers, principals and persons in authority. It was only made that way by the reaction of the school district through its principal.”

Indeed, the school’s position is kind of weird: The fact that the Principal wrote a long letter to the family alleging that the behavior was “insubordinate, disruptive, as well as premeditated” and that it would be “observed and emulated by his fellow students” because P.M. was valedictorian seems like a petty position for adults to take. But reading between the lines of both the judge’s ruling and the statements made by the school, it also seems likely that there’s some backstory involving the boy’s parents and the individuals who run the school in this town of 672. 

We won’t attempt to wade through the messy interpersonal dynamics at work in a very small town, but it is worth pointing out that grabbing the hand of a boy after he has made clear that he doesn’t want to shake your hand, as the court documents allege that Welch did to P.M., is not really a great lesson to be imparting to a child in your charge about boundaries and his own bodily autonomy. The punishment for insubordination may be harsh (P.M., who made the varsity football team, will not be allowed to play the first two weeks, or to take the honors courses he qualified for, or to run for school office). And though one judge, at least, has determined that punishment just, few involved in this situation come out of it looking like an adult.

Related Content

  • clarklab

    lol at Derrith Welch

  • nataS

    Well, I know that Derrith Welch and Gary Waitman have gained loads of respect in my eyes. Showing this 8th/9th grader who is boss by suspending him, keeping him out of honors classes, suspending him from football games and tying up the court system…those 2 are real men. I mean, Derrith Welch MADE HIM SHAKE HIS HAND!! And then, Gary Waitman, taking the manly step of writing a letter to this 8th/9th grader detailing how he sat at school/home wringing his hands over this event. If anyone wonders what is happening to our country today, it’s “men” like Welch and Waitman teaching our young men to be pussies.

    • Donna

      I don’t know the young man (PM). Nor do I know Mr.Welch. However, I do know that there aren’t many men with greater integrity and a bigger heart than Gary Waitman. I think it is unfair to comment on an article and a person’s character when you don’t have all the facts.

      • Alana

        Well, it is a FACT that Waitman punished the 8th grade valedictorian for not wanting to shake a hand. His punishment now makes it impossible for that VALEDICTORIAN, obviously a sucessful student, to participate in football games for the first few weeks, to take honors classes, or to hold a school office. Basically, he’s taken a sucessful student, and nearly RUINED his high school ‘career’ before it even happens. Over a handshake. I think that says volumes about his character right there.

      • GetReal

        Well Donna, if you know Waitman so well then why he’s not respecting or recognizing the boy’s right to refuse a hand shake. If Welch grabbed my hand in a forceful manner regardless of his intentions and without my permission? That’s an assault charge waiting for him after the ceremonies. Get real lady or who ever is defending his behavior and retaliation, quit being so blinded by your misguided loyalty, start thinking for yourself and you need to call it for what it is. Which is a grown ass man getting his feels hurt by a kid in front of an audience. And who’s the kid in this incident? Let this happen to your kid; I bet you’ll be screaming murder. Whatever lady, typical small town mentality and politics. LOL.

      • Chicho Blanco

        You are the epitome of an ignorant, small town, country bumpkin.

  • jacksonaj

    what about the ‘assault’ from the SI on the child….

    PENAL CODE

    TITLE 5. OFFENSES AGAINST THE PERSON

    CHAPTER 22. ASSAULTIVE OFFENSES

    Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.

  • Ed Renfield

    Looks like P.M. had reason to believe Welch is an asshole, and didn’t want to shake hands with an asshole, which is his RIGHT of association.
    Welch and Principal Waitman then went on to prove P.M. absolutely right.
    Someone with sense who actually runs the district needs to have a sit down with these two.

  • Patricia C Mulkey

    This could be overturned by a higher court if the right lawyer gets involved.

    • Mary Brown

      School officials involved need a back alley lesson in the first amendment. Teach them that unwanted physical contact is illegal… they might need a few lessons and some bruises may result…

      I am fed up with liberals ruining kids lives over nothing. It is time to take the education system back and go back to teaching kids what they need in life and not teaching them to fear authority.

      • RCRyland

        what in God’s name do “liberals” have to do with this? It’s authoritarian, which is not confined to any ideology or political province.

        • Mary Brown

          Liberals infest the schools, by and far the majority of teachers and staff are liberals and are rotting the brains of an entire generation with common crap, teaching fear of authority, teaching fear of guns…

          • Oregon_Longhorn

            Our founding fathers and mothers greatly feared authority. If you don’t believe me, reread the Bill of Rights and the provisions in the Constitution prohibiting double jeopardy and ex post facto laws.

          • WestTexan70

            84% of the voters in Clay County (where Petrolia is located) voted for Mitt Romney. The superintendent is chosen by the elected school board in the system. My guess is that a place that goes for the Mittster by an 84-16 percentage isn’t going to hire a “liberal” superintendent.

            Get your tinfoil hat fixed.

          • Mary Brown

            And I would bet the school system is filled with liberals because conservative teachers get driven out.

          • WestTexan70

            This is why you can’t argue with self-styled “conservatives” — facts mean nothing to them. Have a lovely life, Mary.

          • bob

            you should see some professional help with your delusions

          • Chicho Blanco

            You are an ignorant, poorly educated, white trash moron. Do you even have a high school diploma?

          • Mary Brown

            BS degree in computer information systems, AS in programming, who is the ignorant trash?

          • Chicho Blanco

            You still are. You are a moron who can’t even form a complete sentence. You should ask your school for a refund. You are a loser.

          • Mary Brown

            Piss off liberal trash. The day is coming when you will have to make a choice, wrong one will be a death sentence because don’t look to those who are ready to protect or feed you.

          • Chicho Blanco

            I’ll bite. Crazy people amuse me. Why would I need someone to protect or feed me?

      • robert

        There are plenty of authoritarian jerks amongst both liberals and conservatives.

      • Arid

        Petrolia Texas is not exactly a bastion of liberal ideology.

      • Oregon_Longhorn

        Thomas Jefferson was the original American liberal (with a small “l”). Small “l” liberals believe the liberty of the individual should take precedence over the whims of the government. It seems to me that PM is the liberal here and the Supt is the government official trying to enforce his version of orthodoxy.

        • Matt Kelton

          Do you mean libertarian? In my mind, Thomas Jefferson was the original American libertarian. Libertarians believe the liberty of the individual should take precedence over the whims of the government. Liberals, old and new, believe the “good” of the masses should be placed before individual liberties.

          • Oregon_Longhorn

            Deleted double post

          • Oregon_Longhorn

            http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/liberal?s=t
            Definitions 3, 4, 5, & 6 were the definition of liberal during the life of Jefferson. In the 50’s & 60’s in the US, and earlier in the UK, the term Liberal was pinned to leftist political parties promoting Socialism. This was a bastardization and a co-opting of the term liberal. In order to avoid confusion, many liberals started to call themselves libertarians. But the older, original definition still applies.

          • Matt Kelton

            You are right. Here is a shorter, more concise, definition from Merriam-Webster, “Political and economic doctrine that emphasizes the rights and freedoms of the individual and the need to limit the powers of government.” The exact opposite definition of the term as applied in the politics of today.

      • Me

        what do liberals have to do with this?

  • grace

    Keeping the valedictorian out of honors class for not shaking hands with a superintendent is ridiculous and rude. Wow. The students education must have last priority in Petrolia CISD.

  • susanmeanslily

    I’m confused. A child refused to have bodily contact with an adult, that adult forced that contact onto the child, and the child walked away…then the child gets punished for it?

  • Blue Dogs

    The kid HAD IT COMING. I support the School Superintendent and school board on this one.

    • Mary Brown

      Kid was totally within his rights to not shake the a$$holes hand. To claim otherwise violates the constitution. Something liberals seem to have no trouble doing.

      • Actually this liberal sides with the kid. Valedictorian + honors classes = smart kid, and if he chose to not shake someone’s hand that’s his right no matter who influenced that decision. The Superintendent (no matter how great and wonderful he’s reported to be) had no right to touch him. Nor did the Principal have any right to punish him for the slight. The school is bullying him.

    • Peggy

      Seriously you agree so what if a person you don’t like forces him self on you? Making a kid shaking your hand which is physical contact is wrong and then going and cry about and forcing punishment because you have the authority to is childish. If I were the parents I would definitely go to a higher court and press charges against the principle for violating personal space. The SI is making a scene when the child obviously didn’t. So childish

      • Linda Holt

        I don’t know if you guys know the “background” of this, but if you did, you might want to side with Blue Dogs. I know the whole story, and the parents should not have put the child up to this because the mother had issues with Mr. Welch.

        • quash8

          “Background”. Code word for the Thought Police, allows them to excuse what actually happened because they claim to know what was in that kid’s head.

        • Alana

          @Linda Holt: So you’re saying, that because this kid listened to his parents, and didn’t shake a hand, that he deserves to have his scholastic high school career ruined? REALLY? He was a kid, not an adult. WHY PUNISH THE KID? Why not take your ‘background infomation’ and encourage them to take action against the mother, rather than destroying a Valedictorian’s high school career over a handshake.

          • Linda Holt

            His high school “career”……really? We are not talking Yale of high schools here. He is just fine. But I will say the mother needs to fight her own battles, own up to her own mistakes and not involve her child. But I don’t believe they can punish the mother for the child’s actions. All the students knew the consequences of disruptions during the ceremony. It is reviewed many times prior to graduation.

          • Janet Julien

            Maybe not the “Yale of High Schools,” true, but every college and university he applies to will look at what Honors classes he’s been taking and that will weigh heavily on the possible schools he could attend. That PoS Superintendent and his lapdog flunkie of the Principal should be sued within an inch of their lives, especially when the kid didn’t make a scene and Welch did.

          • Sher Bach

            “He’s just fine”….and you know this, how? Did he tell you that? Did he actually say “I’m fine and I accept the idea that my high school memories will consist of my losing out on things I enjoy because I didn’t want to shake someone’s hand (for WHATEVER reason, being a superintendent or anyone else, other than your commander in the military doesn’t automatically give you carte blanche to respect AND a handshake) and because I sided with the woman who gave birth to me, raised me, puts food in my stomach and clothes on my back?” The Superintendent, the Principal and the Judge are all morons. Life must be REALLY REALLY boring in this town to be making such a big deal out of this.

      • Sher Bach

        Don’t feed the trolls….

    • THL

      I support the superintendent only in the sense that it was within his school authority to issue suspension for failure of a student to obey an administrator, and that’s where the line is drawn. Grabbing the kid’s hand was out of order, and issuing such a large suspension was just a dick-move, plain and simple. It’s a matter of could-have but shouldn’t-have, on the superintendent’s part.

  • Mary Brown

    This is BS the kid was within his rights to not shake the a$$holes hand. I would take this to a higher court because it is a major violation of the kids rights.

    • Peggy

      Anyone is well within their rights not accept a hand or not to accept…its the reason it is extended in the first place. Do you accept or not? If I had an issue and felt the extended hand was anything other than sincere I would have the right to refuse it, why wasn’t this child’s decision regarded as his right? why was it forced on him…..And some issues are missing here…..it does not matter what the parents did, the child should be judged by his own merits, and being honor roll with no history of misconduct should tell you he did not want shake this mans hand nor did he respect him…..Its a judgement call each of us has a right to accept or not.

  • Robert

    The reaching-out by the Super, to try and forcibly make the student shake hands, could legally be construed as the Tort of Battery — “a harmful or offensive touching of another person.”

    The kid might indeed have a case. But…strange world we live in.

    • Fake Professor Morrison

      Battery is not a tort in Texas. Let me guess—SMU law school?

      • Robert

        Tks for the Reply, Fake…

        And…a very good CA law school, thank you.

        Yet battery as a Tort is common law in all states, AFAIK. Maybe you’re referring to the fact that battery can also be a crime? [As you probably know, much of Civil Torts came out of Criminal Law (wrongs against the State/Crown). So, there is a strong connection between the two.]

        Or, has TX changed things in the last few years to alter common law? I don’t have time to dig through the TX statutes, for a cite to a battery Tort, but a quick Google found this 2010 article:

        “Torts as Wrongs” Texas Law Review, Vol. 88, 2010, in which it discusses the Tort of Battery.

        “…Unsurprisingly, many torts are concerned to protect and vindicate an
        individual’s interest in her bodily integrity. Thus, it is prima facie actionable
        for one person to intentionally touch another’s body in a manner that is
        harmful or offensive (battery)…”

        http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1576644

        (Of course this article was written by out-of-state attorneys from Harvard and Fordham. Whadda they know about TX law.)
        _______________________

        There is also this link from a 2014 TX Supreme Court ruling:

        “…the underlying claim arises from an intentional tort, a battery, also sometimes referred to as an assault. Texas courts have recognized private causes of action for both assault and battery for well over a century.”

        http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2014/jun/130012.pdf
        _______________________

        And this 2014 TX text book, “Texas Torts and Remedies,” from Lexis:

        “This chapter, Assault and Battery, discusses the intentional torts of
        assault and battery including the elements, persons liable, and
        defenses.”

        https://litigation-essentials.lexisnexis.com/webcd/app?action=DocumentDisplay&crawlid=1&doctype=cite&docid=4-50+Texas+Torts+and+Remedies+50.syn&srctype=smi&srcid=2A31&key=a4e05c4d5b381d6af4da03ce6f130026

  • MJC

    Hand shakes are an outdated way to show a person you are not armed. There is no obligation to execute this act as an eighth grader much less as an adult. Hands are dirty and covered with bacteria. Keep them to yourself and I’ll keep mine off you.

  • Imadethisnamejusttocomment

    I went to that school and the extent to which personal agendas get pushed on the admin, both bad and good, is ridiculously high, even for a 1A. Football is king, and if you have connections with the school board, you have some control over district wide decisions. Last names are what gets you special treatment. Don’t bother trying to get funding if you are not a sports team. To all the people dissing on the superintendent, you don’t know him. I’m not taking sides on this trivial, overblown, immature, and personal problem. He might not be the best superintendent , but he is a darn good man. He attends ALL school functions, he is peaceful, and I have never seen him get mad. I really don’t buy the story that he singled out those kids, whom I don’t know and I don’t know the situation because I’ve been long gone from there. I have a pretty good hunch about why all this is happening, as I am familiar with both parties and a small backstory, but it’s not mine or anybody else’s business. This is just a stupid, petty small town dispute that was blown out of proportion. Both sides are to blame and this could have been handled without the courts. But hey, now my town’s famous! I hope this doesn’t further tarnish the school’s reputation because it’s not a bad school. It’s just got a few kinks in the system, but also some good accomplishments.. And to all who keep calling this liberal garbage, this place is so conservative, it would make Rick Perry look like Nancy Pelosi!

    • Iwenttothisschooltoo

      Whether he is a good man or not does not rectify his behavior, nor the actions taken against this obviously intelligent, well rounded kid. I’m not saying he isn’t a good man. I never actually talked to him, but I will agree that this is the first negative thing I’ve heard about the man if you exclude that most of the upper staff of that school seemed to dislike my family for no other reason than if something stupid was going on we made it clear that it wasn’t right. I don’t really dabble in politics. Both conservatives and liberals have points I agree with and others that I do not. Either way, I have also seen the manner in which personal agendas are handled and it is ridiculous. The whole school and the way they run it is ridiculous. You say it’s not a bad school, but that’s where I’m going to have to disagree with you. I buy the story of what happened because similar things happened between the administration and my family. They seem to have come up with the ludicrous idea that they are rulers of their ‘kingdom’ and all who oppose their wishes are backwards hick trash (at least that’s the way they treated me and my family). There’s a reason most of the good teachers there always leave. At least the students don’t have to deal with the insane system, unless of course the administration and or faculty has a beef with your family. If you try to oppose them? They label you as a lowly idiot not worth their time. THAT is how Petrolia CISD operates. I hope they take this to a higher court and that the kid wins this. All that school is doing is try to stomp out the people that resist their ways. That’s NO lesson to be teaching kids. Submit to something you don’t believe or you’ll be punished. No. You stand up for your beliefs and you hold them high and let NO man shake you! So long as you don’t shove your own beliefs down other people’s throats like Petrolia does. That’s a lesson more people need to learn.

      • Linda Holt

        I can agree with everything you say (except for “obviously intelligent, well rounded kid” as I do not know him personally and have heard differently), but the way I heard it, it was not the student’s beef with Mr. Welch. The mother has her own beef with him and instructed her son to do this. Again, just what I have heard.

        • Iwenttothisschooltoo

          Well if he was the eight grade valedictorian he’s not stupid. That and he’s in football as well so he’s not just a bookworm is what I meant by “obviously intelligent, well rounded kid.” He’s in eighth grade, not first. If his mother DID instruct him to do that, he is old enough to be able to agree or disagree on his own I would think. When I was in eighth grade I found out that my best friend stole stuff from my class mates and I was old enough to know that wasn’t right and I didn’t need my parents to tell me that. Though at the same time what you heard might be right. I never really went to my parents for much but other people do so we can’t really know either way unless the mother or the son tells us what happened.

    • Linda Holt

      I do know the whole story….and background. And I agree, Mr. Welch is a very nice and dedicated man and Superintendent.

    • Me

      But the accomplishments are being meted out by those handing out abusive punishments!

  • Matt Kelton

    From Wichita Falls? Nope. Different town, different county.

    • THL

      It’s not uncommon for the press to associate a small town with the next largest town in order to gain more traction.. Like referring to someone from Cedar Hill as from “Dallas” because more people know of Dallas =/ But I do agree, “kid from Wichita Falls” even if he is from here, doesn’t have any real application in the story — WF isn’t even the text of the article =P

      • Matt Kelton

        If this article were to run in Time, or if this were an AP piece then that would be fine. However, it is Texas Monthly and I would think a magazine that touts itself as “the authority on life in Texas” might have an interest in giving its readers an accurate location in which its articles take place.

  • Samantha

    A.) The kid has a right to not have ANY person touch them that they don’t want to. (Something I teach my 4 year old, and will continue to do so in an age of physical and sexual violence.)
    B.) They are punishing this child for obeying his mother… In a non-illegal way. The choice not to respond to something and doing so in a way that is non violent is something I thought was upheld by the courts… This action was less disruptive than a good old fashioned sit-in and quite frankly I am appalled by the actions taken by the court for the sake of someone’s hurt feelings.. Conduct!? I call it assault with a LOT of witnesses.
    C.) Shame on this school district for hindering education as a punishment.

  • Manny

    Unwanted physical contact is assault regardless of age. This should have been a criminal charge against the superintendent.

  • Johana Ming

    They seriously kept him out of honor classes? I think that in itself is an infringement on his rights. He should not have had to shake the guys hand. I call bull$hit on the whole thing. Of anything, the could should reverse sue for them denying him his education because an a$$hat adult wanted to shake his hand.

  • boss

    The judge is wrong hell he didn’t want to shake his hand this a free damm country wichita falls ain’t shit they have they own laws and rules we need to come together as a community and get these mfs fired

  • Maybe some of you people who claim to know the whole story could share it with the rest of us.

  • THL

    Very strange way to write an article. The story is that the court slammed Petrolia for using their authority in a really foolish way, although it was legal. It was a case of ‘could have, but shouldn’t have.’ The courts didn’t slam the kid, because he was just doing as he was told by his mother — so the facts of the article conflict with the angle of the headline/lead.

    Headline: Court Admonishes Petrolia Superintendent for Handshake Refusal Suspension

    Story: Students refuses handshake, receives suspension, family sues, and court slams Petrolia for making a dick-move, but still upholds their legal right to do so despite being chumps about it.

  • Wow, seriously!!

    Proof that you aren’t free to do ANYTHING in this country, you can’t even refuse a handshake from an “authority” figure. If I don’t want to shake your hand I won’t shake your hand…I don’t care who you are or who is watching!

  • Mark Williford

    amazing…

  • ReadMyLips88

    I love how a court can tell a person, even a minor, about the intent of their actions when the obvious intent doesn’t match what those in power want the public to understand. This is really just more proof of how worthless public schools have become. Why do all of us continue to fund such bullsh?

  • BrandiMarie88
    • soccermomx3

      You need a paid subscription to view that.

  • Gee Whiz

    Yet another example of what is wrong with the legal system and really….how can you MAKE someone shake your hand? If the student did that to the man, then all heck would break loose about how the student was wrong….crazy

  • Gee Whiz

    Isn’t that bullying by the school super? Abuse of power? Stupid?

  • wfraker

    Stopping a valedictorian from taking honors classes has large implications for college. This is dangerous ground for the school administration, and possibly the basis of a very costly lawsuit.

    • Oregon_Longhorn

      Given the added grade point power of an honors course, not getting as many honors courses as PM wanted to take could possibly keep PM out of the top 8%.

  • tornadotess

    Just one more reason we home educate!

  • Rational Rita

    What I find ironic is that all the people complaining about a child being punished for showing disrespect are probably the same people that complain that children don’t show any respect to adults anymore….like in the olden days…..lol…he wasn’t hung from the gallows…geesh…and “he was assaulted”????…seriously? You can’t have it both ways folks.

  • Red

    Regardless of the student’s motivation, he’s not obligated to shake the guy’s hand. The student was not the one who, in a sense, caused a scene. The supposed “adult” is the one who committed a crime to satisfy his egomaniacal need for validation. Then the court rewards this idiot? Maybe next time he should insist the graduates kneel before him in reverence.
    More judicial ridiculousness. School board should be sanctioned for denying him the access to the honors classes which he earned. The character of a man is shown in his actions.

  • Sherry Scoggins

    This is the kind of behavior that makes Texans look like fools in the eyes of the world. Respect is a two way street. What if the student had been female and the Superintendent had forced himself on her physically? Forced her to touch him or hug him or?? Is that ok there? Explain to me why dressing children to look like children of the Third Reich improves their educational experience while you are at it. Those little Nazi brown shirt costumes are meant to stifle free thought and were chosen by Hitler and friends for just that reason. Keep those kids in line! Make them into robots that will take orders! By all means, punish children who show any individuality or intelligence. Have you lost your minds in the heat? Mr. Welch is an embarrassment. He needs to apologize to the entire state for being a bully. The whole world can see you Derrith Welch. Shame on you.

  • Debra Hanson

    While I believe that showing respect for adults is important, it appears this young man was used as a pawn by all the so called adults in this case. His mother used him to make the SI appear less important (by encouraging his dislike for the SI), the SI used him to save face (by grabbing his hand), the principal used him to save face also (the totaly uncalled for dismissal from opportunity to attend Honors classes and suspension from two weeks of football) and lastly but just as irresponsible is the judge who agreed with the school district. The judge could have and should have taken the upper road and sided with the student (used by all the above adults). He/she (judge) should of dismissed the case and should have put all the adults in their place in public. SHAME SHAME SHAME ON ALL OF THEM.

  • snickerdoodlegoth

    What a non-story. Frivolous lawsuits such as this one are exactly what’s wrong with this country.

  • DarkMarcsun

    You have the right to not have someone touch you, period. Everything else is immaterial.

  • Erich Noll

    “Texas justice” is an oxymoron.

  • Iamfromheretoo

    Obviously the judge had all the facts to rule as they did. If my Dad said “don’t” that meant “don’t” especially at 8th grade level. It wasn’t an attack on the kid. It was a graduation ceremony. Protocol. Perhaps the judges realized the problem was the child’s mother a teacher with a bad history in trouble often. With any luck this kid will rise above the life his mother chose for herself. Perhaps when she moves on to another school and does the same thing, there will be a different story. Why no one is telling she’s a highly reprimanded teacher is beyond me. It does place the dart on the right target. Texas Monthly tagged Wichita Falls not because it occurred there but because people in the area would be interested in the story.

    • You are an idiot

      Iamfromheretoo you are a complete idiot if she was such a bad teacher where is your proof??? I know you don’t have any DO YOU so get out of it or come up with some proof cause you don’t know shit about this or anything else you dumb asshole!!! I happen to know she helped countless students with hours worth of paperwork to get grants for college spent years building a national award winning FCCLA program that Derrith Welch personally helped run into the ground after she left, why do you think the Petrolia school website no longer mentions having an award winning FCCLA program because she left that’s why the sponsor that Derrith Welch personally hired took teams to Corpus Christi to compete only to get there and find out she hadn’t even signed them up to compete so I guess the school was out a couple thousand dollars and she couldn’t remember to sign them up?? Sounds like a great choice Derrith!!!!

  • perks

    didnt know you could force a handshake on a child…… what else can you force on them?? I

  • Sherri Benson

    wow… i dont shake hands because of germs … sue me

  • Mark Williford

    Where’s the 60’s generation when you need them?

  • Jeronimo Dan

    If the guy grabbed his hand and forced the hand shake, then he may be eligible to having a physical assault filed on himself.

  • Janet Julien

    Whatever happened to a person’s right to Freedom of Speech guaranteed by the First Amendment? PM was doing a silent version of that by not shaking the SI’s hand. It might have been more effective if the young man just flipped offWelch by giving him the Bird, but Mama probably would have beaten PM’s behind black and blue for doing that too. Were I PM’s mama, I would have Derrith Welch sued for molestation and assault for grabbing my son against his wishes.

  • derf

    I hope this gets re heard on an appeal, sounds like a case of definite child abuse by the Superintendent, since he reached out and grabbed the child.

    “Welch responded, according to the court documents, by reaching out and grabbing P.M.’s hand. “P.M. pulled away from Welch’s grasp and walked offstage without causing any disturbance, disruption, or interference of the graduation ceremony”…

  • Sher Bach

    So, let me get this straight…the court (as per the school’s request) think that it’s more important that this young man “respect” a school official and not his own parent? Can you spell “N-A-Z-I”? Now, if anyone had any balls at all in this situation, the kid should have challenged the superintendent to an arm wrestle. Better yet, Mom, take your kids out of that school district and home school them…and file charges against the douchebag who grabbed your kids hand…never mind a lawsuit…

  • I guess the big question I have is why the Superintendent isn’t in jail for battery on a child?

  • Joe Bob

    This is bullshit and id burn that school down if I were him.

  • nielp

    I always thought that respect for authority was something to be earned, not demanded. I also thought the whole “bow down before the king” thing was something reserved for societies less open than ours. It seems that every year school officials somewhere make some silly, authoritarian demand, the students find creative ways to disobey, and then the press gets hold of it. The odd parts of this one are that a) the school district actually thought that this was worthy of court time, and b) they found a judge nearsighted enough to agree with them.