Story last updated at 4:00 p.m. Thursday, October 24, 2002

McNeil incident offers lessons
I've watched the Homer News and Tribune's Letters to the Editors in the past few weeks since the incident with the three students at McNeil Canyon Elementary School. Each week I've been amazed that no letters have appeared concerning such an important issue. So when I picked up the Homer News this week and read the article concerning the mother who feels her son was wrongly accused, I realized that maybe I shouldn't be waiting for someone else to be concerned enough to write. It really amazes me that this is all the response we've given to such a serious situation.

My son attends McNeil Canyon School and is even in the same age group as the three students involved. I spoke with Principal Swanson the day following the incident, and I can assure you his utmost concern was for the safety of all the students, even those involved. Upon talking to Pete, I also found that my son's name, along with those of some of his friends, was found written on a list by the students involved.

Principal Swanson, in all his professionalism, wouldn't give out the parent's names and phone numbers of the three students involved. But I would definitely like to sit down and have a chat with you and your son and find out just exactly who took the time to write my son's name down, and why?

I can assure you that this was not a list of other students involved. My son and his friends were never invited to play in this "game of Cowboys and Indians" that your son and the others were playing.

Perhaps this whole thing has gotten blown out of proportion. But from the point of a parent, whose son may have likely been a target, I am thankful that someone took it seriously.

I'm not so hung up on "how it was handled," (like the students not being read their rights -- Is this really the issue?), but just that it was handled, thanks to Pete Swanson! I would much rather see something like this get "blown out of proportion" than to have to wake up tomorrow without one of my children because nobody took it seriously.

In closing, I would like to express my family's sincere thanks to Mr. Swanson and the officers involved for looking out for the safety of all involved. Maybe they didn't handle it exactly the way you or I would have, but I, for one, am glad I wasn't put in their position.

And to the mother who feels her son is being singled out because of his special needs: Your son's most pressing need is to have parents that are home and that are honest enough to make him suffer the consequences for his actions.

Finally, a little lesson that my father taught me that you might want to pass on to your son: "Guilty by association." This means that even if you don't plan something yourself, you get painted with the same brush as those you choose to hang around with. Perhaps you should be thankful your son is learning this lesson so early in life!

Rita Craig