In addition to being a colleague of mine at the Manhattan Institute, Jay Greene is 1) a prominent national expert on education who 2) is based in the college town of Fayetteville, Ark., so I was eager to hear what he had to say about Dan Barry’s New York Times article of last month which called shame on the Fayetteville schools for their supposed toleration of the horrendous bullying of an unoffending high school student by the name of Billy Wolfe. Today Greene has a blog post on the case which concludes, as did I in my Apr. 8 post, that Barry’s coverage was by no stretch of the imagination responsible or balanced. Greene zeroes in on Barry’s assertions that “It remains unclear why Billy became a target…” and that “[Billy] has received a few suspensions for misbehavior, though none for bullying,” both of which appear, at best, grossly misleading in the light of a police report aired in the Northwest Arkansas Times detailing Billy’s alleged aggressions against other students, physical and otherwise. Greene also observes that his inquiry to the New York Times public editor about the discrepancies has gone unanswered aside from a form response. He adds:
Finding the police report and collecting all of the interviews found in the NW AR Times article would have required — uhm — reporting. It was much easier to take the story that the Wolfes’ attorney was peddling. And yes, the Wolfes are suing some of the other students and are planning to sue the school district. Barry’s article may read like a plaintiff’s brief because there actually is a plaintiff’s brief out there. …
Unfortunately, the Fayetteville School District is inexperienced with handing national reporters and they are handcuffed in responding to accusations because of student privacy issues and a pending lawsuit. Dan Barry from the NYT was able to ride roughshod over a small town school district. Maybe the Gray Lady is the most obvious bully here.
The full post is here. Among other local coverage not linked in my earlier post is an editorial in the Northwest Arkansas Times, Mar. 30, and John Brummett, “Bullies Crying ‘Wolfe'”, Northwest Arkansas Morning News, Apr. 2.
P.S. And now Gawker is on it.