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School community battles imaginary-grenade backlash as Peter Boyles alleges a coverup

Thumbnail image for peter boyles portrait.jpg
Pics, videos below.
Update: Yesterday, we interviewed school board member Denise Montagu, who criticized the press for hyping the tale of Alex Evans, seven, who was allegedly suspended from Loveland's Mary Blair Elementary for pretending to throw a grenade; read it below. But even as the school's PTO plans twin rallies tomorrow, KHOW's Peter Boyles is arguing that what Montagu characterizes as a bogus story was legit -- and the subject of a coverup.

On February 1, as we've reported, Alex's mom, Mandie Watkins, says Alex was engaged in superhero role playing when he was seen hurling an imaginary grenade at a made-up box with "something evil inside." She further claims that Mary Blair's principal, Valerie Lara-Black, called to tell her Alex had been suspended for his actions, which reportedly violated a series of "absolutes" posted on the school's website. The list of verboten activities is said to have spotlighted violent or aggressive behavior, whether real or fantasy.

alex suspended student.jpg
Alex Evans.
Watkins soon went public with the incident, prompting a media frenzy that received attention nationwide. Before long, the school pulled down its website, supposedly because of online attacks and threats from across the country, but otherwise declined comment. But last Friday, the Thompson School District superintendent broke his silence, saying Alex had actually been suspended for throwing real rocks, not a fictional device. In addition, questions were raised about the credibility of Watkins, who has a sizable criminal record that includes a guilty plea for false reporting, prompting by a fire at her Greeley home and her insistence that she and her family were saved by a dog.

This version of events is being reinforced by two rallies at Mary Blair tomorrow -- one at 8 a.m., the second at 3:20 p.m. According to Travis Bauer, chair of the Mary Blair parent-teacher organization, the timing was chosen so teachers could join parents, students and others in Loveland to voice their support for the school, and to counteract the backlash prompted by the story.

mary blair elementary.jpg
Mary Blair Elementary.
"There's been an incredible amount of hate directed toward the teachers in the school," Bauer says. "So we want the community to know we're here for the kids, we're here for the teachers, and we're not going to let our community be dictated by people outside it. We need to take charge of our own school and our own community and decide for ourselves what we're about."

Not everyone has abandoned Watkins, however. Indeed, KHOW's Boyles believes he has proof that Mary Blair is involved an elaborate scheme to shift blame for the Alex suspension. He points at two screen captures of the still-down Mary Blair website -- one reportedly from just after the suspension, and another a couple of days later. In the first, there's no link to the list of "absolutes," as you can see here.

mary blair elementary screen capture 1.jpg
In the second, though, the "absolutes" link can be seen:

mary blair elementary screen capture 2.jpg
To Boyles, on whose program I took part this morning, these images show that Mary Blair had no real justification for suspending Alex in the first place beyond extreme political correctness, only cooking up the "absolutes" list afterward to deflect criticism, but inadvertently spurring more. He also surmises that the real reason the website was taken down was to prevent anyone from doing the sort of detective work his staff accomplished anyhow.

Boyles also cites a video made by Liberty Watch, a local organization whose Nancy Rumfelt spoke with us for our original post last week; it purports to demonstrate that there were no rocks for Alex to throw on the playground, thereby calling the school's assertions into question. Turns out, though, that another video shot by a Liberty Watch critic suggests that there are rocks aplenty in the vicinity. See both clips below.

travis bauer.jpg
Travis Bauer.
As for Bauer, he's confident the website was shut down for the reason the school district says it was. "As soon as the story broke, and as soon as the story started to get national coverage, pretty much every teacher in the school got hate male," he maintains, noting that the site featured e-mail addresses and links that made it easy for angry people to launch multi-pronged attacks. "And the principal got bombarded with e-mails and phone calls, and she was threatened. That's something a lot of us who are close to the school are still struggling with. It's hard for us to wrap our heads around that."

Bauer adds that the Mary Blair PTO had to pull down its Facebook page because of Internet slams, too. As a result, most of the planning for tomorrow's rallies has had to be done by word of mouth. Still, he is hoping for a big turnout of people ready to turn the page rather than wallow in the past.

"Our focus isn't necessarily on what happened," he says, "but on who we are as a community at the school."

Continue for podcasts featuring Mandie Watkins and two videos -- one purporting to show that there were no rocks on the playground, and another asserting the opposite.



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11 comments
seatongm01
seatongm01

Peter Boyles could find a conspiratorial cause for his own hemorrhoids if he hasn't already.   

John Scruggs
John Scruggs

much ado about nothing, which is standard fare re: Boyles.

cosmicporkchop
cosmicporkchop

KHOW has become a damn freak show. mutants just pulling shit out their assess and tossing it against the wall all day long.

Pete
Pete

I'm just glad the kid did not smoke an imaginary joint on the playground.  These days lots of imaginary joints are laced with imaginary PCP.  Parents, stay aware of your children's imaginations!

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Hey Mr. Boyles, how long has it been since you have had to pay for a piece of ass ?

I'd be embarrassed & ashamed if I had an editor demanding a 'story' out of a little boys playground / recess period . Hell, Andy just kissed Julie behind the bleachers, STOP THE PRESSES !!!

It goes to show how low personal integrity has become anymore .....

Cecil
Cecil

Oh, Boyles. Get the fuck over yourself.

Patricia Kimpel
Patricia Kimpel

We had in-school suspension in my elementary school. I don't know the details of the process because I never had it but I know that's a correct term. I believe the child was taken out of class and put in a special class with other children who had misbehaved and probably denied recess and the opportunity to see their friends while still getting an education? That's my best guess. But I thought it was a whole school day, no partial days. One other thing I wanted to say was the easiest way to clear up this he said she said garbage is the documentation the child was sent home with or the email that was sent. When a child gets in trouble the school always sends something home to notify the parents. Or at least that's the way it worked when I was in school.

Josh Bradley
Josh Bradley

A 2 hour in-school suspension? Do they mean a "time out" or detention? How do you get suspended in-school? Poor choice of words perhaps. The media rarely investigates first though. Too worried about being first. Shame....

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Hand it to the 'news' to create a 'story' out of thin air .....

" Hey Rocky, wanna see me pull a 'news story' out my ass ? "

Then sit back and see just how many pathetically stupid people are effected. Let us not forget those living and running this country .

Cecil
Cecil

@Josh Bradley Had in-school suspension all the time when I was growing up.

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