Jordan Riak's response of 11/22/89 to Attorney General Van De Kamp
November 22, 1989

Dear Mr. Van De Kamp:

I am in receipt of your letter of November 13, in which you tell me that your position on the question of exercise as punishment used against schoolchildren remains as stated in the advice provided earlier by Deputy Attorney General Harlan Van Wye.

For your information, Mr. Van Wye's letter reached school administrators as part of a Program Advisory. It was sent to county and district school superintendents, and soon thereafter was publicly repudiated and rescinded by Superintendent Honig.

Also, Mr. Van Wye's comments, quoted in the Sacramento Bee, subsequent to the dissemination of Program Advisory, convey the appearance of a retreat from the position expressed in his letter. The Sacramento Bee article ends with Mr. Van Wye quoted as saying, "...God help us if we've gotten to be such namby-pambies... God forbid that we have to coddle kids that much." The July 10, 1989 article was reprinted in other major California newspapers as well as some published in other states.

Now, please tell us which Mr. Van Wye should we be listening to? The one whose written opinion is expressed in an interdepartmental notice that reached only a handful of people? Or the one whose ill-considered personal musings to a journalist were disseminated statewide thorough the public media?

I am not asking your opinion on the law for my own edification. I know what the law in question says and what it means since I am largely responsible for its language. I am asking on behalf of 4.5 million California schoolchildren. They deserve a prompt, unambiguous response from their Attorney General -- not one from a equivocating subordinate.

If you know of a good reason why California schoolchildren should have less than the maximum protection of law at the soonest possible time, I would like to hear it.

Jordan Riak
Executive Director

Return to Subject Index
Return to Table of Contents