About a month after the van break-in, Dylan scratched something into another student’s locker. Peter Horvath, the dean, doesn’t know why Dylan chose the locker, and doesn’t recall the student’s name, only that the student felt threatened when he saw Dylan scratching with a paper clip. Because Dylan didn’t finish, the design he was scratching was unclear, Horvath says.
Dylan was detained, and Horvath was with him for about forty minutes while they waited for Tom Klebold to arrive and deal with the incident. “Dylan became very agitated,” according to a summary of Horvath’s interview with police. Horvath tried to calm him down, and Dylan cussed at him, although it wasn’t personal. Dylan was “very upset with the school system and the way CHS handled people, to include the people that picked on him and others,” according to the police interview. Horvath thought Dylan was a “pretty angry kid” who also had anger issues with his dad and was upset with “stuff at home,” the police report continued.
Yet in an interview with this author Horvath doesn’t recall Dylan being upset with his father, but at “being suspended for what he felt was a pretty minor incident.” Dylan, Horvath adds, “understands the politics of how like a school system works. He was smart around that. And he was angry at the system; not angry at me, but angry at the system; that the system would be established that it would allow for what he did to be a suspendable offense, if that makes any sense to you. He was mad at the world because he was being suspended, but he was mad at the system because the system that was designed was allowing him to be suspended.”
Horvath continued: “Talking to Dylan was like talking to a very intellectual person. He wasn’t a stupid kid. He’s not a thug kid that’s getting suspended. He’s a smart, intelligent kid. I just remember the conversation being at a level; that would you know, you’d sit there and you’d think, ‘Wow, this is a pretty high level conversation for a kid like this.’ You could just tell his feelings around, I’m going to use the politics again but again, he was too intelligent sometimes I felt for his age. You know, he knew too much about certain things and he spoke too eloquently about knowing the law and why he was being suspended and knowing, just you know, speaking about how society is this way towards people.”
Tom Klebold, who Horvath thought of as an “Einstein” eventually arrived. With his glasses, and salt and pepper hair, he was proper, eloquent, and astute. He also had serious problems with this second suspension, and asked Dylan to leave the room—an unusual move in Horvath’s experience. “He [Tom] felt as though it was too severe for what had happened,” Horvath said of the standard, three-day suspension for essentially a vandalism charge. "Can’t we do anything else? Can’t he [Dylan] just do, you know, twenty-five hours of community service, thirty hours of community service?" Tom Klebold asked. Nope. Horvath didn’t budge.
—from Columbine: A True Crime Story by Jeff Kass
Just some random thoughts on this passage:
-This is the second person (in addition to Dylan’s co-worker Michelle Hartsough at Blackjack) to mention something about Dylan having anger issues with his father. It would be interesting to have more information on this. Could be just normal teenage angst & conflict with one’s parents…perhaps they just read too much into it? In this particular case, regarding “anger issues” with his father & “stuff at home,” maybe Dylan was just dreading the punishment he would receive at home (i.e. grounding, taking away his computer)?
-I appreciate Mr. Horvath’s respect for Dylan’s intelligence (Dylan is very intelligent of course!). However, I believe he [Horvath] apparently under-estimates young people’s knowledge of the system, school politics, & society. My friends & I (& most halfway decently intelligent people) understood these things. The deal was (& probably still is), that we rarely, if ever, voiced our concerns, especially to the “higher-ups” because…what good would it do? It wasn’t going to change anything. The few adults we did mention it to seemed to understand, but felt there wasn’t much they could do either.
-Of course it would be expected that he would receive some form of punishment for scratching the locker. I think paying for it was probably enough. I don’t quite seen the point in the suspension approach (except from the administration’s point of view for “problem children,” they don’t have to deal with the kid for a few days). A lot of kids who are habitual troublemakers probably don’t care that much how it affects their grades & they don’t have a big problem with a “mini vacation” from school. Then, those who get preferential treatment won’t get suspended, even when they commit an offense (& even if they do, they’ll get to do things like makeup tests & shit). They would have suspended Dylan anyway, but I can understand how he was upset by the way the system works. As I said, I felt the same way during high school (& middle school). In addition to that, he probably got in trouble at home & it may have affected some of his schoolwork (yeah, I know his grades weren’t always the best—-he was kind of a slacker I think & his depression played a big role—but I think he cared, at least somewhat). On the bright side, he got away from stupid people at school for a few days :-D
-I wonder what Dylan woulda thought (or did think if he find out) about his dad’s offer of community service in lieu of suspension. According to the diversion file, Dylan thought community service was the most effective part of the program: “He learned a lot from having to give up free time to work for no money.” I don’t know if Dylan would have been better satisfied with that prospect haha. But his dad apparently thought it would be a better deterrent of future misbehavior & more fair.