Remorse, Detention for Snow-Day Caller
Saturday, January 26, 2008
High school senior Devraj "Dave" S. Kori, who may be remembered someday as the Fairfax County champion of the snow day, will spend a Saturday in detention at Lake Braddock Secondary School for the phone call that started it all.
The school principal disciplined the 17-year-old for using his cellphone to call an administrator's home last week during his lunch break to ask why school had not been called off because of snow, Kori said. Fairfax schools prohibit cellphone use on campus during the school day.
Kori said yesterday that he has done some soul-searching about the storm he set off when he posted online the scathing voice-mail reply he received from the wife of school system chief operating officer Dean Tistadt.
The message from Candy Tistadt berated Kori for using the home number and told him to "Get over it, kid, and go to school!" Kori posted an audio link to his Facebook page, and a friend uploaded the message on YouTube. Within days, it was played tens of thousands of times on the Web and aired on national news.
Yesterday, Kori said he regrets posting the message.
"I'm sorry that this led to such embarrassment and harassment" for the Tistadt family, Kori said. He said he's also sorry that "this whole thing has shifted away from the issue of students not having a voice," a cause he said inspired him to doggedly pursue the administrator in the first place.
Wednesday afternoon, Kori asked his friend to take the recording off YouTube, where it had drawn more than 20,000 hits. "Having it up there wasn't helping anybody, it was only hurting somebody," he said.
As of yesterday afternoon, the teenager had not taken down his Facebook page, which still hosts links to animated images paired with the recording that were posted by other people.
Dean Tistadt said he was "encouraged" to hear that Kori was apologetic. He said that the past few days have been "very unpleasant" for his family.
The Tistadts have been deluged by hostile e-mails and crank calls. They called police to investigate some that were threatening. For two days, reporters hovered around their lawn. "You feel violated," he said.
There will be "no apologies out of my family," Tistadt said.
He reasoned that while Kori's decision to post the message was "deliberately intended to provoke and taunt," his wife's response was emotionally driven.
"There is a heightened sensitivity on the part of my wife and children, who see the stress I'm under," said Tistadt, who has been making snow-day decisions for nine years, and who also oversees highly controversial school boundary studies.
Tistadt said he reluctantly changed his telephone to an unlisted number.
"I resent frankly that I can't rely on the civility of the community to guarantee my privacy," he said.