In his fight to have Brandon McInerney tried as a juvenile, Public Defender William Quest suggests that school administrators ignored Lawrence King’s cross-dressing despite rules against “distracting” attire.
Issues between McInerney and King seemed to start after students and teachers returned from winter break. They had both been at E.O. Green and even had a class together previously, but Quest said he’s not aware of any problems until they came back from vacation. It was then that King began dressing differently, becoming a focus of conversations on campus, Quest said.
Students have said they witnessed confrontations between King and McInerney in the weeks or days before the shooting, including King’s teasing McInerney and telling him that he liked him.
McInerney perceived King’s treatment as harassment, Quest said. Quest, however, declined to discuss any specific confrontations or issues between the boys. He also declined to say if McInerney ever sought help from an adult to deal with the issue.
Quest said he believes school administrators supported one student expressing himself and his sexuality — King — and ignored how it affected other kids, despite complaints. Cross-dressing isn’t a normal thing in adult environments, he said, yet 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds were expected to just accept it and go on.
E.O. Green’s dress code, which spells out requirements like navy pants and no steel-toed shoes, excludes “any clothing or hairstyle that distracts other students.”
Jerry Dannenberg, superintendent of the Hueneme School District, said the school did not allow the dress code to be violated. He wasn’t aware of anything in the code that deals with cross-dressing and said schools have to abide by laws that state children don’t leave their constitutional rights outside of school.
Schools cannot stop behavior unless it causes “a substantial disruption,” Dannenberg said, and he was not aware of any such disturbances before the shooting.
Quest plans to file a motion challenging the constitutionality of trying McInerney as a adult.