Wow, that’s quite a story. I’ve learned plenty about [John Zawahri’s] family and his troubles. I’d like to say a few words about his perceived successes (”Treating the whole family the key to kids’ success,” Your Column Here, Aug. 1).
He appears to have chugged right along, passed your class and all the others he attended right on through high school, even enrolled in Santa Monica College until he was killed in the SMC Library on June 7.
In the matter of public health, the services provided by this organization are basically assessment. I had to avail myself of such services as I began post grad work to complete dissertation, thesis on a subject began while an undergraduate. I learned first-hand that they provide a very neutral, non-invasive assessment that is meant to orient the client and themselves as providers with the core concerns of the client and how to address them. You, as an instructor, could have referred him and/or his family.
Even had they chose not to avail themselves of the service, you could have requested guidance in developing an evaluative process that would allow you to monitor his progress from information they have readily available. However, it does not appear he had any difficulties with his learning or assignments. You don’t mention that here. Still the service they provide is transferable and applicable to children on varying learning levels. Poverty has been experienced by a good number of people who nevertheless prevail in the areas they choose to pursue. The same can be said of un(der)appreciated wealth or an overabundance of capital.
From your missive, I can see that he continued in school, prevailing to graduate despite “those problems.”
I believe that all appointive, elective, political civil service workers should start out their work with a mental health evaluation assessment. For others such as yourself — teachers, police, firefighters — I believe the nature of the work they must perform should and necessarily does call for periodic reviews and should be done by an organization such as Public Health, because their ability to maintain neutrality, essential to their line of work, is impressive. That is not to discount peer or supervisorial review, but to ensure that such workers’ public perception remains unadulterated and that clarity of their awareness of their work is perceivable by the community. You are, after all, front-line workers for the public and the public deserves your best.
As for Public Health Services, my life was way too dull, unexciting, uneventful to occupy any sufficient amount of their time and they let me know. I don’t think you can fool them, though it may very well be that some have tried.
I hope this missive raises your awareness about public health, poverty and the responsibility of the community to be able to act for the benefit of the community on information that is verifiably correct and subject to timely review as the incident of June 7 is still sketchy, patchy, and not entirely correctly reported in some publications I have perused. As the matter continues to remain open to review and consideration, it may be time to ask for help from Public Health or the Justice Department.
Thank you for your letter to the SMDP, it was wonderfully informative.