AirTalk for September 21, 2011

Former teacher who witnessed shooting of gay student Larry King speaks out

E.O. Green Junior High

The judge declared a mistrial in the murder trial of Brandon McInerney, the 17-year-old accused of shooting gay classmate Larry King in 2008, after the jury failed to reach a verdict. One of the witnesses who testified in court was former English teacher Dawn Boldrin, McInerney and King's teacher, who also gave King a green dress; she spoke with KPCC.

"With the trial, seeing Brandon, even discussing it now... I'm always at the height of emotion," Boldrin said.

She's received a lot of criticism for giving a green, full-length dress to King, asserting that she supported him when he asserted a more feminine identity at the Oxnard middle school.

"My god, junior high is just this crazy place where kids are experimenting on a daily basis," Boldrin said.

Critics say that it was inappropriate for Boldrin to give King the gift, but she says she wasn’t concerned about the dress further provoking problems with King’s attire. Boldrin said she gave him the gift privately and it was intended for him to wear at home; the students were required to wear uniforms at school, so King showing up in the dress was never an option.

At this point, King had been showing up to school wearing high-heeled boots and makeup, but Boldrin said that the degree to which this occurred has been overblown by many people.

When students taunted him in class, she’d defend King, saying that she had a gay member of her family and respects the community.

"My mother is a pastor. People have to understand I've been there," Boldrin said. "I know what it's like to want to be accepted."

On Feb. 12, 2008, Boldrin warned King to respect students after there had been rumors floating around the school that he had been blowing kisses to his classmate, McInerney. Whether King heeded or not is unknown, but within half an hour, McInerney shot King in the back of the head twice in Boldrin’s classroom.

Boldrin lost her tenured teaching position after taking time off to psychologically and emotionally recover from the incident. She now works as a Starbucks barista in order to retain health benefits for her three children.

While Boldrin has been criticized by her former colleagues who didn’t agree with her school conduct, Boldrin said there is no one person to blame. Adults at every level, including the administration and parents, all had a hand in the situation, according to Boldrin.

Boldrin said the school district refused to help her get back in her classroom and put no money towards counseling services after the incident.

"If they did [spend money] it was for donuts and stuff," she said.

The counselors were all volunteers and mostly clergy people, she said.

Boldrin said she suffered significant mental issues after the shooting take place and has recently started to speak out against the criticism she has received.

Guest:

Dawn Boldrin, former teacher at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard; currently working as a barista at Starbucks


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