The Few, the Proud, the Battered

At Harlingen's Marine Military Academy, the line between discipline and abuse is sometimes as thin as a knife's edge

But the school is steadfastly sticking to its practice of delegating so much authority to the cadets. In a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle, Glasgow said, "We worked hard at that portion of our training, because our board feels very strongly that you transcend leadership training right into the classroom. And you see the academic grades and achievements go right up the ladder as you see a kid gaining rank and responsibility."

There was no mention of providing drill instructors with support personnel. Chances are the school couldn't afford it now if they wanted to. Having had 32 cadets withdraw after the slashing and another 32 expelled for drug use, the school is facing a deficit of more than $1 million in their operating budget, according to a letter Glasgow sent board trustees and staff.

To stem the flow of red ink, Glasgow informed the staff that there would be no Christmas bonuses and that job vacancies would be filled from within. He also, curiously, ordered that "All contributions to other charities or organizations is banned."

The school has seen fit, however, to hire a Dallas public relations firm to help restore its reputation.

Dr. Gregg Lynch and his wife, Fabiola, the parents of Gabriel Cortez, don't know what to think about all this. They originally thought they had done the right thing by enrolling their son in MMA. When he was in eighth grade, his grades dropped precipitously, and he began hanging out with the proverbial "wrong kids." His parents gave him an ultimatum, and when his grades did not come up, they sent him to Harlingen, 2,000 miles away from his home in Laguna Hills, California.

He carried a 3.0 average for the last three years, but did not distinguish himself as a leader. After three years, he was only a lance corporal, which is just one rank up from private. But for the most part, he's stayed clear of serious trouble. Several weeks before he was cut, he was moved into the Bravo Company after he was caught selling smokeless tobacco to an eighth-grader.

Dr. Lynch flew to Harlingen last week to try to get some answers and to calm Gabe, who was upset that charges were dropped against one of the suspects. He's afraid the boys might return to campus.

"We thought we were sending Gabe to a fine college preparatory school, not a reform school," says Dr. Lynch.

But now, he says, he's begun to wonder.

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