FREAK: A Casualty of Public Education Chronicles One Family's Horror Story Of Their Gifted Child

With more and more interest and concerns about the No Child Left Behind act, many parents and educators are experiencing difficulties with how their children are learning in the wake of NCLB. Even Time magazine noted that “more than 30,000 educators and concerned citizens have signed an online petition calling for the repeal of the 1,100 page statute of NCLB.

Deerfield, WI, April 23, 2013 --( FREAK: A Casualty of Public Education documents the Pierce family’s tragic experience and chronicles the tragedy of a gifted student who suffered blatant neglect in a one-size-fits-all high school curriculum, and the spiraling disaster that unfolded when he was required to participate in a dangerous contact sport in phys ed in order to graduate.

The author believes that public schools frequently fall short of meeting the needs of all their students is woefully common knowledge, and FREAK: A Casualty of Public Education by Bonnie Jean Draeger with Solon Pierce goes further and painfully demonstrates what can happen when the system fails altogether.

In his freshman year, Nathaniel Pierce, a piano prodigy and honor student at Mt. Horeb High School in Wisconsin, was a sunny, well-adjusted kid. His biggest issue in life: trying to avoid the school-mandated contact sport component of his phys ed class with notes from home or other teachers. For a time this worked, but only for a time. One February afternoon in 1984, Nathaniel suffered a traumatic, life-changing personal injury in this class, and his former personality disappeared.

As time went by and the Pierce family attempted to secure restitution and to prevent additional injuries to their son, the school became ever more hostile. Nathaniel endured tremendous psychological abuse and eventually developed schizophrenia and a host of other mental disorders that prevented him from accepting any of the numerous scholarships he was offered at top music schools around the country. Meanwhile, the Pierce’s legal efforts failed in what Draeger calls “a classic miscarriage of justice.” Adding insult to injury, the medications Nathaniel took to control his mental disorders came with their own host of disastrous complications, resulting in his death on Father’s Day 2007.

Nathaniel’s heartbreaking twenty-two-year ordeal, noted Draeger, was a result of “abject failure of the system to protect children, gifted and otherwise.” As she explained, “Nathaniel was considered a FREAK. In a true paradox of public education, he was a victim not only of fellow students but of his school itself. In turn, its warped values indeed reflected those of the State of Wisconsin.” Bonnie Jean Draeger died of cancer in 2011.

"Sometimes we hear stories about public schools that make us sad. Other stories make us angry. Still others leave us shaking our heads in disbelief. This story will do all three."
Gena Suarez, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

“Can a traumatic personal injury, combined – ironically – with a hostile, unsympathetic and stressful social environment lead to (or trigger) schizophrenia? Or more importantly, are some public schools subjecting – physically and emotionally – vulnerable youngsters to needless risk of permanent damage? The story of Nathaniel Pierce may provide a somewhat shocking answer.” - Excerpt from FREAK: A Casualty of Public Education

The book is available in both print and ebook versions.

Book Information:
FREAK: A Casualty of Public Education
By Bonnie Jean Draeger with Solon W Pierce
Publisher: New Lumen Press
ISBN: 978-1600474347
Pages: 182

For more information, review copies and author interviews contact:

Solon Pierce

FREAK: A Casualty of Public Education is available for purchase online at and is also available at several online retailers.
Solon Pierce
706 509 8422