Skip to comments.3rd Circuit: N.J. school can punish boy for playtime threat(zero tolerance MEGA barf alert)
Posted on 06/23/2003 12:37:05 PM PDT by freepatriot32
SAYREVILLE, N.J. The Sayreville school district did not violate the rights of a kindergartner it suspended three years ago for threatening to shoot his friends as they played a game during recess, a federal appeals court ruled.
The June 19 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a federal judges decision last year that dismissed a lawsuit filed by the boys parents.
Scot and Cassandra Garrick sued the Middlesex County school district after their son and three other students were suspended following the March 15, 2000, incident in which their child told his friends, Im going to shoot you.
The children were playing at the time, pretending their fingers were guns and saying to one another, I want to shoot you, the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick reported. Their words were overheard by classmates, who told teachers.
The Garricks were the only parents to bring civil action against the district, claiming their sons free-speech and due-process rights had been violated. They sought unspecified damages and asked that the suspension be removed from their sons school record. The child was enrolled in private school following the incident.
Students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate, the court said. But, the panel said, there has to be a balance between the freedom to advocate unpopular and controversial views in the classroom and societys countervailing interest in teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior.
Sayrevilles superintendent of schools, Dennis Fyffe, termed the federal appeals court ruling a very nice victory for the district.
Fyffe said the four boys were suspended under the districts zero-tolerance policy.
These students were suspended under the school policy that deals with general school behavior, Fyffe told the newspaper. This was not cops and robbers.
Nisha Mohammed, a spokeswoman for the Rutherford Institute, the Virginia-based nonprofit group that is representing the Garricks, said the parents were outraged by the ruling and are determined to appeal.
The groups founder, John Whitehead, said parental notification could become a central issue on appeal since the Garricks were not notified and therefore could not attend the hearing that led to their sons suspension.
This was overreaction and over-punishment, Whitehead said. Its part of the zero-tolerance mentality of no questions asked and you just throw (students) out.
Court records show that school principal Georgia Baumann, who was named in the civil suit, did attempt to contact parents before holding the hearing.
There is no need to delay between the time the notice is given and the time of the hearing, court papers say.
The fact that the boys admitted to the principal that they were playing guns, fulfilled the requirements of due process which can be satisfied in a case like this by informal procedure, the court ruled.
Separation of School and State. End compulsory education, government certification of teachers - all of it.
Yep. I frequently ooze jealousy when I see all the goodies that the young ones have today (internet, motorized Big Wheels, more discretionary spending dollars than we could ever have dreamed of, power over teachers, hitting adolesence during a time of exceedingly casual sexual contact, etc), but things like this remind me of just how good we had it.
Give me a tennis ball and a curb, and I could make 15 games to spend entire afternoons perfecting. I could go anywhere, show up at anyone's door and get invited inside, I could say anything that wouldn't get my Dad's belt off of his waist, I could enjoy youth without focusing on adult relations, I could pretend-shoot the enemy in a game and not be sanctioned, I could shoot a BB gun in my yard, I could open a lemonade stand and not get harassed by policemen, I could Trick-or-Treat door-to-door for a MILE in every direction, and I could spend HOURS outside just looking around (nowadays, most kids aren't outside for more than 1 hour straight on any given WEEK!)
In short, we wuz free. Now we are wards of the Nanny-state... and that beast's appetites are showing no signs of ever slowing their increasing size.