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A Bit Excessive, No?

A local TV station site reports:

Ryan Biggar, 16, and his 17-year-old girlfriend had permission to leave Middle Creek High School for an off-campus program. When their event was canceled for the day, they were caught having sex in the girl's home.

It violated school rules, and officials say those rules apply no matter where you are during school hours.

But ... Biggar's family is filing a lawsuit against the school system, saying his suspension for the rest of the school year is unconstitutional. He says he had no notice that private, consensual, off-campus sexual activity could subject him to school suspension....

Wake County school spokesman Michael Evans says that having sex during school hours breaks the rules — even in a private home.

"Whereever you are during school hours. It's a privilege to leave campus for lunch and you sign a form to that effect, as do your parents," Evans said. "So it was with full consent and knowledge that they participate under these rules and if they chose to break them then disciplinary action will come into play."

Court documents include a copy of the lunch permit application, which states that students exercising off-campus lunch privileges are subject to the rules of student conduct, as applicable to the regular school day. Biggar and one of his parents had signed the application....

I can't speak to whether the suspension violates school rules or state law — or violates the Due Process Clause because there wasn't adequate notice.

But setting aside the legal question, even if the student did violate the rules, isn't the punishment (what sounds like several weeks' suspension) somewhat disproportional to the offense? Yes, he was essentially playing hooky, and should be punished for that; but I don't see why it's the school's business whether he was playing hooky to have sex at home or playing hooky to play video games at home. (I believe that the age of consent in North Carolina is 16, so there's no question of illegality here.) Screwing up the boy's (and presumably the girl's) studying and exam schedule, and depriving them of a month or more of what one would hope is a valuable educational experience, doesn't seem to make much sense.

Thanks to reader Mike Bavli for the pointer.

UPDATE: My favorite comment, from commenter Thief: "Wow. From in loco parentis to simply loco."

Cornellian (mail):
You're overlooking the fact that extramarital sex is a Bad Thing. Apparently, that trumps all other considerations. Can we really blame our new statist overlords when they're only trying to save those poor children from eternal hellfire? Will someone please think of the children?
5.9.2006 4:43pm
Thief (mail) (www):
Wow. From in loco parentis to simply loco.

Methinks someone, either a court or a legislature, needs to step in and define some spatial/temporal limits to the authority of a school.

Also notice that it says the boy is being suspended, but apparently no punishment for the girl. (The girl's parents maybe decided not to sue, but I doubt it.) Methinks it was the case of angry parents finding the neighbor boy straying into forbidden territory, and trying to get him in a heap of trouble.
5.9.2006 4:50pm
Hank:
Does suspension ever make sense except with respect to a child who is a danger to others?
5.9.2006 4:51pm
Redman:
Maybe he can get the punishment reduced by proving it was "safe sex."
5.9.2006 4:59pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Redman, I'd rather presume that it was safe, than have to deal with the evidence.
5.9.2006 5:00pm
Tom952 (mail):
Screwing up the boy's (and presumably the girl's) studying and exam schedule, ...

Absolutely.
5.9.2006 5:10pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
And how exactly do they expect the couple to spend their time now that they're just sitting around the house all day?
5.9.2006 5:15pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Well aside from the fact that they should have been suspended for truancy and the story doesn't say who caught them having sex--did school administrators catch them or did one of the girl's parents catch them in the act and, rightly, complain to the school, I am kind of ambivelent about this one. (And remember, I was the one accused of being a libertine a couple weeks ago). Sounds like this is one spoiled brat whose parents think he can do no wrong.

He ditched school and was caught having sex with his girlfriend and his parents are pissed because he got suspended for the rest of the semester? If I pulled such a stunt in high school, getting suspended would be the least of my problems. If I didn't get suspended, my parents would have been at the school demanding to know why not, not suing to keep me in school. I really don't understand parenting nowadays.
5.9.2006 5:19pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
He says he had no notice that private, consensual, off-campus sexual activity could subject him to school suspension....

You know there really should be a laugh test for all lawsuits. Anything that doesn't pass it should be thrown out.
5.9.2006 5:21pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Oh, Freder, how predictably contrarian of you. Dollars to donuts, you do not actually believe that a kid who cut a day of school, for whatever reason, should be suspended for the rest of the year. And you are sure as hell not arguing that it's somehow worse because they cut school to do some plowin'.
5.9.2006 5:28pm
Richard Bellamy (mail):
What amused me was the double standard of naming the boy, but not the girl.
5.9.2006 5:33pm
Quarterican (mail):
Richard Bellamy -

I presume the girl wasn't named because she's not involved in any legal action and the school's disciplinary records are otherwise confidential.

That said, while I think *that's* appropriate, I do wonder whether or not she was suspended as well. She may well have been, but if she wasn't, that seems (a)profoundly unfair, and (b)typical.
5.9.2006 5:37pm
Hans Bader (mail):
It's odd that liberals are blaming conservatives for this, given that they have advocated restricting sexual conduct (even, apparently, welcomed conduct) between students as sexual harassment.

Conservatives may not even have a position on this case (although they are presumably not thrilled by the occurrence of underage sex), but liberals paved the way for the controversy.

Liberals were big on extending sexual harassment law into grade school and pre-school to regulate kids' behavior towards each other (see the ideologically split, 5-to-4 supreme court decision in Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Educ, where all four liberal justices lined up in support of "peer harassment" liability), and many school harassment policies reach even conduct between students outside school, such as offensive flirtation while waiting for the school bus.

Moreover, one federal court, in an opinion by a liberal judge, held that "welcomeness" is not a defense in sexual harassment lawsuits brought by students (unlike workplace sexual harassment cases, where unwelcomeness is a required element for recovery), at least in cases involving sexual activity.

If you can regulate welcomed sexual conduct to enforce sexual harassment regulations, then you can presumably regulate it to enforce other school rules, too.

Fortunately, many, probably most, courts require a showing of unwelcomeness even by student plaintiffs.

So the school wasn't required to do what it did by federal law, although it may or may not have the discretion to regulate such conduct.

But that's no thanks to the very liberal busybodies who are now criticizing the school. Their expansive notions of harassment liability, taken to their logical conclusion, would require it to discipline the male teenager who had sex, and leave it with no discretion to do otherwise if it wished to avoid a lawsuit later on.
5.9.2006 5:46pm
BobH (mail):
Hank asks: "Does suspension ever make sense except with respect to a child who is a danger to others?"

Suspension, at least for a short time, makes sense as a punishment for plagiarism.
5.9.2006 5:49pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
And you are sure as hell not arguing that it's somehow worse because they cut school to do some plowin'.

Well of course I am. They were out of school on an excused absence and agreed to abide by school rules while out of school. They violated those rules. Now, since I don't have all the details and would have serious heartache if the school was actively spying on these kids, but if they were busted by someone who had an legitimate reason to be at that house and complained to the school, well then, having sex while you are supposed to be at school is worse than blowing off school to go to the beach. I mean, if someone was having a keg party while they were supposed to be at school, I would expect it to be dealt with as harshly, too.

And although I was accused of holding a contrary position, I clearly stated that a 16 and 17 year old having sex is usually a really bad idea even if it is legal in North Carolina. (Isn't it funny that the states in the heart of the bible belt have the lowest age of consent.)
5.9.2006 5:53pm
Shangui (mail):
And judging from past comments on this site about the educational system in this country, I would have assumed the school would be encouraging them to boink away, preferably while declaring the means of production should belong to the state!

But seriously, could this be more absurd? What happened to detention? If you must punish them, why not at least do it in a way that is unpleasant (cleaning bathrooms for two hours after school for the rest of the year, etc.) but doesn't keep them from an important stage of their education?

Idiocy.
5.9.2006 5:53pm
Taimyoboi:
"What happened to detention?"

Is corporal punishment still off the list?
5.9.2006 6:06pm
wavemaker (www):
Here's a more complete account of the incident.

The mother caught them, called the father, father called the police (sheesh, what a big deal), police came and took the boy back to the school -- all for a little nookie during an excused absence.

And the girl was NOT suspended.

Definitely over-reaction, definitely disparate treatment.
5.9.2006 6:07pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Freder said: "...having sex while you are supposed to be at school is worse than blowing off school to go to the beach. I mean, if someone was having a keg party while they were supposed to be at school, I would expect it to be dealt with as harshly, too.

And although I was accused of holding a contrary position, I clearly stated that a 16 and 17 year old having sex is usually a really bad idea even if it is legal in North Carolina. (Isn't it funny that the states in the heart of the bible belt have the lowest age of consent.)"


The extent of their duty to the school was to not play hooky. It's not at all clear to me why, beyond this, the school should distinguish between skipping class to go to the beach or have sex, both otherwise legal activities (unlike your keg party example).

If neither their parents nor the state legislature have acted to prevent them from having sex, why should it matter that YOU think having sex is worse than taking a dip in the ocean?
5.9.2006 6:09pm
Taimyoboi:
"Screwing up the boy's (and presumably the girl's) studying and exam schedule, and depriving them of a month or more of what one would hope is a valuable educational experience, doesn't seem to make much sense."

While I agree that the punishment seems a bit outlandish, I'm not so sure that this strongest argument for why that is so.

If the young lady were to get pregnant (and not have an abortion), wouldn't that have taken out a much larger chunk of their educational experience?
5.9.2006 6:11pm
Wintermute (mail) (www):
Gene, the teenagers are both in the age range unlikely to be criminalized by statutory rape laws. Time to trot out my old insformative post again: The Age of Consent.

They'll probably cut his punishment back on this; and hopefully it will be equally shared by the female.

I have doubts about fighting the biological age of maturity, about providing 13-18's a sexual holiday without them working to afford their own households, and whether we could ever have sent men to the moon if school kids in the past had focused on sex instead of studies as they seem to today. I brought these issues up in my piece because it seemed to me we ought to lose some social rigidity about the length of minority.
5.9.2006 6:21pm
Just John:
An old joke: Which of them, the guy or the girl, was of greater size? The guy, since he had been "Biggar" from birth.

If they got married, though, it would be the girl, since she would become Biggar.

And if she had a child, that child would be a little Biggar.

But if Mr. Biggar divorced Mrs. Biggar, then the mom would still remain Biggar!
5.9.2006 6:23pm
Carolina:
To me the more interesting question is assuming arguendo that the family and student *did* have notice of the policy, is there not an outer limit to what out-of-school conduct a public school can punish? I don't know the cases on this issue, but it seems an interesting one.

Prior to law school, I was a teacher at a private mixed boarding/day school in the 1990s. At one point, a boarding student went home with a day student for the weekend (not an uncommon occurrence) and helped themselves to alcohol in the day student's home. The reaction of the faculty who doled out the punishment (including me) was unanimous that we could (and did) punish the boarding student in our in loco parentis role, but it was inappropriate to punish the day student for conduct that occurred off-campus. Clearly there would have been no legal impediment to punishing both, but none of us felt we ought to be regulating the off-campus conduct of day students -- it seemed way too intrusive into parental perogatives.
5.9.2006 6:25pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Freder said: "(Isn't it funny that the states in the heart of the bible belt have the lowest age of consent.)"

Can you back this up at all? The age of consent in 30 states (both red and blue) is 16. Not to mention, religious objections to sex betweeen minors are usually more about its premarital nature than about age.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of religious morality entering our laws, but throwaway statements like these certainly don't help. There's an apt West Wing quote: "It's not that you don't like guns. It's that you don't like the people who like guns."
5.9.2006 6:29pm
Taimyoboi:
"...but throwaway statements like these..."

Or these for that matter:

"I'm no fan of religious morality entering our laws..."
5.9.2006 6:33pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Taimyoboi: I'm not sure I see the comparison. I was referring purely to my own opinion, and I'm not even sure I painted it inaccurately. But perhaps you're right and I used too few words.

How about: "I'm no fan of laws whose justification lies in religion." For example: condemning premarital sex because God commanded that sex be confined to the sacrament of marriage.
5.9.2006 6:41pm
Aaron:
Question: according to the report, the students were permitted to be out of school; therefore it seems that a truancy rap is out. Furthermore, are we saying that it is the simple violation of a school rule that led to this punishment? I suggest that if the two students had shared a cigarette (prsumably smoking is not allowed in school, either) and somehow gotten busted, that young Mr. Biggar would not be suspended for the rest of the year.

Therefore, the gravamen of this complaint seems to be a MORAL abhorrence for pre-marital sex; i.e. it seems clear that smoking, an illegal act (as both students are under 18), would not have drawn the same sanction that legal, consensual sex did.

Now, can anyone defend the school's actions?
5.9.2006 6:56pm
am i missing something?:
So let me get this straight:

1)The kids had permission to be out of school.

2)They engaged in a completely legal activity.

3)The school suspended them.

Is it really the case that a public school can extend its boundaries during the school day to punish otherwise-legal activities?

What if they caught you chewing gum in the same circumstance, could they, theoretically, punish you? Or how about running down a hallway of an office building? Or talking loudly while the lights were office in your dining room? All of those things were against the rules at my high school. But the idea that the school has some role in stopping a student from doing them outside of the school during school hours is abusrd, no matter how far they want to press their "responsibility" for the care of students.
5.9.2006 7:07pm
Bob Smith (mail):

Also notice that it says the boy is being suspended, but apparently no punishment for the girl.

Even seen a sexual situation involving teens where the girl was punished? I haven't. The boy is who gets punished. Always.
5.9.2006 7:21pm
Rick Shmatz (mail):
Why don't they just say they were sodomizing each other? They were be protected for sure.
5.9.2006 7:24pm
Perseus:
What happened to detention?

It has been "outsourced" to parents (via suspension).
5.9.2006 7:44pm
agog:
The other article does not say that the girl was not suspended. If she was, it doesn't seem like her parents would be ones to file a law suit.

But it raises some other questions:
"On April 19, Ryan and his 17-year-old girlfriend, both juniors at Middle Creek High School in Apex, found themselves with time on their hands. Both had 90 minutes to kill from a canceled program, the suit says, and he had a permit that allowed him to leave school grounds at lunch.
...
According to the suit, the PEPI period plus lunch gave Ryan and his girlfriend a window from about 10:30 a.m. until 12:45 p.m.
The suit says the two were discovered by the girlfriend's mother, who arrived at home unexpectedly. The mother called her husband, who came to the house, then called Holly Springs police."

Why on earth did the girl's father call the police?

Did the agreement in the lunch permit application apply if they were caught during the 'free' period?

Did only the boy have a lunch permit? If the lunch agreement is necessary to apply 'school rules' to off-campus behaviour, perhaps that would explain an uneven punishment.

But overall, yes it does seem excessive. And I agree that the school shouldn't be concerned with what students are doing whilst truant, so long as it's legal, and only punish the unexplained absence.
5.9.2006 7:55pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Contra wavemaker, I do not think that the boy's and girl's actions were exactly equivalent. They were at her house, not his. That affects things two ways:

1. Home (your own, not someone else's) is the default place for any kid who is not in school and not at some previously-approved alternate location. I teach high school (in Wake County, as it happens, though at a private school). If any of our kids are off-campus, we expect them to sign out for a specific purpose and destination, whether it's lunch, a dentist appointment, taking an AP test at another school, going to see grandpa who's just been taken to the emergency room, or going home to get a Tampon because no one at school has a spare (all genuine excuses from this week). Any student who lies about where he or she goes is in trouble. If students are supposed to be helping grade schoolers with their PE, and that is canceled, we would expect them to be back at school, unless they call and get specific permission to be some specific other place. If they ask to take a two-hour lunch or spend the time at the public library, they had better do exactly that.

To get to my point, going home to kill time until afternoon classes might be permitted, but going to another kid's house to do things the other kid's parents disapprove of would certainly not be allowed.

2. Wasn't the boy trespassing? Even if he had the girl's permission to come in and make himself very much at home, he obviously did not have her parents' permission, since they called the police when they caught him. I'm no lawyer, but I would think the parents' right to set the rules would outweigh the daughter's invitation.
5.9.2006 8:00pm
ReaderY:
The police were doubtless called, and responded, because they are of course not merely violating school rules, they are committing a crime. NCGS 14-184, Fornication and Adultery.
5.9.2006 8:03pm
ReaderY:
5.9.2006 8:08pm
Shangui (mail):
Wasn't the boy trespassing? Even if he had the girl's permission to come in and make himself very much at home, he obviously did not have her parents' permission, since they called the police when they caught him.

1. Do you have any reason to believe dad called the police because the kid was simply on the property? This would surprise me. Do 16 and 17 year olds typically get permission from the actual property owners when visiting friends' houses? Of course not. Give me a break.

2. For Christ's sake it's two teenagers balling on their lunch break!!! They should be embarassed for getting caught (as I'm sure they are). They should get detention for skipping out on school illegitimately. But to start talking like the kid committed a crime is just twisted. What good will that do? Do you actually think they or any other kids will refrain from teenage sex because of this? Come on.
5.9.2006 8:23pm
steveh2:
Moral abhorrence aside, it seems to me that a school justify treating sex on school time as more serious than a cigarette on school time because underage sex has potentially greater adverse consequences (in the medium term) than smoking does.

If she got pregnant, that could be devastating to either or both of the students' futures.
5.9.2006 8:31pm
Malvolio:
I'm pretty sure Lawrence has overturned any state fornication statute. And it's only trespass if the owner asks you to leave and you don't (presumably, there were no posted signs). It seems the boy might have some claim against the girlfriends' parents for the false police call...
5.9.2006 8:32pm
Shangui (mail):
it seems to me that a school justify treating sex on school time as more serious than a cigarette on school time because underage sex has potentially greater adverse consequences (in the medium term) than smoking does.

But the sex isn't even illegal and the smoking is!!! Doesn't that make a difference. Frankly, she could legally get an abortion but couldn't legally smoke a cigarette in many states. When does the public school's vague notion of a moral code outweigh the laws of the state?
5.9.2006 8:37pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
I was not arguing that the boy should be charged with trespassing. My point was simple: that it is not necessarily a double standard to punish the boy more than the girl in this particular case, since being at someone else's house without the owner's permission when you're supposed to be in school seems worse than being in your own house. Anyone care to argue about that?

As for trespassing, I'm no lawyer, but do you really need to post a sign? If the girl's parents had a 'no boys in the house when we're not home' rule, and she knew it, and he knew it, wouldn't he have been trespassing when he stepped through the door?
5.9.2006 10:36pm
therut:
Oh for Petes sake. This is what is wrong with children today. The skip out of school and have sex. The kid gets suspended and what do the parents do. Sue the school. If this was a child of mine. I would look him in the eye and say " You broke the schools rules and you broke mine. Not only do you get to repeat a year in school I will have you grounded the whole time." The last thing I would do is embaress myself and show what an ass I am by blaming the school. This kid has no chance or growing up with any character.
5.9.2006 11:10pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
therut, you are being way too harsh. No one is here is saying that it's a positive, or even an acceptable thing, to cut school and have sex with your girlfriend. (Though I suspect that I'm in the majority, when I confess that I've been known to do that when Senioritis set in). The point is that suspension, particularly a lengthy one, just does not fit the "crime." If every kid who cut a day of school was caught and suspended for the rest of the year, the schools would be empty - by October.
5.9.2006 11:35pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Therut: Let me see if I understand this. Because the 16-year-old broke the rules, you want him to repeat a year in school. This means putting off college for a year and putting off getting a full-time job for a year. It probably also means that he'll have to live at your house for a year. You'll also have him grounded for a whole year when he's 17 -- a very easy matter, I'm told, and mighty enjoyable for everyone. All this because he violated the school's rules and yours. Really?
5.10.2006 12:14am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
A wild guess... they got permission to leave, presumably for an event that did not include getting laid.

In the gov't, it was common to charge the simplest set of facts that could result in firing. One case in particular -- a Park policeman raped a former girlfriend, and was convicted. So they charged the simplest, most easily proven, claim ... he'd been out of his assigned patrol district at the time.

OK, so it generated a Washington Post article on how an employee who was a convicted rapist was being fired because he went outside his patrol area to commit the rape. But it was the easiest way to reach the desired result.

Altho stopping teenagers from having sex when possible does seem comparable to an effort to stop sparrows from procreating...
5.10.2006 1:39am
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Half the students in my wife's class at Del Puerto High School in Patterson, California, are either pregnant, mothers, or former residents of Juvenile Hall.

They'd have to close the school if fornication is made a suspension offense.
5.10.2006 2:06am
JoshL (mail):
For those discussing the effectiveness and appropriateness of suspension, I can tell you what my high school (a private one in VA, so this might not work at a bigger school) did:

In addition to expulsion and suspension (called "OSS" or "Out of School Suspension" there), there was also "ISS" (In School Suspension). This meant that the student showed up to the office at the beginning of school. They were permitted to leave only for bathroom breaks, and were consistently supervised. Their teachers gave them several hours of work, per class, per day of suspension, so that the student wouldn't fall behind. Trust me, after working on 6 or 7 hours of homework with almost no break (not to mention still being assigned the normal workload for your time at home), you were willing to take whatever steps were necessary to make sure that you never did such offenses again.
5.10.2006 4:34am
Whatever:
I'm just glad that Therut was not my parent when I was 17, because I'd still be grounded and repeating years of high school.

My guess here is that this will all blow over. I bet it's a knee-jerk reaction by a school administrator who was getting an earful from an angry dad and was embarassed by having his students brought back to school in a cruiser.
5.10.2006 10:47am
tomjedrz (mail):
"am i missing something?" wrote


So let me get this straight:
1)The kids had permission to be out of school.
2)They engaged in a completely legal activity.
3)The school suspended them.


1 -- Actually, they did NOT have permission to be out of school. The event they had permission to attend was cancelled, so they should have returned to campus. They didn't. The boy had permission to leave campus during lunches, but was still in technical violation because he was no on campus when lunch began.

2 -- Legal, apparently, although the jury is still out on whether trespassing laws were violated. But the activity clearly violated school rules to which the kids and their parents had explicitly agreed.

3 -- Whether the punishment merits the offense is a different argument then whether the school has the right to impose punishment. Clearly (to me at least) it does.

"Dr. Weevil" point about the girl being in her home may have some merit. She clearly should have been at school, and so can be disciplined for that, but whether the other rules apply or are trumped by her being in her own home is an open question.

I am wondering if there isn't another of these idiotic "zero-tolerance" policies at work here ...
5.10.2006 1:04pm
Aaron:

1 -- Actually, they did NOT have permission to be out of school. The event they had permission to attend was cancelled, so they should have returned to campus. They didn't. The boy had permission to leave campus during lunches, but was still in technical violation because he was no on campus when lunch began.


Do we know this or are you speculating? If the event was, as it appeared to be a continuing activity, where would the students go? Their class time was to be spent at the elementary school, ergo, there was no classroom to return to. Is it your position that they should have returned to the school and hung around the hallways, or perhaps the principal's office? Again, there has been no allegation of truancy.

And the policy begs the question as to what "a school setting" entails. Are you arguing that the inside of a private home is a school setting?
5.10.2006 3:40pm
Timothy (mail) (www):
How can anyone argue that having sex (especially when both over the legal age of consent) isn't a better use of time than high school?

I mean, seriously, has it been that long for so many of y'all? Is one day of class really going to make a difference. No. The girl's dad was pissed because "that guy was ****ing his 'little girl'" so he called the COPS. Probably some uptight suburban yutz who can't wrap his head around the fact that people grow up.

I guess that's a lesson to teenagers, though, get a van.
5.10.2006 6:01pm
Patrick:
Bit excessive?

No. And all the blather that having sex is not relevent, well, typical anti-moralistic thumb-sucking. Let the school be inconsistent and arbirtrary. Life is.

What's excessive is a parent bringing cases to the courthouse over such a matter. Let them learn the joy and pleasure of home schooling for a while and save the taxpayer's money.
5.12.2006 2:48am
Patrick:
"Therefore, the gravamen of this complaint seems to be a MORAL abhorrence for pre-marital sex; i.e. it seems clear that smoking, an illegal act (as both students are under 18), would not have drawn the same sanction that legal, consensual sex did. Now, can anyone defend the school's actions?"

Do you have a moral abhorrence to moral abhorrence? :-)

For the school to let moral objections influence a level of punishment for a forbidden act is more than proper, it is required for the functioning of a decent school. This simple factor in giving the school leeway in their own code of conduct enforcement is vital for discipline in the school.
Would a school punish a boy for playing hookey to conduct first aid at an accident as they would for a boy playing hookey to throw firecrackers at neighborhood pets in attempts to injure them? One would hope not, and we should fear the application of a rule that forbade such leeway or the use of morality as a guide to level of punishment. How can we teach children any sort of moral behavior if we don't use it in our efforts in education? It becomes hollow, empty a-moralistic vacuousness.

Freedom for hormone-driven teenagers but a straitjacket for harried school administrators is a great way to destroy a school ... and we wonder why our schools lack order and learning.

It's the lack of character and integrity from schools and from parents that filters down to the kids, so I agree with ...
"The last thing I would do is embaress myself and show what an ass I am by blaming the school. This kid has no chance or growing up with any character."

Certainly. And that may explain why he behaved as he did in the first place.
5.12.2006 3:05am
Cousin Dave (mail):
Here's the two problems that I have with this:

1. The apparent inconsistency in punishments. I can absolutely, positively, certainly, wihtout doubt, 100% guarantee you that the boy would have gotten a far less severe punishment had he done any (or all!) of the following:

a. Used his time out of school to break into someone else's home
b. Threatened his teacher in class
c. Felt up his girlfriend in class

My point is: the punishment does not fit the crime. Remember, we aren't talking about the boy's parents here. We're talking about an agency of the government, and the government has a Constitutional obligation to make punishments proportional to the crime committed. Okay, okay, I know, Constitutional principles don't always apply to minors, nor should they. But just because you have the right to do something, that doesn't make it a good idea. The lesson being taught here is, "we're the government, and we can jerk you around any way we want to." Is that a good lesson to teach?

Second: The punishment, to me, appears to extend from some kind of sexual harassment doctorine. Thus, no apparent punishment for the girl. Interesting especially considering that the girl was older than the boy. Who talked who into what? But, as another poster said, in any kind of teen-sex scandal, the boy will *always* take the fall no matter what. If the boy had had sex with another boy, the school would not have dared to touch it, and if they had, the ACLU would be all over it.
5.12.2006 4:29pm