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."
Related Posts (on one page):
- More on the North Carolina Sex-Outside-School Case:
- A Bit Excessive, No?