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Freshman expelled for firing spitballs

posted 2/3/2011 8:21:06 PM |
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tagged: news, people, straddle

This zero-tolerance bullshit today throws out good old fashion common sense!

How do you feel about zero-tolerance?

Andrew Mikel II admits it was a stupid thing to do. In December, bored and craving attention, the 14-year-old used a plastic tube to blow small plastic pellets at fellow students in Virginia's Spotsylvania High School. In one lunch period, he scored three hits.

"They flinched. They looked annoyed," Mikel said.

The school district saw it as more than a childish prank. School officials expelled Mikel for possession and use of a weapon, and they called a deputy sheriff onto the scene, according to Mikel and his father, Andrew Mikel Sr.

The younger Mikel, a freshman, was promptly charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault.

Parents and civil-liberties advocates point to the case as an illustration of the flaws of " zero-tolerance" disciplinary policies implemented in many school districts across Virginia, which they say result in excessive punishments for minor infractions.

Spotsylvania school officials declined to comment on the case, citing student confidentiality.

But documents that the school produced when Mikel's father filed a Freedom of Information Act request show internal division over the matter.

Spotsylvania school officials ruled that the plastic shooter, fashioned from the casing of a pen, was a weapon "used to intimidate, threaten or harm others," making it grounds for expulsion. In e-mails, school officials referred to it as a "metal tube." The plastic pellets were called " B-Bs."

"We have an obligation to protect the students in our building from others who pose a threat to the over-all safe learning environment," Russell Davis, the principal of Spotsylvania High, wrote to other school officials.

But the school's hearing officer, John Lynn, wrote to administrators that he was "not at all comfortable expelling or suspending this student for the remainder of the year," according to the documents. School officials insisted. And when Mikel's father appealed the case, members of the Spotsylvania School Board upheld the ruling.

"I was just astonished when I heard," said the younger Mikel, who is now being schooled at home.

Mikel will be cleared of the misdemeanor criminal charges if he participates in a yearlong diversion program, he said.

But some residents and Spotsylvania officials are questioning the school district's handling of the case.

"More and more school districts apply these zero-tolerance policies, and common sense goes out the window," said state Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg. "Something like this can haunt a kid for the rest of his life, just for a little mischief."

The Columbus Dispatch

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post a comment!


Feb 3 @ 8:24PM  
Yes, a few strange and stupid events in the U.S. news the last few days that occured, and I just had to share them with you all.

Feb 3 @ 8:26PM  
Beyond saying it is not an important issue, it is not important enough to comment on compared to others in the world

Feb 3 @ 8:45PM  
Well I think it's important enough that any father would be pissed if it was his kid!!!

Feb 3 @ 10:35PM  
Ridiculous action over nothing .
A good smack up along side the head should have done it

Feb 4 @ 1:24AM  
thats half the problem these days Doc, all the do-gooders have banned parents from smacking kids as a form of punishment. here in Australia its even a jailable offense
ironically its the same do-gooders who also bitch and complain about homeless teenagers who can't be diceplined that don't want to conform to rules or regulations.

when i was a kid if i played up i got my ass whaled and it didn't kill me.
it was mean't to be a dererant and believe you ,me.. you sure learn't fast not to do it again.

in this case, sure the idiot kid stuffed up, should have been given a warning or lunchtime detention or something but if he also knew it was zero tolerance then he should stop his blubbering and put up with the consequenses of his action

Feb 4 @ 1:40AM  
A spitball is harmless but the notebook paper folded several times & shot out of a rubber band stung like a son of a bitch ! I used to have pellet gun fights as a kid as well as bb gun. Try to do that nowadays & a cop is liable to shoot your ass.

Feb 4 @ 6:49PM  
Spotsylvania school officials ruled that the plastic shooter, fashioned from the casing of a pen, was a weapon "used to intimidate, threaten or harm others," making it grounds for expulsion. In e-mails, school officials referred to it as a "metal tube." The plastic pellets were called " B-Bs."

Kid fashions this out of a PLASTICE pen casing, yet school officials say it was a METAL tube. So...who is telling the truth?

No, the kid shouldn't have done this, but, IMHO, the school board is going a bit overboard with the whole "used to intimidate, threaten, or harm others" line. Now if this kid had a knife or gun, yeah, I can see going to these measures. But OMG, this kid did nothing anymore dangerous than the stupid stuff some of us did back when we were kids!!!! I remember my friends doing the same stupid prank in high school, and the most they got was detention.

I understand that the schools have a duty and responsibility to make sure the kids are safe, but come on!!!! This is just plain out over reacting!!!!

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Freshman expelled for firing spitballs