[PLUG-TALK] Web site case in paper today...

Russ Johnson russj at dimstar.net
Mon Sep 8 09:36:48 PDT 2003

Michael C. Robinson wrote:
> In the Oregonian.
> There is a case involving the Beaverton School District and a student
> who put up a controversial web site mocking students and faculty.  The
> student got expelled, but the ACLU sued and the the district settled
> to stay out of court.  The one thing that bothers me about this
> case is that the district could have tried ordering the site down 
> before expelling, unless there's more to the story.  

I remember this case. The site was built on the students home computer, 
and hosted on a non-district server.

The "grounds" that the school used for expulsion is that the site was 
deemed "threatening" to teachers and students. The school district has a 
"zero tolerance" policy toward violence. In other words, one strike and 
your out.

<soapbox on>

This has been a growing concern for me as a parent for the last 10 years 
or so. My son just graduated from high school (thank goodness) and my 
daughter graduates this year. I'll be SO glad when they are out of what 
this country accepts for public education.

Here's is a real life example of what happens when "zero tolerance" is 

My step son likes weapons. It's not an abnormal "love" for weapons. He's 
interested in them similar to how I'm interested in computers. How do 
they work, what are they made of, etc. I'm "tuned in" enough to know 
that he wasn't planning on bombing the school or shooting anyone.

He had a key fob in the shape of a gun. It was about 2 inches long, and 
made of semi-hard plastic. He put it on one of the zippers on his 
backpack, because the pull had come off. I thought it was a good idea 
because it made his backpack useful again.

He went to school. He was there for an hour before I got a phone call 
from the principal. They were considering expulsion, because he brought 
a weapon to school!

I told my boss that I had to go to school to take care of an issue my 
son was having, left work (I work in downtown Portland, I live in Aloha. 
  I ride the Max to work.. It's an hour trip, one way...). When I got to 
school, I had to wait 30 minutes for the pricipal to see me.

When I found out that they were considering expelling my step son 
because of a plastic key fob, I about had a fit.

That's when I found out that expulsion is also possible when the student 

After I had my say, my son was NOT expelled, and he agreed not to bring 
weapons to school anymore. I was told the incident would NOT be a part 
of his permanent record, but I haven't looked to see if that's the case.

The Beaverton school district especially is really bad when it comes to 
zero tolerance. They have zero tolerance for a number of things. Now, 
I'll be one of the first to stand up for anyones rights. What happened 
to my step son was an afront to his own freedom of expression. He wasn't 
hurting anyone, and no one in their right mind should have felt 
threatened by that key fob.

<soapbox off>

> One factor is that the site appears to have been off campus, 
> seems the Beaverton district took a big risk going after it.

This goes right along with the kid Beaverton School District expelled 
for getting in a fight, off campus, not on a school trip, with a kid in 

>>From the description in the paper it seems like the kid is just
> a jerk.  Why is there so much interest in his case if the site
> really was in bad taste, the headline saying all but that the
> kid won to the tune of $20,000?  It looks like the only place 
> this guy should be going is into a counseling program and 
> yesterday.  Maybe his mother should go too for not more
> strongly disapproving of his site.

I disagree. He didn't like some of his teachers and some of the students 
at his school. He wrote about it. This is grounds for counseling? I 
don't like some of my co-workers... I've told other people this. Do I 
need counseling too? We're not required to like every other human being 
we come in contact with.

$20,000 is a small settlement considering the kid has been out of public 
schools for two years.

Russ Johnson
Stargate Online
Home:	http://www.dimstar.net
LDP:	http://ldp.dimstar.net

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