One person who commented on today’s story about the impact of expulsions on families said he thought expulsion was too harsh a punishment for a 9-year-old boy who brought a gun to school in February 2012, resulting in the critical injury of an 8-year-old classmate. The girl survived, but her health remains compromised, a spokeswoman for the family has said.
Here is the comment from Larry Croix and my response outlining the rights and responsibilities of school officials, students and parents in cases where students bring a gun to school. In short, most districts, under state law and their own polices, have no choice but to expel the student. Students are entitled to due process, including the right to appeal.
Larry says, “There was a lot about the 9 year old in this story that I could not fathom. I don’t want to minimize the past and future pain and suffering of the victim. That said I don’t understand how a 9 year old could be criminally guilty of anything. I thought and still think a years expulsion was wrong headed given the circumstances. Changing his school certainly, but anything beyond that was excessive and I have to wonder what they were thinking beyond avoiding having to deal with over wrought parents of other children.”
My response, “Under state law, bringing a gun to school is “grounds for” expulsion. Bremerton, like most districts, spells out in its parent handbook a policy that students who bring a gun to school will be immediately expelled.
The law says students who suspended or expelled are entitled to due process including the right to appeal (the link here is to a document posted on the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website), but schools can emergency expel a student who poses an immediate threat. The emergency expulsion, must be followed within 24-hours by written notification to parents/ guardians and converted to some other form of discipline.
So in the case of the 9-year-old, the district was bound by state law and its own policies to expel the boy. His guardian doesn’t dispute the district’s actions immediately following the shooting.”
Chris Henry, reporter