Our tax-funded schools are at the forefront of ferreting out crime. They may not teach students very well. Test scores may be falling, as they have since 1963. But one thing is sure: the schools are alert to major infractions.
Spitballs are one. In earlier days, little boys made them out of paper and spit. But not today. High-tech spitballs have entered the sacred halls of learning. New measures are required to deal with this.
My old colleague, Constitutional lawyer John Whitehead, has explained the situation. A 14-year-old honor student — scratch that: ex-honor student — has been suspended for shooting plastic spitwads.
In December 2010, freshman Andrew Mikel II was kicked out of Spotsylvania High School for the remainder of the school year under a charge that the “spitwad” incident constituted “violent criminal conduct” and possession of a weapon. School officials also referred the matter to local law enforcement for criminal prosecution. Although no one was harmed, the Spotsylvania County Circuit Court upheld the disciplinary action in May 2011.
This may sound like an over-reaction to you. You may think it is another example of North’s first law of bureaucracy: “Some bureaucrat will eventually enforce an official rule to the point of utter absurdity.” Actually, this case does conform to this law.
Whitehead’s pubic interest law firm, the Rutherford Institute, has taken the case.
The Rutherford Institute has filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case on behalf of Andrew Mikel, asking the Court to find that Andrew’s conduct did not constitute “violent criminal conduct” and that the school’s actions were irrational and violated the constitutional guarantee of due process of law.
“Andrew Mikel is merely the latest in a long line of victims whose educations have been senselessly derailed by school administrators lacking in both common sense and compassion,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “We have moved into a new paradigm in America where young people are increasingly viewed as suspects and treated as criminals by school officials and law enforcement alike. It is our hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will recognize the need to right the wrongs being perpetrated against young people today in the name of zero tolerance.”
Here are the facts.
On December 10, 2010, Andrew Mikel, a freshman at Spotsylvania High School, was sent to the principal’s office after shooting a handful of small, hollow pellets akin to plastic spitwads at fellow students during lunch period. Andrew, an honor student active in Junior ROTC and in his church, was initially suspended for 10 days and charged with criminal assault and possession of a weapon under the school’s Student Code of Conduct. The Spotsylvania County School Board later upheld the suspension of Mikel for the remainder of the school year. School officials also referred the matter to local law enforcement, which initiated juvenile criminal proceedings for assault. Andrew was then placed in a diversion program, and had to take substance abuse and anger management counseling.
The Rutherford Institute sued. The circuit court ruled in favor of the school board. The Rutherford Institute has appealed to the Supreme Court.
I hope the Supremes take the case. This would make a great headline. “Supreme Court De-Criminalizes Spitballs.” Or even better, “Supreme Court Criminalizes Spitballs.”
With those two possible outcomes, I think the Court will decline to hear the case. A pity.
If you think it’s time to consider homeschooling, you’re right. When some students carry guns to school, while others are charged with criminal spitballing, it’s time to leave tax-funded education behind. “Stick a fork into it. It’s done.”