Friday, July 11, 2008

Student Booted From School For Creating An Online Map Of His School For A Video Game

This story's a year old but was just brought to my attention (thank you to reader/commenter/former student Eric W).

Let's see if I can cut to the chase in this story. A high school student like to play an online version of a first-person shooting game. He created an online map of his school so he and his friends could have these battles in an environment they know and love.

One parent found out about this, raised a stink, and school officials got involved. His parents consented to a search of their house where a hammer (weapon!!!) was found in the boy's room. The boy was identified as a potential terrorist, sent to the district's alternative school, and told he couldn't graduate with his friends. No criminal charges were filed.

The parent complaint coincidentally was made the day after the Virginia Tech shootings, raising the emotional stakes, but there was no indication that this kid wanted to fire up his schoolmates. I mean, really--I think it would be much more fun to play a videogame centered on somewhere I know rather than on some random location. Administrators way overreacted here, which seems to be something they teach in administrator school.

Lawyers got involved and the district backpedaled somewhat by allowing him to graduate with his class, but tried to cover their tracks by adding more layers of stupidity.

A Clements High School senior, disciplined and removed from his campus after officials learned he'd made a 3D computer game map resembling the school, will be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies if he and his parents agree in writing to several conditions (to show they've done something). (boldface mine--Darren)

But Michael McKie, Fort Bend Independent School District assistant superintendent for high schools, told the boy's parents and attorney he won't grant their request that records calling the boy a "terroristic threat" be cleared, or that the boy be allowed to return to classes at Clements...

McKie said the district will allow the boy to participate in graduation ceremonies "conditioned on my receipt of your written assurance that you have custody of all weapons in your household, that (the boy) has no violent tendencies, that he would not cause harm to himself or others during the graduation ceremonies and that he will behave in an appropriate and dignified manner at graduation."

Neither Cease nor the boy's parents could be reached for comment Monday morning. FBISD spokeswoman Mary Ann Simpson said "we have received a letter from the parents and the young man, agreeing to the terms in the letter from Mr. McKie."

"They have no choice. They are not happy about it," said Naomi Lam, a former FBISD board member and a friend of the boy's family. "I'm not very happy with the decision either."

If the injustice here isn't clear yet, try this:

The school police department's threat assessment office concluded no crime had taken place. And, according to the police report, Fort Bend County Assistant District Attorney Paul Tu told campus police “he knew of no criminal offense that had occurred; there were no threats on any specific person or people; there was no evidence found to pursue the case any further.”

Yet the boy was still sent to an alternative school for the end of his senior year.

Is common sense really not so common?


Scott McCall said...

pull the racist-type card:

"they're only picking on me cause i'm white/black/pink/whatever"


"they only hate me cause i'm a minor and it's their job to hate me"


"whatever i try to do, they're teaching communism cause i can't try my case and i'm forced to take their decision.....communists"

Nigel said...

A little overly cautious, perhaps? No one wants their high school to be the next Columbine, after all.

The line between civil rights/personal freedoms and quasi pre-criminal action seems to be getting murkier every year. I don't see what the kid did wrong—hell, I would totally play Counterstrike on a map of Rio—but think about the fallout if the student were to actually shoot up the school?

The third paragraph down (of quotations) is pretty definitive in outlining the districts fear of another high school shooting. Columbine, Virginia Tech has everyone on the look out for potential psychopaths, me thinks. Albeit it may be overkill, but at the very least it is understandable.

Hell, common sense is overrated anyways.

Darren said...

Perhaps a *reasonable* thing to do would be to contact the parents, talk to the kid--heck, even have the school psychologist talk to the kid? Especially when the worst "weapon" they found after searching his house was a hammer.

A search of Harris' and Klebold's houses would have turned up much more.

Fritz J. said...

Common sense is not common because it requires people to think and exercise judgment, something many are either unable or too lazy to do. Couple that with sheer stupidity--as exemplified by their calling a hammer a dangerous weapon--and you wind up with the sorry example cited. I suspect that the Fort Bend school district is a weapons free zone so by their reasoning their maintenance departments must now get rid of all hammers in order to comply with their directives. I would call those people idiots but that is demeaning to actual idiots.

M.A. said...

"Common sense is not common because it requires people to think and exercise judgment, something many are either unable or too lazy to do."

I think another possibility is that people are afraid to exercise judgment. For fear of getting sued, they probably wanted a 'cookie-cutter' decision-making process that made exercising judgment not a necessity (or requirement). Then if something happened (or didn't happen), they were just following protocol.

dzbuddy said...

> I think another possibility is that people are afraid to exercise judgment.

And the winna is!

Yup, this is hardly more then ass-covering if it isn't a bit of showing-off - some do-nothing bureaucrat who has an opportunity to show how utterly focused he is on safeguarding the chilluns regardless of how many of them he hurts.

Skip said...

I know I'm a little late to this party... just found this excellent blog. Isn't zero tolerance the antithesis of reasoning and analyzing? Isn't that what we're "supposed" to be teaching our kids according to the same bureaucrats? Just sayin....

Skip said...

Oh, and to Scott McCall. I think that we as a society are finally starting to getting over people throwing "cards" You throw those accusations and people see what you're up to. Just expose the truth.