Thursday, December 09, 2010

Expelled For Having A Rifle In The Car?

On the morning of Dec.1, Demari DeReu drove to Columbia Falls High School in Montana and parked her blue-green Honda Accord in the lot, just as she does every morning. The 16-year-old honor roll student, class treasurer and varsity cheerleader walked in to school, forgetting entirely about the unloaded hunting rifle locked in the trunk of her car.

Later that day, there was an announcement telling students contraband sniffing dogs were scouting the parking lot, sparking her memory. She immediately told administrators that she’d forgotten to remove her scoped hunting rifle from the trunk following a Thanksgiving family hunting excursion.

She was suspended from school for violating federal and state gun laws.

On Monday, the school board will convene for a hearing to decide the fate and academic future of the high school junior, who recently was voted most dedicated cheerleader by her teammates and coach.


This was an accident. She had no mens rea to commit a crime, and no one thinks she's dangerous. This is just another example of zero tolerance run amok.

To be expelled, someone should have to do (or plan) something--not forget to do something. Just my opinion.


Anonymous said...

Lesson learned: Keep your mouth shut. The administrators are NOT your friends.

Ellen K said...

Zero tolerance equals zero common sense. There was a case where an honor student was suspended and nearly expelled for having a butter knife on the back floor of his car. Then there was the couple of students expelled because the girl had forgotten her rescue inhaler, needed one at a track meet, and her boyfriend gave her his. This is the result of trial lawyers gone wild-rather than allowing the grown ups to use discretion to make decision, we have to have these ridiculous ethics codes that do not prevent any real drug use, crime or activity, but which instead catch good kids with nitpicky rules.

Anonymous said...

You have to draw a line somewhere. Who is anyone to determine "if she's dangerous?" If the person were a loner with no friends who was failing classes, would you take the same stance?

I agree the system failed here, but a blind policy is the way to go, otherwise you subject yourself to, well... subjectivity.

Darren said...

I actually *want* administrators, who earn in the vicinity of $80-120K in my district, to exercise some discretion.

allen (in Michigan) said...

What you, Darren, or I want isn't really relevant. What's relevant is how the system's constructed and what sorts of incentives and disincentives result. Since there's no incentive to exercise judgment the smart play is not to exercise judgment. Now you know why disruptive kids remain the teacher's problem for far too long; there's not much incentive for the administrators to become involved.

Certainly the disruption of the education of the other kids is unimportant to the administrator.

Anonymous said...

And how far would you be willing to go with this discretion? Would it be more reasonable to be alarmed if it were a hispanic student? How about one that has problems at home? I think it's a dangerous path.

Doug said...

If she had left a gun in her Cheer duffel bag, THEN we might have a problem. This is ridiculous. In her Car Trunk, unloaded = no problem. The other questions: Why the 'random' dog sniffing? Was there someone that WAS suspected? What if she had gone into the office before the announcement and told them about it? Would she have had the same punishment?
Administrators should have said "Thanks for the info. If the dogs return results on your car, we will take that into consideration." As someone else on here has said before, common sense is not very common anymore.

Darren said...

Are Hispanic students more prone to gun violence? If we're going to profile, let's use reasonable parameters.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Gee, I don't know Anonymous. Just how much judgment can be expected from someone pulling an administrators salary? None?

That does seem to be the direction things are headed in with zero tolerance policies.

I'll say no to "none".

The bigger question though is what is it about the public education system that both makes such "zero responsibility" policies possible?

Anonymous said...

That's my point exactly. You're talking about profiling, not me.

Darren said...

Reasonable parameters for profiling might include a past history of causing trouble, things like that. I don't think skin color or last name are good indicators of who would shoot up a school.

But yes, I fully support profiling. Some of us even think it is a reasonable, common-sensical, even smart thing to do.