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Quail!

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Ridiculous
« on: April 25, 2007, 09:23:52 PM »
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Student writes essay, arrested by police

By Jeff Long and Carolyn Starks
Tribune staff reporters
Published April 25, 2007, 5:14 PM CDT

High school senior Allen Lee sat down with his creative writing class on Monday and penned an essay that so disturbed his teacher, school administrators and police that he was charged with disorderly conduct.

"I understand what happened recently at Virginia Tech," said the teen's father, Albert Lee, referring to last week's massacre of 32 students by gunman Seung-Hui Cho. "I understand the situation."

But he added: "I don't see how somebody can get charged by writing in their homework. The teacher asked them to express themselves, and he followed instructions."

Allen Lee, an 18-year-old straight-A student at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested Tuesday near his home and charged with disorderly conduct for an essay police described as violently disturbing but not directed toward any specific person or location.

The youth's father said his son was not suspended or expelled but was forced to attend classes elsewhere for now.

Today, Cary-Grove students rallied behind the arrested teen by organizing a petition drive to let him back in their school. They posted on walls quotes from the English teacher in which she had encouraged students to express their emotions through writing.

"I'm not going to lie. I signed the petition," said senior James Gitzinger. "But I can understand where the administration is coming from. I think I would react the same way if I was a teacher."

Cary Police Chief Ron Delelio said the charge was appropriate even though the essay was not published or posted for public viewing.

Disorderly conduct, which carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine, is filed for pranks such as pulling a fire alarm or dialing 911. But it can also apply when someone's writings can disturb an individual, Delelio said.

"The teacher was alarmed and disturbed by the content," he said.

But a civil rights advocate said the teacher's reaction to an essay shouldn't make it a crime.

"One of the elements is that some sort of disorder or disruption is created," said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. "When something is done in private—when a paper is handed in to a teacher—there isn't a disruption."

The "key outcomes" this month for the Creative English class was for students to identify and utilize poetic conventions to communicate ideas and emotions. With that in mind, teachers reminded students that if they read something that posed a threat to self or others, the school could take action, said High School District 155 Supt. Jill Hawk.

The English teacher read the essay and reported it to a supervisor and the principal. A round-table discussion with district officials conveyed, with lively debate, and they decided to report it to the police.

"Our staff is very familiar with adolescent behavior. We're very well versed with types of creativity put into writing. We know the standards of adolescent behavior that are acceptable and that there is a range," Hawk said.

"There can certainly be writing that conveys concern for us even though it does not name names location or date," he said.

The charge against Lee comes as schools across the country wrestle with how to react in the wake of the shootings at the Virginia Tech campus at Blacksburg, Va.

Bomb threats at high schools in Schaumburg and Country Club Hills have caused evacuations, and extra police were on duty at a Palos Hills high school this week because of a threatening note found in the bathroom of a McDonald's restaurant a half-mile away.

Experts say the charge against Lee is troubling because it was over an essay that even police say contained no direct threats against anyone at the school. However, Virginia Tech's actions toward Cho came under heavy scrutiny after the killings because of the "disturbing" plays and essays teachers say he had written for classes.

Simmie Baer, an attorney with the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University, called the Cary incident an example of zero-tolerance policies gone awry. Children, she said, are not as sophisticated as adults and often show emotion through writing or pictures, which is what teachers should want because it is a safe outlet.

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IMO, preposterous.  Send the kid for a psych evaluation maybe if there really is serious concern...but criminal charges?????  I don't like where all of this is headed one bit...
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Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Ridiculous
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2007, 09:28:25 PM »
this is idiotic. Either cancel creative writing courses or accept the fact that people express themselves in different ways. It used to be that using non-violent ways to release aggression was encouraged, now it is becoming a crime? lol.

Also, the kid seems to be Asian....wonder if that played any role in his treatment.
YLS c/o 2009

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Re: Ridiculous
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2007, 09:30:14 PM »
I agree that a psych evaluation would be more appropriate than criminal charges, indeed. On the other side, it is really a lose-lose situation. If they do something about it, it's a violation of privacy and all of that, if they do not do something about it, and he turns out to be a bonafide psycho, well the problem there is obvious.

Had it come from a 13-14 year old kid I'd probably been a bit even more sympathetic, but as a "high school senior" you're about 18 right? At 18, you really should know better. And why the heck does Baer call a high school senior a child. Teen, youth, something in those lines fine; you're not a child when you're a high school senior.

Booyakasha2

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Re: Ridiculous
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2007, 09:30:41 PM »
that school district is so sued.
Princeton Law 2010

Quail!

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Re: Ridiculous
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2007, 09:32:45 PM »
I agree that a psych evaluation would be more appropriate than criminal charges, indeed. On the other side, it is really a lose-lose situation. If they do something about it, it's a violation of privacy and all of that, if they do not do something about it, and he turns out to be a bonafide psycho, well the problem there is obvious.

Had it come from a 13-14 year old kid I'd probably been a bit even more sympathetic, but as a "high school senior" you're about 18 right? At 18, you really should know better. And why the heck does Baer call a high school senior a child. Teen, youth, something in those lines fine; you're not a child when you're a high school senior.

Sadly, children even younger than 13 have been expelled/suspended from schools for similar reasons, and that has been going on well before VA Tech.
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Re: Ridiculous
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2007, 09:36:58 PM »
I don't see that as sadly, and I consider it to be a huge leap between expelled from school and criminal charges. If a child at the age of 12 or younger fantasies about killing school mates etc, something is severely wrong in that persons head and he needs to be 1) fixed or 2) locked up.

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Ridiculous
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2007, 09:40:14 PM »
I don't see that as sadly, and I consider it to be a huge leap between expelled from school and criminal charges. If a child at the age of 12 or younger fantasies about killing school mates etc, something is severely wrong in that persons head and he needs to be 1) fixed or 2) locked up.

There's a huge difference between fantasies about killing your school mates and turning in a creative writing piece that contains violent themes.
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Quail!

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Re: Ridiculous
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2007, 09:41:22 PM »
I don't see that as sadly, and I consider it to be a huge leap between expelled from school and criminal charges. If a child at the age of 12 or younger fantasies about killing school mates etc, something is severely wrong in that persons head and he needs to be 1) fixed or 2) locked up.

There's a huge difference between fantasies about killing your school mates and turning in a creative writing piece that contains violent themes.

titcr.

It seems like most of the time, zero-tolerance policies in schools are lazy and inadequate solutions.
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Re: Ridiculous
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2007, 09:44:34 PM »
I don't see that as sadly, and I consider it to be a huge leap between expelled from school and criminal charges. If a child at the age of 12 or younger fantasies about killing school mates etc, something is severely wrong in that persons head and he needs to be 1) fixed or 2) locked up.

There's a huge difference between fantasies about killing your school mates and turning in a creative writing piece that contains violent themes.

Certainly, and I chose to believe (naive as it may be) that people reading these essays still have a certain amount of judgement. I'm starting to figure out I shouldn't attribute people in general with common sense by default, but I still do :) That being said, from a pschological point of view I think it is a warning sign if children start drifting into violent themes on a too early point. Maybe it's just a reflecton on our society, but I still don't think it's a good thing and that it shows something not quite right.

Quail!

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Re: Ridiculous
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2007, 09:48:00 PM »
I don't see that as sadly, and I consider it to be a huge leap between expelled from school and criminal charges. If a child at the age of 12 or younger fantasies about killing school mates etc, something is severely wrong in that persons head and he needs to be 1) fixed or 2) locked up.

There's a huge difference between fantasies about killing your school mates and turning in a creative writing piece that contains violent themes.

Certainly, and I chose to believe (naive as it may be) that people reading these essays still have a certain amount of judgement. I'm starting to figure out I shouldn't attribute people in general with common sense by default, but I still do :) That being said, from a pschological point of view I think it is a warning sign if children start drifting into violent themes on a too early point. Maybe it's just a reflecton on our society, but I still don't think it's a good thing and that it shows something not quite right.

Eh, nowadays everyone is willing to jump the gun on potential psycho-killers...the worst seems to always be assumed.
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