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Thread: High School Legal Advice

  1. #1
    The Future GoReds33's Avatar
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    High School Legal Advice

    I need a little legal information pertaining to a recent situation at my high school. This weekend, a flurry of text messages that chastize my high school's varsity captain have been going around. They are basically saying that he has padded statistics, and that he's only starting because his dad is the coach. It's typical high school nonsense, I know.

    My question to all those on the board with legal experience is this:
    What grounds would the school have to go after these students who made and/or forwarded these messages?

    I only ask because I was one who was called to the office today, and they began to blame me for forwarding and creating these messages.
    If you can't build a winning team with that core a fire-sale isn't the solution. Selling the franchise, moving them to Nashville and converting GABP into a used car lot is.
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    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by GoReds33 View Post
    I need a little legal information pertaining to a recent situation at my high school. This weekend, a flurry of text messages that chastize my high school's varsity captain have been going around. They are basically saying that he has padded statistics, and that he's only starting because his dad is the coach. It's typical high school nonsense, I know.

    My question to all those on the board with legal experience is this:
    What grounds would the school have to go after these students who made and/or forwarded these messages?

    I only ask because I was one who was called to the office today, and they began to blame me for forwarding and creating these messages.
    Truthfully, I wonder what grounds they have to say snot about it if the message content is really what you describe.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    The Future GoReds33's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    The worst message i have seen says something about this person being fat. I still don't see a reason the school could do something.
    If you can't build a winning team with that core a fire-sale isn't the solution. Selling the franchise, moving them to Nashville and converting GABP into a used car lot is.
    -LTlabner

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    Member The Baumer's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    I think legally there is nothing they can do. But if they call you to the office and you oblige they can chastise you. And if they offer you a punishment and you accept it, then you will get punished. In my experience with my old HS and my younger brother's time in HS, most schools have no idea what is legal. And neither do the students/parents. Most parents and students will just do whatever the school says.

    My younger brother and his friend were expelled from his school, however it was done illegally as no one at the high school consulted with this particular school board which give the schools authority to expel students. So my brother and another student were expelled without authority and they almost accepted it without asking any questions. Thankfully my parents were smart enough to realize this and they made the high school do it legally and the school board DENIED the high school's request. So basically my brother could have been illegally expelled if my parents weren't so involved. The other student's parents, who spoke only Chinese, didn't know the rules/procedures and their son was expelled and they didn't question it. And because he was expelled they sent him to live in China!!!!! So this kid got sent to China because the high school did something they had no right at all to do.

    Anyways, I always thought that was a pretty insane story and in general I've found school offices will offer punishments they have no legal right offering and students will take them without question. Unless I am totally wrong there is nothing they can do to you. Calling someone fat isn't illegal and you weren't doing it in a classroom or in a locker room. So if you feel like it, make them prove to you that they have the legal right to discipline you for it.

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    The Future GoReds33's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    When I was called down, the vice principal proceeded to read me an excerpt from the student handbook about cyber-bullying, and harassing messaging and emails. It sounded like a very tough rule until I asked to read over the law and it stated that it only covered events happening on school grounds or on provided transportation. It is possible that some of this could have happened during school, but it would be difficult for them to prove it. Also, I may be wrong, but it would be awfully hard for them to accuse me of harassment when I have not messaged the person in question in months.
    If you can't build a winning team with that core a fire-sale isn't the solution. Selling the franchise, moving them to Nashville and converting GABP into a used car lot is.
    -LTlabner

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    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    Basically this may be a case of the school trying to bully you.....

    But generally, I'm sympathetic of the school's need to control harassing behavior though from your description, this doesn't sound like it rises to that level. In alot of ways, school districts operate in a grey zone of legality while trying to pursue common sense solutions. Issues like safety, drug abuse etc can lead to some serious violations of rights but until someone challenges the authority in court, a disctric can act as if it has the authority (not unlike how the power of the executive branch has been expanded in recent years).

    Districts can also do a lot of crazy things to in an effort to protect itself from legal issues.

    All in all, schools are in a tough place.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    The only thing I can think of is if the messages were sexual or explicit in nature. If those happen then the school, and police, have the right to come after you.

    Also I would consider the source. If the kids dad is the coach, and if he has been successful, then he probably pulls a lot of weight around the school. He may be more upset over it than his kid.

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    CELEBRATION TIME RBA's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    Are you over 18? If not, I would suggest you don't answer any questions without your parent/guardian at school with you. As a parent, if I knew my son was being questioned for something that happened off school grounds i would be in the face of those school officials.

    Adult authorities intimidate young people all the time. Just because they get away with it 90 percent of the time, doesn't make it right.

    Now if you go to a private school, it might be different.

  10. #9
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    I know our high school (Mason) takes this all *very* seriously. How all of what they publish in the student handbook relates to the legal system, I have no idea. I'm not a lawyer nor did I stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    Either be contrite and say you're sorry or go get a lawyer and wage a pitched battle. Either way, I'd tell your folks.

    From the MHS student handbook...

    HAZING AND BULLYING

    The prohibition against hazing, harassment, intimidation or bullying is publicized in student handbooks and in the publications that set the standard of conduct for schools and students in the District. In addition, information regarding the policy is incorporated into employee handbooks and training materials. Harassing, hazing, intimidating and/or bullying behavior by any student in the District is strictly prohibited, and such conduct may result in disciplinary action, including suspension and/or expulsion from school.

    Harassment, hazing, intimidation and/or bullying means any intentional written, verbal, graphic or physical acts, including electronically transmitted acts, either overt or covert, by a student or group of students toward other students/school personnel with the intent to haze, harass, intimidate, injure, threaten, ridicule or humiliate. Such behaviors are prohibited on or immediately adjacent to school grounds, at any school-sponsored activity; in any District publication; through the use of any District-owned or operated communication tools, including but not limited to District email accounts and/or computers; on schoolprovided transportation or at any official school bus stop.

    Hazing, harassment, intimidation or bullying can include many different behaviors. Examples of conduct that could constitute prohibited behaviors include, but are not limited to:

    1. physical violence and/or attacks;
    2. threats, taunts and intimidation through words and/or gestures;
    3. extortion, damage or stealing of money and/or possessions;
    4. exclusion from the peer group or spreading rumors;
    5. repetitive and hostile behavior with the intent to harm others through the use of information and
    communication technologies and other web-based/online sites (also known as “cyber bullying”),
    such as the following:
    A. posting slurs on websites, social networking sites, blogs or personal online journals;
    B. sending abusive or threatening emails, website postings or comments and instant messages;
    C. using camera phones to take embarrassing photographs or videos of students and/or distributing
    or posting the photos or videos online and
    D. using websites, social networking sites, blogs or personal online journals, emails or instant
    messages to circulate gossip and rumors to other students.
    6. excluding others from an online group by falsely reporting them for inappropriate language to Internet
    service providers.

    In evaluating whether conduct constitutes hazing or bullying, special attention is paid to the words chosen or the actions taken, whether such conduct occurred in front of others or was communicated to others, how the perpetrator interacted with the victim and the motivation, either admitted or appropriately inferred.

    Teachers and Other School Staff
    Teachers and other school staff, who witness acts of harassment, hazing, intimidation and/or bullying, as defined above, promptly notify the building principal/designee of the event observed, and promptly file a written incident report concerning the events witnessed.

    Teachers and other school staff who receive student or parent reports of suspected hazing, harassment, intimidation and/or bullying promptly notify the building principal/designee of such report(s). If the report is a formal, written complaint, the complaint is forwarded to the building principal/designee no later than the next school day. If the report is an informal complaint by a student that is received by a teacher or other professional employee, he/she prepares a written report of the informal complaint which is forwarded to the building principal/designee no later than the next school day.

    Complaints
    1. Formal Complaints
    Students and/or their parents or guardians may file reports regarding suspected hazing, harassment, intimidation or bullying. The reports should be written. Such written reports must be reasonably specific including person(s) involved; number of times and places of the alleged conduct; the target of suspected harassment, intimidation and/or bullying and the names of any potential student or staff witnesses. Such reports may be filed with any school staff member or administrator. They are
    promptly forwarded to the building principal/designee for review and action.

    2. Informal Complaints
    Students, parents or guardians and school personnel may make informal complaints of conduct that they consider to be harassment, intimidation and/or bullying by verbal report to a teacher, school administrator or other school personnel. Such informal complaints must be reasonably specific as to the actions giving rise to the suspicion of hazing, harassment, intimidation and/or bullying, including person(s) involved, number of times and places of the alleged conduct, the target of the prohibited behavior(s) and the names of any potential student or staff witness. The school staff member or administrator who receives the informal complaint promptly documents the complaint in writing, including the above information. This written report by the school staff member and/or administrator is promptly forwarded to the building principal/designee for review and action.

    3. Anonymous Complaints
    Students who make informal complaints as set forth above may request that their name be maintained in confidence by the school staff member(s) and administrator(s) who receive the complaint. The anonymous complaint is reviewed and reasonable action is taken to address the situation, to the extent such action (1) does not disclose the source of the complaint, and (2) is consistent with the due process rights of the student(s) alleged to have committed acts of harassment, hazing, intimidation and/or bullying.

    School Personnel Responsibilities and Intervention Strategies
    1. Teachers and Other School Staff
    Teachers and other school staff, who witness acts of harassment, hazing, intimidation and/or bullying, as defined above, promptly notify the building principal/designee of the event observed and file a written, incident report concerning the events witnessed. Teachers and other school staff who receive student or parent reports of suspected harassment, hazing, intimidation and/or bullying promptly notify the building principal/designee of such report(s). If the report is a formal, written complaint,
    the complaint is forwarded to the building principal/designee no later than the next school day. If the report is an informal complaint by a student that is received by a teacher or other professional employee, he/she prepares a written report of the informal complaint which is promptly forwarded to the building principal/designee no later than the next school day.

    In addition to addressing both informal and formal complaints, school personnel are encouraged to address the issue of harassment, hazing intimidation and/or bullying in other interactions with students.

    School personnel may find opportunities to educate students about harassment, hazing, intimidation
    and bullying and help eliminate such prohibited behaviors through class discussions, counseling and reinforcement of socially appropriate behavior. School personnel should intervene promptly whenever they observe student conduct that has the purpose or effect of ridiculing, humiliating or intimidating another student/school personnel, even if such conduct does not meet the formal definition of harassment, hazing, intimidation or bullying.

    2. Administrator Responsibilities
    A. Investigation
    The principal/designee is notified of any formal or informal complaint of suspected harassment, hazing, intimidation or bullying. Under the direction of the building principal/designee, all such complaints are investigated promptly. A written report of the investigation is prepared when the investigation is complete. The report includes findings of fact, a determination of whether acts of harassment, hazing, intimidation and/or bullying were verified, and, when prohibited acts are
    verified, a recommendation for intervention, including disciplinary, action is included in the report. Where appropriate, written witness statements are attached to the report.

    Notwithstanding the foregoing, when a student making an informal complaint has requested anonymity, the investigation of such complaint is limited as is appropriate in view of the anonymity of the complaint. Such limitation of the investigation may include restricting action to a simple review of the complaint (with or without discussing it with the alleged perpetrator), subject to receipt of further information and/or the withdrawal by the complaining student of the condition that his/her report be anonymous.

    B. Nondisciplinary Interventions
    When verified acts of harassment, hazing, intimidation and/or bullying are identified early and/ or when such verified acts do not reasonably require a disciplinary response, students may be counseled as to the definition of the behavior, its prohibition and their duty to avoid any conduct that could be considered harassing, hazing, intimidating and/or bullying.

    If a complaint arises out of conflict between students or groups of students, peer mediation may be considered. Special care, however, is warranted in referring some cases to peer mediation. A power imbalance may make the process intimidating for the victim and therefore inappropriate. The victim’s
    communication and assertiveness skills may be low and could be further eroded by fear resulting from past intimidation and fear of future intimidation. In such cases, the victim should be given additional support. Alternatively, peer mediation may be deemed inappropriate to address the concern.

    C. Disciplinary Interventions
    When acts of harassment, intimidation and bullying are verified and a disciplinary response is warranted, students are subject to the full range of disciplinary consequences. Anonymous complaints that are not otherwise verified, however, cannot provide the basis for disciplinary action.

    In and out-of-school suspension may be imposed only after informing the accused perpetrator of the reasons for the proposed suspension and giving him/her an opportunity to explain the situation. Expulsion may be imposed only after a hearing before the Board of Education, a committee of the Board or an impartial hearing officer designated by the Board of Education in accordance with Board policy. This consequence is reserved for serious incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying and/or when past interventions have not been successful in eliminating prohibited behaviors.

    Allegations of criminal misconduct are reported to law enforcement, and suspected child abuse is reported to Child Protective Services, per required timelines.

    Report to the Parent or Guardian of the Perpetrator
    If after investigation, acts of harassment, intimidation and bullying by a specific student are verified, the building principal/designee notifies the parent or guardian of the perpetrator, in writing, of that finding. If disciplinary consequences are imposed against such student, a description of such discipline is included in such notification.

    Report to the Victim and his/her Parent or Guardian
    If after investigation, acts of bullying or hazing against a specific student are verified, the building principal/ designee notifies the parent/guardian of the victim of the finding. In providing such notification, care must be taken to respect the statutory privacy rights of the perpetrator.

    Bullying matters, including the identity of both the charging party and the accused, are kept confidential to the extent possible. Although discipline may be imposed against the accused upon a finding of guilt, retaliation is prohibited.

    Police and Child Protective Services
    In addition to, or instead of, filing a complaint through this policy, a complainant may choose to exercise other options including, but not limited to, filing a complaint with outside agencies or filing a private lawsuit. Nothing prohibits a complainant from seeking redress under any other provision of the Ohio Revised Code or common law that may apply.

    The District must also investigate incidents of harassment, hazing, intimidation and/or bullying for the purpose of determining whether there has been a violation of District policy or regulations, even if law enforcement and/or the public children’s services are also investigating. All District personnel must cooperate with investigations by outside agencies.

    Pay attention to the open sky

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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by GoReds33 View Post
    I need a little legal information pertaining to a recent situation at my high school. This weekend, a flurry of text messages that chastize my high school's varsity captain have been going around. They are basically saying that he has padded statistics, and that he's only starting because his dad is the coach. It's typical high school nonsense, I know.

    My question to all those on the board with legal experience is this:
    What grounds would the school have to go after these students who made and/or forwarded these messages?

    I only ask because I was one who was called to the office today, and they began to blame me for forwarding and creating these messages.

    Well, according to the rules that Roy posted, it looks to me you were being "intimidated" by the office staff. I'm not going to advise you what I would do other than inform your parents of what's going on.

  12. #11
    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    GoReds33-
    Talk to your parents, get them involved, be honest about what you've done and what you have not done with them and then you can decide with them what your next steps should be. You have rights, and the school has a responsibility to maintain the morale and safety of the student body. Somewhere in the middle of those two points is where you and your parents will come to an agreement with the school.

    Schools are in a pinch with this stuff because text messaging, for all the cool things it enables us to do, is also a fast and easy way for kids to vent, spread rumors and to generally say things they might not if they had to do it in person.

    Do your best and keep in mind that there are lessons to be learned here- just wait until you're in the work world where it's obvious who has taken those lessons seriously and who has not. Good luck!

    Standard disclaimer- I'm not a lawyer, just a parent who's kid spends plenty of time in the principle's office.
    Next Reds manager, second shooter. --Confirmed on Redszone.

  13. #12
    The Future GoReds33's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    Thank you for all the advice. I am not eighteen, and i am currently putting this online from fourth period. I expect that it may go away, but just in case i have an argument prepared. I will tell my parents if i am questioned again today.
    If you can't build a winning team with that core a fire-sale isn't the solution. Selling the franchise, moving them to Nashville and converting GABP into a used car lot is.
    -LTlabner

  14. #13
    Member hebroncougar's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    Basically this may be a case of the school trying to bully you.....

    But generally, I'm sympathetic of the school's need to control harassing behavior though from your description, this doesn't sound like it rises to that level. In alot of ways, school districts operate in a grey zone of legality while trying to pursue common sense solutions. Issues like safety, drug abuse etc can lead to some serious violations of rights but until someone challenges the authority in court, a disctric can act as if it has the authority (not unlike how the power of the executive branch has been expanded in recent years).

    Districts can also do a lot of crazy things to in an effort to protect itself from legal issues.

    All in all, schools are in a tough place.
    Schools aren't bullying anything. It's the LAW in the state of KY. (I see you are from Ohio), that if an incident like this is reported to a school administrator, they must follow up on it to make sure it's not happening within the confines of the school, school day, etc. It's all a CYA thing. Then a report must be sent to the state on the incident.

  15. #14
    Old Red Guard Reject
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    I'm a school administrator myself and I know that we have only a few instances of this type of problem. I agree with all that said that the school can't take action against you for sending a text message. But, if the content of the text message causes taunting or bullying at school then it becomes their problem. My guess is that the kid's dad found out about this texting and decided to throw a fit on the school since he coaches there. Then, the school goes on a witch hunt for anyone who texted the kid and probably anyone the coach named and blew the whole thing out of proportion. My guess is that the coach is more mad about it than the kid. If you didn't do anything wrong, get with your parents and get them on your side. Remember, it has to be proven that the text messaging has caused harassment at school or school events before they can step in.
    If you ain't first, you're last! - Ricky Bobby

  16. #15
    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: High School Legal Advice

    This is the kind of stuff that bothers me....
    4. exclusion from the peer group or spreading rumors;
    Really, I can't choose to not be friends with someone or hang out with them in school?
    C. using camera phones to take embarrassing photographs or videos of students and/or distributing or posting the photos or videos online and
    D. using websites, social networking sites, blogs or personal online journals, emails or instant messages to circulate gossip and rumors to other students.
    Say what now? I can't take photographs and post them on the internet as long as they weren't taken in school? I am pretty sure that as the copyright owner of that photo, I should be legally allowed to do whatever I choose to do with that photo (assuming its of a legally acquired nature of course and taken in public).

    Things like that are where the school oversteps it's bounds in my opinion.


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