Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pennsylvania high school student wins case against school district

Looks like my old alma mater has lost a case against one of its students. Apparently this kid made a fake MySpace page making fun of his principal and basically got kicked out of school for it.

Well, what's there to say? Hickory High School overstepped its reach, violating Justin Layshock's Eighth Amendment rights, which protect him from cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU stepped in and did what they do best, which is to defend people's rights from being abused. Bully for them. Now Justin's vindicated. He's also spending the summer in Togo, volunteering at an orphanage. Just the sort of behavior you'd expect from a bad seed who's corrupt beyond correction, isn't it?

I'm a Hickory High graduate, myself. Class of 1987, so I don't think Justin was even born yet when I graduated. Regardless, I remember making fun of Principal "Dopey" Anderson back then. Kids make fun of their authority figures; it's what they do. That probably was inappropriate, too, and if MySpace was around back then, I wouldn't have been surprised if someone made a page about him. Sure, it's juvenile behavior, and he shouldn't have done it. However, Principal Trosch shouldn't be able to ruin some kid's life over a dumb mistake. Where's the message there? What's the kid supposed to learn—any mistake you make will earn you irreversible, inescapable punishment? Wrong message, Mr. Principal!

Kids make mistakes. If Justin had, say, killed someone, that would be different. But this is something he can learn from, and I hope he does. If Principal Trosch thinks that Justin is too rotten a kid to live or deserve a decent and fulfilling life, then he shouldn't resort to petty revenge like expelling him from school, banning him from graduation and blocking college applications and the like. He should send the kid to juvenile hall. (When I lived in the area, the local Juvie Hall was called George Junior. Is it still there? Oi, my age is showing...)

However, a kid with a 3.3 grade point average and who tutors French for middle school students is probably salvageable, though petty, spiteful principals might disagree. Despite the fact that Justin's fake MySpace page played on the fact that Mr. Trosch is a large man, this behavior demonstrates that he is in fact quite small. Thankfully the ACLU is there to balance this man's pettiness.

As an aside, the fact that Hickory students are good enough at French to tutor middle school students testifies to what are obviously the superior talents of Mrs. Leeds, whom I believe still teaches French at my alma mater. Good to see she's still at it; these pleasant results do not surprise me. It's partly because of her that I'm fluent in French today.

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