Eagle Scout Hires Lawyer to Appeal Monthlong School Suspension

Eagle Scout Hires Lawyer to Appeal Monthlong School Suspension

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Thread: Eagle Scout Hires Lawyer to Appeal Monthlong School Suspension

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array gdm320's Avatar
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    Eagle Scout Hires Lawyer to Appeal Monthlong School Suspension

    Eagle Scout Hires Lawyer to Appeal Monthlong School Suspension - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - FOXNews.com

    Eagle Scout Hires Lawyer to Appeal Monthlong School Suspension
    Monday, October 19, 2009

    The parents of an Eagle Scout who was suspended from his upstate New York high school for a month over a 2-inch pocketknife he kept locked in his car have retained a lawyer to appeal their school district's zero-tolerance policies and demand that their son's record be cleared.

    Education lawyer Victor DeBonis is working pro bono for the family of 17-year-old Matthew Whalen, who has been banned from Lansingburgh High School for 20 school days.

    Whalen's father said he hopes the school board will reverse the decision of Lansingburgh Central School District Superintendent George Goodwin, who extended Matthew's initial five-day suspension into a monthlong sentence — and he is threatening a lawsuit if all other options are exhausted.

    "If they overturn the superintendent's actions and expunge my son's record, I guess we're done," said Bryan Whalen, who said DeBonis filed the appeal Monday morning. "If they don't, then there will be further steps."

    Whalen says the school district violated his son's due process by disregarding state education guidelines when they suspended him. Whalen said he received written notification of the suspension six days too late, according to state law.

    The high school senior has nearly completed the term of his suspension, but Whalen's family hopes to have his record cleared by the time the teen applies to the U.S. Military Academy.

    "It should be just reversed and expunged because it was just wrong — procedurally they did everything they could do wrong," the father said.

    If the board refuses their appeal, he plans to press his case with the state's education commissioner. He said he hopes to avoid a lawsuit, which would have to prove concrete damages, a difficult and costly option for the family.

    For the past month, Matthew Whalen has been getting just 90 minutes a day with a tutor instead of seven hours of instruction in class. He says he is worried that his suspension will mar his academic record and affect his application to West Point.

    In suspending Matthew, Goodwin cited a zero-tolerance policy that bans all weapons from school grounds. The small utility knife — a gift from Matthew's grandfather, a police chief in a nearby town was part of a survival kit he kept in his car that included a sleeping bag, water and a ready-to-eat meal. The knife was discovered when school officials searched the teen's car.

    Whalen, who completed a 10-week Army basic training session over the summer, was taught as an Eagle Scout how to handle tools including the pocketknife, and he instructs Boy Scouts how to safely handle knives.

    But the school's rule book brands possession of a knife to be "violent" conduct, and leaves it to the discretion of the superintendent to determine the proper punishment. Goodwin has refused to budge on his decision, and has yet to speak to Whalen's family.

    Nowhere in the school district's rule book, which is published online, is there any mention of a zero-tolerance policy, leading some to question whether Goodwin, in fact, was compelled to suspend Matthew.

    A monthly school board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 27, six days after Whalen is set to return to school, and the teen's family hopes that the issue will be addressed then or at a separate hearing.

    Whalen's father says his district should follow the example of a school board in Delaware that last week unanimously overturned a decision ordering a 6-year-old Cub Scout to go to an alternative reform school for 45 days after he brought a fork-spoon-knife multi-tool to lunch.

    "The ball is back in their court," he said. "Hopefully they'll just [follow] the direction like that Delaware school board did and correct the errors that the school made."
    Is anyone else increasingly concerned that common sense has been completely taken out of the decision making process thanks to these "Zero Tolerance" rules? This whole thing makes about as much sense as a screen door on a submarine.
    "Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death." -- General Omar Bradley

  2. #2
    Senior Member Array Jackle1886's Avatar
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    Since when do schools have the authority to search vehicles on the premise?
    Better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees.

  3. #3
    Array msgt/ret's Avatar
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    Zero tolerance = zero intelligence. Incidents like this need to be handled on a case-by-case basis, not just some blanket cover anything policy.
    When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
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    VIP Member Array goldshellback's Avatar
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    Back home in Louisiana !!!!
    This MUST be a "gang-buster" type of move, this zero-tolerance thing you speak of.

    Those dasterdly Eagle Scouts ALWAYS looking for trouble!

    All this common sense is giving me a headache........

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackle1886 View Post
    Since when do schools have the authority to search vehicles on the premise?
    There is a generation of kids growing up who will take this kind of crap for granted. They won't miss the freedom they never had. God help us all.

  6. #6
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    Array rstickle's Avatar
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    Things like this always amaze me.

    When I was a kid I carried a Boy Scout knife every day from the time I joined at age 11, and this was in the New York City Public School system. I guess it's a sad commentary on our times.

    EOD - Initial success or total failure

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    Array ecbaatz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdm320 View Post
    ? This whole thing makes about as much sense as a screen door on a submarine.
    Yes they are a pain, they keep getting clogged with seaweed.

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    For freedom is never free someone else just picks up tab.

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    VIP Member Array packinnova's Avatar
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    Smack in the middle of wealthy on one side and dirt poor on the other
    Maybe the more fights like this are what we need to push this zero intelligence nonsense out the door...

  9. #9
    Member Array Random's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmhawth View Post
    There is a generation of kids growing up who will take this kind of crap for granted. They won't miss the freedom they never had.
    I think that's the point. And I don't think it's unintentional.

  10. #10
    Member Array Glock40Texan's Avatar
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    There were zero tolerance policies in my schools growing up as far back as I can remember.

    Similar policies with your vehicles in high school. If the school officials felt they had a legit reason to search your vehicle, they did. Sometimes this meant calling you out of class to have you open the car for them so they could do the search.

    The advice given to us at the beginning of each year fell along the lines of: "Don't leave anything suspicious in your car."
    "No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
    -Thomas Jefferson-

  11. #11
    Senior Member Array PointnClick's Avatar
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    I carried a folder with a 6 inch blade from about 9th grade on in the late 70's... the thing stuck out of my back pocket at least an inch or two, but I was never even questioned about it. And in high school, a friend of mine had an after-school job at a trap and skeet range.... he had 2 or 3 shotguns in his trunk pretty much every day. No problem...

    It's a different world...
    "Who is to say that I am not an instrument of karma? Indeed, who is to say that I am not the very hand of God himself, dispatched by the Almighty to smite the Philistines and hypocrites, to lay low the dishonest and corrupt, and to bust the jawbone of some jackass that so desperately deserves it?"

  12. #12
    Distinguished Member Array AutoFan's Avatar
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    Personally I hope this goes to court and they hammer the nits that did this to the Eagle Scout. Especially if the "Zero Tolerance" policy is not part of the published student handbook!

    What this teaches is to not trust authority figures, especially if you are a good guy.

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array Patti's Avatar
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    My son's best friend got kicked out of school. He had a fishing pole in the bed of the truck. The Dare officer opened the tool box and found a fillet knife. The fillet knife still had fish scales on it.

    I believe that was an illegal search.

    It didn't matter. The principal had his mind made up and the school board backed him.

    The friend was suspended for two months.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Array JohnK87's Avatar
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    I'd like to see someone challenge the constitutionality of these vehicle searches.
    ‎An enemy of liberty is no friend of mine. I do not owe respect to anyone who would enslave me by government force, nor is it wise for such a person to expect it. -- Isaiah Amberay

  15. #15
    Member Array UnklFungus's Avatar
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    I helped my son's kindergarten class one day and I noticed that there was a drug sniffing dog getting walked around the high school students cars in the adjacent parking lot.

    I don't have all of the details, but this doesn't seem legal without proper legal channels. Everyday it seems like we have become a nation wherein everyone is looked at like a criminal, regardless.
    “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

    Patrick Henry
    Quote Originally Posted by UnklFungus
    If it is ok to disarm legal citizens to reduce crime, then doesn't it stand to disband the military to prevent war?

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