ACLU petitions for Farmington Hills teen to go back to class - FOX 32 News Chicago

ACLU questions use of 'zero tolerance law' against Farmington Hills teen

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Kyle Thompson appears to be a typical 14-year old boy, but there's something about his life right now that's a little different. He's not going to school because he was kicked out.

The story begins last March at Harrison High School in Farmington Hills and continues with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) petitioning for his return to school. Thompson tells the ACLU he and his fellow football players came up with a "hit list" - a list of players they would like to hit on the football field. He and his friends say the list was just a joke, and even gave their teacher a peek when she asked what they were laughing at.

That's when the trouble began.

Thompson explains to the ACLU: "My teacher came over. She took [the list] from me, and I got up and grabbed the paper and we were pulling it back and forth. ... When we were pulling it back and forth she was laughing at first, so I thought it was just a joke. She got serious, and I let go."

Then Thompson was escorted to the office and taken away by police. The teacher, who Thompson's mother says once called her son a polite young man, has accused him of assaulting her. The teacher told Farmington Hills Police she was concerned about the "hit list," that Thompson was being defensive and the teen pulled her with "great force" as she tried to walk away. Thompson's mother says this is something classmates completely disagree with.

Despite the statements from the fellow students, and the fact that Thompson had never been in serious trouble before, he was still expelled under Michigan's Zero Tolerance law, which states any student who assaults a teacher must be expelled - and not just from their school, but from any Michigan public or charter school for one year.

The ACLU produced a video sharing Thompson's story and posted it on YouTube, along with a petition to support letting him return to class. As of Monday night, more than 1,500 people have signed the petition. To watch the video and see the petition, click here. Meanwhile, Kyle is scheduled to go to trial in October.

Fox 2 was unable to reach Kyle's teacher for a comment, but did receive a statement from Farmington Public Schools' Superintendent, Susan Zurvalec:

"Farmington Public Schools is prohibited by federal confidentiality laws from disclosing information of this type or even acknowledging if an incident like this occurred.
The issue raised in this petition presents an opportunity for citizens to examine zero tolerance laws in Michigan. The state legislature has mandated that an assault by a student against a teacher requires a one year expulsion from all public schools within the state.

This is known as a zero tolerance law.

In Farmington, we strive to consider each student and any incident separately and individually, taking all facts and circumstances into account. The zero tolerance law passed by our legislature takes that ability away from us and requires all assaults to be treated the same. It is up to state policy makers to revise these zero tolerance laws, and until that happens, we will continue to follow our legal mandates as they are."



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