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'Threatening' acts? After Newtown, schools get tough

NEED TO KNOW
  • Students across country face punishment for questionable words, poems and posts
  • Some parents say schools are overreacting
'Threatening' acts? After Newtown, schools get tough

In the wake of the deadly Newtown, Connecticut rampage, school administrators around the country are punishing students for anything deemed “threatening”  -- and some parents are growing increasingly frustrated.

One Maryland student was suspended for pointing his finger like a gun and yelling "pow," while another was punished for writing a poem about understanding Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza. Were the students a threat, or were they taken too seriously? Here's a look at some of the school punishments causing a stir around the country.

Be careful where you point your finger

The mother of 6-year-old Rodney Lynch said he was "just playing" when he pointed his finger like a gun at another student, according to HLN affiliate WJLA. Lynch was suspended for what the school called a "serious incident" in which he "threatened to shoot a student." The school says it was the third time that day Rodney had pointed an object and pretended to shoot with it. After warning him, they say the punishment was fair.

Dangerous poetry?

A San Francisco high schooler was suspended after a teacher discovered her poem about the Sandy Hook shooting. In the poem, 17-year-old Courtni Webb said, "I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger," she told HLN affiliate KGO. Webb says the poem was innocent, and she was expressing herself in a way she compared to darker writings like those of Stephen King. Her mother calls the incident an overreaction, and says the poem didn't threaten anyone. The school is still deciding what to do next. Webb may face expulsion.

Dark words can equal jail time

A Massachusetts high school junior said he was only joking when he mentioned blowing up the school to two students in his math class. Seventeen-year-old Patrick Skrabec was arrested for his words and is expected to face trial. Skrabec's parents are concerned, and his lawyer says the whole thing is "being blown out of proportion," according to the Attleboro Sun Chronicle.

Fashion statement or threatening act?

A Massachusetts college sophomore was expelled and detained by police after wearing a fake ammo belt to school. The father of student Andrew Despres says his son has been wearing the belt for a year without any problems, and it was only an "expression of his fashion sense," he told the Boston Globe. Despres was put in home confinement and ordered to wear a GPS device.

Comments about end of the world deemed dangerous

Two Wisconsin high schoolers landed under school administrators' microscope after making "concerning" Facebook comments. The posts included one student's mention of an "End of the World" party where the band "Guns at School" was set to play, according to the LaCrosse Tribune. The event turned out to be a fundraiser for a food pantry. The other student's specific comments were not made public, but the school says they weren't threatening. Still, a "corrective action" was taken.

Christmas 'surprise' confused with threat

A Georgia high school student raised red flags when he posted on social media about a "big surprise" for school the next day, according to HLN affiliate WMAZ. John George II's Facebook post caught the eye of a fellow student's parent and led to questioning by police. George says his planned surprise was only to don a Santa costume the next day.

 

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