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    Alternative classes for disruptive students not always required

    Date: 11.10.10 | by Judge Tom.

    A fist fight between Viktoria King and Jessica Hardy led to their suspension from Southside High School in North Carolina for the rest of the semester.  The sophomores were also prohibited from attending the district’s alternative school for troubled students.

    The girls sued the school district claiming that the North Carolina constitution grants each child a right to a “sound basic education.”  State law requires school districts to establish at least one alternative learning program for students serving long-term suspensions.  However, the school argued that the law doesn’t require them to accommodate every suspended student.

    Moron Noodle (Flickr)

    The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school district in October, 2010.  Justice Mark Martin wrote for the court:  “Because the safety and educational interests of all students receiving alternative education must be protected, students who exhibit violent behavior, threaten staff or other students, substantially disrupt the learning process, or otherwise engage in serious misconduct may be denied access.”

    The alternative school does not exist solely for students who are disciplined for their behavior.  If the student is disruptive and presents a danger to either a mainstream class or alternative class, the student may be excluded from public school.

    Are you surprised by this decision? Should public schools have to enroll every student required by law to attend regardless of their behavior or discipline record?  If that were the case, what would the result be of a student who was assaulted by another student who had a history of violence at school?  More lawsuits and a campus continuously on alert and unsafe. As mentioned before, student rights are not absolute – only within reason and without violating the rights of others.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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