• Principal seeks expulsion for “Banana Man” sprint

    Date: 10.26.11 | by Judge Tom.

    In September, 2011, 14 year-old Bryan Thompson put on a banana costume and ran around the football field at halftime. The police detained Bryan until his mother came to pick him up. No charges were filed.

    The school, however, suspended him for 10 days and the principal is seeking expulsion for the rest of the school year. This was not Bryan’s first disciplinary action at Colonial Forge High School in Virginia. He had been suspended once forĀ having a cell phone in class and a second time for starting a web site called “Roasting Station” where students could post silly pictures of themselves. Bryan has Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism.

    Banana Man

    In protest of Bryan’s suspension, students wore “Free Banana Man” t-shirts to school. The administration ordered the students to remove them and, in some cases, the shirts were confiscated. Citing the landmark Tinker decision, the local ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) lawyer sentĀ  the school district a letter reminding them that “It is well established law that students do not lose their free speech rights at the schoolhouse door.”

    Bryan is appealing the suspension. His supporters await the school’s decision regarding the t-shirts. What are your thoughts about this? Is it surprising that the school suspended Bryan for this prank? Do you think it caused a “disruption” at school especially during a football game? If any discipline is merited, what should it be? Maybe, a day or two of in-school suspension? Do you think suspension for the rest of the school year is extreme? Does the penalty fit the crime? Should Bryan’s autism be a factor to be considered? Why or why not?

    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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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Tulsa Divorce Lawyers
      Wed, 26 Oct 2011 at 11:45

      I think the ‘banana man’ stunt was a lot of fun. Yes the school authorities have to act as the ‘mature disciplinarians’ because that is their job, but ‘banana man’ was just good old fashioned, immature fun – A 10 day suspension fits the crime :)
      Based on the facts reported by the media, we think a more appropriate penalty would have been a one-day in-school suspension. Ten day suspensions should be reserved for serious violations.

    • Askthejudge.info
      Thu, 27 Oct 2011 at 12:51

      New blog post: Principal seeks expulsion for "Banana Man" sprint http://t.co/XWlOOUCZ

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