What was suppose to be a joke ended up getting a 14-year-old boy expelled from school for a year and facing a judge on an assault charge, both of which the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is trying to reverse, Fox 2 News reports.
Kyle Thompson (pictured) was joking around with friends in class last March at Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, Mich., when he produced a ”hit list” of people he wanted to hit on the football field.
Kyle and his friends say the list was just a joke and, when their teacher wanted to take a look, they let her do so. At some point, the teacher took the piece of paper away from Kyle.
This is where the problem began.
In a video produced by the ACLU, Kyle explains what happens next: “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.”
Watch video version of this story below:
But the teacher claims the exchange was more than serious. She accused Kyle of assaulting her and pulled away from her with great force. The teen’s classmates disagree with her claim, but the teen ended up being escorted to the principal’s office and taken away from the school by police. The teacher told Farmington Hills police that she was concerned about the list.
Despite witness statements contradicting the teacher’s account and the fact that Kyle had not ever been in trouble before, he was 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.
Watch ACLU video of Kyle talking about his suspension below:
Fox 2 tried getting in contact with the teacher but was not successful. The news station did get a statement from the Farmington Hills School District which questioned the explosion but conceded it can do nothing to reverse it.
“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.”
But Kyle, his mother and the ACLU are fighting back with a Change.org petition, which asks that the teen be placed back in school where he belongs. So far, more than 1,830 people have signed it.