Free-Range Kids

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Criminal Charges Against 13 Year Old for Burping in Class

Another argument for school choice...

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Straight to juvie…|||Andi Berger | Dreamstime.com
Andi Berger | Dreamstime.com

The scene is Albuquerque's Cleveland Middle School, where a 13-year-old class clown is disrupting things by constantly burping during teaching time. So the teacher bounces him to the vice principal's office, who has a sneaking suspicion that the kid is involved in selling pot on school grounds. The boy is made to take his jeans and shoes off but no drugs are found.

The kid—a pain in the ass in all likelihood, let's be honest—is suspended for the rest of the school year. As over-the-top as that seems, there's worse yet to come. He's also criminally charged under an impossibly vague statute that reads in part:

No person shall willfully interfere with the educational process of any public or private school by committing, threatening to commit or inciting others to commit any act which would disrupt, impair, interfere with or obstruct the lawful mission, processes, procedures or functions of a public or private school.

And now, as George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley writes,

Teachers and administrators have been criminalizing juvenile conduct rather than dealing with such issues with the students and their teachers….the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has issued an opinion upholding one of the most ridiculous examples of the criminalization of our schools. The Tenth Circuit said that Albuquerque school officials and police were justified in ordering the arrest of 13-year-old boy who was burping in class. The Tenth Circuit ruled that the school officials and police officer were entitled to immunity for their excessive response to what was at worst a class clown.

When you encounter this sort of ridiculous overreaction on the part of school officials—which is then certified by even-more-august authorities—it is no wonder why Americans are losing confidence in major institutions of political, commercial, and civic life. These are not the actions of authorities who have belief in themselves and the things they run. They are the behaviors of a society in decline, to be honest, that no longer feels as if it can exercise power at any level except via banishment and extreme action.

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  1. Excessive burping is a symptom of Celiac disease.

    Perhaps schools need to de-glutenify their lunches?

    Probably definitely the Gluteals.

    1. Darn your quick fingers!

      The kid should be called out at the SOTU Address for trying to overcome this still-stigmatized disability.

      1. And it would be doubly great if he started burping and disrupting that speech.

    2. This is total horse manure!! A kid prosecuted for belching in class? What would they have done had he broke wind repeatedly? Shot him to death on the spot for “unauthorized release of biological agent”????? The judge and the whole gang involved in charging this boy out to be out of a job like yesterday. I’d shame them at every chance I had.

    3. I agree with the outrageous stupidity of this whole situation. However, just because he can be charged does NOT mean he will necessarily be convicted. To find someone guilty of a crime, there have to be two elements proven:
      (1) Mens rea, which is criminal intent and (2) Actus Reus…the criminal act. If the boy did not intend to illegally disrupt class and has a plausible medical explanation for his frequent burping, then mens rea cannot be proved. Besides, this will surely be a misdemeanor. If the presiding judge has a brain in his skull, he’ll give the kids some extra community service for a few hours and if he stays out of trouble the judge can expunge his record and it will be as if it never happened.

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  2. I don’t see why a private school under some kind of school choice or voucher program wouldn’t do the same thing.

    1. They’d probably send him home for the day but I doubt they’d suspend him for the whole year or press charges. That’s a quick way to piss your customers off.

      Even if he was being disrupting every day, there’s probably a dozen more steps to go through between suspension and “let’s prosecute this 13 year old”.

    2. After his second run-in, they would probably expel him. My kids went to Catholic school – low tolerance for disruption was a selling point. Calling the cops wouldn’t occur to them.

      1. From what I’ve heard about Catholic schools, the kid would wish they had called the cops.

        1. It’s the parents who pay to send their kids there who are to be feared.

        2. “We offered to help. You refused our money. And I said, ‘Gee, I guess you’re up Shit Creek!'”

    3. There’s no guarantee the kid would still be disruptive in a different, possibly more effective, educational setting. I did some classroom disruption in my youth, because I was bored out of my mind.

  3. That doesn’t seem too broad at all.

  4. Libertarian moment.

  5. Hmm. I left a comment in the “Hilary is a liar” thread, and it got disappeared.

    I wonder if it’s because I used the see-you-next-tuesday word?

    1. Maybe you hit preview again instead of submit. I’ve done that before. As far as I know, Reason does not censor words.

    2. Only Ken Shultz scowls when you type cunt.

    3. the see-you-next-tuesday word

      “Hamburger”?!

      1. Synt, dummy. It’s a secret Masonic word.

        1. Or 4 of the 9 letters necessary for plants to convert light to energy.

          Can’t be talking about renewables like that just yet. Big Oil is watching.

      2. +1 wimpy

  6. Christ. if I went to this school, i’d still be in prison today.

    1. Half of my class would have been in prison the first week of school. And somehow, teachers managed to deal with this type of behavior and much worse, without ever getting authorities involved.

      1. I had a teacher who handled this kind of stuff pretty well.

        She’d give a smirk, then say “Have a piece of chalk at the board.”

        Of course, today that would probably be considered child abuse.

        1. Of course, today that would probably be considered child abuse

          Probably, and yet arresting a 13 year old and getting him a lifelong criminal record, basically ruining his life, is not abuse.

          This is the upside down world of politically correct leftist retards.

        2. In Catholic High School I had old monks who would fix his burping problem with a right cross.

          1. right righteous cross

            There, FIFY

        3. We got chalk-dust-filled erasers thrown at us. Then you had to walk around the halls with the mark of shame. I kinda liked it though. But no, sometimes we really were assholes. One kid faked an allergic reaction in class and after the nurse sent him back when they found nothing wrong he just got sent home with extra math homework. *shrug* What’s lacking these days is creativity.

          1. What’s lacking these days is creativity.

            Yup. Whatever happened to detention and a big stack of brain-killing “classwork” to complete every day while you’re there?

          2. In 7th grade we had a math teacher who had a sock filled with lead shot called the Grinch. He’d hang the Grinch over a hook in the ceiling with a piece of twine. He’d call boys up to sit in a chair under the Grinch. He’d then ask questions and threaten to drop the Grinch on their heads if they couldn’t answer the questions.

            It was great. The teacher did a good job of asking easy questions to the dummies and hard ones to the smart kids. The boys loved it because it involved a physical challenge and you could yell at the victim from your seat.

            No way you could ever get away with something like that today.

          3. One kid faked an allergic reaction in class and after the nurse sent him back when they found nothing wrong he just got sent home with extra math homework. *shrug* What’s lacking these days is creativity.

            Wrongo, Mary Lou.

            Nowadays they declare the school a ‘nut-free zone’. who had the bigger impact? Your friend with the extra homework, or the kid laughing in the back who made a permanent, sweeping edict for generations of students who followed him?

    2. I have a friend who thinks the reason I quit growing was because I spent so much time in the hallway in 6th grade being punished and didn’t get my milk breaks.

      He might have a point. My 6th grade teacher was a woman who made you stand in the hall. My 4th and 5th grade teachers were men who simply thumped you if you acted up too much. Still got my milk in those years though.

  7. I a dream world, there would be a massive ousting of the existing School board who would then fire and black list every administrator involved and then hire one who is capable of navigating the rubber room rodeo to get that dangerous child abusing teach out of there where they can’t harm any more children. At the same time the local police chief would be fired by the newly elected city council that then begins to remove all police presence from schools…a boy can dream.

    p.s. I initially typed a boy can dram…the more I think about it that is the only legit response, wanton drinking.

    1. That wasn’t your first response?

    2. A dram is better than a damn.

  8. The Tenth Circuit simply help that a New Mexico law prohibits anyone from interfering with the education process ? an interpretation that would seem to allow any school prank or immature act from being charged as a crime.

    More than that. It doesn’t take much imagination to think up a dozen ways that could be used against teachers, as well. “You’re voting to strike during the school year, eh? We’ll see what 911 has to say about that.”

    1. Yeah, wouldn’t most teacher’s union activity be interfering with the education process?

      1. According to the literally literal reading of this statute, sounds like the courts should be arresting striking teachers or teachers that don’t show up for work. But we all know they won’t let their own people get caught in the crosshairs.

  9. I’ve had enough of these judges ruling properly on laws that anyone with half a brain could have seen was a bad idea from the get-go yet said nothing when they were passed. Someone get me my woodchipper!

  10. He’ll be invited to the white house when this all gets cleaned up, right?

    1. Sadly, he probably doesn’t look like he could be Obama’s son, so no.

  11. The boy is made to take his jeans and shoes off

    Um, no? Or do it, tell your parents your teachers groped you, and let them sue the everloving shit out of the school district.

    1. The idea of some piece of shit administrator requesting my kid take their pants or skirt off, and the thought that there are a decent amount of people out there that would say they absolutely have that authority, makes my blood boil.

    2. The feminist default setting doesn’t work for prepubescent boys just yet.

      Soon though, soon.

    3. “Bad ***belch*** touch, ***urp***, bad touch!”

    4. “Young man, come into my office, close the door, and take your pants off.”

  12. If I had a son, he’d belch like this boy.

  13. Justice was done; when you belch, that’s my air you’re polluting, too.

  14. I have exercised choice in my kids’ schools – which has cost me close to $100k so far – and about the same in property taxes for the shitty public school we were avoiding.

    1. Good for you.

    2. Which raises an interesting point. If the cost is buried in taxes – or if you’re not paying even that – what incentive does the parent have to make sure their kids aren’t behaving like little shits at school?

      1. Gotta chip them bastards, like the dog.

        Amirite?

    3. I’m a couple years from either shipping mine off the indoctrination center or ponying up. Catholic school is starting to seem really appealing. An hour a day of religious instruction seems like a small price to pay, but the paying twice for the same thing really irks me.

      1. I’d like to be sympathetic for that last point, but I don’t have children but I’ve been paying for public schools since 1983 or so.

        1. A good reason to support vouchers – if I could spend mine on a computer or a nice vacation.

        2. A good reason to rent.

          In soviet post-Kelo America, we don’t own property, so why pay buttloads of money and property taxes on top to pretend that you do?

  15. If the child had better parenting he would not be in the situation he is in. Bad parents are what cause these issues. The principal had no other choice but to search the satanic child for drugs, because this kid is obviously bad news. If we are being serious the kids’ parents should probably be in jail, too.

    1. They should get the family package deal when they wind up in the re-education camp treatment center of one of the governor’s favorite cronies.

  16. Nearly noon and only 2 Trump articles. Reason clicks down 3000%.

    1. Why does this one summon the great John?

      This one must consider the ramifications of such a course of action.

  17. They’re cracking down on hate crimes against Gaseous Americans.

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  19. Nick: I argue that it’s more due to bureaucrats wanting to never be found responsible if ‘something’ goes wrong. Per this line of thinking, it’s better for their careers to expel all ‘troublemakers’ than to run the risk that some kid who wasn’t suspended later goes postal. Why give the media a free shot at blaming you for ‘not having done enough’ or ‘ignoring the clear signs of trouble’? Why run the risk that you’d be thrown under the bus and fired by the politicians when it’s safer to just take the hard line when it comes to discipline?

    And the solution isn’t to not hold bureaucrats responsible for their decisions.

    Nor is the solution to allow the bureaucrats more discretion. We would end up with an environment where disfavored beliefs and actions get treated harshly while those on the ‘right’ side of the debate get their actions overlooked, if not outright praised.

    In other words, as bad as this example is, and I feel bad for the kid, I don’t think any of the other approaches is any better.

  20. I wonder if this is at all related to the fact that schools are liable to get in some hot water if they suspend or discipline black students, effectively making the only solution to a problem with a student one of legal action.

  21. Being able to kick shitty kids out of school is one of the excellent reasons to send your kids to private schools.

    Being able to kick shitty teachers out of school is another excellent reason.

    Ultimately, they may need something like a criminal conviction to kick a distracting kid out of a public school.

    Being convicted of a crime might be necessary to kick a shitty teacher or administrator out of a public school, too.

    1. Being convicted of a crime might be necessary to kick a shitty teacher or administrator out of a public school, too.

      Not after arbitration.

  22. Corporal punishment apparently has its place.

    We have played right into the State’s hand. Since they can’t go physical, they go nuclear.

    We have no one to blame but fear itself.

    1. I don’t think a lack of corporal punishment is the problem. I for one, would have beat a teacher to half way to death if they laid one god damn government paid hand me.

    2. Yeah I agree, being the class clown got you sent to the office for a paddling growing up and I got my share of swats.

      They can use paddle at my sons’ school unless you sign the “corporal punishment opt out form” which we dont sign and they know it.

      Around here this boy’s behavior would probably be taken care of in the Principal’s office with his paddle and I’m sure that would have taken care of the problem.

      1. Yeah, if a kid is bored in child prison, certainly a good paddling will teach him the error of his ways.

        1. Enough with the “over-the-top” rhetoric, it’s not a prison.

          And being bored and disrupting the class are two different issues.

          Knowing you could be paddled kept us in line at school and was an effective punishment for this type of behavior that’s typical at this age. It’s over quickly and without the loss of class time from a suspension.

          Not just my opinion, my kids’ agree, so far one has found this out through personal experience.

          1. And being bored and disrupting the class are two different issues.

            They’re just disruptive because they’re disruptive little shits in need of a paddling, got it. I bet your kids agree, or else.

            1. Correct.

            2. Needing your kids to agree with your rules and consequences seems like a shitty way to parent.

          2. rhetoric, it’s not a prison.

            So if you don’t show up for roll call, a cop comes to your house and arrests you. If you leave school early, a cop arrests you. If your parents don’t take you, they arrest your parents. If you don’t pay the bill imposed on you for services similarly imposed upon you, a cop arrests you in addition to taking your house and impoverishing your family.

            BUT IT’S TOTALLY NOT A PRISON OKAY

            1. More of the histrionics.

              Prison = incarceration after being found guilty of a crime.

              Public or Private school = an institution that children attend by parental approval, unless they choose to home school, where the students go home at the end of the school day to their families and where there are vacation periods throughout the year, yeah that’s totally like a prison.

              1. Prison = incarceration after being found guilty of a crime.

                I could kidnap an old lady off the street and chain in her up in my basement. That would accurately be described as a prison. But if you’d prefer to call it ‘indentured servitude’, that’s fine too I guess.

                Public or Private school = an institution that children attend by parental approval,

                Pick your own cell. Totally not a prison.

                unless they choose to home school,

                A mugger might let you choose to keep your wallet or your cell phone, it’s still not something chosen freely.

                where the students go home at the end of the school day to their families and where there are vacation periods throughout the year, yeah that’s totally like a prison.

                Furlough.

                And yet if I choose to stay home and not go to school in the first place, what happens? Something that your ilk views as a solution to your own problem.

                1. Just more of the silly, hyperbolic, “eye-rolling” rhetoric that gives libertarians a bad name.

                  By this kind of absurd reasoning, forcing one of my kids to come home early from his buddies is abduction and kidnapping, making them do their chores and homework, or else, is forced labor under threat of punishment, sending them to their rooms is a “prison” sentence, restricting TV viewing is a violation of their liberty etc, etc. And all without due process and attendent rights of appeal.

                  But enough, you’ve clearly no concept of the difference between parenting and the criminal justice system.

                  1. Just more of the silly, hyperbolic, “eye-rolling” rhetoric that gives libertarians a bad name.

                    The first sign of a weak argument is the arguer’s use of mockery and ad hominem before he actually lays out an argument of his own.

                    forcing one of my kids to come home early from his buddies is abduction and kidnapping

                    No that’s your kid. With this analogy are you saying that the state owns everyone’s kids?

                    But enough, you’ve clearly no concept of the difference between parenting and the criminal justice system.

                    See now this is projection. Because you just showed that you don’t know the difference between “the state” and “the family”.

                    1. The first sign of a weak argument is the arguer’s use of mockery and ad hominem before he actually lays out an argument of his own.

                      No, just a very accurate description of your position.

                      The rest of your post is just garbling and incoherent.

                    2. That’s a great non-argument you got there. I’ll take that as your concession.

                    3. You can take it any way you want buddy.

                      Get back to me when you decide to make some sense.

                    4. You can stop admitting defeat already, you’re embarrassing yourself. Get back to me when you decide to make an actual argument.

                    5. “You can stop admitting defeat already, you’re embarrassing yourself”

                      Relative to your performance, this is the least of my concerns.

          3. I just want the right to punch anyone in the face when they do something I don’t like. Why can’t we extend this to grown adults as well, instead of just beating on children?

  23. It’s not obvious to me what schools should do with consistently distributive students. I attended a parochial school so the libertarian quips about privatizing primary education won’t fly with me.

    So, anyway, there was a kid in my classes who liked to talk about Lucy, the Margate Elephant.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_the_Elephant

    Math, history, gym, it didn’t. matter. The moment he saw an opening for an audience he talked about the Lucy, the Margate Elephant.

    1. So, anyway, there was a kid in my classes who liked to talk about Lucy, the Margate Elephant.

      It’s my understanding that you’re not supposed to talk about Lucy.

      1. Which Lucy? Lucy the Australopithecus? Or Lucille Ball?

    2. Coincidence of names. Sorry. The rule the stands firm.

  24. These are not the actions of authorities who have belief in themselves and the things they run. They are the behaviors of a society in decline, to be honest, that authoritarians who no longer feel as if it they can exercise power at any level except via banishment and extreme action.

    Thought I’d fix that passive collectivist voice for you, Nick. Individuals do shite like this, not some vague fake construct called “society”.

  25. Easiest way to fix the behavior? “Class, every time this kid burps you’ll have a pop quiz the next day”. After a few code reds, he will develop an ulcer before burping in class. Good lesson for being able to keep a job later in life. Of, fuck the 10th CC too.

  26. Maybe someone should show this story to the BLM protesters who disrupted study time at Dartmouth College.

  27. This is not what the court ruled. This was a lawsuit suing the people who arrested and charged him, and the court ruled that they had immunity from the suit, not that the arrest and charging were legally justified.

    Also, the strip search was six months after the burping incident and suspension.

  28. Out of an abundance of caution, we should close all the public schools until we’re sure not one child will be subjected to this type of burping menace.

  29. Look, just publicly execute him as a warning to the others. It works for ISIS it can work for us.

  30. Rebellious children are not all bad seeds. This kid is obviously bored out of his skull with the curriculum and since the only tool the the admin uses is the big hammer, the kid has doubled down with zero respect for the bonehead administration who have failed to stimulate any creative thought whatsoever. Or he could be a bad seed, but if it were me I’d try giving him some teacher’s aid responsibilities to show him how the other half lives before calling in SWAT and the bomb squad.

    1. “This kid is obviously bored out of his skull with the curriculum and since the only tool the the admin uses is the big hammer, the kid has doubled down with zero respect for the bonehead administration who have failed to stimulate any creative thought whatsoever”

      And you are basing this detailed assessment on what then?

      Its just as likely the kid and parents were serial offenders who have a long history of being disruptive. Maybe he’s had years of expensive teacher’s aids and extra care but continued to deprive the well behaved kids of their education.

      My son, gifted, went through public elementary classes with another gifted, but quite disturbed, young boy, who on a daily basis would consume inordinate amounts of teacher attention. He had a full time aid, but there were days where entire 30minute subject programs were lost to the other 27 kids, while the aid/teacher dealt with verbal outbursts and tantrums. Eventually, with administration pressure, the parents took the kid to a private school. These were responsible parents.
      But what if they weren’t? how is this then addressed?

  31. Yes, criminal charges are a stretch, but this is a logical result of denying schools “corporal punishment”, which this little jr-grade delinquent is screaming for.
    Bring back cricket-bats.

    1. This is a logical result of having terrible schools and giving the government too much power. Of course, we shouldn’t give the government the power to abuse children, either. Instead, we should get it out of education completely.

  32. Bart Simpson get’s emmy’s, this kid gets time.

    Progressive Moment!

  33. I think you are incorrect, Nick. Americans(most) are Not losing confidence in institutions, they are buying it, hook,line and sinker.

    1. Actually, I’d suggest that Nick is quite correct. The “Justice System” is the last remaining branch of government to retain respect and it’s rapidly dissipating it. The SCs ability to divine “emanations of penumbras” while ignoring straight-forward English language (even when accompanied by many clear statements of their intent by those who wrote it) or, more recently, to define a law which Congress said was NOT a tax as a tax, does nothing to maintain credibility with the public (upon whose consent our Republic is based). Of course, if you refer not to “respect” but to fear based on power, and a feeling of inevitability and hopelessness you may be correct.

  34. In my view, what The Court should have told these school officials was in plain, somewhat crude English was FUCK OFF. Sad to note, they didn’t so advise or direct.

  35. Well said Mr.Turley, well said. What strikes me as singularly sad is the appropriotness of Mr. Turley’s observation.

  36. Did these educators and administrators ever stop to consider that this young man might be suffering from physical or emotional problems, things needing medical and or physiological attention rather than the not to tender ministrations of “law enforcement”. If not, why not?

  37. Isn’t burping protected free speech? It doesn’t really say much, but it expresses everything most 14 year old boys have to express.

  38. “And now, as George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley writes,

    Teachers and administrators have been criminalizing juvenile conduct rather than dealing with such issues with the students and their teachers….the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has issued an opinion upholding one of the most ridiculous examples of the criminalization of our schools. The Tenth Circuit said that Albuquerque school officials and police were justified in ordering the arrest of 13-year-old boy who was burping in class. The Tenth Circuit ruled that the school officials and police officer were entitled to immunity for their excessive response to what was at worst a class clown.”

    Could it be that (i) the tendencies of both lawyers and judges to extend their tentacles into schools as a result of the excessive litigiousness of our current excess of attorneys and (ii) the obvious willingness of the courts and judges to extend their authorities beyond their proper role have made school administrators fearful of taking any steps to facilitate education in the classrooms without some sore of “robed blessing”?

  39. What ever happened to detention? Shit, when I was in high school I spent so much time in detention that I may has well have had it added to my class schedule. In my junior year the football coach tried to talk me into trying out for football, because I was a typical big tough farm kid and as he put it “…this way you could hit people and not get detention.”

    Yes, I was a dick in high school. But I never hit anyone unless they hit me first.

    Or unless they tried to hit me first.

    Or unless I thought they were going to try to hit me.

    Or unless it was funny.

  40. Apparently the law is not enforced against protestors who use aggressive tactics to blackmail, I mean convince, university administrators to ban speakers they disagree with.

  41. Overwrought article with no background on this kid and his family. How long has he been disruptive? Is this the first suspense or the 10th? Are the parents working with the school or are they telling the authorities to fug off?

    If the parents have refused to take responsibility for their child, then what does anyone expect?
    What should have been done in this situation?
    We have agreed as a society that schooling is mandatory.
    We provide public schooling, but require reasonable behavior.
    When the behavior is not met, the school punishes, up to and included expulsion.
    This punishment must be followed with parental engagement. If the parents don’t care, then the school is stuck.
    The only way to address the situation is to involve the courts and law enforcement.

    Instead of whining about application of a law on the books, perhaps some proposals on what should have been done?
    Entire family of school teachers here. Perhaps the author/commenters need some first hand experience on these types of situations.

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