Student challenges toy-gun expulsion

Columbine’s victim list keeps getting longer. One of the most recent victims is Timothy Hodits, a student in Chicago who was expelled for walking in a government school with a yellow toy-gun and a trench coat. Hodits is fighting back by suing his school board for “oppressive and unreasonable” abuse of power.

On April 21, Hodits put on his black trench coast, which has been his daily uniform for the past three years, and brought a yellow plastic gun to school. Later in the day, a teacher stopped Hodits and two of his friends, one of whom was playing with the toy gun. The teacher confiscated the toy and sent Hodits and his friends to the dean’s office.

The dean suspended Hodits for 10 days and on May 7, the school board expelled him for the remainder of the year AND the next school year. Hodits claims the board acted hysterically due to the recent Columbine shootings and failed to look at the specifics of his case. Hodits would like a judge to overrule the school board by allowing his return to school for his senior year. He would also like the district to pay his attorney fees.

According to Stuart Swenson, director of student services, the school board may expel students who carry weapons or look-alike weapons to school. He also acknowledged that the school board is not required to expel students who carry yellow plastic guns to school.

Hodits lawsuit is a direct attack on zero-tolerance policies, which have become the justification for expelling non-conformist students. Before zero-tolerance, a toy-gun, which is just a toy, would mean detention or possibly a suspension. Now school boards can banish students who do not conform to a government-approved, Ritalin personality.

Zero-tolerance policies for weapons are simply another way for the government to disarm you. Police and teachers don’t want you to carry around pocketknives, bb guns or anything else that you could use to defend yourself. They don’t even want you to become comfortable with guns or knives by playing with toy replicas.

Hodits claims that the school board acted hysterically when they expelled him. However, hysteria arrived years ago. Dozens of students in the Chicago area have been suspended or expelled for lugging fake guns and knives to school. These students are pranksters not potential assassins.

Hodits’ case may resurrect logic in his suburban Chicago high school. If you also become a victim of zero-tolerance policies, you have the right to ask a judge to overrule your school board. If you are suspended, on your first day of suspension you could file a lawsuit against your school and ask the court to grant an injunction that would allow you to immediately return to school until the court decides your case.

You must have zero-tolerance for zero-tolerance.

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