Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wisconsin Teenager Arrested For Texting During Class

The disorderly conduct charge is seeing a lot of use these days, as it seems to be the catch-all charge filed against those whose behavior may technically be legal, but is found upsetting by some.

At Wauwatosa East High School, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a 14-year-old girl was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct — for texting messages during math class.

According to the police report, the teacher demanded the female student stop texting in class and asked for the phone — the student refused. Two other students said the girl did indeed have the phone out, hiding it under her desk as she used it.

The school’s liaison officer was called and he escorted the student to the principal’s office. Officer Jeffrey Griffin observed the student sliding an object up the sleeve of her sweatshirt as they walked through the halls. Upon questioning, the girl denied having any phone and says she was only looking down, not texting on a phone. The sweatshirt was removed — no phone.

Officer Griffin placed the girl under arrest, telling her, “disruption in class with the phone out, the refusal to obey the teacher, and her not telling us the truth is what got her arrested.” A female officer was called in and a full body search revealed the phone was down the girl’s pants.

The result: a disorderly conduct charge against a juvenile based on lying, disobedience, and disrupting a class by using a phone.

Are lying, disobedience, and disruption worthy of criminal charges?

I do not condone the bad behavior. I wouldn’t tolerate it in my classroom. Students are in school ostensibly to pay attention and learn — at great cost to taxpayers. But I probably would have had little trouble in ending such behavior — without calling in the police and having the girl arrested.

Behavioral problems, acting out, disobedience, and even rude and offensive behavior are surely commonplace in today’s government school system. Walk through one at any given time — it’s a real eye-opener.

Surely there has to be a huge difference between an infraction being seriously disruptive — one that causes harm, or threatens harm or physical violence — and one that is just plain bad behavior. Not every violation of school rules or policy gives cause for criminal prosecution.

Some common sense is needed here. We shouldn’t allow police involvement as a method of dealing with a disobedient, deceitful 14-year-old. There should be detention, demerits, extra assignments, removal of privileges, or temporary expulsion — this one works wonders because mom and dad have to be available to be supervisor for little junior for the length of the expulsion, and with most parents working these days, just the inconvenience is enough to straighten weak backbones in parents.

We continue to see the stretching of the disorderly conduct charge to cover a multitude of bad behaviors — and legal behavior that is often politically incorrect — that aren’t serious disturbances by definition. Using it as a punishment for school behavioral problems is just plain crazy — unless the object is a total police state.

Note from author of GOPForLiberty:
What What?!?!?! This kind of authoritarian approach to normal teenage behavior is ludicrious! The system has taken this way too far. Since when has disobeying your teacher gone from a couple of days detention to a misdemeanor??

I have obtained the address and phone number for the Wauwatosa Police Department. Contact them by phone, letter or Contact Form and let them know that the charges should be dropped against this young woman. She has rights and we will not let them forget that.

Wauwatosa Police Department
7725 W. North Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Phone: (414) 479-8900

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