Last Updated on August 20, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
Have you ever said something like “I would kill for an ice cream?” School threat. Or, “Get him!” Student threat. Or maybe “Watch out, something big is happening on Friday!” Student scary threat.
These are “threats” if you happen to be a school student and can get a student suspended or expelled.
Stupid Comments Are Threats At School
Dumb things we say every day in “real” life, don’t get us arrested or kicked out of a job, usually. In the school setting, this is not the same.
Student speech in the school setting is frequently misinterpreted as students are viewed through the Columbine and school shooting lens.
What does this mean? This means that schools are overly-paranoid. This means that dumb and unthinking student comments which are not really threatening, can doom a student to be expelled or suspended from school at the drop of a hat.
Exaggerated Student Statements Are Bad, But Only At School
Okay, but what are we talking about here? Are sarcastic or overly dramatic statements by students threats? Maybe, and in that case, school discipline may be in order.
However, often student speech is taken out of context, or comments now at issue were sarcastic and unserious, and are not threatening. Such utterances should not result in student suspension or expulsion for “threats.”
Education Code 48900(a)(1)
The “threat” code is California Education Code 48900(a)(1) which opens the door for these punishments. It says that students may be suspended or expelled if they:
“Caused, attempted to cause, or threatened to cause physical injury to another person.”
This is quite vague, so gives schools a lot of leeway to define a “threat.”
Examples of Student “Threats”
Examples of things schools may suspend or expel a student for could be statements like:
“You are going to pay” Possible result: student pulled into office and suspended even if they and other students say they were not serious; expulsion for threats may also proceed.
“I’ll rip her head off!” Possible result: student suspended and expelled for threats at school and can end up at a continuation school.
“She’s going to kill everyone this week.” Possible result: police called, FBI called, student suspended and expelled for threats at school and terroristic threats.
“If only he had a gun.” Possible result: School investigation for threat and terroristic threats, suspension, expulsion, ruined lives.
Preventing Misunderstandings of Student “Threats”
Students are under heightened scrutiny. They need to be somewhat aware of what they say at school, as student jokes could be misconstrued as a threat. Parents should talk to their kids about their language and the PARANOIA schools have, which puts many students at risk of suspension or expulsion.
On the one hand, schools should be worried about threats and should suspend and expel students for true and validated threats.
On the other hand, schools have a low tolerance for student speech and no sense of humor.
Obviously sarcastic statements (which are statements that mean the opposite of what the speaker says), may be taken as student threats if taken literally and thereafter punished viciously by schools.
Believe me when I tell you this stuff happens! I have heard these stories for almost 30 years and these school antics DO go on.
Be cautious as Big School Brother IS watching.
See this post for a more expansive description of many types of student threats.
Michelle Ball is a student expulsion lawyer defending student “threats” and helping families resolve suspension and expulsion problems in schools. As a Sacramento California student expulsion attorney, Michelle Ball assist families throughout the state in places such as Daly City, Bodega Bay, Concord, Mount Diablo, Roseville, Auburn, Elk Grove, Livermore, and many other locations.
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.