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April 23, 2003

Dallas Teen Suspended for "Terroristic" Rapping

Very interesting story in the Dallas Morning News today. Needless to say, the kid should have known those rhymes were not appropriate for a classroom setting. But taking them as a "terroristic threat" worthy of removing him from the school? Unless there is some history between them that we don't know about, that seems kinda wacky.

This goes to show how the same words can have very different meanings to different people, depending on their cultural perspective. I'm sure the boy thought to himself "how could anyone think they were supposed to take that rhyme literally?", and the administrators were equally certain of themselves in thinking "how could anyone think you're not supposed to take that rhyme literally?"

Teen put back in school after 'terroristic' rap

Judge orders return after poem called threat got him suspended

Terry Carter might make Dunbar High's senior prom after all.

The 17-year-old student, banished from the school in February after reciting a rap poem deemed a "terroristic threat," was reinstated Tuesday by a federal judge who said the Fort Worth school district had violated his constitutional right to due process.

"I order that Terry Carter be returned to Dunbar High School tomorrow morning and be allowed to participate in all activities," Judge John McBryde ruled from the bench after a daylong hearing.

Attorneys for the school district said they are considering an appeal.

...When the decision was announced, Lee Robinson stormed out of the fourth-floor courtroom. It was his daughter, Allison, to whom Terry had referred in his poem.

"It was already decided before we came here today," Mr. Robinson said afterward. "This was already predetermined."

Allison, 18, appeared shaken but she vowed: "I'll still be valedictorian. If he tries to say anything to me, then we'll be right back where we are today."

The episode began in January when a teacher in Terry and Allison's theater-arts class allowed students a variety of ways to get extra credit. Terry, who was ranked sixth in the 186-member class, chose to do a rap poem.

In one stanza of the 16-verse poem, he said, "Allison #1, but I got myself a gun, ready to pull the trigger, for any gold digger."

Allison, who ranks first in the senior class, told the teacher that she felt threatened. Dunbar officials immediately suspended Terry. Later, at a school district hearing, he was assigned to an alternative school for 90 days, in effect for the remainder of the school term.

After an administrative appeal, Superintendent Thomas Tocco reduced the alternative school sentence to 10 days. But later, after meeting with Allison, her parents, Dunbar school officials and a community leader, Dr. Tocco decided that Terry should be transferred for Allison's "safety." He was eventually reassigned to Trimble Tech High School for the rest of the year.

...The suit said Dr. Tocco acted unfairly because he considered adverse information against Terry without informing the youngster, his family or Ms. Edmonds of the allegations or giving them a chance to respond.

...Dr. Tocco testified that after reducing the suspension to 10 days, Allison's parents asked him to consider harsher punishment. The superintendent said that after listening to them, however, he wasn't convinced.

They asked him to go to Dunbar the next day to talk to teachers and other school officials, and he agreed. While there, Dr. Tocco said, he initially didn't hear anything to make him change his mind until he spoke to two teachers who said they thought Terry might pose a threat to Allison if he was allowed to return to Dunbar.

The judge asked Dr. Tocco whether he informed Terry or Ms. Edmonds that he was considering information that was adverse to the youngster's case. Dr. Tocco said he did not.

Then Judge McBryde asked whether Terry or Ms. Edmonds had been given a chance to rebut the information the superintendent had been given.

"No," Dr. Tocco said, "because all of the information I needed from him I received when ... [Terry] denied that he threatened Ms. Robinson."

At one point, Dr. Tocco said he would have reversed Terry's punishment again and moved it back to 30 days at an alternative school, but he thought that doing so would have been tantamount to "double jeopardy"...

This Dr. Tocco is evidently not the brightest light on the christmas tree.

The judge should have just ordered the girl to do an answer record, and let them battle it out on the next Kay Slay mixtape.

Posted by jsmooth995 at April 23, 2003 12:54 PM

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