USC Board fights back
United South Central’s School Board has decided to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision in the expulsion of a former USC student.
At its Aug. 18 meeting, the School Board of Independent School District No. 2134, USC, voted to petition the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the decision of the Court of Appeals in the case In re the Expulsion of A.D. from Independent School District No. 2134 A14-1587.
The appeal arises from an April 21, 2014, decision by the School Board to expel a student for possessing a weapon on school district property. The student appealed that decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which reversed the board’s decision on July 20, 2015.
The USC board felt the Court of Appeals decision radically departed from the previous standards that school boards were required to follow in order to expel a student pursuant to Minnesota’s Pupil Fair Dismissal Act, and will have far-reaching impact if allowed to stand.
The board sought the input of other school districts, school organizations, and other school administrators, and uniformly received encouragement to appeal the decision due to the limitations the court sought to place on a school’s ability to keep its students and staff safe. The board recommended seeking review for the following reasons which were laid out in a news release presented at last Tuesday’s School Board meeting:
Although the student involved in the original matter has graduated and is no longer affected by the District’s policies, the court’s decision sets a dangerous precedent that limits the ability of school districts across the state to proactively address the presence of weapons on school property. While the District harbors no ill will towards this particular student, it has duty to ensure the safety of students, staff, and visitors to school property.
The Pupil Fair Dismissal Act grants school districts the ability to discipline students who endanger others, but the court’s decision significantly decreases the ability of all Minnesota schools to impose such discipline. While the Board does not like having to discipline students through expulsion, the new limits enacted by the court go too far in preventing school districts from taking expulsion action when it is deemed necessary.
The court’s decision essentially requires a school to wait until a student is actually using a weapon against others before disciplining a student for having that weapon at school. The board believes that the decision of whether a weapon endangers others should be made by local school officials, not by a court deciding the issue over a year later.
The court’s decision set new standards for violations of school rules and policies by students. However, the board believes school officials are in the best position to define and identify violations of school rules.
The board appreciates the broad support it has received from the local community for its actions to ensure that students and staff are safe in school. The board understands that the community does not want weapons in its schools, and believes that this petition is necessary to ensure that it retains the ability to prevent the free flow of weapons into the school environment.
The board expects the Minnesota School Boards Association, the Principal’s Association, and other statewide organizations to support the board’s request for review.
Chairwoman Kathy Krebsbach read a resolution regarding the decision.
The motion to adopt the resolution was passed and adopted unanimously with a roll call vote.
Krebsbach made it clear that this appeal was regarding the District’s position on the court’s decision and had nothing to do with the student the incident stemmed from.