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Should burping at school be a criminal offense?

A lawyer representing a 13-year-old student who was arrested for burping in class says there’s a nationwide problem of schools handing off discipline to police.

“They’re calling it the public schools to prison pipeline,” says civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy. “They’re criminalizing these delinquent acts instead of the traditional where you have a principal who disciplines children.”

Kennedy is representing a 13-year-old student that she says was handcuffed and charged with a crime for burping in his P.E. class.

“A seventh grade boy burped once, a bunch of other boys laughed, maybe other people burped. It disrupted the P.E. class to the chagrin of this female teacher who called a school resource officer and had this boy handcuffed and charged with a crime in Albuquerque which is called Interfering with Public Education, a petty misdemeanor.”

Kennedy tells 97.3 KIRO FM’s Ross and Burbank Show that the boy, reportedly an excellent baseball player who got an F in P.E. as a result of the incident, had no prior criminal history.

“It’s awful doing this to a child. It’s terrifying for a 13-year-old boy who has never been in trouble before, who’s not a gang member, who’s not a drug dealer, he’s facing tough, tough mean kids in the juvenile detention center.”

Listen to Attorney Shannon Kennedy:Boy handcuffed for burping in class

Instead of leaving it to authorities to punish the boy, Kennedy says this was something that should have been left to the principal.

“They’re sort of leap-frogging over due process by putting these kids in handcuffs and taking them from school.”

97.3 KIRO FM host Dave Ross says in his day, school officials provided ample authority for in-school enforcement.

“When I was going to school. That guy was the vice principal. He was usually the scariest adult in the school. Ours had actually a withered arm so we were doubly frightened of him. And all it took was one look from him and you would immediately stop burping even if you had to.”

“The principal should be the one handling these situations,” says Kennedy. “It’s a failure of leadership.”


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