When do schools assume legal responsibility for your children? At the school, on the bus, or at the bus stop? The latter is likely the best answer, but no one believes that it starts in your front yard, seventy feet away from the bus stop. Nobody, that is, except perhaps the Virginia Beach City Public School System, which may expel Khalid Caraballo today for shooting a non-lethal pellet pistol in his own front yard last week:
A suspended seventh grade Virginia Beach student will find out soon if he is expelled for the rest of the year for shooting an airsoft gun.
Like thousands of others in Hampton Roads, Khalid Caraballo plays with airsoft guns. Caraballo and his friend Aidan were suspended because they shot two other friends who were with them while playing with the guns as they waited for the school bus.
The two seventh graders say they never went to the bus stop; they fired the airsoft guns while on Caraballo’s private property.
The school says that Khalid and his friends shot pellets “at people near the bus stop,” and that one student was within ten feet of the stop when targeted. The school has a responsibility to secure the stop and to impose discipline for the safety of its students. If they can establish that the horseplay did involve the bus stop and students who didn’t want to participate, then they would likely have legal grounds to address the situation.
That still leaves the matter of expelling a student for playing with pellet pistols without malice, and who may just have been careless while playing on his own property. This might call for detention to make a point, but it’s impossible to imagine that this incident alone makes Khalid so ungovernable that he should be expelled for an entire school year for it. Given Khalid’s concerns over the incident, it’s even less imaginable:
Khalid said he will never do this again. “It’s terrible. I won’t get the chance to go to a good college. It’s on your school record. The school said I had possession of a firearm. They aren’t going to ask me any questions. They are going to think it was a real gun, and I was trying to hurt someone. They will say ‘oh, we can’t accept you.’ “
This looks very much like another case of zero-tolerance rules running adults rather than the other way around.