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Student suspended for baseball bat in car

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Student may be punished for bat

By Cynthia L. Garza

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH - A wooden baseball bat, no longer than 8 inches and visible through a car window, spurred Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School officials to call sophomore Cory Henson out of class Monday in order to search his vehicle.

Under the Fort Worth school district's zero-tolerance policy, Henson was immediately suspended, pending a conference with administrators today. Officials will decide whether the bat is considered a weapon that would merit punishment, including placement in an alternative school or expulsion for up to a year.

"First I was stunned," said Cory's mother, Sheila Henson. "I thought, I'll go up there and investigate this a little further."

Henson said it was "humiliating" for her son to be pulled out of class and have his car searched while other students peered out of the classroom windows.

District policy calls for immediate suspension of a student if a prohibited or hazardous item is found in the student's vehicle.

Henson describes the bat no bigger than the souvenir bats available at professional baseball games. The piece found in Cory's car broke off a trophy, he said. He does not know how it ended up car but said someone was probably playing with it and left it in the back seat.

Henson said her son never gets in trouble. The 16-year-old plays junior varsity baseball at the school. Because of his suspension, he was not able to attend the end-of-the-year sports banquet this week.

"Why did it have to go to that level?" she asked.

What's more confounding to Henson is that it was the small bat, and not the full-sized aluminum bat that was in the trunk with other baseball equipment, that was confiscated as a weapon.

Sgt. Daniel Garcia of the Fort Worth Police Department School Initiative Unit said he was not aware of the full-sized bat in the car. If the student plays baseball at the school, then common sense would prevail in the situation, he said.

"The [smaller] bat could be constituted as an illegal club," because it was in the driver's access area and had a hole in the center of it, Garcia said.

Police did not file any criminal charges and any handling of the situation is solely at the district level now, Garcia said.

Ignacio Torres, the school's assistant principal, said that because the bat is considered a weapon, he referred the situation to the district office.

The Texas Education Code, adopted in 1995, calls for the expulsion of a student from school for using, exhibiting or possessing a weapon.

LoEster Posey, Fort Worth schools director of student affairs, said that if the item is considered a prohibited item, such as a pocketknife, pepper spray or firecrackers, the student will usually be given only a warning after the object is found.

But if it is considered an illegal item by penal code standards, the student will be immediately suspended pending a conference among the student, parents, a school official and hearing officer.

Posey said this year there have been 27 conferences at the district level as a result of confiscated weapons. Of those, two students were allowed back in school after situations involving clubs that did not fall under penal code standard.

"Parents do have an appeals process, and they usually use it," Posey said.

In an attempt to curb school violence after a rash of school shootings in the late 1990s, many states adopted zero-tolerance policies regarding weapons at school.

In 2002, a student at L.D. Bell High School in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district was suspended from school after officials found a bread knife in the back of his pickup, which was parked on school grounds.

The nonserrated 10-inch knife apparently fell out of one of the boxes the teen-ager and his father had delivered to Goodwill the day before.

The student, Taylor Hess, was expelled after a meeting where school officials told him that his action posed a threat to other students. Hess' one-year expulsion was later reduced to five days after he and his parents appealed.

Let's see if I got this straight.

A baseball bat is legal.

The scale model of a baseball bat from a trophy is a weapon under TX statute.

Let me guess. Then the Feds must consider displaying a picture of a model of a baseball bat fomenting insurrection!

Don't you just love the smell of zero tolerance in the morning? It smells like...it smells like idiocy.

If this happened to my family I would sue the people involved and the school district.  Jerks... ???

I would find suspension from such a place to be a reward, an honor....anything but a punishment.  The car searching would be awful, though.

I heard the school district is considering expulsion!  Does anyone know where I can get my little red book and worker's uniform?


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