Student appeals weapon charges - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Student appeals weapon charges

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June 8, 2004

Blakely- Willie Mae Harris says her son Kyle has never had any disciplinary actions taken against him, until his 10-day suspension his senior year.

"He was arrested, fingerprinted and booked on charges as an adult stemming from this same weapons violation charge, so his future is still up at hand," she says.

On April 12th, Harris had used a box cutter to cut matting in his first period landscaping class, but forgot to take it out of his pocket before leaving. When it fell out of his pocket third period, another student reported that he had a weapon on campus.

"The issue is whether that utility knife is a weapon. State law defines a weapon as including razor blades, which a utility knife does include. However, state law also says that excluded from the definition as a weapon is any instrument assigned by a teacher for classroom use," says Harris' attorney, Mark Redden.

Not only was it used in class, but Harris' mother says it was purchased by the teacher for his students to use.

"I don't understand how you can in one hand say it's a weapon and in the next hand say that the school teacher purchased it for classroom activities."

After the charges were upheld at a May 4th tribunal, Harris and his lawyer appealed to the Early County Board of Education.

"The board made the decision to not reverse the decision that had been made by the tribunal panel, more-or-less leaving the charges as they were in the charge letter and as it was presented to the tribunal panel," says Superintendent Betty Orange.

Harris and his family are worried the criminal charges will affect his chances of getting into college, and they say the battle is not over.

"We will appeal the decision. We will continue to fight, because justice has not been served here today," his mother says.

Harris was allowed to graduate, but was stripped of his title as class president because of his suspension. He is expected to go before the Grand Jury for his weapons charge next month.

Posted at 4:40 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com