NEOGA, IL. (ECWd) -
During the Neoga School Board meeting held January 20, 2016, more than 100 people showed up to voice and show their support for a student who was recently expelled from school due to the school's zero tolerance rule.
All but two or three people who spoke supported the student and objected to the school board's action.
Kirk Allen spoke and pointed out to the board that they were committing a crime, a Class C Misdemeanor, by holding a public meeting without the Agenda being properly posted at the location of the meeting. He asked them if they should be brought up on charges, and then stated no, they shouldn't, because it was an honest mistake, like the honest mistake made by the now-expelled student.
One speaker, a teacher from Sullivan, IL., voiced her support of the school board's decision by attempting to state that the board had no choice but to expel for a minimum of one year. She even quoted the Illinois School Code...but unfortunately failed to quote the entire portion of the school code referenced by herself.
Here is the portion she referred to:
105 ILCS 5/10-22.6(d)(1):
(d) The board may expel a student for a definite period of time not to exceed 2 calendar years, as determined on a case by case basis. A student who is determined to have brought one of the following objects to school, any school-sponsored activity or event, or any activity or event that bears a reasonable relationship to school shall be expelled for a period of not less than one year:
(1) A firearm. For the purposes of this Section, "firearm" means any gun, rifle, shotgun, weapon as defined by Section 921 of Title 18 of the United States Code, firearm as defined in Section 1.1 of the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act, or firearm as defined in Section 24-1 of the Criminal Code of 2012. ...
She led the audience to believe the board had no choice but to expel this student, because the law said they must expel for between one and two years, but at a minimum one year.
What she failed to mention was the remainder of subparagraph (105 ILCS 5/22.6(d)(1), which reads:
The expulsion period under this subdivision (1) may be modified by the superintendent, and the superintendent's determination may be modified by the board on a case-by-case basis.
This portion of the paragraph dealing with expulsion was brought to the public's attention by a follow-on speaker later in the meeting:
Our intent for speaking at this meeting was to make the board aware that zero tolerance does not work, that anyone can make a mistake - like they did in violating the Open Meetings Act, and also to inform the citizens who showed their support to the student that the board was not obligated by any length of time for expulsion, and they could modify their decision at any time. The board also needed to know that the public knows the expulsion decision is not mandated by law, but instead one the board made and was a discretionary decision to expel.
After the meeting, the school superintendent tried showing us that the board did not violate the Open Meetings Act, the problem is, she was quoting from the paragraph referencing meeting NOTICE, not meeting AGENDA. A Notice of this meeting did not require posting at the location of this meeting, however, an Agenda for this meeting was required to be posted at the location of the meeting and they failed to comply with that statutory requirement.
Photo of the interaction:
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