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May 20, 2024

Neoga High School Student Expelled – Another victim of a zero tolerance policy

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On January 18, 2016

Cumberland Co. (ECWd) –

A Neoga High School student has been expelled, based on a mistake, subject to their zero tolerance policy.

The student, who’s name we are working on getting, is a local sportsman who had gone racoon hunting and left his rifle in the vehicle and went to school the next morning.  Turns out someone saw it or knew about it and told the authorities he had a gun in his vehicle.

Since having a firearm on school property is in fact a violation of law and school policy, the school board took steps to not only suspend this student but also expel him from school.

Many issues can be raised with this action, but let’s start with why Zero Tolerance policies are failing our children.  Kids will make mistakes.  As adults, we need to be able to be smart enough to evaluate each situation and apply common sense to it.  Punishment should fit the crime and that is impossible with zero tolerance policies.  One who makes a mistake with no intent to harm is treated the same as the one who intentionaly violated it.  Why would you treat each situation with the same action?  It makes no sense.

From a prosecutorial stand point, I suspect the State’s Attorney would never take that kind of case and prosecute because there was no intent to break the law.  He made an honest mistake.

When zero tolerance policies are adopted it fails miserably because of unintended consequences, such as we see in this case. It’s not like the student was threatening to harm anyone or cause a problem.  He went hunting and had the gun legally secured in his vehicle and parked on school property.

What is so ironic with this situation is how far we have come in taking the rights away from our own citizens.  My father and his buddies would hunt squirrels and rabbits on their way to school as it was a several mile walk.  That was in the early 1950’s.  They actually left their 22 caliber rifles outside the entry way of the school with any game they shot placed in their game bag. This was in Edgar County at the Kansas High School, in Kansas, IL.  After school, they grab their game and guns and hunt on their way home.

Now, we have school boards who listen to attorneys who tell them they have no option but to have a zero tolerance policy for everything.  Those types of policy are for weak-minded board members who don’t have the mental capacity to problem solve the most basic situations that take place at a school.  Much like the morons that suspended the 7 year old for eating his pop tart into the shape of a gun, or the the kid who pointed his finger at a student as if he was shooting him with his finger.   All nothing more than kids being kids, yet the control freaks in this country have instituted a level of protectionism that frankly is killing this country.

It is my understanding a legal fund has been set up to raise money on behalf of this student and as soon as I have all that info we will post it so the people that understand how stupid it is to punish a kid to this level for making an honest mistake can step up and provide some funding to fight back against this nonsense.

To the School Board in Neoga, you should be ashamed!  Your actions send the wrong message and do nothing to encourage students to own mistakes they make.

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  • Philo Beddoe
    Posted at 12:19h, 18 January

    Stitches for snitches.

    • Chris M. Gaines
      Posted at 21:58h, 18 January

      What do you mean? Just curious. Have a nice day.

      • KIMBERLY
        Posted at 04:21h, 19 January


  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 13:03h, 18 January

    Kirk Allen wrote… ” He went hunting and had the gun legally secured in his vehicle and parked on school property.”

    Obviously when you park on school property, you cannot secure your gun in your vehicle LEGALLY. So in fact this gun found was NOT “legally secured” according to Illinois law in his vehicle.

    Your making excuses Kirk and that sends the wrong message to other kids who may do the same thing or want to do it AND MAKE EXC– USES as well. To say “oh I forgot it was there” is like saying “my dog ate my homework” but with more consequences as this kid knows by now hopefully. I hope he learned his lesson now by this punishment. Good job NeogA School District! Thank you. Have a nice day.

    • Neoga native - no longer proud of that
      Posted at 20:35h, 18 January

      A 10 day suspension taught this respectable young man a lesson – expulsion was not necessary. No excuses – just a fact. The policy doesn’t apply to everyone. The board made a bad decision and now they must face backlash from the community.

    • Dom
      Posted at 20:35h, 18 January

      Think about the effects this will have on this kids life facing today’s society….expelled….horrific.

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 21:16h, 18 January

      Chris, you are approaching a permanent deletion from this site. His gun WAS legally secured in his vehicle. It was in a case and the vehicle was locked. The fact that the vehicle was on school property with a gun in it does not mean the gun was no legally secured in the vehicle.

      You continue to misrepresent what I said. His punishment should fit the crime. What part of that dont you understand? He make a mistake. He owned it and got expelled. That is simply wrong.

      Many adults have forgot that they had a gun in their vehicle, or forgot their FOID card in another coat. Mistakes happen. That is the point so quit creating drama that has nothing to do with the facts.

      What are you going to say about the board that did this in closed session, which is illegal?

      • Candice Potter
        Posted at 06:42h, 19 January

        It was not in a case according to the local police

    • Barb Hughes
      Posted at 21:26h, 18 January

      Does anybody care that this young man had no FOID card?

      • david
        Posted at 23:57h, 18 January

        No, actually it doesn’t. We are the only state in the country with FOID cards, and they do literally nothing. They are good for ten years, and a lot can change in ten years. If a criminal wants a gun, he will get it illegally, because he obviously doesn’t care about the law. So this foid card system is just slowing down the process and spending a bunch of unnecessary money on checking the backgrounds of people who are obviously clean or they would not apply….. so… no it doesn’t bother me, and how do you know he didn’t have a foid card? you can get one with your parents permission at any age.

    • Gauge
      Posted at 22:04h, 18 January

      Ignorance at its best. Maybe he should go to prison too huh. This is the most ignorant response I have seen to this

    • Debra Kirkendoll
      Posted at 15:13h, 19 January

      I just read threw you comment and was reminded of an old issue with Illinois. Laws made for Chicago and surrounding area where they are actually needed adversely affecting the lower two thirds of the state where it is rural and not needed. This is one such law.
      From the pass it was at the discretion of the people in authority whether to pursue legal action or not. Apparently that now longer is the case. Which is a failing for the people in authority.
      So please in your condemnation of the people that post here and the young man that made a simple mistake that you for some reason think he should be punished with the full extent of the law for.
      Take a moment and ask yourself why. Why do I see this young man as such a threat? Why do I follow laws made by people that are my equal without thought? Who gives these people who are my equals more wisdom, more intelligence to decide for me without question what is and is not “good” for me and my community?
      To blindly follow the letter of the law without wisdom and compassion is the first step in loosing democracy.
      Neoga has often in the pass fallen into the trap of unquestioning of people in authority, it’s sad to see they have not learned from their mistakes. Maybe it’s about time people actually get involved with who is educating their children in District #3 instead of simply marking an X at the top of the ballot form…or worse yet not marking a ballot form at all. Just remember it was your actions or inaction that voted in the school board, who hired the principle. Your action or inaction voted in the States Attorney that is bringing legal charges against this boy. Your action or inaction that voted in the Mayor that hired the police officers that didn’t use common sense.
      You the people of District #3 Neoga and Cumberland county is the reason this is happening and it’s up to you to make it right or not.

  • web staff
    Posted at 13:26h, 18 January

    Add an email address for the school – in case your readers want to contact the Board.

    • Candice Potter
      Posted at 08:43h, 19 January

      Better yet post their phone numbers.

  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 13:49h, 18 January

    Its Neoga…not NeogO as you wrote Kirk in the headline on this story. You should proof read your articles better before you post them obviously…lol. Thank you. Have a nice day.

  • Theodore P. Hartke, PE, PLS, President, Hartke Engineering and Surveying, Inc.
    Posted at 16:23h, 18 January

    Kirk and John,

    Please also note that the Neoga School Board supposedly has a weird public comment restriction. This is only a rumor, but I was told in the past few weeks that the board does not allow public comments from individuals who spoke at the previous meeting and they also restrict comments to only items on the agenda. Since Neoga is on your radar now, perhaps they could get a lesson in OMA rules. I feel chances are high that Neoga school board violates OMA by restricting public comments.

    Ted Hartke

    • Joel
      Posted at 07:59h, 20 January

      The open meeting act you refer to is being followed. An elected board has every right to restrict comments to a time limit and to agenda items. Public non elected people cannot run the meeting hence nothing would get done. Dont take this wrong opinon and distract from the real reason this forum.
      hehe I dont have a comment on the action taken against the student as I am not familure with that schools policy, and whether the board has the ‘ability’ to vary from policy or not.

      • jmkraft
        Posted at 08:28h, 20 January

        Joel: You are technically correct, however, almost every item anyone can ever discuss could follow under “payment of bills”, or “public comment”, since “public comment” is an actual agenda item, a person could comment on public comment with an unlimited subject matter to discuss.

  • homer
    Posted at 18:03h, 18 January

    Cumberland County » feature
    Neogo High School

  • Allie smith
    Posted at 19:24h, 18 January

    Logan baker

  • Big Ern
    Posted at 19:36h, 18 January

    The Neoga school board has a complete disconnect with the community. They appear to have trouble making intelligent decisions.

  • ANON
    Posted at 20:26h, 18 January

    The expelled kid from Neoga was NOT in compliance.

    He did not have a FOID card and will go to court for a criminal misdameanor.

    He broke the law. The school board was just following the law.

    Might want to look into this.


  • randy garlock
    Posted at 20:50h, 18 January

    I hate politacal correctness.

  • [email protected]
    Posted at 21:39h, 18 January

    OK so a young man makes a mistake. Honestly with no harm or intent to do anything,And gets expelled from school. Making it impossible for him to further his education. That’s wrong. I hope there family finds some way to sue your school. A lot kids do things they should be expelled for an nothing hardly happens to them ,but a honest mistake is disrupting this young mans education. What a messed up school district . what are you teaching the kids that a honest mistake can ruin part there life. I can understand punishment as a reminder that they should for get. Like suspended detention ext… But to uproot a young man from his education do to a mistake isn’t teaching him anything other than if you mess up you don’t have another chance. Mistakes are what people learn from. Not capital punishment for a honest mistake. Hope your school district loses everything and has to close so the kids can go to a school that actually teaches them sething

  • AshamedOfNeoga
    Posted at 23:20h, 18 January

    Why wasn’t all the drugs and and drug paraphernalia they confiscated that day from the school brought up? Nobody was suspended or expelled for that. I grew up in Neoga and back in my day it was all about the last name…. Neoga is also a very small town with avid hunters of all ages. Ask yourselves this, how many homicides have occurred in Neoga in the last 25 years? How many domestic disturbances? How many drug busts? My point is that this isn’t a problem at all. Compassion is obviously a feeling the school board failed to recognize. Our kids ARE our future and it’s our job to protect their youth. Neoga school board has failed miserably with this kid and his future. Lead by example not by the political buffoons whispering in your ear…..

  • G. Barraclough
    Posted at 09:25h, 19 January

    This school board is not very bright. They should have kept a low profile, verbally warned this young man and moved on. They should have learned from from the Elgin and Plainfield school boards saga.

    Now they have attracted the attention of the Watchdogs. They have cast the first stone and they may regret it. A year from now it may be the members of the board and the school district administrators who may have been shown to be not without sin. For their despicable actions in scarring this young man for life let us hope so.

    A good exposure to sunshine of the school board member’s and administrator’s spending habits of public tax monies over the past 5 years might not go amiss.

  • Annon
    Posted at 21:48h, 19 January

    While I was one that supported that the student be punished (suspended for the required amt of time) I do not approve of the school refusing to allow the student to return to school. From what I read of school rules, unless I misread them, it would mean suspending him for 10 days immediately. He needed to learn a lesson and other kids needed to be shown that guns, any type, would not be allowed on school grounds. Yes Illinois law was also broken, but that can be handled by the law officials. It’s not the job of the school to serve legal sentences. Their job is to educate. Suspending the boy would have been a good lesson taught.

    • John
      Posted at 20:02h, 21 January

      QUOTE “kids needed to be shown that guns, any type, would not be allowed on school grounds”

      I’m in Illinois, and I can have a gun in the school parking lots. Of course I went to a school board meeting and they were trying to tell me that it wasn’t allowed…I told them that I had ALREADY talked to the Illinois State Police, and that they better talk to a lawyer, because they are wrong.

      But you ARE right kids need to be educated about firearms & the law….but let’s get the school officials straightened out first!!

  • Confused
    Posted at 12:23h, 20 January

    Dont you have to have a FOID card to legally hunt through the conservation department? So he was illegally hunting as well?

  • Mike Fletcher NHS 1967
    Posted at 17:16h, 20 January

    I feel the ten days suspension would be adequate. I understand this is a better than average senior, has a job at a local hog farm and looking forward to graduation in a few months. I’m sure the school has always been consistent if other similar circumstances have ever arisen. I’m in favor of giving a break.