Family of student suspended for Garfield hazing sues district

An October hazing incident including a reportedly drunken party in the Arboretum busted up by police that lead to suspensions has pushed the parents of one Garfield High School student targeted for discipline.

The Seattle PI has details on the lawsuit filed against Seattle Public Schools:

One of 10 students suspended following the Sept. 27 incident has since sued the district. Through that now-federal lawsuit, the boy and his parents fault Seattle Public Schools for the 11-day suspension.

While that student’s parents described the incident as light-hearted “froshing,” Garfield administrators said in prior years saw a dangerously intoxicated 14-year-old student left unconscious at a Seattle park. Efforts to crack down on the decades-old practice, though, appear to have been unsuccessful so far.

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17 thoughts on “Family of student suspended for Garfield hazing sues district

  1. I drove through the Arboretum as this was happening, and while part of me thinks it was just youthful exuberance, another part of me thinks that an 11 day suspension was probably warranted. They were running through traffic on Lake Washington Blvd and could have caused an accident. The fact that the kid’s parents hired a lawyer and are suing speaks to the “douche-baggery” (I believe that’s a word, and if it’s not it should be) of this clan.

    • I agree. It’s a classic example of parents excusing their kid’s behavior, no matter how egregious it was. Great way to teach him that actions have consequences! And they file a lawsuit over this? That is just plain ridiculous.

      • “could have caused an accident”

        They DID cause an accident.
        And shame on these parents for wasting school district money on litigation against a decision that ALL students know could happen if they participated.

      • No knowing any of the details – how “egregious” is it to be at a party in the park with 100 other students – as part of a long-standing tradition intended to welcome new Freshmen to Garfield?

        So, if the family first tried every other means of addressing this with the school and district, and were simply ignored or rebuffed – then they should just accept what they apparently see as a gross injustice, with possible serious repercussions regarding the child’s academic future (and lifetime of earnings?)..

        That’s your idea o how parent should teach a child how to navigate in the world we live?

    • Per witnesses reported in news accounts, the students were chased into traffic by an administrator running with a megaphone.. Was that well managed?

  2. Whether or not this was ‘innocent’ hazing (if there is such a thing), we need to teach our children that actions have consequences. Seattle Public Schools have such a bad reputation already, let’s not waste what little resources they have on a lawsuit and instead let the children learn from the incident. So sad.

    • Yes, our actions have consequences – including the actions of the administration and district who may have acted rashly and violated some student’s rights.

      Hypothetically, If someone was sentenced to life in prison for “j-walking” – is it “talking responsibility for one’s actions” to then spend life in prison? Or should one stand up for one’s rights – because, after all this is America – right?

      There seem to be a lot of folks willing to jump to some rash conclusions – not knowing the facts of the individual case here..

  3. I think its a massive overreaction on both sides. Should the school have expelled him? Probably not. Garfield’s hazing is well documented as a culture and welcoming gesture to the highschool. Expelling one kid out of the 100s that were documented present, then using previous hyperbolic examples of why its appropriate is an egregious misuse of their authority. Not to mention that many of the freshmen who were froshed have altered or completely redacted their statements about what happened to them. This is supposed to be a fun, communal activity and I believe that it is. High school kids get drunk – deal with it, but make as parents you teach them how to make good decisions.
    That being said, I think suing the school district for money is also not the proper response either. This should have been settled a long long time ago between the kid, his parents, and Garfield admin, but it looks like they’ve got some work to do now.

    • Per the news stories the family went through two appeals – which were apparently unsuccessful at resolving this situation – end of the line.

      The next step is either a lawsuit – or to just decide to accept the injustice (as they apparently see it), and one which may have serious implications for the student’s future.. What would you do?

      As far as I know, suing “for money” is a common way to just get the others side’s attention. There has to be something at risk to bring them to the table – no?

      If they violated the student’s constitutional rights, then maybe there is something at risk for the district here.

    • In the article it said he was ’emergency expelled’ which was reduced to a long-term suspension. I guess that was poorly worded, but my point is that emergency explusions and long-term suspensions go on your academic record and are a major red-flag. Is the point of this discipline to learn from it, or to screw a kid over for his remaining academic future? It seems a bit vindictive and almost like the school is trying to find a scapegoat for all their frustration surrounding this issue in the past.

      • The school did not “screw the kid”….he screwed himself by his behavior, and now the parents are enabling him by suing the school district. Actions have consequences (sometimes). I don’t think the school would have issued the suspension if they didn’t have damn good reasons and evidence for doing so.

      • I’m not saying the kid didn’t do something deserving of punishment, and I’m sure as hell not saying suing the school district is a good idea. I absolutely believe there should be consequences for your actions, I was just questioning the direction of this punishment. Make him do something character building or beneficial don’t just boot him from school.
        But the “damn good reasons” were the admin simply placing him at the scene and then using testimonials of the “hazees” who were there which have CHANGED multiple times – some of them entirely redacting their statement and admitting they lied about what happened. I’m no lawyer but this seems like a pretty clear cut case that should be won by the kid as his family. I was stating that it doesn’t seem like a good use of resources going up through federal court for something this mundane. Take that as you will, this whole thing has just blown out of proportion in my opinion.

      • I agree with you. This could have been a MUCH more constructive teaching moment for ALL involved.

        Instead, it appears they have chose to try to make an example out of a few scapegoats – quite contrary to the district’s formal disciplinary policy.

        It seems they are being driven more over concern of potential liability than the interests of the students (freshman and upperclassmen).

        How can the school administration be expected to police and prevent non-sanctioned, off campus and after-hours celebrations? Should they have their own SWAT teams? – for crying out loud – just call the police if there is a disturbance, and let them deal with it.

        Let the teachers teach… (seems to me)

    • By report the student was “Emergently Expelled” – implying the student was such an immediate danger to others the student had to be emergently removed form school (one week after the event..). This is part of the student’s permanent academic record.

      The student ALSO received a LONG TERM suspension – which usually implies serious misbehavior that has been resistant to attempts at less severe forms of correction (but per record this would be the students first time for ANY offense), and ALSO becomes part of the permanent academic record.

      Neither seem appropriate – seems the school overreacted, no?

  4. Per witnesses reported in news accounts, the students were chased into traffic by an administrator running with a megaphone.. Was that well managed?

    Even high school student have some civil rights… and the School District and state laws have clear guidelines and rules, and we have constitutional rights.

    Seattle Public School’s “Progressive Discipline Model” calls for using the lowest initial intervention that would be expected to modify a student’s behavior – with expulsion and suspension being a LAST resort, after other measures have failed.

    “Emergency Expulsion” is a permanent aspect of a student’s record that would indicate the student was such an immediate danger to others that they had to be EMERGENTLY removed from school – this hardly sounds appropriate in this case.

    Long term suspension is also a permanent part of the student’s record, and suggests serious, generally recurrent behavioral issues (also not suggested by this story).

    These are the most extreme forms of discipline available, and can affect success with college applications, and so reduce a lifetime of future earnings – they should not be imposed lightly.

    If the school administration acted rashly, and violated due process and this student’s rights, then failed or refused to recognize this in the appeals process – then they are also accountable for their actions, are they not?