Judge reinstates student in regular classes

Tuesday, August 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OWASSO, Okla. (AP) -- An Owasso High School senior who was suspended in May for writing what school officials called a threatening poem was reinstated in regular classes Monday by a federal judge.

A preliminary injunction was granted by U.S. Senior District Judge James O. Ellison that will allow the student to attend regular schooling rather than an "alternative placement" program school officials had planned for her in the fall semester. The student was identified only as "M.G." in court records.

The injunction comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the student's parents in July.

According to court documents, the student wrote a poem about a teacher that seemed to speak of her yearning "to kill" the teacher.

But plaintiffs' attorney Jim Tilly claimed the girl had no intent to kill the teacher and that the poem was an imaginary, private way for the girl to express frustration with the teacher.

He said the student didn't mean for the teacher to see the letter.

The girl was suspended for the rest of the spring semester and for the fall 2000 semester, which began Thursday in Owasso.

Judge Ellison found the poem conveyed neither a "true" nor a "genuine" threat, and ruled it was not disruptive to the school normal operation.

He also wrote that the student does not have a history of violence or a violent personality.

Owasso Public Schools attorney Karen Long said she was "disappointed" by Monday's decision, but added that it is only the "first volley" in the case. She said no decision has been made on whether to appeal Ellison's decision to the 10th U.S.

Circuit Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, the civil case remains an active matter. Ellison set a Sept. 6 hearing date for a case management conference, although he indicated that it may be end up being a permanent injunction hearing.