- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2005

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A judge yesterday ordered a school district to readmit a 14-year-old student expelled for writing violent, profane rap lyrics, finding that his songs didn’t amount to “true threats” against the school and so were protected by the First Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose said the Riverside Beaver County School District’s failure to take immediate steps to investigate, such as searching Anthony Latour’s locker or contacting his parents, undermined its claim that the lyrics were threats to shoot up his school and another student.

Anthony still faces a juvenile court hearing Wednesday on criminal charges. Police charged Anthony with terroristic threats and harassment in May after being contacted by school officials. The school learned of Anthony’s writings in March.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing Anthony, claimed the then eighth-grader’s songs were a “battle rap” — a music genre in which two persons try to out-rhyme each other, often using violent putdowns.

In one song, Anthony wrote: “So watch what you say about me, I’m everywhere son / And the word of mouth is that I’m carrying guns / Now that I’m comin’ for you — what the [expletive] you gonna do / I come double with the pump tons of slugs that will punish you.”

The school district’s solicitor, Greg Fox, said officials were disappointed, but would follow the judge’s ruling to admit Anthony to the ninth grade when classes resume Wednesday.

“Sometimes, perhaps it is better to take the words too seriously than to dismiss them,” Mr. Fox said. “There have been several parents within this school district that felt the songs could not be taken lightly and were very concerned about the safety of their children.”

Judge Ambrose also said school officials didn’t present any evidence that the songs disrupted school.

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