- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2016

The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit said an Albuquerque, New Mexico, middle school was justified in criminally charging and ordering the arrest of a 13-year-old boy who would not stop burping in class.

In its decision last week, the court cited a New Mexico law that bars anyone from “committing, threatening to commit or inciting others to commit any act which would disrupt, impair, interfere with or obstruct the lawful mission, processes, procedures or functions of a public or private school.”

The boy, a seventh-grade student at Albuquerque’s Cleveland Middle School at the time, was sent by his teacher, Ms. Mines-Hornbeck, to an administrator’s office when he would not stop disrupting class by burping.

Upon arriving, the student was suspected of selling drugs and ordered to remove his shoes and jeans, but no drugs were found.

The school decided to suspend the student for the remainder of the school year and then charged him criminally under the state law.

The 10th Circuit said the school’s response was justified, because the student’s “burping, laughing, and leaning into the classroom stopped the flow of student educational activities, thereby interjecting disorder into the learning environment, which worked at cross-purpose with Ms. Mines-Hornbeck’s planned teaching tasks.”

Writing on his legal blog, George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley said such an interpretation of state law “would seem to allow any school prank or immature act” to be criminalized.

He said the case is “one of the most ridiculous examples of the criminalization of our schools.”

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