School Can't Take A Joke; Turns Student Over To Cops For Listing The School For Sale On Craigslist

from the adminstrators-stripped-of-human-traits-during-hiring-process dept

Recent school shootings have led to heightened reactions from school officials and law enforcement. An over-correction of sorts — thanks to the shooter in Florida having been brought to law enforcement’s attention several times prior to the shooting — has resulted in the arrest of hundreds of students across the nation.

The problem isn’t so much treating potential threats as credible until proven otherwise. The problem is there’s so very little subtlety applied. Things that should not be perceived as threats are, and even when they’re determined to be either unfounded or not actually a threat, some schools decide their misperceptions are more important than the reality of the situation. (h/t Reason)

The graduating class of Truman High School in Independence, Missouri brainstormed senior pranks. Kylan Scheele came up with a pretty decent idea. He posted his school for sale on Craigslist.

The ad read:

Truman High School – $12725

Huge 20+ room facility.
Newly build football field.
Baseball Field to the SE.
Newly added 4 modern day rooms.
Has: Centralized air, heating, plumbing.
Next to Walmart for convenience
Huge parking lot, great for partygoers looking for somewhere to park
Bigger than normal dinning room.
Multi stove, oven, fridge and other appliances in the kitchen.
Reason for sale is due to the loss of students coming up.
Named after hometown resident U.S. President Harry S. Truman and his family.

About as innocuous of a prank anyone could have played on the school, one would think. But one would probably not be Truman High School administration. They turned it over to law enforcement.

Detectives with the Independence Police Department investigated the incident and found no probable cause or reason to pursue criminal charges. The had Scheele delete the post and advised him to talk to school adminstrators.

“They [detectives] didn’t see a credible threat,” Clark said. “They all kind of had a little chuckle about it but they wanted him to understand you could see how other people could see it as a threat.”

And how could people see this as a threat? Well, the school seized on one line of the faux ad: “loss of students coming up.” Obviously, this referred to the pending graduation. The school, however, somehow read this to mean Scheele planned on harming the student body. That prompted the handover to police. And when it was handed back, the school doubled down on its “seriousness.”

We take student safety very seriously and appreciate the students and parents who brought this to our attention. Out of an abundance of caution, administrators and police investigated and determined there was not a credible threat. A student who makes a real or implied threat, whether it is deemed credible or not, will face discipline. Due to the heightened concern nationally with school violence, we have extra police officers for the remainder of the school year and will have additional officers at graduations for all of our high schools.

Good lord. So, the non-threat the police considered non-threatening has resulted in Scheele’s suspension and his ban from the graduation ceremony. The “implied threat” the school somehow read into a statement about graduating seniors is keeping one student from getting his diploma with his classmates.

It’s also resulted in a lawsuit [PDF]. The ACLU represented Scheele in his demand for a restraining order blocking the school from blocking him from picking up his diploma at the graduation ceremony. Filed May 25th, the court has already ruled in favor of the school.

The school has also refused to back down, claiming the bogus ad caused “substantial disruption” and resulted in multiple parents retrieving their kids from school. (Wonder how much of that was due to the school informing parents it had turned over a “credible” threat to law enforcement?) As the lawsuit pointed out, there’s no way the student intended to cause a disruption and no “reasonable” person could have imagined the outcome would have been school officials attempting to turn a satirical “for sale” ad into a criminal offense. The disruption was of the school’s own making, but the punishment will be borne solely by the student who posted the ad.

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Comments on “School Can't Take A Joke; Turns Student Over To Cops For Listing The School For Sale On Craigslist”

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64 Comments
Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 not surprising

The fact that human language is incredibly vague and ridiculously easy to misinterpret is not a fault of the person speaking.

There’s nothing wrong with the grammar in that statement. Your (and the school administrations) choice to interpret it in the absolute worst way you can possibly think of is the only problem here.

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 not surprising

It’s that kind of thinking that produced legalese. The fruitless attempt to make something that is inherently unclear somehow become clear.
Language is not clear. People are always going to misunderstand what you say. You can’t blame the speaker purely based on that metric. It’s an impossible standard to ever keep.
The real problem here isn’t even the fact that they misunderstood him, although I find the direction they chose extreme. It is how they chose to react once they got the chance to talk to him.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: This isn't merely the delusion of threat

Like the pop-tart chewed into the shape of a gun incident, this is people looking for something they can interpret as a threat even at an extreme stretch.

The administrators were looking to make an example of the student and were looking for interpretations to bolster their justification.

In other words, it wasn’t stupidity, but actual malice.

Anonymous Coward says:

You're now doing pieces entirely due to snowflakes panicking.

And incidentally show police with right reaction:

They all kind of had a little chuckle

Score:
Anti-2nd Amendment Snowflakes: -1,000,001
Small town cops: +1
(Ordinary people doing their jobs don’t need inflated numbers, actually only stand out in comparison to wacky snowflakes!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You're now doing pieces entirely due to snowflakes panicking.

Well… yes. This is entirely due to snowflakes panicking, the article said as such. The small town cops were in the right here.

It’s embarrassing how far you’ll stretch any mockery of authority to mean that everybody wants anarchy. Seriously, nobody is blaming the small town cops. Sit down, take a chill pill before you hyperventilate yourself.

John85851 (profile) says:

Distruption of their own making

So the kid pulled a prank, the police thought there was no threat and had a good laugh about it, but the school claimed there was a disruption? So let’s see if I have this straight: the school is the only one who thinks there’s a “threat” yet they’re the ones who keep ratcheting up the penalties?

Do the school administrators not realize that the entire issue would be a non-issue if they took it as a prank also? Okay, joke’s on them, let’s move along to a real issue, such as the monthly *real* school shooting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Distruption of their own making

Imagine if the kid had made a gun firing motion towards the principal and the official goes in for exploratory surgery to locate the bullet. They then charge the teen with attempted murder and for the costs of the surgery, all from their own stupidity.

These two scenarios are not as different as the school official seem to think they are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Distruption of their own making

“Do the school administrators not realize that the entire issue would be a non-issue if they took it as a prank also?”

This is a classic school admin move. When I was in high school, they had rules like having to tuck in your shirt, no unkempt beards, et al. and they were justified by saying the rules were an attempt to reduce disruptions. But then they’d remove you from class, send you home to change, and wouldn’t think twice about that being an actual disruption. Only students can be the cause of a disruption apparently.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Eh, from the sounds of it the police in that area have a sense of humor, it’s just the idiot school administrators that don’t and who refuse to admit to screwing up. No reason to cause an actual problem by essentially crank-calling 911 just to tweak the administrators.

Now, intentionally adding such phrases to any speeches and having everyone dramatically panic any time they are mentioned on the other hand…

Nemo says:

Re: Re: Re:

The Independence PD does have a sense of humor, but considering it included taunting the kid that one of their own Tased* to death, but in a near miracle was revived, I wouldn’t say it’s a good one.

*Worth noting that Taser, inc. is now Axon. Maybe their old name started feeling too hot when it started to come out how many people their product had killed, and how they did things to disconnect their Tasers from deaths caused by their use.

But don’t worry, with a new name, they should be plenty trustworthy regarding their police body cam products & services.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Less lethal = torture device.

I wrote a blog piece a while back regarding the fictional knock-to-the-head. It’s a common fictional contrivance that one can smack someone in the back of the head and conveniently knock them out. Games are full of universal tranq-darts that incapacitate anyone (often instantly without knowing what hit them) and bypassing the gritty reality of murder.

In real life, less lethal weapons are still lethal often enough, and there’s no way to wipe the memory of a witness, so in the espionage sector, a witness who knows too much is a liability until he is dead.

Furthermore, most stun attacks rely on pain compliance hence they often find themselves turned into modern implements of torture. The Taser was invented early on before police science was fully aware that less lethal weapons would be used earlier than guns, and used for back-room interrogations.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Kudos for the police...

…for seeing the levity and acting accordingly. Commonly law enforcement sides with the school administration and shows even less of a sense of humor.

Experimental social-gray-zone humor is a natural hazard of educating adolescents, and a school administration who has no tolerance for such things maybe shouldn’t be in the high-school business.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Implied/Inferred

> The “implied threat” the school somehow read into a
> statement about graduating seniors is keeping one student
> from getting his diploma with his classmates.

The administration at that school needs to consult with its own English teachers and have them explain the difference between ‘implied’ and ‘inferred’.

The idiots in the administration inferred a threat where there was none. The kid implied nothing of the kind.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

For Sale: Brains, never used.

“We take student safety very seriously and appreciate the students and parents who brought this to our attention. Out of an abundance of caution, administrators and police investigated and determined there was not a credible threat. A student who makes a real or implied threat, whether it is deemed credible or not, will face discipline. Due to the heightened concern nationally with school violence, we have extra police officers for the remainder of the school year and will have additional officers at graduations for all of our high schools.”

We don’t really give a shit about the kids, we give a shit about our asses ending up in a sling because of the 1 in a trillion chance that the most improbable outcome would come to pass. We don’t like being sued or the media picking on us so we flipped out.

We caused the parents to pull their kids b/c we have to inform them when we involve the police.
We wasted budget money to make sure we brought in more officers to “protect” the ceremony, to make the nervous nellies feel better & lend to the illusion there COULD have been a real threat hidden in the ad.
We punished the student for being smarter than us, and this is going to bite you all in the ass when we are forced to pay him a large settlement for violating his rights & stripping him of a once in a lifetime event.

I do hope the settlement is large enough they have to actually sell the school, it would tie this whole thing up in a bow.

Of course no administrators or board members will end up punished for doing this. They will trot out the improbable outcome & remind people that the boogeymen are everywhere & better to pay millions in settlements than to use rational thought. They will blame the cops for not seeing the “clear” evidence of a threat & manage to kept their petty powers.

Imagine what would have happened if the student owned a dog when the cops showed up or the pop tart looked like it in the shape of a gun. They hate us for our freedoms, that we refuse to exercise because it might look suspicious to some idiot with power.

Anonymous Coward says:

You needs to all grow up ana let the senior grad. Joke go, that’s what its all about anyway, that’s what senior day has always been about! Fun , its your day its over,12 years worth, you earned it, so wake up admin. An remember back when, or was it to long ago? I think it was a pretty damn good prank, ouviesly, an you can tell l didn’t have a good English teacher, anyway, get over it, iam for the graduating senior with a sence of hummer! Don’t you agree? We all use to be young, remember? Or not, if not grow up
???? LOL

Evie Wallis says:

Yes, now there is such a problem with the loss of students through recent incident across America. And this announcement is very funny. When they sell school because there are no students. I can say that the problem can be solved, you can look at ways to solve it in this bid4papers review https://essayservicescanner.com/bid4papers-review/. Since these cases have become more frequent. The system of all universities must show its strength and solve this problem.

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