Tuesday, November 07, 2006

S.C. Supreme Court upholds statute prohibiting disruption of the schools

Under S.C. Code Ann. Section 16-17-420 "It shall be unlawful: (1) For any person wilfully or unnecessarily (a) to interfere with or to disturb in any way or in any place the students or teachers of any school or college in this State, (b) to loiter about such school or college premises or (c) to act in an obnoxious manner thereon . . . ." In In Re Amir X. S., a student challenged the statute as overbroad and vague. Here is a description of just what the little darling allegedly did to violate the statute:

Appellant's teacher testified to the family court that for a period of over two hours, Appellant behaved in a way that was wilfully disruptive and unnecessary. Appellant paced about the classroom and refused to remain in his desk; cursed to his teacher and other students; and harassed one student with comments about the student's mother. For over two hours, Appellant's teacher patiently attempted to reason with him regarding his classroom behavior, to no avail. Left with no other choice but to remove Appellant from the classroom so that she and the other students could focus on their educational objectives, the teacher asked another staff member to escort Appellant from the room. Appellant, however, did not stop there. Appellant began yelling and cursing, swung a punch at his teacher as he left the classroom, and continued his tirade as he was escorted down the hall.

Just another day in the public schools. The Supreme Court rejected the overbreadth argument because, in the Court's view, First Amendment rights of expression are not impermissibly curtailed--only disruption of the public schools. As for the vagueness challenge, the Court held that the child did not have standing because his conduct fell within the narrowest part of the statute.

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