Virginia Teen Suspended, Facing Criminal Charges for Shooting Plastic Spitballs in School
The family of a Virginia teen suspended for the remainder of the school year for shooting plastic "spitwads" at students in the hallway is targeting the school district's zero-tolerance policy, claiming that it's "criminalizing childish behavior."
Andrew Mikel II, a freshman honor student at Spotsylvania High School who also is active in Junior ROTC, is filling an appeal to be reinstated and have his record cleared after school officials suspended him for using what appeared to be the hollow body of a pen to blow small plastic balls at three students during his lunch period last December.
The 14-year-old initially was hit with a 10-day suspension, but the Spotsylvania County School Board later voted to extend the punishment for the rest of the school year, citing the Student Code of Conduct's requirement that a student found with "any type of weapon, or object used to intimidate, threaten or harm others" be "expelled for a minimum of 365 days" unless "special circumstances exist."
The district also referred the case to the Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office, which charged him with three counts of misdemeanor assault.
As result Mikel entered a diversion program – which includes community service and substance abuse and anger management counseling – to avoid prosecution, but his father says his damaged record has shattered his hopes of attending the U.S. Naval Academy after graduation.
Capt. Liz Scott Spotsylvania Sherriff's Office says while Mikel's punishment may be controversial, "assault is assault is assault."
"There were three victims that were involved in this, and I think the public needs to remember that," Scott told FoxNews.com.
Scott said those victims, two females and one male, complained of feeling a "pinch" or "sting" when they were hit with the pellets and one even had a welt on her arm as result.
"They were asking him to stop, he replied, 'No.' When they asked him, 'Why are you doing this?' he said, 'because I want to,'" she said.