WASTING A TEACHABLE MOMENT: Student charged with felony for recording principal at school

It could have been a teachable moment.

Instead, Paul Boron, a 13-year-old middle school student in Manteno, IL, is facing felony charges.

Did he slip someone a date rape drug at a party? Was he dealing drugs? Was he sexting? None of the above. His crime: recording a conversation between himself and his principal without the principal’s consent in violation of Illinois’s eavesdropping law. The Illinois law requires the consent of all parties when recording a private conversation.

The school district and the justice system could have taken this opportunity to educate Boron and other students about the law. Instead, they took an unduly heavy-handed approach.

The Manteno District Handbook prohibits students from violating criminal law, including eavesdropping. Under district guidelines, Boron could have received a disciplinary conference, detention or suspension, among other options. But the district preferred to press criminal charges.

In my practice, I have seen my share of cases where a school district’s punishment exceeds the crime. Middle and high school students do pretty foolish things. A district could use its authority to teach and correct those students rather than punish. Saddling a 13-year-old with a criminal record for a minor transgression serves no purpose and wastes taxpayer money.

If your child is facing disciplinary proceedings at school and/or criminal charges, you should contact a qualified attorney immediately. Parents often believe they can reason with a school district themselves, but many times this strategy sadly backfires. An attorney can review your child’s situation for his or her best options. Those options can include representing the child at a hearing or negotiating an exit strategy from the school.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or school matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: Manteno Teen Facing Felony Eavesdropping Charge for Recording Meeting with School Administrators.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

ILLINOIS EASES LAW ON DELIVERING DRUGS NEAR SCHOOL GROUNDS

As of January 1, 2018, the Illinois law on delivering cannabis or other controlled substances near school grounds has become just a little less strict.

The old law penalized manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver cannabis or other controlled or look-alike substances within 1000 feet of school property, which also applied to school-owned transportation. It did not matter if no students were nearby or the school no longer operated as a school.

Under the new law, the distance has been reduced to 500 feet. Further, the fact a school is or was a school is no longer enough. The amended law requires that persons under 18 are present or are reasonably expected to be present when the offense occurs, or that the offense be committed during school hours, including after-school activities.

The law’s changes also apply to buildings used for religious worship or to senior citizen centers, when people are present or are reasonably expected to be present or the buildings are open for such activities.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps you were more than 500 feet from the school or the school was empty. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois school, criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

For further information, see:

  • Illinois Delivery of Cannabis on School Grounds Statute
  • Manufacture or Delivery, or Possession with Intent to Manufacture or Deliver, a Controlled Substance, a Counterfeit Substance, or Controlled Substance Analog
  • Participation in Methamphetamine Manufacturing.
  • (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    SCHOOL RESIDENCY FRAUD CAN BE CHARGED AS A FELONY

    Understandably, you would like your child to get the best education in the best school district, but perhaps you can’t really afford to live there. You may be tempted to lie about your child’s real home in order to enroll them in that preferred school. But depending on the circumstances and the school district, you could end up charged with a felony.

    In February, 2018, Orland School District 135 pressed felony charges against a mother who provided an allegedly fraudulent lease for a home in District 135. The home was actually a retail establishment. After questioning, the mother continued to provide allegedly fake documents, leading to her arrest for felony forgery. (See Woman Charged with Forgery after Giving School False Address).

    Most school districts do not carry matters quite so far. They may simply disenroll your child and bill you several thousand dollars in tuition. However, the option of pressing criminal charges for at least a Class C Misdemeanor is always possible.

    If you receive notice from your child’s school questioning their residency, contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. Many parents make the mistake of trying to handle the situation themselves, but they are often unprepared for what they are walking into. By the time, they call an attorney, the facts of the case have already been established and the attorney’s hands may be tied. Furthermore, once a school believes you are lying, it is very difficult to convince them otherwise. Your words are often twisted against you.

    An attorney can review your situation to see if you have a genuine claim to residency. If so, the attorney can present evidence to the school accordingly. Even if your child is not a legal resident, an attorney may be able to negotiate an agreement that allows you to leave the school district without facing criminal charges or possibly paying tuition.

    If you have questions about Illinois school residency, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    IF MY CHILD IS EXPELLED, CAN I ENROLL THEM IN PRIVATE SCHOOL?

    The answer is probably not, although there are exceptions.

    You just received notice that your child is in trouble and may be suspended or expelled. You have a right to a hearing and an attorney. Instead, you think you will simply enroll your child in private school.

    But there is a catch. Private schools generally require that new students produce a certificate of good standing. If your child is expelled, they will not be in good standing, and many private schools will not consider them.

    Some schools will make exceptions on a case to case basis, but this is far from guaranteed. The schools most likely to accept an expelled student tend to have a strong religious orientation. Depending on your own beliefs, this may not be an option. Furthermore, many Catholic schools will not accept expelled students.

    If you do receive a notice of disciplinary action against your child, you should take the notice seriously and contact an experienced school law attorney for legal advice. While an attorney cannot guarantee success, parents without attorneys are often disregarded by the school. An attorney can review your child’s situation for their best options. For example, an attorney may help negotiate a voluntary withdrawal from the school so your child can attend private school. Or the attorney can help present your child’s situation in its best possible light at the disciplinary hearing.

    If the school board expels your child, your only option may be to go to court to keep your child in school until the disciplinary matter can be further resolved. This can be prohibitively expensive and the outcome is still not guaranteed.

    If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    ILLINOIS SCHOOL EXPULSION: CAN A SCHOOL EXPEL MY CHILD FOR ANY REASON?

    The answer is no.

    Under Illinois law, school districts have great discretion in expelling students. But this discretion is not unlimited. A court may overturn a school district’s decision if it is arbitrary, unreasonable, capricious or oppressive.

    If the district expels your child and the decision seems especially unfair, you may be able to appeal the decision in court. In reviewing the school’s actions, the court will consider: (1) the egregiousness of the student’s conduct; (2) the history or record of the student’s past conduct; (3) the likelihood that such conduct will affect the delivery of educational services to other children; (4) the severity of the punishment; and (5) the interests of the child.

    Under these factors, an otherwise good student who got into a little bit of trouble may be able to return to school.

    If your child is charged with a disciplinary offense, you should contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. An attorney can help review your child’s options. Generally, you have a very short window to request a hearing. An attorney can help lay the foundation for any appeal by presenting your child’s case in its best possible light. Note that an appellate court will not look at any evidence unless it was first presented at the original hearing.

    If you have questions about expulsion, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

    See: Brown v. Plainfield Community School District 202.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    ILLINOIS SCHOOL EXPULSION: HOW AN ATTORNEY CAN HELP

    Even the smartest kids can engage in some not so swift conduct during high school. The threat of a child’s school expulsion often comes as a shock.

    Even so, some parents are reluctant to spend the money to hire an attorney to assist their child. They try talking to the district themselves, perhaps they even attend the disciplinary hearing without an attorney. But in many cases, this may be a serious mistake, especially when your child’s future is at stake.

    An attorney can help parents by guiding them through the disciplinary process and presenting their child’s case in the best possible light. Because you care so deeply about your child, you may not have the distance necessary to understand the school’s perspective and how to appeal to them.

    Perhaps an even bigger issue isn’t knowing what to say, but knowing what not to say. Often what a client sees as a reasonable explanation, the school sees as a lame excuse. An attorney can help avoid such errors.

    Even if the evidence against your child is overwhelming, an attorney can help you present a case for a reduced penalty from the school.

    If you have questions about this or another related school matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    DEALING BY A SCHOOL UNDER ILLINOIS DRUG LAW

    If you are in school, getting caught with illegal drugs can lead to your expulsion, and you could also be charged with a felony. The criminal penalties can be greater if you knowingly manufactured, delivered or possessed with intent to deliver a controlled substance such as heroin or cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school building.

    This is true even if school was not in session and no children were in sight. Now, a new Illinois Appellate case has held that even a school that is no longer operating can be considered a school.

    In People v Toliver, the defendant argued that his charges for unlawful possession of heroin with intent to deliver should not be upgraded because the Chicago Public Schools had closed the school in question. The Court disagreed. Even though the school was closed, the building still had the identity of a school and could still draw neighborhood children to its premises.

    The court looked at the following factors: (i) ownership and maintaince by Chicago Public Schools, (ii) purpose, (iii) design, (iv) site characteristics (including school grounds), and (iv) its recognized place within the surrounding neighborhood. Based on these factors, you could be convicted of an aggravated offense.

    If you are charged with a drug-related crime at court or at school, contact an experienced criminal and/or school law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone, especially not the police. Trying to talk your way out of the situation might end up giving the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you.

    If you are facing disciplinary proceedings at your school, an attorney can represent you in the hearing and present the evidence in your favor before the school. Parents often cannot properly evalute the documents or witnesses needed to best show their child’s good character. Generally, it is well worth having an objective professional to assist you given what is at stake.

    In a criminal case, an attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search leading to the drugs legal? If not, an attorney may have grounds to challenge your arrest and hopefully get the evidence against you suppressed.

    Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may help negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own. Likewise, an attorney can attempt to present your situation to the school in its best light in hopes of getting a more lenient sanction.

    If you have questions about this or another criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    THE NEW ILLINOIS SCHOOL DISCIPLINE LAW

    Illinois has made changes to its law governing student expulsions and suspensions that are intended to benefit students. Like many well-intentioned laws, however, the new law may make little difference in how schools actually conduct their procedures.

    In terms of setting policy, the law is a good idea. Schools are no longer supposed to have zero tolerance policies where students are expelled on a first offense for particular behaviors. When expelling a student, any decision must detail the specific reasons why removing the student from the learning environment is a good idea along with a rationale for the length of the expulsion. For a suspension, the school board must explain the specific misconduct leading to the suspension as well as a rationale for its duration.

    The new law encourages schools to limit the number and duration of suspensions/expulsions to the greatest extent practicable and use them for legitimate educational purposes only. Schools should first consider other forms of discipline.

    Suspensions of three days or less may only be used if the student’s presence would pose a “threat to school safety” or “disruption to other students’ learning opportunities.” Suspensions or expulsions of longer than three days may only be used where other appropriate and available behavioral or disciplinary interventions have been exhausted and the student’s continuing presence would pose a threat to school safety or substantially disrupt the school.
    During a suspension of more than four days, students are supposed to receive support services and may be placed in an alternative program. (See our related post: ”My Child May be Expelled!”: The Alternative Learning Program in Illinois.)

    Sound good so far? Here’s the rub: School officials get to define the terms “threat to school safety” and “disruption of other students’ learning opportunities” on a case by case basis. What that really means depends on the school district. Unless parents take schools to court and win, school districts can in reality get away with quite a lot of disingenuous behavior. If the district is inclined to help its students, it will continue to do so. But if a district’s first response is expulsion, the district will simply inoculate itself by using the language required by the statute and throw your kid out of school anyway.

    If your student is facing a discipline issue, contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. An attorney can help guide you through a system that is generally biased in favor of the school. Sometimes the attorney can help negotiate a more favorable result. If not, an attorney can present evidence at the hearing in hopes of exonerating your student. Otherwise, it is important to have established a complete record at the school hearing level if you wish to take the matter to court.

    If you have questions about this or another related school law matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

    Source: 105 ILCS 5/10-22.6 Suspension or expulsion of pupils.


    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    WHEN YOUR MARRIAGE BECOMES SCHOOL BUSINESS: SCHOOL RESIDENCY AND MARITAL SEPARATION IN ILLINOIS

    You and your husband no longer see eye to eye. You have not filed divorce papers, but you’ve decided to live apart—at least for now. You still hope you can work things out. One of you lives in an excellent school district so you would like your children to go there. Now the school is claiming that your children are not residents of the district and is handing you a whopping tuition bill.

    Can they do that? What can happen to you?

    In Illinois, your child has a right to a free and appropriate public school education in the district where the parent or guardian resides. (105 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/10-20.12(a)(1).) However, you cannot live in a school district for the sole purpose of sending your child to that district’s schools. Therefore, you may have to prove you had other reasons for living there.

    Well, you think, I am having marital issues, so I’m covered, right? Not necessarily. Legally speaking you would be correct. If you really moved because you separated from your spouse, then the schools aren’t your sole reason for living in that district. The problem comes in proving that to the school.

    Unfortunately, many school districts still think we live in the 1950’s with idealized nuclear families. If you didn’t file divorce papers, the schools are suspicious. If you are ambivalent about your separation and still trying to make a go of your marriage, the schools are suspicious. If you get along too well with your spouse, the schools are suspicious. And that means that if your residency is challenged, the schools will want to know a lot about your business. This can include sharing the intimate details of your married life.

    If you do file divorce papers, you may need a custody order giving the parent in the desired district residential custody. But if you haven’t filed, you will need a lot of evidence proving where you live, especially since the school will have undoubtedly sent an investigator to spy on you. The testimony of just you and your spouse is not enough.

    If you receive a notice about your child’s residency, contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. An attorney can help present your situation to the school in its most favorable light. Do not try to handle the matter yourself. What you believe is your right to enroll your children may instead violate Illinois law. Our clients often unwittingly make incriminating statements before coming to us. Plus, a school hearing officer is more likely to rule for the school if you represent yourself. Your child may be barred from attending that district, and you could face a hefty tuition bill as well as criminal charges.

    If you have questions about this or another related school matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    ILLINOIS SCHOOL RESIDENCY CHALLENGE: DON’T TRY TO DO THIS ON YOUR OWN

    Over the course of the year, this office receives many inquiries when a school district has alleged that a student is not a legal resident.

    Many parents are reluctant to spend money to hire an attorney. They try talking to the district themselves, perhaps even attending a hearing without an attorney.

    In most cases, this is a serious mistake.

    Most parents do not understand Illinois school residency law well enough to help themselves. Even an attorney who is not well versed in school law, can commit well-intentioned blunders. Explanations that seem to make sense such as “I sent my child to live with my mother” or “I own rental units in that district” are not a defense.
    Sometimes a situation seems odd to the school but is perfectly legitimate. Parents may not realize the lawful basis for their child’s residency and instead rely on evidence that is at best irrelevant and at worst harmful.

    Parents must be aware that once the child is on the district’s radar, it’s very hard to get them off. The district may be relying on investigator’s reports or even something your child said at school. If you try to explain, the district may still see what it wants to see—a residency fraud.

    Speaking to the school yourself may also make your attorney’s job harder as the attorney must now undo the damage.

    If have a school residency issue, contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. An attorney can help present your situation in its most favorable light. Even if your child is not a lawful school resident, an attorney can help negotiate a settlement with the district.

    If you have questions about this or another related school matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)