MY CHILD DIDN’T MEAN IT: THREATENING A SCHOOL IN ILLINOIS

Your child really is a good kid. But like many teens, he is still pushing his limits, which can result in some pretty bone-headed behavior. Now, the school is upset over something he posted on Facebook. You know he was just being silly, but the school isn’t laughing. Instead, your child faces both expulsion from school and criminal charges.

Under the typical school code of conduct, your child’s threats may be considered “Gross Misconduct.” Penalties may range from a parent conference to expulsion. In some cases, the school may still expel your child after a suspension.

Before that happens, you have a right to a hearing. The hearing may take place before a hearing officer who will then make recommendations to the school board for action. If it becomes necessary to appeal the school board’s decision, the appellate court will be limited to any evidence presented at that hearing. Therefore, obtaining competent legal advice is critical as soon as you receive notice of your child’s misconduct. Many a well-intentioned parent has damaged their child’s case because they did not thoroughly understand the legal issues involved.

At the criminal or juvenile court level, your child could be charged with disorderly conduct. Under (720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(3.5)), it is disorderly conduct to knowingly transmit or cause to be transmitted a threat of destruction of school property, or a threat of violence, death, or bodily harm directed against persons at a school. Such a violation is a Class 4 Felony punishable by one to four years in prison.

In a criminal case, the state must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case. Did your child knowingly make a threat?

An attorney can also try to negotiate a reduced punishment or more favorable plea agreement from both the school and the prosecutor.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or school law 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.)

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