It may seem silly, but you can be disciplined for something otherwise perfectly legal at home if you do it in front of a school camera.

For example, a Colorado 12-year-old was suspended for briefly passing a toy gun in front of a camera during an online art class. (See 12-Year-Old Suspended Over Toy Gun Seen in Virtual Class). The school sent the sheriff to the child’s house.

Many school districts do bar students from bringing look-alike weapons, even water pistols, to school. Schools may decide that if you are online, you must obey the same rules as though you were physically present in the building.

If your child is threatened with expulsion over online behavior, consult an experienced school law attorney immediately as you have a limited time to request a hearing on your child’s behalf. An attorney can evaluate your child’s situation for its best possible approach. Did the school follow its own rules? Is the school overreacting? Illinois law disapproves of zero-tolerance discipline and mandates that expulsion only be used as a last resort. Does the offense really fit within the school’s stated policies? Is it possible to negotiate a reduced punishment?

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

(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.)