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What's the dumbest thing . . .

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jeffman

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I'm looking for ideas:

What's the dumbest thing you ever heard of a kid getting in serious trouble for in a US high school? I don't mean a case where the kid was dumb. I mean the dumbest rule, the dumbest misapplication of a rule, the dumbest invented-on-the-spot rule. Contemporary, please.

A bad but illustrative example: In a school where the dress code forbids blue jeans with no "unnatural" holes in them, a kid gets suspended because he dropped a scalpel on his pants during a biology lab.

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#1 - October 02, 2011, 02:04 PM


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I read about the ban against "Bless you."  Isn't that just good manners?  Please.  

My story is not really about a "rule" being broken, just an inflexible headmaster:

I went to a small private school in San Francisco.  It was my sophomore year, and the school's first year, a brand new school.  The headmaster was a very serious guy.  That winter, we had a fluke snow shower right at lunch time (It snows in San Francisco maybe once every fifty years, if that.)  It was so exciting, all the students poured out and started scooping snow off parked cars and stairways, packing snowballs and tossing them at each other.  When the bell rang, the headmaster ordered everyone in.  We BEGGED him for ten more minutes, the snow was melting fast and we wanted to enjoy every moment of this unique and amazing event.  He wouldn't budge.  Like I said, he was a very serious guy.  Anyone who refused to come in would be "campused" until Christmas break (two weeks), meaning no lunch privileges off campus, and detention for 45 minutes after school (plus an embarrassing announcement of our "crime" at assembly the next morning, but we didn't know about that.)  I tried to organize a resistance, but it ended up being only me and my best friend, alone in front of the school, dismally lobbing snowballs at each other.  I changed schools the next year.
#3 - October 02, 2011, 03:04 PM
« Last Edit: October 02, 2011, 03:44 PM by ButterflyGirl »
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There was that boy who got banned from the prom and suspended (in school, I think) for putting up a banner in front of his school, asking a girl to prom. He was banned from prom, not because of the stunt but because his suspension fell too close to the date of the prom and the school had decided that anyone who got in trouble during that week would not get to go to prom. They later relented after first standing firm in the face of public outcry.
#4 - October 02, 2011, 03:08 PM
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I actually made a list of these when I was brainstorming for a WIP at one point. I can't find the original document, but if you google "dumb school rules" or "silly school rules" or some variation on that, you'll find some great material. (If you have the patience to sift through a lot of "my school stinks because we can't wear t-shirts with swear words on them.") A few I remember are: silly stuff about physical contact (no hugging or hand holding was common - although I doubt this would qualify for "serious trouble"), things being classified as weapons (pick anything, anything at all, and it could be a weapon), clothing being forbidden because it could be "gang colors" (no wearing all blue, for example). You could also give your protagonist a medical problem and then you're set. (No school allows students to take or carry their own medicine. It's considered a violation of drug policy. They have to get it from the nurse.)
#5 - October 02, 2011, 03:16 PM
« Last Edit: October 03, 2011, 07:19 AM by Laurenwrites »

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I went to Catholic school for a year and they were insanely obsessed with what type of shoes one wore. We were allowed to wear: Saddle Shoes, Penny Loafers, or Oxfords.  This was in the time when a lot of cool kids wore doc martens, which pretty much look just like oxfords... but one of my friends got in trouble for coming to school with HIGH top doc martens instead.

I personally got in trouble/detention at least once a week for stepping on the backs of my loafers, or not wearing socks, or for not having my uniform correct in some other fashion. (Location: the hottest part of Los Angeles - Dress uniform - all holidays, events, liturgy days:  TIGHTS, a wooly skirt, long-sleeved blouse and a WOOL JACKET  ughhhh - Regular uniform - all fall and winter even if it is 100 degrees: socks, wooly skirt, long-sleeved blouse (sweater optional) - "Spring" uniform - some insane polyester SKORT in one of three abominable pastel colors, with matching or white short-sleeved shirt, and sox)
#6 - October 02, 2011, 03:19 PM
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A few years ago there was a high school student in my town who made the news.  He was suspended for having a "weapon" in his car on campus: his own bow and arrow for the archery team.   :confused2
#7 - October 02, 2011, 03:44 PM
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Thanks, Literaticat, for the reminder:  My mother was kicked out of Catholic school for wearing patent leather shoes.  The nuns thought they would reflect under her skirt like a mirror.  Her expulsion came after a long list of other transgressions, like locking a nun in the library when she left the keys in the door.  But this was the same nun who would yank out a piece of hair for every math question a student missed.  My mother rarely lost any hairs, but a less able student she cared for was noticeably thin haired by the end of the year.  My mom wanted to get kicked out, wore the shoes as a final act of defiance, ended up being accepted into a merit based public school.  She was the only one of her four sisters to go on to college, eventually earned her PhD.  She was wonderful.
#8 - October 02, 2011, 03:59 PM
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Wasn't there a HS in California that banned their cheerleaders from wearing their cheerleading uniforms to school. If I remember right, the principle felt the skirts didn't meet the school's dress code.
#9 - October 02, 2011, 04:03 PM

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I just heard about a HS freshman in our town getting a warning for bringing a "weapon" to school. The object in question was a laser cat toy (using the word 'laser' loosely here -- really just a red light) that was part of her keyring.
#10 - October 02, 2011, 04:46 PM
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I can hardly bear to read these. They are making my head and heart explode.

Laurel
#11 - October 02, 2011, 05:08 PM

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Oh wait, I just thought of something.

My neighbor's son got written up in elementary school for facing the wrong way on the swings. He wasn't goofing off or doing anything wrong, he just decided to face the fence as he swung instead of the field. The yard teacher went nuts.

Laurel
#12 - October 02, 2011, 05:10 PM

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And they wonder why the young often despise the elderly ...
#13 - October 02, 2011, 05:13 PM

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In HS my son got into trouble for wearing a pair of old jeans to school. They were hand me downs. I didn't see anything wrong with them. He had to go to the office and change into a pair of polyester pants from the lost and found box. He was humiliated.
#14 - October 02, 2011, 05:25 PM
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jeffman

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Wow. A lot of answers so quickly. What does that say about us, I wonder?

I did Google this before posting, but turned up nothing. My mistake: I Googled "Dumb High School Rules" and variations on "dumb" when the problem was the word "high." I'm usually pretty good at Googling.

Good stuff, though. Thanks.

Yeah, even I (an atheist) was appalled at the "God bless you" thing. Even if you did want policy to cover that phrase (doubtful) it would apply only to school employees. Kids can express all the religious sentiment they want.
#15 - October 02, 2011, 05:26 PM

jeffman

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Simon:

I think part of it is that the young rarely see older folks outside of their official roles: teacher, lunch lady, cop, even parent. And I will add from my own experience (spouse of a high school teacher) that too many of the wrong people go into education, and way too often it's the wrongest who get bucked into administration. ("Hey! You're a stupid jerk? So are we. How'd you like it if we paid you to get an administrative degree? Then you can really join the club.") Fortunately, enough of the right people also go that there's at least a semblance of balance.

Stephanie: Wow. I might be able to use that. It really fits my characters. Imagine handing another kid something like Smack or Perks of Being a Wallflower? Haw haw!
#16 - October 02, 2011, 05:34 PM
« Last Edit: October 02, 2011, 05:36 PM by Jeff Carney »

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When I was in school the teachers would get upset with me because I was not smart like my older brother. It made me hate school. I still love to learn.
#17 - October 02, 2011, 11:45 PM

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I have a niece who is quite tall and thin, but short-waisted (all her height's in her legs, and her arms are similarly long-boned). She once got sent home from school for violating a dress code that required the hems of skirts and shorts to be longer than the girl's fingertips when her arms were at her sides. For many people that equates to mid-to-upper thigh, but she's proportioned just oddly enough that it requires a hem almost to her knees. They don't even MAKE shorts that long for teen girls. What she had on was not remotely short... just shorter than her long ape-girl arms and fingers. :)
#18 - October 02, 2011, 11:51 PM
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My aunt was called to her daughter's principles office at one point because "your daughter's uniform to the school's conformative standards".  Why?  Because the skirt had one extra crease in what should have been a two pleated skirt.  I believe that was plain stupid.

We also had to change our uniform to a different colour at sixteen, regardless of how long you intended to stay in school

OT:  I also changed one of my stories after I read this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-379114/Baa-baa-rainbow-sheep.html
Although I do think this has taken PC a little too far.  Or am I the only one?

#19 - October 03, 2011, 05:58 AM
« Last Edit: October 03, 2011, 06:08 AM by thunderingelephants »

ecb

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My neighbor's son got written up in elementary school for facing the wrong way on the swings. He wasn't goofing off or doing anything wrong, he just decided to face the fence as he swung instead of the field. The yard teacher went nuts.

I can relate to that. In the elementary school where I had first grade, there was a rule that you couldn't fall down at recess! Guess which clumsy first grader spend a lot of recess inside with her head on her desk? (And because I was a good girl, a rule-following kid, I really DID sit alone inside with my head on my desk! Sigh.) The cruel teacher who enforced that rule, btw? Mrs. Rogers. This was in 1979, and I remember being totally baffled that Mr. Rogers could possibly be married to somebody so mean. :dr
#20 - October 03, 2011, 03:33 PM

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Things I've read about:

High school boys got in trouble for wearing T-shirts with the American flag on them on Cinco de Mayo (disrespectful to Mexican-American students).

Elementary boy got in trouble for hugging a classmate (sexual harrassment).

Jr. high kids getting in trouble for sharing Chapstick, aspirin, Tylenol, etc. 

Elementary boy brought little plastic toy soldiers as part of a war history project.  Got in trouble because the figures had guns.

Oh, and I was working as a teacher's aide when a school bus driver went ballistic because I took a picture of the empty bus, with no students around.  She said she could've reported me. 



#21 - October 03, 2011, 04:22 PM
« Last Edit: October 03, 2011, 04:26 PM by yarnspinner »

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This was in 1979, and I remember being totally baffled that Mr. Rogers could possibly be married to somebody so mean. :dr

 :lmao  Oh, gosh, I almost just peed myself....
#22 - October 03, 2011, 04:26 PM

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My brother had a very strict baseball coach in high school. He was benched for a couple of games because the coach saw him at my graduation ceremony wearing earrings. I didn't really get what the infraction was there. Boys were allowed to wear piercings around the rest of the school. He also got in trouble for wearing "gang colors" once. It was a blue shirt. Yes, my straight-A-honor-roll-cello-playing-graduating-early brother was in a gang. Thank goodness he wore that blue polo shirt (really!) or we never would have known.

Gangs were used as an excuse to arbitrarily change the dress code all the time. I was in high school in the 90s, the land of flannel shirts and workboots and pajamas as clothes. We used to wear guys boxers to school as shorts,(uh, with the flys sewn shut. Do not ask me why, I was 16 and we were "rebellious" or something.) I don't remember ever getting in trouble for that. But the guys were forever getting in trouble for some supposedly gang related ensemble.

By the time my neice got to school, it was all about clothes that are too revealing. And I agree with that one, but she got in trouble for wearing a long sleeved baby doll cut shirt that came down past her rear end because the collar was an inch lower than her collar bone.
#23 - October 03, 2011, 04:58 PM

dwrites

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At my daughter's school one year the dress code was modified to forbid the color red and all derivatives of red, because red was a gang color. This included the color pink. So my daughter started the Pink Fairy Gang.  This rule didn't last long because it was actually singling out girls. Plus it was dumb.
#24 - October 03, 2011, 05:16 PM

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At the middle school here in town, a kid brought a bb gun to school and shot another girl in the leg. The girl with the bb gun was suspended and SO WAS THE GIRL WHO GOT SHOT. Because she didn't tell (because she was afraid).
#25 - October 03, 2011, 05:57 PM

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Quote
there was a rule that you couldn't fall down at recess!

This boggles the mind.
#26 - October 03, 2011, 08:38 PM

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I recently heard of a kid (who was obsessed with WW II) get into trouble because he drew a picture of soldiers that included (gasp) guns.

The reason had something to do with the teacher though he was getting out his aggression against other kids in the class by drawing violent pictures.

Personally (back in the late 80's early 90's) some things I personally remember getting into trouble for:

Once I got a detention for forgetting to bring a pencil to class.

I got in troube in Jr High for having a D&D book (a choose-your-own-adventure type spinoff) in class during the silly moral panic about that game. Funny thing was, I'd gotten the book at the school's RIF fair. I was told not to bring it to school ever again.

If I think of any others I will come back and update this thread.
#27 - October 04, 2011, 01:10 AM

This boggles the mind.
I hope there weren't any epileptics in the school. Sometimes you just can't control that.  Plus there are quite a few implications and a student could be completely innocent.
#28 - October 04, 2011, 01:31 AM

jeffman

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In the elementary school where I had first grade, there was a rule that you couldn't fall down at recess!
Holy cow. Was this a public school?
#29 - October 04, 2011, 04:59 AM

Not high school, but I remember a kindergartener getting suspended from a local elementary school because he dressed as a firefighter for Halloween. His costume came with a plastic ax, which violated the school's weapon policy.
#30 - October 04, 2011, 05:38 AM
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