Loophole Overturns Student's Drill Team Suspension

Burleson High School is overturning a one-game suspension for a drill team member because of a loophole in the organization's constitution.

Lindsey Wessel, 16, was originally handed the suspension after school officials accused her of having offensive language and provocative pictures on her private MySpace page. The conduct was found unacceptable for a student representing the school and drill team, as dictated in the Drill Team Constitution and the Extracurricular Code of Conduct, school officials said.

However, it wasn't dictated in the constitution signed by the student -- so the district was forced to overturn the suspension on a technicality.

"The drill team constitution specifically says how and when demerits can be given. This did not fit those parameters," said Phil Beckman, a Burleson Independent School District spokesman.

Wessel and her mother, Alicia Smock, appealed the suspension during a 20-minute, closed-door hearing on Tuesday afternoon and the decision to overturn the suspension was made official Wednesday morning.

"I think it was fair. We went through everything from start to finish," Smock said after the meeting. "He asked me to go step-by-step and tell him what has happened, who I've spoke to, he got our side of the story."

Smock has said she did not find anything offensive on her daughter's page and objected to administrators policing her daughter's MySpace account. The district said they were made aware of the images and language by concerned students who thought the content was inappropriate. School officials stressed that they did not find the content on Wessel's page themselves or hack into her private page.

"District officials remain deeply concerned, just as our students are concerned, that some of the information posted on the site was inappropriate," the district said in a news release Wednesday. "It is our belief that the school organization and the community at large would support our concerns that this type of material does not positively reflect the values we wish to present."

As a parting shot, the district said they opted against using the Extracurricular Code of Conduct to close the Drill Team Constitution's loophole and enforce the original suspension with a stronger penalty.  The district then reiterated their expectation that all students in extra-curricular activities model exemplary behavior, whether online or offline.

Read the Burleson ISD's decision here.

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