Crackdown On 'Troublemakers'

After the recent string of deadly shootings, schools are examining how to protect their students. Some are trying controversial methods to weed out potential troublemakers.

CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports not only are some schools expelling students for alleged offenses committed outside of school - but they are doing so even before the cases are tried.

One Saturday night while his parents were out of town, teen-ager Will Royall was home.

"It was the first time in my life my parents had gone out of town my whole life, so it was like, ah, something had to be done," recalls Will. He just had to throw a party.

Neighbors called police to the party Will threw that night. And when the police arrived, they correctly suspected drugs.

"They found about an ounce of marijuana," Will says.

Will knew he was in trouble at home. But he didn't know he would face consequences at school. Three days after the party, the principal at Madison High School in Fairfax County, Va., knew all about the drug bust and took action. Will was suspended that day and later expelled.

He had no idea school authorities could do anything like that, he says.

But they could. Under what some states call exclusion, Will was expelled because of "reported unlawful acts."

That stunned Will's parents, Bill and Patty Royall. As angry as they were at their son, Will had not yet faced trial, and the Royals were asking who made the school system judge and jury.

"I think it's unfair because there's no due process here," says Bill Royall. "The job of the schools is to educate. It's not to be a parent, taking over my job. It's my job to punish the kid and get him help, which we did."

But the notion that school is school, and home is home is changing. In the era of tragedies like the one at Colorado's Columbine High, many states now demand that schools move quickly against student offenders.

Some 15 states have now changed their juvenile privacy laws so that schools are told immediately when a student is charged with a violent or drug-related crime.

In Virginia those students can be expelled from school even if the crime occurred off school grounds, and even if the student is never convicted of the crime.

"We always have to act in terms of the larger good," says Daniel Domenech, who is a superintendent in Fairfax County. His system excluded 67 students like Will Royall last year, he says. All had not one offense but a pattern of misbehavior, he says.

He defends exclusion as a way to protect the law-abiding kids in school.

"I can tell you there were cases among those 67 that made us glad we took the action that we took and excluded those youngsters from the school environment," says Domenech. Some of those cases involved charges of weapon or drug possession, he says.

"We aren't held to the same standards in a school environment that a criinal system would imposebecause we are dealing withthe protection of large groups of individuals, Domenech says.

An irony here is that the Royalls admit Will was guilty and that his expulsion was a powerful wakeup call. But remember, they say, the schools will also have this power in cases when the police are wrong.

"Do they have a right to judge somebody before they've been judged by the court system, which is put into place to protect everyone in America?" asks Patty Royall.

The schools now argue they do. Administrators fighting drugs, weapons and school violence today don't think they have the luxury of waiting for a fair trial.

Part 1: Schools Tighten Security

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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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