School agrees to erase punishment of student suspended for Web site ‘Graffiti Wall’

NEW MEXICO –– After months of discussion, school administratorsand the parents of an eighth grader suspended from school fora Web site he created reached a "satisfactory resolution."

Edgewood Middle School administrators agreed in January toremove the punishment from Mike Hansen’s school records at theend of the year as long as he does not get into further trouble,according to Mike’s mother, Pam Hansen. School officials refusedto apologize, however, for suspending Hansen.

Hansen was suspended for one day in September after he createda Web site that included a "Graffiti Wall" message boardwhere students could post the names of other students they hated.Administrators found a printout of the page at school.

Hansen’s original suspension, which was for distributing a"hateful" Web page, was later changed to creating a"hostile and threatening environment," after schoolofficials discovered that another student had distributed theprintout.

After the incident, Greg Hansen, Mike’s father, filed a formalcomplaint against school officials asking them to remove the suspensionfrom his son’s records and issue a formal apology. When administratorsrefused, he contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of NewMexico.

According to Pam Hansen, the family decided not to pursue alawsuit because of fears that it could negatively affect schoolofficials’ attitudes toward their other two children.

Although she is happy Mike’s punishment will be erased fromhis record, Hansen said she believes school officials should haveacknowledged that they were wrong to suspend her son for an out-of-schoolWeb site.

Removing the suspension from Mike’s record "is all theyare able and willing to do," Pam Hansen said. "Theycertainly are not going to offer a public apology nor are theygoing to re-examine their handling of the situation."

School officials "truly feel that they acted in the bestinterest of all parties, and that given a similar situation, theywould do the exact same thing again," she said. "I thinkthe entire issue revolves more around the petty politics of aself-run school district and less about the issue of educationand freedom."

Previous Stories:

Off-campusWeb site nets eighth grader a suspension, Winter 2000-01 Report