Sunday, May 08, 2005

Boy Suspended After Talking To Mom In Iraq During Lunch Break

A high school junior has been suspended for the rest of the school year for refusing to end a cell phone call to his mother who is a Soldier in Iraq. Kevin Francois, a 17-year-old at Spencer High School in Columbus, was suspended for disorderly conduct after a confrontation that began when he was told to give up his cell phone at lunch during the call, he said. His mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, left in January for a one-year tour and serves with the 203rd Forward Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. "This is our first time separated like this," said Francois. Since her deployment overseas, Francois has been living with a guardian in Columbus. Francois got the call from his mother at 12:30 p.m., which he said was his lunch break. He said he went outside the school building to get a better reception. A teacher who saw Francois on his phone told him to hang up. He refused. According to the Muscogee County School District Board of Education's policy, students are allowed to have cell phones in school, but cannot use them during school hours. "They're not supposed to use them for conversing back and forth during school because if they were allowed to do that, they could be text messaging each other for test questions," said Alfred Parham, assistant principal at Spencer. Francois said he told the teacher, "This is my mom in Iraq. I'm not about to hang up on my mom." Parham said the teen's suspension was based on his reaction when he was asked to give up the cell phone. "Kevin got defiant and disorderly," Parham said. "When a kid becomes out of control like that they can either be arrested or suspended for 10 days. Now being that his mother is in Iraq, we're not trying to cause her any undue hardship; he was suspended for 10 days."