Wednesday, August 30, 2017

State Supreme Court: Georgia students can argue self-defense to justify school fights

In its first decision in a school discipline case, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled zero tolerance policies on school fighting cannot deny students the right to assert they were defending themselves. The court said Georgia law gives students the legal right to argue self-defense as a justification.
Georgia Code states, “A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when…he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.”
In essence, the state’s highest court ruled that Georgia law on self-defense trumps school zero tolerance policies on fighting.
The court was asked whether the Henry County Board of Education gave proper weight to and opportunity for a self-defense claim by a Locust Grove High School student involved in a fight in 2014. The fight led to the student being expelled from Locust Grove and assigned to an alternative school.
She challenged the school board’s decision, eventually ending up in Superior Court where she won. But the Henry County school board appealed and prevailed in the appellate court. Then, the question went to the  Supreme Court.

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