Student expelled by Ga. school for writing story deemed threatening

Amid pressure and heavy media coverage, school delays student's punishment pending a Nov. 13 hearing

GEORGIA ---- A Roswell High School freshman returned to school Monday after school officials temporarily lifted her expulsion, a punishment she received for writing a fictional story in her personal journal about a student who dreams of killing a teacher.Rachel Boim, 14, was suspended and later expelled after her art teacher confiscated her journal Oct. 7 because she passed it to a friend in class. The teacher kept Boim's journal overnight and read through its contents. One story in the journal told of an unnamed girl who dreams she shoots and kills an unidentified math teacher. As the girl is escaping from school, she is shot by a security guard. Then the school bell rings and the girl wakes up, gathers her books and heads off to her next class. When Boim attended school the following day, school police escorted her from her second-period class. Her parents were called to take her home. On Oct. 9, Boim, an honors student, was suspended for 10 days.In a three-hour, closed meeting on Oct. 22, Boim's parents, Georgia's poet laureate and the editor of a Georgia State University literary magazine testified that her story was fictional and should not have been considered a threat. Boim and her parents allege the school violated her First Amendment right to free speech and her Fourth Amendment right, which protects individuals from illegal search and seizure. However, a Fulton County School District official decided Boim should be expelled from Roswell High School for the remainder of the year. Mitzi Edge, executive director of communications for the district, said Boim was expelled because she violated the student code of conduct, which prohibits students from making threats against the school.Boim was told she could attend a different school within the district, but school officials must approve the choice. After intense media coverage, school officials temporarily lifted Boim's expulsion Friday until the district's interim superintendent can review the case on Nov. 13. At school on Monday, administrators transferred Boim out of the art class in which her journal was confiscated, Edge said. In addition, Boim was moved out of her math class because her story depicted the shooting of a math teacher.Edge said the district did not view Boim as a threat on Monday, and the school had no additional security. The assistant principal escorted Boim out of the classroom at the end of the day to guard her from large number of reporters that had gathered, Edge said.In a guest column in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution this weekend, Boim wrote about her expulsion.''This experience will not discourage me from writing. If anything, it will motivate me to write more stories. I will just have to be more careful about where I write them and who I show them to,'' she wrote. Neither Boim nor her parents could be reached for comment.