This 14-Year-Old Was Expelled and Arrested Over a Piece of Paper

Kyle Thompson, 14, was joking around with his buddies at Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, Mich., last March, when one of those friends grabbed a sheet of paper labeled “Hit List” out of Thompson’s notebook.

Okay, so as a high school teacher, I find it extremely annoying when my students are distracted by something that has nothing to do with our class and what we are learning. However, what happened next is unprecedented in my experience.

Thompson allegedly had a list of people he wanted to hit on the football field. He and his friends say the list was just a joke and, when their teacher wanted to take a look, they let her do so.

According to Thompson, he and the teacher engaged in what he thought was a friendly game of tug-of-war with the paper, before he eventually let go.

According to the teacher, Thompson assaulted her. She turned him in, and the police were called. Not only has Thompson been expelled for 180 days from all Michigan high schools, but he was also arrested, handcuffed, taken to the police station and charged with assault. He may face jail time if he’s convicted.

This is lunacy. Yes, this student deserved some disciplinary action for resisting his teacher’s request. But arrest and a charge of assault? Has Harrison High School lost its mind? Why were the police even involved?

The Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is trying to reverse this charge.

You can watch the ACLU video of Kyle talking about his suspension below:

Really? For a dispute over a piece of paper? As a high school teacher, I can report that students do sometimes resist when I go to take their phones away from them because they’ve been texting in class, but it has never occurred to me to call in the law.


Despite witness statements contradicting the teacher’s account and the fact that Kyle had not ever been in trouble before, he was expelled under Michigan’s “Zero Tolerance Law,” which states any student who assaults a teacher must be expelled – and not just from their school, but from any Michigan public or charter school for one year.

Thankfully, some school districts around the country are recognizing that zero tolerance policies have gone too far.

After the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, schools nationwide established zero tolerance weapons policies: schools had to suspend or expel students, no matter the circumstances, when weapons were involved.

Obviously this was done with the best of intentions, but there have been plenty of unintended consequences.

More enlightened thinking in educational circles these days is questioning the use of suspensions as punishment. As many teachers are aware, kids often enjoy those days at home, when they can play games, watch TV, do just as they please all day long.

Even worse, the statistics show that this approach to discipline leads to a “school-to-prison-pipeline,” in which students — a disproportionate number of whom are African-American — are arrested and incarcerated for alleged infractions of school discipline that in some cases are as minor as defiance. The students subsequently become entangled in a cycle of incarceration.

Restorative justice is the name of a program increasingly offered in schools seeking an alternative to “zero tolerance” policies like suspension, expulsion and truancy courts.

Since suspending students, or sending them to court, often leads to academic failure, thereby perpetuating the very behavior it is seeking to address, restorative justice instead provides a way of addressing negative behavior by keeping a student at school and using various means to encourage the offender to take responsibility and make amends.

The approach, which is now taking root in schools in Oakland, Calif., as well as in Chicago, Denver and Portland, tries to nip problems and violence in the bud by creating stronger and more open relationships between students, teachers and administrators.

Suspending, expelling, fining and jailing students who have discipline problems at school will only succeed in ensuring they never want to return to school.

If you believe that what has happened to Thompson is wrong, please sign our petition demanding his return to school.

Thank you.

Photo Credit: youtube video


june t.
june t.2 years ago

it does sound a little over the top

Evelyn B.
Evelyn B.2 years ago

I checked for recent updates -
January 2014 ....

This past October, Thompson, 15, was admitted to Detroit Christian High School. His first-quarter report card shows A's in English, religion, geometry and chemistry.

His mother said she was determined to fight the criminal charges in Oakland County court. A pharmaceutical sales representative, she had the means to hire a private attorney. She held out for a jury trial.

In early December, on the eve of jury selection, the prosecution offered to wipe the charges from his record in exchange for a plea of no contest. Her son would have no criminal record under the terms of the deal. The family accepted the offer.

Kyle Thompson said he hopes that students and teachers alike learn from his experience, “just to know that one mistake can ruin your life and to think before you act.”

Tracy G.
Tracy G.2 years ago


Pamela Tracy
Pamela Tracy2 years ago

Repeat....I have a list also. With friends like I had, I did not need enemies. My second list is with family like I had I did not need enemies, either.

Pamela Tracy
Pamela Tracy2 years ago

I will advise all students...don't challenge your stupid school administrations and teachers because lately they all go to farrrrrrrrrr......instead of making school a place to educate kids it is a place to hit them. And, you students, keep your lists at him.......and don't hit like evil Presidents and Intelligence and this country has become....this young man was misled by his own kind of evil American's who hit someone if they say s.....t in the privacy of their own home.

Pamela Tracy
Pamela Tracy2 years ago


inspector thirtyseven

Not signed , If a teacher tells you to give her something - you give it to her - even if your Johnny football player

Sheila Baker
Sheila Baker2 years ago

I don't think we've heard the whole story but the boy should be in school learnng.

Eva H.
Eva H.2 years ago

Let the child go back to school. Ban weapons, not children.

Eleanor P.
Eleanor P.2 years ago

(cont. from earlier post)... Apparently it was my sister's fault because she should have had the ability to separate the kids before the need for calling security, which puts a permanent mark on the child's record. And kids with too many marks won't graduate. And with the "No Child Left Behind" program, that means the school loses government money when that kid doesn't graduate. My sister was told to ignore bad behavior from kids who are about to be expelled or not graduate, because that would hurt school funding. So they end up graduating kids who can't read or behave like functioning adults. This system is dooming the same children it is meant to be helping, and tying the hands of teachers. Not to mention putting those teacher's lives in jeopardy. We don't know all the facts on this case, and knowing what I know from my sister's experience, I would like to hear from the other side before passing judgment.