Archive for Thursday, August 30, 2001

Suspended students may get more than time off with new law

August 30, 2001

Students suspended from school now have a better chance of facing another kind of suspension thanks to a new law that makes it easier to take their drivers' licenses.

A state law says that a school can notify local authorities if it suspends a student for several serious trespasses. The authorities can then notify the Department of Motor Vehicles and have the student's license revoked for one year.

"If a kid gets suspended from school, in some cases they may spend their day driving around," Superintendent and former Eudora High School Principal Marty Kobza said. "What this does is that it insures suspension is not a reward. That's hitting them where it hurts."

Students age 13 or older can have their licenses suspended for possession of a weapon, controlled substance, illegal drug at a school or for engagement in behavior that caused or was likely to cause serious bodily injury to others on school property or during a school event.

Before this law, schools were responsible for notifying the DMV, but rarely did out of fear of violating the Federal Education Right to Privacy Act. Having police notify the DMV doesn't violate these rights.

Cpl. Greg Neis of the Eudora Police Department and USD 491 school board member said that once police notify the DMV the department sends a letter to the driver's address asking them to relinquish their license by mailing it in or taking it to the department. This rarely happens, he said.

If the authorities stop the student while driving and discover the faulty license, then it will be revoked.

But that doesn't necessarily keep suspended students grounded, either.

"They'll keep driving or have their buddies get them," Neis said.

So far, Eudora hasn't seen too many of these types of suspensions, Neis said, but that doesn't mean the law won't work in favor of the district.

"You may hit a couple of people that set an example," he said.

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