This is the follow-up article to The Unwarranted Perjury of Austin Morris, which looked at one school resource officer's dishonesty that ultimately led to the arrest of a Ludington Area School District's (LASD) parent, whose son made a comment about an airsoft gun at school early one November morning.  Morris' actions also helped lead to the one-year suspension from school of the boy, but it was largely the part played, or rather overplayed, by other school officials that turned what appears to be innocent comments about a potential Christmas gift into the next coming of Columbine. 

               Principal Michael Hart searches through the Airsoft Kids' backpack for weapons, finds a basketball, books, then a bible

Multiple FOIA requests have been sent to both the LASD and the Ludington Police Department (LPD) to investigate and corroborate what happened here, The Ludington Torch has also asked administrators from both agencies for clarifications when the record was conflicting or inconclusive; their cooperation in this quest for truth is duly noted.  This article will endeavor to show how multiple school officials failed to use the known facts and existing protocols that led to total systemic failure by the LASD and the unwarranted persecution of an area family.

The school conducted an investigation following the report by a student (Witness A) shortly after 8 AM on November 17, 2021 that a fellow student (we'll call 'Jack', his name has been redacted in the investigation) told him he planned on bringing an airsoft gun to school.  

This and other statements can be found in the investigation found in the last two pages here.  One notes that the school's investigation conducted over three days amounted to less than 500 words transcribed with absolutely no effort in noting times or the actual comments made by the five material witnesses. 

Following a fruitless search of Jack's locker for weapons, Jack was taken to the office and questioned.  He admitted he was hoping to acquire an airsoft gun, but denied that he ever said that he would bring it to school.  According to the report, Two other witnesses were called into the office:

The report seems to indicate that B and C heard these comments directly from Jack.  For some reason, they call back 'A' who remembers something that he failed to mention before:

Contradicting Jack's statements that he had no airsoft gun and no intent on bringing it to school.  Witness D is then called into the office:

This witness shows that whoever was taking down statements was leaving a lot of information out of the report, as they indicate Jack had only spoke with Witness A that morning, which matches Jack's recollection of events.  When I interviewed Jack, he indicated that he and A were by themselves when they were talking, any other witnesses would not have been able to hear their conversation.  One can understand that entirely since in Morris' bodycam footage Jack talks in low tones and his mouth is also covered by a mask; the microphone barely picks his voice up.

As the terse statements of Witness B and C do not indicate they heard their information directly from Witness A, these witnesses appear to be relying on Witness A's hearsay, just like Witness D.  As Jack and Witness A's testimony differ somewhat, one can easily believe from the investigation that communications between the two middle schoolers was muddled.  For Witness A believed he was told by Jack that he would bring an airsoft gun to school that very day, but both Jack and his dad (in Morris' bodycam footage) indicate Jack is wanting one for or before Christmas but does not have one at this point.  The search warrant eventually gotten and broadly directed at Jack's home, found no airsoft guns.

But what if Jack and his dad were both lying and Witness A's testimony was totally truthful of what he heard.  What if Jack was thinking of bringing an airsoft gun to school?  Isn't that potentially dangerous?

Well, try your best, but you won't be able to find anything on the internet of anybody dying from getting shot by an airsoft pistol, for they can barely penetrate the skin when shot from point blank.  Airsoft guns are designed so that those playing with them will not get hurt, this is why the muzzle energy of a plastic BB shot from an airsoft gun is less than 1/500th of that of a 9 mm bullet shot from a pistol, and 1/20th the energy of a metal BB shot from a normal air rifle.  Shooting one of these guns point blank at a Mcdonald's to-go cup will often only have the BB bounce off and indent it, the plastic BBs can barely penetrate the surface rind of a watermelon.  

The school's investigation, including SRO Morris' input, indicates that Jack has no behavioral issues or any history that would suggest he would try to bring an airsoft gun to school to rack up a body count, if he was so deluded as to think he could do more than damage someone's eye with a lucky shot.  Yet, what about the threat of bringing it to school that Witness A suggests?

What threat?  Jack never made a threat according to the witnesses.  A threat is an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage.  Michigan's legal definition of threat is consistent with that, and neither witness indicates Jack would be doing anything other than showing off what would be his new toy.  Jack indicates he was hoping to have Witness A over to his house after school to 'play airsoft' once he got his gun, and perhaps Witness A thought he said 'at' rather than 'after', easy enough to happen with a soft-spoken boy speaking through a mask.

Thus, whatever Jack said or didn't say, there appears to be no evidence that he had a safe toy gun at school that day, nor did he ever make a threat pertaining to that safe toy gun.  Nevertheless, one of the school officials that investigated the incident drafted a letter to the school board for them to expel Jack for his threats and for having an airsoft gun on campus, both of which were unproven and arguably false.  Principal Michael Hart also falsely says that airsoft guns were found with Officer Morris' search warrant of Jack's parent's property; none were found, nor was any airsoft ammo found.

Principal Hart acting as the investigator is thus telling the school board that Jack had made threats and possessed a weapon on school grounds, both of which were unfounded and both of which were elements in expelling the student.  When one reads policy 5610 in more detail, the policy Hart depends on for establishing expulsion, they find the following which indicates that expulsion is not justified if one of four mitigating factors is made clear to the board and that the student has no history of expulsion (which he didn't):

As an airsoft gun was never possessed on campus by Jack, and an unlawful search of the student's home uncovered no evidence that the student ever had an airsoft gun, all four mitigating factors are moot. 

Jack and his mother were given a chance to plead their case in front of the board (remember his father was arrested because police found his adult son had hunting rifles in that son's gun locker in his bedroom), but they did not see the untrue allegations in Hart's letter, they were not able to know of or call forth any of the witnesses, and they were not given other protections of their rights found in the policies that the principal used against Jack to say that he possessed a gun on school grounds and made threats. 

Jack's family was told that he could have an attorney present, but the family could not afford an attorney for Jack's father's defense against a serious charge and needed to have one appointed by the court.  The school had no legal compulsion to appoint counsel for Jack's defense, so the burden for providing a defense fell to the mother who heard very different stories and trusted in the board to realize that her son had never possessed an airsoft gun, never threatened anybody or anything, and never took any airsoft gun to school.  They never received any letter explaining their full due process rights (as guaranteed in school policy 5611).

At a special meeting on December 6th, 2021, the board met, looked at Principal Hart's recommendation, considered the 500 word investigation for about 40 minutes according to the minutes of the meeting, listened to no eyewitnesses, saw no evidence other than that created by the investigators, and unanimously voted to permanently expel Jack for one school year at which point Jack could return provided he went to regularly-scheduled counseling sessions to deal with anger management and conflict resolution issues (when there was no evidence in the record that he ever had such issues).  Having had to go through such an unfair process, however, he may need those skills to cope with the insane way it all turned out in terms of what the school system, with SRO Morris' assistance, did to him and his father.  

Since the public was excluded from the meeting for the closed session, and since the school has the power to not divulge the minutes of a closed session or what happened therein, I can only provide the family's viewpoint that the school board did not bother to find facts at that hearing or follow multiple established policies, just work off the investigation and referrals of the investigators, one who filed a false warrant affidavit (Morris), another who characterized the student as possessing a dangerous weapon on campus and making threats, both false, in offering a recommendation that the board accepted.  The Ludington Torch was able to get information from the LASD on this closed hearing by filing a FOIA request, which was answered by Superintendent Corlett:

The prior FOIA response referenced was the one already shared at the beginning of this article showing the investigation and Hart's letter to the board.  As can be noted by the response, the district did not afford Jack's family the due process rights guaranteed in the board's policy manual, they confirmed that there was no evidence showing Jack ever possessed a dangerous weapon on school grounds, ever made a threat, and that the simple act of talking about an airsoft gun in a non-threatening manner on school grounds was not against any policy.  Many would say that last right is protected by the First Amendment.  

In the end here is what you have.  A middle school student talking about his hope to get an airsoft gun during the holiday season and asking a friend whether he might want to come over some time to his house after school to check it out, gets hauled out of class, held for hours, and treated like crap by school administrators, who eventually draft a shoddy and incomplete investigation report along with a letter to the school board that incorrectly states that the student possessed a dangerous weapon and made threats while at school.  

The student is taken home by the school's resource officer and met by an accommodating father who balks at having his 'messy' house inspected when he is told it is part of a threat assessment process, a process which has never been codified by the school or the local police.  The SRO misuses the LEIN system, then invents a phone conversation in order to get a broad search warrant of the student's home.  The father, who had a marijuana conviction in 2008, gets prosecuted as a felon possessing guns for the hunting guns found in his adult son's bedroom, guns which the police confiscate and have yet to return to the owner.

The student, who never possessed an airsoft gun, who never made any kind of threat against anybody or anything, is given a hearing in front of a school board that considers the investigation and the recommendation letter.  His parents are never told that they have certain due process rights guaranteed to them by school policy, and the board accepts the principal's letter's conclusion that the student possessed an airsoft gun on campus and made threats, neither of which was true.  They expel him for a year and require counseling that appear inappropriate when one considers the student's unblemished record.  

School and police officials, like most government officers and agents, will act like spoiled tyrants when they believe their actions are not being evaluated by the public and when they are conducted administratively, or behind closed doors.  Their actions must be brought into the light and their wrongful actions, once uncovered, must be corrected, and they must be suitably disciplined so that it is unlikely to happen again.

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Excellent presentation X. The way this was handled by the school system tells us a lot about who is running the asylum.  Let's be clear about this airsoft device. By definition it is not a pistol, firearm or weapon. It is an innocuous device. The odd thing about this is that during this entire fiasco, instigated by the school system, the object in question has never existed. This has all been about an imaginary object nobody has touched, held or even seen. So much for upholding non existing rules regarding non existing devices involved in non existing situations. The law enforcement, school officials and courts created a nightmare for a local family out of some brain dead official's imaginations. These officials are who we should be afraid of. They are in charge not only of the children but the law and courts. Heaven help us.  They are like dogs chasing their tails hoping to impress all the other tail chasing creatures. 

After zero tolerance policies led to some stiff punishments for inadvertent offenses (think of pop-tarts bit into the form of a gun, possessing one-inch pieces of gun-shaped plastic that served as GI Joe doll accessories, etc.), the threat assessment model was considered as the next alternative-- yet this incident shows that LASD is living back in the zero tolerance ages.  The LASD not only is missing a TA policy, they don't even bother to follow the basic tenets of such a policy.

Experts are coming to believe that threat assessment, to be effective and fair, must: be restricted to situations in which a clear threat is communicated; be transparently assessed for patterns of inequity (by race, disability, gender, etc.); and limit police involvement — including unwarranted access to student records — to emergency situations where there is an imminent threat to the school community, and school staff determine that a referral to law enforcement is needed.

The alternative is a school community where there is bias, unfair punishment and mistrust between students and adults who administer school discipline and intervention processes — a school community where students may hesitate before asking for help or reporting concerns.

LASD has chosen to take the worst part of ZT and TA policies and use any means to create bugbears out of our children.  Vlad Putin would be proud.  As noted in the Morris perjury article, the school and LPD need to make a threat assessment policy and share it with the public-- and that may be difficult after governments acted mostly in secret over a year because of their policies enacted during Covid that never worked to stop the spread-- except for public information.  

Thanks X, for the rest of the story as much as was not redacted and denied or decided behind closed doors in the Ludington cliche. Too bad you couldn't be Jack's attorney and, imo, you are right--the LASD school board needs to be called out on this for over-reacting, but what is new in Ludington? Not unlike ticketing a certain firefighter who didn't take his feet of the pedals while riding a bicycle and make a 5-second stop(?) at a stop sign? Over-staffed and trying to make an example of Jack and way-way-way overboard on the punishment (one year suspension and required counseling) for the boy carrying a Bible in his backpack.

On the other hand, air guns are listed in the school board policy (and the video you provided showed the soft pellet going through a paper card and breaking a plastic card.) I wouldn't want a pellet shot into anyone's eye. And what if Jack had got away with this little "threat of bringing a gun to school" hearsay? (I can imagine the administrators saying behind closed doors).  The School Bored should have let the student go back to school after the "hearing."  Wasnt that alone enough of a punishment?

I find Witness "A" not credible, overreacting, and maybe himself a future Austin Morris, trying to make points. I hope Jack finds better friends in life.

Willy, thanks for spicing up the reading with the Putin image. Doesn't that say it all?

I think the school board could have given the Bible-carrying-student a warning and maybe a punishment to write a 100-word essay on what it means to "beat swords into plow shares."

Imo, Austin Morris should be suspended and seek counseling and write a 100-word essay on why God hates liars. The school board should study a bit about mercy ... and God have mercy on the souls that lack judgment in a state of authority.

If Jack had been heard saying that he was going to bring his airsoft gun to school to shoot people in the eye, and try to put holes in the small lunch milk cartons of other kids, there would have been at least a threat involved here.  Jack insisted that he never said he was going to bring an airsoft gun he didn't yet own to school that day or any other day, he said this again to Officer Morris.  Witness A subtly changing his story over time was probably a bit more dramatic in nature, but muffled by the terse investigation notes bent on establishing a dire scheme.  

My guess is that Morris, Principal Hart and his assistant Schaperkotter psychologically wanted to be the heroes that prevented the next school shooting, and if it took a few lies and exaggerations to get that mantel, not to mention a victimized family, then by golly the ends justifies the means.

  It's to bad for the father who should have know that guns are not allowed in the household. The law is very strict on how the weapons are secured if they are . Also the law does allow for appeal after 3-5 years for a lifting of that restriction . Maybe the prosecutor seen that after 14 years since the offense he had no recurrences. For the son, the school should hang their head low on what they did to the kid.  Ruin a families life , yep your doing the community a good deed.

Our current prosecutor, perhaps negatively affected by her Oakland County assistant, has been very detrimental to justice in Mason County, and I'm one who has long felt that Paul Spaniola was the devil incarnate. 

To be sure, the father (MARK) should have applied for appeal, but the law allowing for that is fairly new, and it wasn't all that well reported on when it was made, and likewise the state has no obligation to alert former felons that they have that new right, which is more of a privilege since they have to apply for it. 

Possession is also a sticky wicket; had there been a lawful search and had there been any guns in MARK's bedroom or on his person, then he should pay the price.  The investigation by the LPD, however, did not establish that any of the hunting rifles found were connected to MARK in any way other than they were possessed by his adult son in his son's personal bedroom, which makes the state's case very problematic even without throwing out the unlawful search's fruits.  

This is why this entire situation is such a fiasco. 1. There was no object to be declared a "dangerous weapon". 2. If a weapon was involved it would have to meet the definition of a weapon. Nothing is a weapon until it is used as such. Everyone carries a "potential weapon" at all times. That could be a fist, foot, biting teeth, Book, ball,  etc. 3. If the non existent weapon, the school is relating to, is an "airsoft" then that object needed to be defined, clarified, evaluated, produced and displayed before any statement or action was taken because according to the school as stated below 

Policy 5610:

For purposes of this policy, a “dangerous weapon” is defined by law as a firearm, dagger, dirk, stiletto, knife with a blade over three (3) inches in length, pocket knife opened by a mechanical device, iron bar, or brass knuckles. This definition also includes other devices designed to (or likely to) inflict bodily harm, including, but not limited to, air guns and explosive devices.  The term “firearm” is defined as any weapon (including a starter gun) that will, is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of the explosive, the frame, or the bearer of any such weapon, as well as a firearm muffler, firearm silencer, or any such destructive device.

The school states that an air gun was the imaginary weapon stated in the complaint as a dangerous weapon, even though it did not exist. The problem with this is that most airsofts  operate off spring tension not air. The higher end models used for competition operate off compressed air or gas. The school had no authority or right to "guess" at which means of propulsion the so called imaginary airsoft used. Of course guessing about a  made up object that is, make believe, only creates a situation that could be this ridiculous. In my opinion the family that was wronged should seek out an attorney and should immediately file a law suit.

Thanks for clarifying a point I was trying to make.  The two elements of the crime that the LASD should have needed to show that the policy was violated was the existence of a threat and the existence of a dangerous weapon on school grounds.  Neither was found in the investigation, yet Principal Hart insisted that there were both threats and a weapon on campus in his letter to the superintendent and the board.  

SRO Morris invented a bogus phone conversation, a threat, and called a non-existent airsoft gun a 'gun' on his warrant affidavit, Principal Hart apparently wanted to go one-up on him.  The courts continue the process and deserve the blindfold you give them on your telling graphic.  

I hope the student doesn't fall behind on his education or drop out and become another victim of the Leftists school system.  As I stated before the family should hire an attorney if only to get him back in school and have the record of this foolishness erased.


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