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Judge blocks penalty for student's violation

Posted: Thursday, January 27, 2000

ANCHORAGE - A failing grade given to an East High honors student because he accessed a porn site on a school computer cannot be placed on his academic record until an appeal is decided, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Superior Court Judge John Reese issued a stay against the Anchorage School District and told both sides to submit written arguments. Reese said he will decide the case as soon as possible.

But he also told the district he expects Thomas Obermeyer Jr., the top-ranked student in East High's senior class, will win the appeal.

The sanction with a failing grade ``does not appear to bear a rational connection to the offense,'' Reese said.

Obermeyer is the son of former Anchorage School Board member Theresa Obermeyer, who ran for Senate and served a federal jail term in 1996 for disorderly conduct at the Anchorage federal courthouse.

Her son has a 4.098 grade point average without the F assigned in a computer workshop after he and two other students were caught calling up pornographic Web sites when they were supposed to be doing computer maintenance.

As punishment, the students were ejected from the course and given a failing grade usually used to show a student was withdrawn from a class.

``Grades measure a student's performance in his or her academic work,'' the judge said. ``An F grade means the student has made `insufficient progress in the subject to merit granting of credit in the course,''' he said, citing the district's student handbook.

But Obermeyer was not failing the course, he said.

``The rational connection seems fatally elusive to this court,'' Reese said.

The F is overkill and would ruin Obermeyer's hard-won chance to be valedictorian at graduation this spring, said his attorney, Rex Butler.



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