Shakopee athlete sues school for suspension over "im boutta drill my 'teammates'" tweet

Categories: Education
TysonLeon.jpg
Submitted image via Star Tribune
Tyson Leon
In August, 16-year-old Shakopee High School junior Tyson Leon was indefinitely suspended from school athletics after publishing this tweet -- "Im boutta drill my 'teammates' on Monday."

SEE ALSO: Minnetonka High School 'bans' yoga pants: Top 10 tweets

Leon, a football player and wrestler, claims the tweet merely referred to his intent to tackle people really hard at an upcoming practice. But Shakopee High School officials interpreted it as a terroristic threat.

According to a Star Tribune report, Leon is suing both the school district and Minnesota High School League for sabotaging his chances of getting a wrestling scholarship. District officials claim the suspension was never intended to prevent Leon from wrestling and say all he has to do to return to athletics is sign a document affirming he understands the High School League's rules.

After a court appearance yesterday, Leon told the Strib, "At first [district officials] told me I wasn't ever able to play sports again. Then in there they said all I had to do was sign a piece of paper. I was pretty happy about that."

Leon might need a refresher course on the rules, it appears. Before the texting controversy, he'd been suspended from sports three times for various infractions, including a verbal altercation with a teacher, an off-campus fight, and "chemical use" at a party last January, the Strib reports.

Though district officials now say they have no qualms with Leon returning to the ring -- he's wrestled for Shakopee's varsity team since he was in 7th grade -- they also stand by their initial decision to suspend him.

"Every single school administrator who read [the tweet] believed that he was threatening harm," Carla White, an attorney for the school district said, told the Strib.

Meanwhile, Leon took to Twitter to express his excitement about how yesterday's hearing went and about the upcoming wrestling season: -- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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32 comments
mgmdrake
mgmdrake

I am a 69 year old retired teacher and after hearing some kids talk and seeing how they twitter,

I read what he twittered and knew right away what he meant-in the context of football.  Come

on, teachers and administrators, get on the ball a little bit!! 

mariecurie
mariecurie

I asked a large group of 9th graders what a statement like this would mean coming from a football player (without describing the situation to them) and they said it was about "hitting hard" on the field during practice or something.  The tweet was taken out of context and he should not have been suspended.

stephansonprop
stephansonprop

Sounds like he was going to try to hurt his own teamates on his football team plus has a histroy of problems?? I'm noy sure the punishment fits the crime but I'll lso bet there is more to this story.

Jamie Saros
Jamie Saros

Wrestling, a little hosing goes on all the time.

Alan Cloud
Alan Cloud

Pardon me, I didn't say that I agreed with his suspension. I merely stated that, if he is truly deserving of a college scholarship, he needs to learn to express himself more articulately. I don't know how anyone could possibly disagree with that.

Jason Gabbert
Jason Gabbert

Yeah, there's some funny business going on. Although . .. remember a few years when a few kids from Eagan or Apple Valley, whatever, went on that summer trip to Europe and one of the kids brought back a souvenir medieval sword and got expelled for it under the school's zero-tolerance policy for weapons even though he never actually brought it to school? It was simply that he was on a school function and possessed a "weapon" that they expelled him. That was and still remains the most outrageous thing I've seen.

Jason Gabbert
Jason Gabbert

Jesus, Alan, get a clue. He expressed himself the same way anyone would have. Wrestlers love to get after each other in practice. If he had said, "I'm about to kick some serious ass in practice today", would that have been perceived as a threat?

Jason Gabbert
Jason Gabbert

The moment I read what he tweeted, I knew exactly what he meant. Yet, these administrators claim EVERY teacher who read it felt threatened? Wow, sounds like Shakopee has some very dense teachers running around. Also, shame on City Pages for trying to trash the kid's credibility because he's had a couple other disciplinary infractions. This was not about behavior or breaking rules -- he broke no rule. He made a comment that any kid in sports could have made and some idiots took it totally out of context. I often hear people, when going to a party or a club, say "I'm gonna burn this muthfocker down". Should they be arrested for terroristic threats? "I'm boutta drill my teammates" -- someone thought that meant this kid was going to shoot or blow them up? Unreal. I think someone needs to drill these so-called educators.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd

He didn't threaten to kill anyone or do serious physical harm. Did you even read what he said? If you did, and you think he deserves to be expelled then you are part of the problem.

Mike Hess
Mike Hess

This does not sound like a terribly smart group of administrators. I can also imagine the "hey don't you think this sounds threatening?" "well, yes, yes I do" discussion person to person. not exactly an unbiased assessment.

Lenny Grossman
Lenny Grossman

Hope he wins!...This Country is becoming way too Pussified, You can't say Shit these days without offending someone!

Matt Parrott
Matt Parrott

I just read it as, he was "going to have sex with all his teammates." Lol

Alan Cloud
Alan Cloud

If this young man is truly deserving of a scholarship, he needs to better learn how to express himself.

MarkM15
MarkM15

This dumbass doesn't have a future, either way. Fucking loser.

Doug Mayer
Doug Mayer

Sounds like they're looking for a reason to suspend him

DeArc
DeArc

This is ludicrous. What can and can’t kids say these days?? He didn’t elude to shooting anyone or bombing or blasting or any other number of descriptive that would be similar. We are a culture of fear and monitoring nowadays. Bad things happen, yes. People commit tragic acts every day, this is true, but picking apart EVERY single statement a person makes, especially young people who are apt to say all kinds of outlandish things they will someday know better than, is equally frightening. Google MN Wild and the quote “drill them” or the like, and you’ll see hundreds of posts containing that language in a sports setting…did anyone call SWAT on them? I too hope he wins the suit. Being removed from school and the sports programs will have an effect on his academic standing as well as his potential for scholarships and admittance to colleges if he were planning o pursue sports as an inroad.

Sammy L Cater
Sammy L Cater

hmmm since when can the schools suspend you for something you didnt actually do AT SCHOOL...... dumbest thing ever!!!! and it seems it is happening more and more

joshwarren84
joshwarren84

I'm hoping the school wins. Sorry, you don'tlikethe administration? Too bad, suck it up. This is a generation of whiners, that have a sick sense of entitlement. With the anti bullying craze going on, and social media being the forefront of this, tweeting something that portrays violence towards anyone, is going to be dealt with. Best thing the kid could have done is live with the punishment, and learned in the future that what you post on social media is out there for all to see and be careful.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

I hope the kid wins in court and then his parents yank him out of all sports for this year.  The school is over-reaching here in ways encouraged by the media and by the innate tendency to petty authoritarianism so common where school administration and sports converge.  The kid needs a sharp lesson, which if delivered at the age of 16 can be very beneficial.  Hell, at least he needs to learn never to post anything under his real name, and nothing that he wouldn't want on an LED billboard next to the freeway for the rest of his life.  And if the kid is that good of an athlete, the school deserves to lose him for the season, and he would have a compelling story to present to potentially interested college recruiters, that the school over-reacted but his firm-handed parents stepped up and the kid fell into line. An authoritarian prick college coach would love that.

There are more details in the STrib story. The kid alleges the school locked him in a room and interrogated him about his stupid Tweet, and threatened his future.  Now they're claiming the kid misunderstood and all he has to do is sign a little acknowledgement form.  I believe the kid.  I also don't think the kid has done anything abnormal or alarming or particularly wrong.  But now is a good time for him to learn what our society has become recently, and how to put up the approved face and what the consequences are for not doing that.  Lord knows I'm trying to teach my kids this same batch of lessons.

TC4L
TC4L

Altercation with teacher.  This is normal.  Some teachers are idiots.  Fight outside of school.  If the other guy started it and there was no way to stop him, then a fight is the only choice.  Chemical use. Once in a while, responsible use for minor drugs isn't a big deal at this age.  Seems to be a good kid.  Schools are really trying to wussify our country.  Other than school, these administrators haven't been outside their culdosac in years.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@Sarah Greener Kulisky I hope he loses the lawsuit and the school comes after his parents for the court costs.

caseyt03
caseyt03

@DeArc his parents should have taught him that everything he does today will affect him in the future, especially with social media. if he wants to go to college that badly then he should be more worried about that than posting a tweet or having 3 other violations. 

two teachers have been shot this week already. it is better to be safe than sorry! 

caseyt03
caseyt03

@swmnguy you have contradicted yourself throughout your post. you say the kid did nothing wrong but yet you say he needs to learn a lesson. make up your mind. he should shut up, stop the tweeting, and abide by the school rules. end of story. schools have rules in place for a reason. did you not hear about the teacher shot earlier this week. or another one just today in MA. And this is not his first violation at school. open your eyes. 

DeArc
DeArc

@caseyt03 @DeArc What he said/typed was typical sports language was my primary point. If he typed "I'm going to hose my openents" - commonly ALSO used in sports language, woudl you then assume he meant hosed with bullets? Hosed with marshamallows? Come on. If this kid had REAL issues I dout he would be on sports teams.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@caseyt03  Nuance is not self-contradiction. Raising a kid to learn the best ways to deal with situations has little to do with legalistic interpretations.

My eyes are open.  I have 3 generations of relatives in education.  Yes, I know about the rules schools have in place.  I also know who makes those rules, how, and to what purpose.  I know a lot about the politics and public relations and image-management involved in such rules.  

As my wife currently works in the public schools in Minneapolis, I also know exactly how likely one is to get shot in a school.  One is far more likely to be hit by lightning.  The widespread fear is caused by people's inability to interpret numbers and calculate risk.

One of the most valuable lessons a kid can learn from the schools is how to deal with hierarchical authority systems.  This kid is having a rough time with that.  I don't think that's abnormal or particularly alarming, having been a kid, and raising kids.  I have 0% doubt that the school is coming down inappropriately hard on the kid, and is backtracking frantically and changing their story, now that they are actually being challenged by a comparable authority with the capability of shining a light on them.  We all know how certain authority figures change their demeanor when they realize they are in full view.

It's about time for everybody in this story to learn a little something.  The school needs to learn the limits of their authority.  The kid needs to learn how to deal with social media, and the proper way to develop his autonomy in and around an authoritarian hierarchy.  Here's what some people would call a "teaching moment."

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