November 07, 2003
Teen's CD ranted against principal; he's suspended

From Press:

Teen's CD ranted against principal; he's suspended
(link to original)

Friday November 07, 2003

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (AP) A high school honor student who created a rap compact disc with rants about drugs and sex faces possible expulsion over a lyric that officials say threatened the principal.

Mark Cerutti, principal of Brookfield Central High School, said he first became aware of the CD Oct. 29 and suspended 15-year-old Sashwat Singh later that same day.

``Content is one part of the rationale for the action that's being taken,'' Cerutti said.

Administrators said the disc amounted to ``gross disobedience or misconduct,'' which would put it on a par with a bomb threat, arson or bringing guns to school.

As described in Friday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the 32-minute, 14-track CD includes rants referring to illegal drug use and explicit sexual acts, and it also denigrates classmates, his mother and the school.

The rap about Cerutti, who came to the school at the start of the school year after working in Madison schools and as a consultant, suggests if he doesn't leave Brookfield, Singh will ``beat your ass down.'' It also uses sexually explicit slurs to describe the principal.

Matt Gibson, superintendent of the Elmbrook School District, said the five-day suspension was appropriate, and a ruling on further sanctions would be made before Singh's return. School was not in session for three days since the suspension was ordered, so Singh is due back Tuesday.

Gibson said he was ``fact-finding to determine whether or not to move it toward expulsion.''

If administrators seek expulsion, Singh would be suspended for up to 10 more days and a hearing would be held.

Singh said the CD, recorded over the course of three months and made with home-computer equipment, included lyrics that were ``just random words that rhymed,'' and were not meant as a threat.

``I didn't think I had done anything wrong.''

His father, Dilip Singh, said he couldn't understand why his son was given the school's harshest penalty.

Other such offenses ``have to do with drugs and guns,'' Dilip Singh said. ``When you look at what he did and compare one to the other, it doesn't make sense.''

However, ``I don't approve of that kind of language,'' Dilip Singh said.

The suspension may mark the first time a Wisconsin high school student has been removed from school for a song he wrote, said Ken Cole, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

He said a threat couched in music ``isn't a matter of all in good sport or fun. If some incident occurs a month from now, someone will say, 'You knew back then.' We have to treat every incident very seriously.''

Sashwat Singh is a member of the school's band and choir and is enrolled in Advanced Placement and honors courses.

He sold two copies of the CD a month ago and gave three others away, with one finally reaching Cerutti.

Andrew Franklin, the teen's attorney, said the boy was simply ``expressing himself'' and the school has no right to discipline him.

``They're kind of like love songs and fantasies,'' he said. ``It's a long list of outrageous things that he throws out there. I think it's an attempt to make him look like a deviant or a threat.''

``Nothing about this is inherently more threatening than an Eminem CD,'' he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Posted by Lance Brown at November 7, 2003 04:34 PM | TrackBack
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