November 10, 2003
District won't seek to expel

District won't seek to expel
(link to original)

But Brookfield student who made explicit CD must see counselor


Brookfield - When Sashwat Singh returns to Brookfield Central High School today, he knows he'll be pegged with questions about the rap album that earned him a five-day suspension. He also knows he won't be able to answer most of them.

"I'm going to have to ignore most of it," he said. "Because if I make a disturbance in the school, they'll try to suspend me again for that."

An agreement Monday between the Elmbrook School District and Singh's family dictates that the district will not move to expel the 15-year-old junior, but requires him to see a school counselor to "make sure that he's not a Dylan Klebold-type kid," said Singh's Milwaukee-based attorney, Andrew Franklin.

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris fatally shot 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999.

Franklin called Singh's reinstatement "a victory for free speech and a relatively decent compromise."

Mark Cerutti, the Brookfield Central principal, suspended Singh Oct. 29 after acquiring a copy of the student's homemade rap CD, which contains what the school said was a threat to Cerutti. On one of the disc's 14 tracks, Singh raps that if Cerutti doesn't leave Brookfield, Singh will "beat your ass down."

Matt Gibson, the Elmbrook School District superintendent, said Monday that he found the lyrics about Cerutti to be threatening but did not "find the desire in the student to actually act on those lyrics."

Singh also uses a slew of sexually explicit slurs to describe Cerutti.

Gibson declined to comment on the rest of the disc, titled "Minus The-izzle," which contains rants that reference illegal drug use and explicit sexual acts, denigrations of Singh's mother, classmates and high school, and a rap he used when campaigning to be class treasurer. The track about Singh's principal is the only one school officials found worthy of punishment.

Cerutti initially defined the disc as "gross disobedience or misconduct," an offense on par with making a bomb threat, bringing guns to school and arson.

Singh said he did not intend for the disc, which he spent three months producing using equipment on his home computer, to be a threat, but that it was "just random words that rhymed."

In his official review of Singh's suspension, Gibson wrote that because Cerutti wasn't the only person mentioned in threatening language on the disc, he would not move to expel Singh.

"It doesn't mean that the principal didn't feel the comments were threatening," Gibson said.

Suspension won't be purged

Franklin said he hoped the district would expunge the suspension from Singh's record, but that getting the boy back in school was more important than fighting a legal battle. Had Singh not agreed to drop his opposition to the suspension, the district could have moved to expel him, which would have brought an additional suspension of up to 10 days.

"Do we think we could win an expulsion hearing? Yes," Franklin said. "Do we think we could win a lawsuit? Yes. But that's not in the kid's benefit to go through all of that."

Singh said he was disappointed the suspension was not revoked, but that he is looking forward to going back to school.

"The administration basically tried to make it sound like they were going to expel me and now they're doing us a favor," he said. "We're going to give up now because it's not worth going through the struggle."

During his suspension, Singh, a junior enrolled in honors and advanced placement classes, was able to retrieve homework assignments from his classmates, and he will be able to make up work he missed. He did not miss any exams. Classes were dismissed on three additional days, prolonging Singh's absence until today.

Singh, who is in the school band and choir, said his rap album saga may make him more popular with his classmates, but "I don't know if it's in a good way or not."

From the Nov. 11, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

(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 10, 2003 04:53 PM | TrackBack

i used to go to school with sashwat, we all make mistakes and hes a good guy, i dont believe that he is a danger to himself or others, i hope he can use his amasing talents for his benifit. students are supposed to make fun of thier principals, if it is in an innocent way. keep bustin rymes sashwat.

Posted by: adam hendricks at December 29, 2003 09:50 PM
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