One student's experience

While a significant proportion of expulsions this year were related to drugs and alcohol, violence and threats of violence can also result in students being removed from school.

While a significant proportion of expulsions this year were related to drugs and alcohol, violence and threats of violence can also result in students being removed from school.

Genevieve Gurnoe, 16, faced a hearing after she was accused of attacking another girl from behind at Superior High School in early April. Gurnoe was angry at the girl, who she said threatened her.

Gurnoe threatened the girl the day before and the SHS police liaison officer warned her not to carry out the threat, Gurnoe said.

The day of the attack, Gurnoe said she told friends she was going to confront the girl. She said one friend brought a camera and waited with her and others to tape the encounter if anything happened.

The girl walked down the hall with a friend. Gurnoe said she saw them, and the girl's friend gave her "the bird." She said she reacted by attacking.


Gurnoe's friend taped the fight to place on YouTube.

She was expelled April 23 for the fight. Lisa Zezulka, Gurnoe's mother, wanted the hearing held in open session, but the board closed the meeting in spite of Zezulka's wishes.

The fight was caught on school surveillance video, which was submitted during the expulsion hearing, Gurnoe said.

The friend's copy of the fight was deleted by the camera's owner.

Gurnoe said her anger, in part, came from being picked on by a group of students. She said was harassed throughout the school year in two classes and the hallway. The girls would call her names and throw things. When teachers saw, they would tell the girls to keep walking.

Gurnoe never spoke up about the harassment, she said.

Her mom said she allowed Gurnoe to drop one class because of it. Then Gurnoe began failing gym because she didn't want to participate. Her teacher expressed concerns; she wasn't participating, Zezulka said.

Again, Gurnoe didn't speak up. Instead she made threats and threw things in return. She was placed on notice. She got involved with other students' problems and received detentions, she said.


"I don't like to go and tell on people," Gurnoe said, adding their friends become a problem then too.

Zezulka said she wasn't notified about Gurnoe's threats or detentions.

"I've been in the school several times because of their lack of communication with parents," she said.

The expulsion leaves Gurnoe the option to return to school after a semester if she seeks counseling, 40 hours of community service, takes a virtual high school course and presents the district with a letter of support from her parents.

Zezulka is not planning to send her daughter back to Superior High School.

Gurnoe is taking classes through Citizen's High School, an online school, and is doing better. She's happier and less contentious, Zezulka said.

Gurnoe is planning to graduate early and attend college in Florida.

Zezulka said her daughter's attitude has changed and the 16-year-old is happier and willing to lend a hand, unlike the sullen mood Gurnoe used to be in when she got home from school.


Zezulka and Gurnoe are sharing her expulsion story to warn other parents to watch for changes in their children's behavior. They may be victims of taunting and the school does nothing, Zezulka said.

School administrators and counselors get involved in a lot of cases with bullying and harassment, said Officer Tom Johnson, police liaison officer. Most often issues between students only turn into physical confrontations when they don't report problems or other students encourage a fight, Johnson said.

"A lot of these things go on and don't get reported until someone gets mad and something happens, Johnson said, adding "the school does a good job of following up on complaints of bullying and harassment, but it's underreported."

Often kids want to deal with problems on their own, but lack the maturity, and rumors, text messages and MySpace comments can add fuel to the fire, he said.

"I wish more people would come to us," Johnson said. "Most of the ones that result in actual physical confrontation are the ones we don't know about."

What To Read Next
Get Local