April 14, 2008 – Austin, TX — A call from a parent stationed in a war zone has landed a Texas high school student in hot water, and his mother is asking the school to ease up on the punishment.
The Copperas Cove High School sophomore received an urgent call from his father and was suspended after taking the call during class.
Master Sgt. Morris Hill is a world away in Iraq, so he had no idea that a simple call from the battlefield to his son, Brandon, would land the 16-year-old in a heap of trouble.
“He called me during class, because that’s the only time that he could,” said Brandon Hill, suspended for using a cell phone. “I answered the call as I was walking out of class. The teacher followed me out and said, ‘Oh what are you doing?’ I said my dad was calling from Iraq, and I know he needs to talk to me.”
At the high school, which is 85 miles from Austin, students are not allowed to carry cell phones.
Yet Pat Hill said before her husband left for Iraq, he made a special arrangement with the assistant principal.
“He had spoken with Mr. Fletcher,” said Pat Hill. “He thought there was an agreement understood that if he called either Joshua or Brandon at school, that everything was fine.
Brandon Hill was sent to the office and suspended for two days for answering his father’s call.
“It’s crazy with everything that’s going on,” Brandon Hill said.
“If this would have been the last phone call from my husband, and he’s in trouble for it and then has to deal with something happening to his dad that would be even harder,” Pat Hill said. She added that she was outraged her son was suspended, and then it took a week to get a meeting with the principal.
In a written statement to KXAN Austin News, Kathy Blake, the secretary to the Copperas Cove district superintendent, said: “In an emergency situation there are procedures in place to address those individual situations. This is true for all of the students in our district. The incident in question occurred almost two weeks ago and has been resolved.”
Brandon Hill has returned to school, but he still has the black mark on his record. His mother said she wants it removed and for the school to recognize the special needs of military children.
“These schools have to stop and realize, especially when you are in a military community, we support our soldiers, we support our troops,” Pat Hill said. “What about them when they are in Iraq trying to reach their family?”
Yet Pat Hill said the school will not address her request to have the suspension removed from her son’s record, a battle she is fighting here while her husband is away.