BTW, she mentions charging this mope with "first degree intimidation". This is a charge that went into effect after I retired. The text is as follows:
Turban fracas comes to a head
Student dismissed, must face judge in Hightstown
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
BY CARMEN CUSIDO
HIGHTSTOWN -- A Hightstown High School senior who allegedly set a fire that singed a Sikh student's headpiece has been dismissed from school, and all his privileges -- including attending the prom and walking at the graduation ceremony -- have been re voked, according to the regional district superintendent's office.
Taking action in a case that has drawn national media attention, the school district reported it im posed "the most severe penalty against the perpetrator" after conducting an extensive evaluation, according to a release.
Superintendent of Schools Ronald Bolandi said that Garrett Green, 18, arrested by Hightstown police and charged with arson and criminal mischief last week, will not be allowed back in school. Green will have home instruction because the district is still required to teach him, but he is banned from the prom and from walking on stage at the June 19 graduation, and "any other privileges throughout the rest of the year," Bolandi said. He said he did not know if Green has been accepted to college.
Bolandi spoke to administrators at the high school and made the decision following the May 5 inci dent that occurred during a fire drill, where Green allegedly set fire to a "patka" -- a small version of a full turban -- that a 16-year-old male student at the high school was wearing. A teacher had told the victim, a junior, he was on fire and helped put it out. Other than a few scorched pieces of hair, the victim was unhurt, according to his uncle, Harjot Pannu.
The high school administration, Green and his parents are scheduled to meet today regarding the district's decision to dismiss him. Green also is scheduled to appear before Judge Gregory Williams, a substitute judge at the Hightstown municipal court, today at 6 p.m. It was unknown whether he has re tained a lawyer.
Bolandi said the students did not know each other prior to the incident, but that Green has had disciplinary infractions in the past, though "nothing of this magni tude."
Pannu, who lives in East Windsor with his nephew and his sister Sukjhot Kaur, the boy's mother, said it was up to the school to decide how to discipline Green and had no comment about his dismissal.
"I have nothing against the child, but what he did was definitely wrong," Pannu said yesterday, adding, "Teachers and stu dents should be taught about the different faiths, different cultures. We are a diverse society and we should know about other people."
Last week, the victim's family reached out to the Sikh Coalition in New York, which put out a press release Monday expressing outrage over the incident.
Harsimran Kaur (no relation to Sukhjot), a staff attorney at the Sikh Coalition of New York, said the coalition has reached out to the school and police "to make sure they understand the bigger context."
Harsimran Kaur has said New Jersey is home to one of the five largest populations of Sikhs in the nation, with somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 residing here.
"Sikhs have borne the brunt of bias since the Sept. 11 attacks be cause of people's misperceptions about our faith," Harsimran Kaur said.
Bolandi said the district will work with the Sikh Coalition in developing a statement about the religious significance of the turban, and why the Sikh community was upset over this incident.
"A prepared statement will be read to students at all homerooms and have a dialogue on it, and ex plain to the student body what the significance of a turban is. ... We are very culturally diverse. Many of our students wear religious orna mentation to school," Bolandi said yesterday.
At a board of education meet ing Monday where news of the inci dent was made public, Bolandi called it "an absolutely unbelievable, senseless act."
To create cultural and religious awareness, the district moved its annual "Unity Day" from the end of June to last Friday to celebrate the diversity of the high school's approximately 1,400 students. Still, the incident has captured the attention of the national media, and a local politician has weighed in.
Assemblywoman Caroline Casa grande, R-Freehold, whose district includes Hightstown and East Windsor, sent a letter to Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph J. Bocchini late yesterday afternoon requesting the office "empanel a grand jury and present an indictment for first-degree intimidation."
Casagrande said children should feel safe to wear whatever religious article they want to wear. "What happened to this young gentleman is inexcusable. It went beyond arson and beyond criminal mischief. It was a clear case of bias intimidation for this child, and that charge is more than appropriate for this inci dent," said Casagrande, who plans to reach out to the family.
Sukjhot Kaur, the victim's mother, is just thankful her son is safe, and no bodily harm was done.
"To me, it's a crime, it's not a prank. I was afraid for him going to school. I was very afraid and angry," Sukjhot Kaur said.
The only way you get here is if he gets charged with Agg. Assault. The arson charge is not going to work. My guess is that they will sort this out at Grand Jury.
2C:16-1. Bias Intimidation.
a.Bias Intimidation. A person is guilty of the crime of bias intimidation if he commits, attempts to commit, conspires with another to commit, or threatens the immediate commission of an offense specified in chapters 11 through 18 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes; N.J.S.2C:33-4; N.J.S.2C:39-3; N.J.S.2C:39-4 or N.J.S.2C:39-5,
(1)with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, handicap, sexual orientation, or ethnicity; or
(2)knowing that the conduct constituting the offense would cause an individual or group of individuals to be intimidated because of race, color, religion, gender, handicap, sexual orientation, or ethnicity; or
(3)under circumstances that caused any victim of the underlying offense to be intimidated and the victim, considering the manner in which the offense was committed, reasonably believed either that (a) the offense was committed with a purpose to intimidate the victim or any person or entity in whose welfare the victim is interested because of race, color, religion, gender, handicap, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, or (b) the victim or the victim's property was selected to be the target of the offense because of the victim's race, color, religion, gender, handicap, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
b.Permissive inference concerning selection of targeted person or property. Proof that the target of the underlying offense was selected by the defendant, or by another acting in concert with the defendant, because of race, color, religion, gender, handicap, sexual orientation, or ethnicity shall give rise to a permissive inference by the trier of fact that the defendant acted with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, handicap, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
c.Grading. Bias intimidation is a crime of the fourth degree if the underlying offense referred to in subsection a. is a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense. Otherwise, bias intimidation is a crime one degree higher than the most serious underlying crime referred to in subsection a., except that where the underlying crime is a crime of the first degree, bias intimidation is a first-degree crime and the defendant upon conviction thereof may, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:43-6, be sentenced to an ordinary term of imprisonment between 15 years and 30 years, with a presumptive term of 20 years
d.Gender exemption in sexual offense prosecutions. It shall not be a violation of subsection a. if the underlying criminal offense is a violation of chapter 14 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes and the circumstance specified in paragraph (1), (2) or (3) of subsection a. of this section is based solely upon the gender of the victim.
e.Merger. Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:1-8 or any other provision of law, a conviction for bias intimidation shall not merge with a conviction of any of the underlying offenses referred to in subsection a. of this section, nor shall any conviction for such underlying offense merge with a conviction for bias intimidation. The court shall impose separate sentences upon a conviction for bias intimidation and a conviction of any underlying offense.