Suspended Colorado teen given time served for having fake rifles |

Suspended Colorado teen given time served for having fake rifles

April M. Washington
Rocky Mountain News
Denver, CO Colorado
Dennis Schroeder/Rocky Moutnain NewsMarie Morrow, a member of the Young Marines drill team, works with one of two drill guns she uses for drill practice outside of her cousin's Aurora home Thursday.

DENVER, Colorado ” Cherry Creek schools decided to stand down in the discipline of a teen suspended last week for having fake wooden rifles for her drill team in her car.

Marie Morrow, 17, received time served and will return to Cherokee Trail High School Feb. 20 ” two days after her official visit to the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., where she hopes to attend after graduation, said her mother, Jennifer McGrew.

“They gave her time served,” said McGrew, referring to the 10-day suspension Morrow received on Feb. 5. “We are thrilled this whole entire ordeal is over. It’s been a crazy week.”

Cherry Creek Superintendent Mary Chesley ruled Friday that Morrow could return to school as early as Feb. 18, when classes resume for Cherry Creek schools. Students will have off Monday for President’s Day and Tuesday for a teacher in-service day.

The expedited decision comes a day after Morrow’s expulsion hearing before an independent hearing officer.

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During the hearing, Morrow was praised by Cherry Creek Schools officials, Parker’s mayor and retired military personnel as a bright, focused and highly responsible student who simple forgot she left the prop guns in her Dodge Durango parked at the Aurora high school campus.

Morrow’s schoolgirl slip ran afoul of a “zero-tolerance” state law that requires expulsion of any student seen with a dangerous weapon on school grounds or at school events unless the student has permission. Dangerous weapons include facsimiles.

Her case triggered public outrage, with talk show radio hosts blasting the state law and school officials who said their hands were tied.

Her case also prompted calls for changing the law to give schools some discretion in how to respond to similar circumstances.

Morrow’s attorney, David Lane, said Thursday that he expected the teen to be reinstated as early as Friday.

Under district rules, the superintendent had five days after the hearing officer submitted a written recommendation to render a decision.

Cherry Creek Schools cannot reveal any information related to the case because of federal privacy laws governing students, said Tustin Amole, district spokeswoman.

She said Superintendent Chesley did not expedite her decision to speed up Morrow’s return to school.

“It’s not unusual for us to get it (the hearing report) the following day,” she said. “We typically receive the reports within 24 hours. Once we receive the report, a decision is usually made quickly.”

Morrow was bounced from school for 10 days after other students reported the fake rifles, one wrapped in duct tape, in her car.

Morrow, who is a commander of the Douglas County Young Marines drill team, kept the fake guns and drill team equipment in her car because her drill team is practicing after school three days a week in preparation for an April 18 competition at the Air Force Academy.

State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, plans to introduce a measure next week to allow schools to use their better judgment in cases where a facsimile gun is found on school grounds and there is no intent to cause harm.

Morrow’s mother said she hopes something positive comes from her daughter’s tough week.

“It’s good to see that people care about my daughter and her future,” she said. “It’s very important that we make sure this doesn’t happen again to a good kid.”

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