February 19, 1998

by Julian Heicklen

Smart on Crime & Centre County Libertarian Party

Hello! Thanks for coming out. Last week I announced that I would file charges against Police Officer Robert Noel for an illegal seizure. I have not done so, because I have become satisfied that the seizure was proper. He was in uniform. His name and badge were clearly visible on his uniform. Charges were filed.

The State College Police acted properly. They were helpful in directing traffic. During the week, Officer Noel contacted me twice to keep me abreast of events. All of our interactions were quite civil, as they should be. I think we can be proud of the way the police conducted themselves. I would like to give Officers Noel and Robb and the State College Police a round of applause. I hope that you will join me.

I will not be smoking today, and request that none of you do so. Our goal was to get into the courts. We have met that goal. Five of us soon will receive notices of our arrest. Our aim is not to break the anti-marijuana laws, but to nullify them.

Hopefully, we shall now proceed through trials. If we receive fair, impartial, and speedy trials by a jury of our peers, we shall proceed by that route. If not, we will consider other alternatives.

In the meantime, we will continue the Thursday noon seminars at College and Allen, but without smoking. It is necessary to continue them to show that our movement is alive and active. Your presence is necessary. It demonstrates support for the arrestees and acts as protection for them. The larger the crowd, the more protected they are.

There was one unfortunate occurrence as a result of last week's events. Ken Keltner, one of the arrestees is a student in the State College Area High School. He is in the Delta Program, which has an open lunch hour. Students are permitted to leave the school property during their lunch hour, which is what Ken did to participate in the Smoke Out.

Kathleen Kelly, Director of the Delta Program, approached Ken at about 11:30 on Friday, February 13, 1998, and showed him a newspaper clipping that reported his arrest. She said that Ken was in violation of the school drug and alcohol policy, which forbids drug or alcohol use by students during school hours. She suspended him for 3 days on the spot without a hearing. She accompanied him to his locker. He got his books and went home. He was told not to return to school until Wednesday, February 18, 1998. Ken called the school at 1:00 PM on Friday, February 13, 1998, to ask for an appeal. Ms. Kelly denied him an appeal.

On Wednesday, February 18, 1998, after the suspension period was over, Ken received a letter in the mail notifying him of the suspension. In order to remain in the program, Ken was informed that within 10 days he must have an assessment by a licensed drug and alcohol facility and that he must comply with the recommendations of that facility.

The public schools have a right to make and enforce regulations on school property. They have an obligation to protect minors that are under their care. However, they do not have the right to regulate the behavior of adults that are not on school property. Ken Keltner is 18 years old and is an adult. He was not on school property and violated no school regulation by being off the school property during his lunch hour. He was suspended without a hearing based on a newspaper report. He was denied the right of appeal.

The public schools are not law enforcement agencies, nor are they instruments of social policy. Their job is education. What they did in this case was to deny Mr. Keltner 3 days of education, which it is their obligation to provide, so that they could act as a law enforcement agency, which is not their function. This is a classic example of a police state in operation. Not only is it oppressive, but it loses sight of the interests of those it was meant to serve.

This is the tyranny that our movement is trying to end. On Sunday, February 15, 1998, I made separate telephone calls to Connie Martin, Chair of the State College Area School District, and two other School Board members, Sue Werner and Donna Queeney. I discussed this matter with them and advised them that if they would rescind the suspension, I would let the matter die quietly. All three of them informed me that the School Board did not have the authority to rescind an administrative decision. Imagine that!

Then I called School Superintendent Bill Opdenhoff and repeated my comments. He said that he would look into the matter. However the suspension was not rescinded.

We are in the midst of a national nightmare. The struggle to recover our moral compass will be long and difficult. With your help and support, we will succeed.