A federal appeals court has upheld the petty misdemeanor arrest of an Albuquerque, NM, student accused of repeatedly disrupting his middle school class with loud burps. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week ruled that the officer and educators named in the lawsuit were entitled to immunity, and that the arrest was justified under a New Mexico law that prohibits anyone from interfering in the education process, the AP reports. The student was a seventh-grader at Albuquerque's Cleveland Middle School at the time of the May 2011 arrest. He is not named in court documents. His mother filed the lawsuit against the school's principals and the police officer who escorted the boy to his patrol car before patting him down, cuffing him, and taking him to a juvenile detention center.
The boy, then 13, was held for an hour before his mother arrived. She argued her son's arrest was unlawful and resulted in excessive force. At worst, he "was being a class-clown and engaged in behavior that would have subjected generations of school boys to an after-school detention, writing lines, or a call to his parents," a complaint filed by her attorneys said. According to the school, the boy was in physical education class when his teacher said he began making other students laugh with fake burps. The teacher sent him to the hallway, where he continued burping and leaning into the classroom so the students could hear. That's when the officer assigned to the school was called to the hallway where the boy was seated, according to court documents. Before the officer led him away, the boy disputed the version of events provided to the officer by his teacher. He was suspended for the remainder of the school year.