I will agree - The kid was wrong for some of his actions. However, considering the circumstances, the punishment should not be as severe. -------- Mother's call gets son in hot water BY ANGELIQUE SOENARIE Kevin Francois gave up his lunch break to talk to his mother, but it ended up costing him the rest of the school year. Francois, a junior at Spencer High School in Columbus, was suspended for disorderly conduct Wednesday after he was told to give up his cell phone at lunch while talking to his mother who is deployed in Iraq, he said. His mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, left in January for a one-year tour and serves with the 203rd Forward Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. "This is our first time separated like this," said Francois, 17, on Thursday. Bates came to Fort Benning with her son from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga. She enrolled him at Spencer in August. Since her deployment overseas, Francois, whose father was killed when he was 5 years old, lives with a guardian who has five children in Columbus. The incident happened when Francois received a call from his mother at 12:30 p.m., which he said was his lunch break. Francois said he went outside the school building to get a better reception when his mother called. A teacher who saw Francois on his phone told him to get off the phone. But he didn't. According to the Muscogee County School District Board of Education's policy, students are allowed to have cell phones in school, but cannot use them during school hours. "They are really allowed to have those cell phones so that after band or after chorus or after the debate and practices are over they have to coordinate with the parents," said Alfred Parham, assistant principal at Spencer. "They're not supposed to use them for conversating back and forth during school because if they were allowed to do that, they could be text messaging each other for test questions." Francois said he told the teacher, "This is my mom in Iraq. I'm not about to hang up on my mom." Francois said the teacher tried to take the phone, causing it to hang up. The student said he then went with the teacher to the school's office where he surrendered his phone. His mother called again at 12:37 p.m. and left a message scolding her son about hanging up and telling him to answer the phone when she calls. Parham said the teen's suspension was based on his reaction when he was asked to give up the cell phone and told about the school's cell phone policy. "Kevin got defiant and disorderly with Mr. Turner and another assistant principal," Parham said Thursday. "He got defiant with me. He refused to leave Mr. Turner's office. When a kid becomes out of control like that they can either be arrested or suspended for 10 days. Now being that his mother is in Iraq, we're not trying to cause her any undue hardship; he was suspended for 10 days." Wendall Turner is another assistant principal at Spencer. Parham said the student used profanity when he was taken into the office. He said he tried to work out something with the student. But Francois said he was too frustrated he couldn't answer the phone when his mother called him the second time. "I even asked Kevin, 'You know we can try to work something out to where if your mother wants to call you she can call you at the school,'" Parham said. "So we've tried to work with Kevin and we're going to continue to try to work with Kevin and his mother and his relatives. In the course of good order and discipline, we have to abide by our policy." Francois admitted he was partially at fault for his behavior but said he should have been allowed to talk to his mother. "I was mad at the time, but I feel now maybe I should've went about it differently," he said. "Maybe I should've just waited outside to pick up the phone. But I don't I feel I should've changed any of my actions. I feel I was right by not hanging up the phone." For Francois, he said he gets to hear from his mother once a month, and phone calls vary depending on when she can use the phone in Iraq. Francois said his mother calls as late as 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. and tries to catch him during hours he's awake. He said the phone call Wednesday was the first time she called him while he was at school. Francois, who said he's been struggling with his grades in school, wants to go back to school and finish the rest of his year. He fears he may have pay for summer school because of his punishment. "My grades had been low, but I was bringing them up. My grades were coming back up. On one of my report cards I had like a 'F' in one of my classes, but I brought it back up to a low 'C.' This just brought me all the way down."