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Lawsuits at Suburban Chicago High School

Aired May 20, 2003 - 12:43   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of you might recall the long lost golden days when school was a bit more than -- well -- the three Rs.
These days, it seems you need more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. You need a lawyer too.

Apparently, that's the case in suburban Chicago tonight. Jeff Flock updates us on Glenbrook North High School and the developments earlier today. Here's Jeff tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lawyers, lawyers, lawyers. Criminal lawyers now represent the students on battery charges. Civil attorneys are suing the school board. School attorneys are defending their right to punish the students involved in the brutal hazing.

JAY STATLAND, STUDENTS' ATTORNEY, GLENBROOK NORTH HIGH SCHOOL, SUBURBAN CHICAGO: I've tried very hard to get the case resolved on a fair and equitable basis. But they won't do that.

FLOCK: What the school district has offered is a deal. The students can get their diploma if they do community service, get counseling, agree not to sign a book or movie deal, agree to be expelled, and not sue the school.

LAWRENCE WEINER, SCHOOL BOARD ATTORNEY, SUBURBAN CHICAGO: If they don't accept these deals, it may result in their expulsion by the board. And it may adversely impact some of their grades.

FLOCK: So far no one said yes. Instead, several students are pushing lawsuits to block the school from disciplining them.

Tuesday, it became a federal case. All the cases transferred to federal court because students allege their constitutional rights have been violated.

But a federal judge, Tuesday, ruled against two other students' request for a restraining order against the school, prompting some attorneys to consider the deal. The lawyer for one student says the deal is not specific about punishment, but he has no problem giving up the movie or book deals.

WEINER: This is an embarrassing situation for everybody. It was disgraceful -- the events that took place. It's more disgraceful -- or as disgraceful -- what's going on with it now. There should be no TV movies or anything like that.

FLOCK: One Glenbrook North parent whose daughter was not involved in the hazing said the students who were should just forget the lawyers and do what really needs to be done.

KIM PARKS, GLENBROOK NORTH HIGH SCHOOL PARENT: I don't see them doing the right thing -- at least, as far as coming forward and showing the regret, the sympathy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLOCK (on camera): And Bill, those students that have been offered that deal have until tomorrow to make their mind up. Also tomorrow in the federal courthouse -- you see back behind me -- there will be an emergency motion filed on behalf of one of the students to put that lawsuit back into the local courts. When you get the lawyers involved, it really gets to be fun.

That's the latest from here tonight.

HEMMER: We saw that last week. T

Thank you, Jeff. Flock tonight in suburban Chicago.

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