Is It Disorderly Conduct? And How Should the School Respond?

Author’s note: The North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals discussed below as to the adjudication for disorderly conduct. In re T.T.E., ___ N.C. ___, 831 S.E.2d 293 (2019). The state supreme court concluded that substantial evidence established that the juvenile perpetrated an “’annoying, disturbing, or alarming act … exceeding the bounds of social toleration normal for’” the high school during the course of the instructional day through a public disturbance by “’engaging in violent conduct’” by “’throwing a chair toward another student in the school’s cafeteria.’” 

A high school student throws a chair in the cafeteria. The chair doesn’t hit anyone; indeed, no one is in the immediate vicinity of the chair. The student runs out of the cafeteria. Has the student committed a crime? If so, how should school officials respond?

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