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Student returns after animation flap

Williamstown High removed the 18-year-old after he animated a stick-figure shooting. He filed suit.

A student who filed a federal lawsuit after he was removed from his high school because of a crude animation he made of a shooting has been allowed back in class.

The Williamstown High School student, identified in court papers only by his initials, D.K., was allowed back last week. Yesterday, a judge said he would sign an order spelling out that the student's permanent record would not mention his ouster and that the school would agree to provide him tutoring to make up for the three days of classes he missed.

Judge Joseph Irenas said there was no indication the 18-year-old was a threat. In fact, he said, his animation seemed mild compared with the handheld video games that he guessed 30 percent to 40 percent of students play.

The dustup began on April 16, the day a Virginia Tech student killed 32 people.

A computer graphics teacher assigned D.K. and his classmates to make animations. The next day, she saw what D.K. had done and became alarmed. The drawing by the wiry teen showed one stick figure shooting another.

Two days after that, a school administrator told D.K., an honor student and a leader of the Air Force Junior ROTC unit at his school, that he would have to leave school until a psychiatrist determined he was not a threat. But, the vice principal told him, he was not suspended or expelled.

The teen filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Camden claiming his civil rights had been violated. His lawyer said the student wants to go into the media business and feared his offers of acceptance at three colleges might be taken back if administrators there heard about the incident.

In court papers, he said the student did not mean to show violence. He was planning to have the bullet in his animation bounce off the victim.

After the lawsuit was filed, the school district quickly retreated and told him on April 24 that he would be allowed back. The student did not attend class again until Monday, though, because he was sick last week.

But the case is not over. The legal question of whether the district violated D.K.'s civil rights remains.

A lawyer for the district said she would not comment on the case.