Cell-phone student back at school after suspension
High school junior punished after talking to mom in Iraq
(CNN) -- A Georgia student, suspended after violating his high school's cell-phone ban to talk to his mother in Iraq, returned to class on Monday.
Officials at Spencer High School in Columbus shortened a 10-day suspension for Kevin Francois, 17.
Although cell-phone use is prohibited at the school, officials said Kevin was being punished for using profanity after a teacher interrupted his call from Iraq -- where his mother, a U.S. Army soldier, is serving in the Iraq war.
Kevin denied cursing during the incident.
On Friday, the incident attracted national news media attention, prompting a flood of e-mail to the school. By Friday afternoon, school officials told Kevin his suspension would be shortened to the two days he had served.
On Monday, Principal Olivia Rutledge, Assistant Principal Al Parham and two school counselors met with Kevin and his guardian, according to a statement released by the school.
"Kevin is now back in class at Spencer, following a conference in which behavior expectations were discussed and methods of supporting Kevin were outlined," the statement said.
"Kevin will not be penalized for his two-day suspension, and his guardian will meet on Tuesday with Kevin's counselor and teachers regarding his overall academic progress this semester."
The incident began Wednesday, when Kevin's mother called him from Iraq while he was at school on a lunch break. School officials said Kevin used profanity after a teacher interrupted the conversation, citing the school's cell-phone ban.
"The suspension was really incidental to the telephone. It was the behavior of the student, using profanity, screaming at the teacher," said John Phillips Jr., superintendent for the Muscogee County School District.
"He became very belligerent and very threatening to her" when she asked him to turn over the phone, Phillips said.
Kevin, a junior, disputed the school's version of the incident. "I was just talking to them and they wouldn't listen to me about talking to my mom," he said last week. "I didn't curse at them."
Phillips said the teacher was not aware at the time that Kevin was on the phone with his mother in Iraq.
"I'm sure if she was aware of that, she would have acted much differently in dealing with the matter," Phillips said.
The boy lives with an aunt, who is his guardian while his mother is away, Phillips said. He said Kevin knew it was against school policy to use a cell phone on school grounds.
The school, which is near Fort Benning, often arranges for students to receive calls from parents who are deployed with the military, Phillips said. More than 3,700 students in the district are from military families.