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Ohio Schoolboys' Suspension For Farting On Bus Won't Blow Over

First Posted: 05/13/11 06:27 PM ET Updated: 11/16/11 05:39 AM ET

Boys Suspended Farting School Bus
Child discipline expert Dr. Michele Borba says that an Ohio middle school's decision to suspend 13-year-old Anthony Nichols for farting on the school bus reeks of poor judgement.

A week after two seventh-graders were kicked off their school bus and punished for alleged flatulence, child discipline experts say the incident still stinks to high hell.

In case you're just getting wind of this story, 13-year-old Anthony Nichols and a classmate faced a one-day suspension from Canal Winchester Middle School in Ohio last Friday after their bus driver reported the boys for passing gas on the bus.

Nichols' father, James, didn't deny the boy was a "repeat offender" when it comes to passing gas, sometimes to make the sort of joke that boys of that age will make. But he's fuming that school officials have described the impolite act as an "obscene gesture," as if he and his friend had "flipped someone off."

Now the tale of flatulence and punishment, first reported by the Columbus Dispatch, is making more than a little squeak, garnering national attention from CBS News, Gawker and the New York Daily News, even scoring a retweet from Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who let his 550,000 Twitter followers know, "I have no comment."

According to James Nichols, his son actually turned himself in, thinking that honesty would exempt him from punishment.

"Where is the logic?" he asked AOL Weird News. "I guess it is, 'Don't create disturbances on the bus,' but we go back again and whose fault was it that there was commotion? The person who farted or the people who reacted to it?"

Parenting and disciplinary experts tend to agree.

Dr. Michele Borba, a leading parenting educator and author who has appeared on NBC's "Today" show, said that the school district calling the incident an "obscene gesture" is going over the top.

"Obscene would be egregiously disrespectful, something that would offend every other child," Borba said. "Obscene would be something that would offend any other child's character and well-being. Is this obscene? No ... I can't imagine any other child on that bus that hasn't been exposed to this or done it himself."

Of course, safety is always the priority on the school bus -- and these boys were causing a ruckus -- but Borba said that there are much better discipline options the school could have chosen.

"Passing gas, burping, armpit farts, I don't care what they're doing. You separate them -- one in the back and one at the front," she said.

Another child discipline expert, Dr. Marvin Marshall, said the school certainly has the authority to punish a child for his actions on the school bus, but that doesn't mean school officials made the right call.

"The person who did the suspending should be suspended themself," Marshall said. "It is absolutely ridiculous to do this."

An official with the Canal Winchester School District said the school system could not comment on issues regarding student records.

For her part, though, Borba said labeling the incident as a violation of the school's code of conduct shows a lack of "common sense 101."

"Violation of a code of conduct is if a kid does an egregious act that is uncivil and intentional … but this is blown up to such a level now that its not a fair to the kid," she said.

As James Nichols said, "If you need to let one go, you need to let one go."

Despite his son's punishment, when it comes to the whole episode, the elder Nichols says the family is simply trying to keep a good sense of humor.

"We're just letting it all blow off," he said.

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