Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Insanity in Kansas

Reasons to stay out of Kansas:

Judge rules for mother in custody case where father is in Iraq


LAWRENCE, Kan. - A custody battle between a Marine stationed in Iraq and his estranged wife may have implications for all Kansas service members who are overseas, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

A Franklin County judge has twice ruled that a federal law meant to protect military personnel from civil litigation does not apply in the custody case between Marine Cpl. Levi Bradley and his estranged wife, Amber Bradley.

Levi Bradley, who has lived in Pomona and Ottawa, filed for divorce in May. When he was deployed to Iraq, he asked for a delay in the custody case over their 2-year-old son.

The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act, signed in 2003, shields military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan or other war zones from lawsuits and evictions until they are back in the U.S. The law required judges to postpone judgment for at least 90 days if the service member applies for more time.

Court records show that Levi Bradley and his mother, Starleen Bradley, had legal custody of the child when he was deployed in July. Amber Bradley, the Marine's estranged wife, signed the agreement.

Levi Bradley asked in October - a month before the first child custody hearing was scheduled - to delay further proceedings. The application included a letter from his commanding officer in Iraq and his own testimony, as the law requires.

But on Nov. 8, Franklin County Judge James Smith ruled that the mother should get custody of the child, saying the federal law didn't apply because the temporary action affected the child, not Levi Bradley himself.

Apology to student suspended for speaking Spanish in school

The boy, a high school junior, was sent home from the Endeavor Alternative School in the Turner School District on Nov. 28 for talking in Spanish, his native language, at lunch and later in the day. Principal Jennifer Watts sent him home and suspended him through the following day.

District officials said Watts told the boy's father the suspension was a direct result of his speaking Spanish. Superintendent of Schools Bobby Allen reversed the suspension within hours of learning about it from the father, the district said.

"As soon as he found out, he contacted the parent and said that should not have happened," said Bart Swartz, the district's executive director of certified personnel.

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