So reports Village Soup / the Knox County Times (thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer). Apparently "it seems some Camden-Rockport Middle School eighth-grade boys are ... making a game of seeing who can expel the loudest and grossest flatus"; the school responds by threatening detention for "intentional farting."
Reader James Paternoster asks whether the school can do this. I answer yes, and it should, both to avoid distraction and to teach students how to behave. And detention seems a sensible punishment -- enough to be something of a deterrent, but not something that would interfere with the students' education or be otherwise excessive (as expulsion or a long suspension would be).
True, I'd hate to try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case that a fart was intentional. But school discipline isn't a criminal case, there's no need to prove the intent beyond a reasonable doubt, and often the students' statements, giggles, and other behavior will give a perfectly adequate clue to the clueful teacher. Perhaps experience will show the school that for some reason this policy won't work, but it certainly seems to me to be worth trying.