7th grader suspended 10 days for ‘liking’ gun photo
After learning about the 13-year-old student’s “threatening” social media activity, Edgewood Middle School officials were quick to send his parents a notice with an explanation for kicking him off campus for two weeks.
“[Zachary is suspended for] liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence,” the note sent home with 7th-grade Zachary Bowlin read, according to FOX19.
Criminalizing kids …
The simple social media like warranted a school pat-down for the student the following day.
“I liked it, scrolling down Instagram at night about 7, 8 o’clock – I liked it,” Bowlin explained to FOX19. “The next morning, they called me down [to the office]. patted me down and checked me for weapons.”
Livid over the suspension, the boy’s parents could not see any justification for such a disciplinary measure – or any punishment, for that matter.
“It was 10 days suspension with the possibility of expulsion,” the boy’s father, Marty Bowlin, told WLWT TV. “I’m like, ‘For liking a gun? Did he make a comment or threat or anything?’ And it’s like, ‘No. He just liked a picture.’ I’m like, ‘Well, this can’t happen.'”
In order to get the support of parents for taking such precautions, the school sent the following email out to parents:
“Yesterday evening, school officials were made aware to an alleged threat of a student bringing a gun to school,” the email issued by the school Friday morning read. “We act on any potential threat to student safety swiftly and with the utmost importance. This morning, the alleged threat was addressed and we can assure you that all students at Edgewood Middle School are safe and school will continue as normal. Thank you.”
In another attempt to justify the extreme action, Edgewood City Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker insisted that the school stood 100-percent behind its decision to take immediate precautionary measures.
“When you’re dealing with school districts nowadays and there are pictures of guns – regardless of the kind of gun it is – it’s a gun,” Edgewood City Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker told WLWT. “I cannot just turn my head and act as if, well, I think it may have been playful and take the chance that something happens. I can’t take a chance.”
Contrary to Fussnecker’s statement above, it turned out that it did, in fact, matter what kind of gun was in the photo, as the suspension was lifted after it was confirmed that the actual gun photographed was a pellet gun that could be purchased at a toy store, a sporting goods story, or at the local Walmart.
“The suspension was for both Bowlin and the boy who took the photo,” AOL.com reported. “Once Fussnecker found out the gun was for pellets, it was revoked. Bowlin can return to school without penalty.”
In a follow-up attempt to quell the media firestorm over the blatantly inappropriate and unjustified suspensions, Fussnecker prepared a statement that he sent to FOX19:
“Concerning the recent social media posting of a gun with the caption ‘Ready,’ and the liking of this post by another student, the policy at Edgewood City Schools reads as follows: The Board has a ‘zero tolerance’ of violent, disruptive, harassing, intimidating, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior by its students. Furthermore, the policy states: Students are also subject to discipline as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct that occurs off school property when the misbehavior adversely affects the educational process. As the Superintendent of the Edgewood City Schools, I assure you that any social media threat will be taken serious including those who ‘like’ the post when it potentially endangers the health and safety of students or adversely affects the educational process.”
Not the first time …
With schools going ballistic on their gun-control policies of late – especially under the eight years of the anti-gun Obama administration – there have been many cases in recent years of administrators subjecting students to ridiculous punishments for having anything to do with guns … even if they are fake.
It is reported by WND that since the turn of the century, there have been at least 15 cases when schools went haywire over just the “idea of guns” on campuses throughout the United States.
Just over two years ago, elementary school officials were worked up into a frenzy when a broken toy gun was accidently brought to school by a student who actually took it upon himself to let the teacher know.
“In 2014, school officials in Chicago hit the ceiling when a 6th-grader apparently forgot an inoperable plastic toy gun in his jacket pocket when he went to school,” WND reported. “Although the student, Caden Cook, in Frederick Funston Elementary School, called a teacher’s attention to the plastic toy, he was suspended for two months for violating the district’s ‘dangerous weapons’ policy – an action the school district shortly later reversed.”
Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead, who provided legal representation for the student, said the extremist gun-control policies exercised at public schools across the nation make campuses resemble what is seen during prison lockdowns.
“This is one of those rare occasions where reason prevails in the midst of the lunacy of zero tolerance policies, which are transforming our schools into quasi-prisons,” Whitehead stated at the time, according to WND. “Let us hope that other schools across the country will take note of this case, and realize that we will not stand idly by while our children are threatened by an increasingly authoritarian government that has no interest in the rights of students.”