A student at Edgewood Middle School in Trenton, Ohio, was handed a 10-day suspension for “liking” the photo of an airsoft gun on Instagram.
The photo of the airsoft gun was captioned, “Ready.”
The student — Zachary Bowlin — “liked” the photo while at home one night and was called to the school’s office the next morning, searched for firearms, and given the suspension.
Fox 19 NOW quoted Zachery saying, “I liked [the photo], scrolling down Instagram at night about 7, 8 o’clock I liked it. The next morning, they called me down [to the office] patted me down and checked me for weapons.”
An email was sent to school parents which said:
Yesterday evening school officials were made aware to an alleged threat of a student bringing a gun to school. 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.
Zachery’s father, Marty, said, “I was livid, I mean, I’m sitting here thinking ‘you just suspended him for ten days for liking a picture of a gun on a social media site.” Marty stressed, “[Zachery] never shared, he never commented, he never made a threatening post… anything on the site, just liked it.”
School superintendent Russ Fussnecker sent a statement to Fox 19 NOW, which said:
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.
Following Fussnecker’s defense of the suspension, the school did an about-face and actually cancelled the suspension. Yet many students around the country — including students as young as four years old — have faced suspensions over zero-tolerance policies, and those suspensions have not been dropped.
On March 23, Breitbart News reported that four-year-old Hunter Jackson was suspended by A Place to Grow pre-school in Troy, Illinois, for bringing an empty .22 shell casing to school in his pocket. Hunter was excited because he had spent a day with his grandfather — who is a police officer — hunting and learning gun safety.
On March 29, Breitbart News reported that a five-year-old girl was suspended for picking up a stick at recess and making a “shooting motion.” The girl, Caitlin Miller, is a student in Hoke County, North Carolina.
ABC 11 published a statement in which the Hoke County School District defended the suspension:
Hoke County Schools will not tolerate assaults, threats or harassment from any student. Any student engaging in such behavior will be removed from the classroom or school environment for as long as is necessary to provide a safe and orderly environment for learning.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.