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News Link • Education: Government Schools

Teenagers In Massachusetts Pose With Airsoft Guns in Pre-Dance Photo...


There is another controversy raising the increasing assertion of authority of school officials over pictures and statements made by students outside of school. In Massachusetts, Jamie Pereira was suspended from school after a photo of her and her boyfriend, Tito Velez, both 16, holding Airsoft rifles was posted on Facebook. A caption beneath the photograph read: "Homecoming 2014." The picture looks like a new American Gothic for some and a threat to others. However, the controversy again raises the limits and discretion of school officials in monitoring speech outside of school for students and teachers alike. There was good reason to be concerned but the punishment was due to the disruption caused rather than an actual threat from the picture.

The admitted mistake of the teenage couple was to put "Homecoming" at the bottom of the picture. School officials were legitimately concerned but this was not a preventative step but a disciplinary action. There is no suggestion of an actual threat intended by the picture. I fail to see why such problems cannot be addressed with a reprimand and calling in the parents. Both students have been suspended for an unknown length of time.

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