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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Suspended for racist images, boys sue school

Four Bay Area 11th graders suspended for “liking” or commenting on a racist Instagram image have sued the school district and administration for violating their free speech rights and subjecting them “to public ridicule, shaming and violence,” reports Matthias Gafni in the San Jose Mercury News.

Albany High students protest racist classmates.

On March 20, Albany High students told teachers about a student’s Instagram account, which included photos “of 11 students — most of them girls, and all but one a person of color — and the school’s African-American girls’ basketball coach, reports Gafni. “The images included nooses drawn around necks of those photographed and side-by-side photos of the girls and apes.”

Most of the high school’s students are white and Asian-American;  about 5 percent of students are African-American.

Other students were suspended for giving each other Nazi salutes in the hallways.

After their suspensions ended, the boys were forced to take part in  “healing” exercises, the lawsuit charges. 

“The plaintiffs and the other suspended students were forced to march through the high school and were lined up in full view of all or most of the student body,” according to the lawsuit. “School administrators allowed the student body to hurl obscenities, scream profanities, and jeer at the plaintiffs and the other suspended students, who were all not allowed to leave what the school considered an act of ‘atonement’ but was rather a thinly veiled form of public shaming.” A parent eventually convinced administrators to stop the event, the plaintiffs allege. On March 30, the plaintiffs and other suspended students attended another “restorative justice” session where a few hundred protesters gathered outside. They allege administrators failed to get sufficient security to escort them out of the building, leading to two suspended students being physically assaulted, with one suffering a broken nose, the lawsuit alleges.

Some of the suspended students requested 20 days of independent study, according to the lawsuit, while “others returned with bodyguards provided by the district.”

A middle-school boy in Ohio was suspended for 10 days for “liking” a picture of an AirSoft gun on Instagram, reports Robby Soave on Reason.

Zachary Bowlin was surfing at home in the evening when he spotted the photo.

Edgewood City Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker (great name!) said the “like” was a “threat,” possibly because the photo’s caption was “Ready.”

The suspension eventually was canceled.

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