A middle school student from Ohio was suspended for 10 days after he liked an Instagram photo featuring an airsoft gun with the caption “ready.” The school, which has since rescinded the suspension, cited its rationale as follows: “Liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.”
The parents of the student, Zachary Bowlin, are furious with Edgewood Middle School.
"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,'" Zachary’s father, Marty Bowlin, said, according to the local Fox affiliate. "He never shared, he never commented, he never made a threatening post… [He] just liked it."
Zachary, who was inspected for weapons the next day at school, explained how the process unfolded.
"I liked it, scrolling down Instagram at night about 7, 8 o’clock, I liked it," Zachary said. "The next morning, they called me down [to the office], patted me down, and checked me for weapons."
The family said since the suspension has been withdrawn, there be no repercussions for Zachary liking the photo.
Fox 19 shared an email that the school sent out to parents:
“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.”
The school district’s superintendent, Russ Fussnecker, told Fox 19, "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."
It’s hard to say where you draw the line here. It sure seems like the school overstepped its bounds by suspending Zachary, but if they were made aware of his social media activity, didn’t do anything about it, and then something were to happen, it would be a very bad look for the school.
Perhaps simply searching him and taking no further action would have been the right call, but at this point it seems the situation has been resolved appropriately.