Following claims of racism and inappropriate comments made by Ironwood Ridge High School students, one student is claiming she has been unfairly targeted, while another is seeking legal counsel.
The students were two of at least four suspended in the past month. About 100 others were talked to about behavioral issues, according to a school source.
After claims of racism surfaced – allegedly stemming from interactions between players in the school’s football program – Ironwood Ridge administration held an assembly on Oct. 29 to address the issue, and promised disciplinary action if students were caught demonstrating derogatory or racist behavior toward others.
An investigation was initiated to determine whether or not coaching staff was aware of the issue.
While the district will not comment on specific suspensions, they issued a press release addressing the broader issue late last month.
“We take these allegations very seriously,” it reads. “Upon learning about the allegations, the district office started an immediate investigation. We are continuing to interview students.”
Disciplinary action began after parents approached Principal Michael Szolowicz in late October, claiming their child had fallen victim to racist behavior within the football program.
The claims spurred a whirlwind of disciplinary recourse, in some cases for actions that did not occur on campus or during school hours.
One female student was suspended five days for a comment she made on her Twitter account, which quoted the movie “Mean Girls”.
The tweet, since deleted, read, “And on the third day, God created the Remington bolt-action rifle, so that man could fight the dinosaurs…and the homosexuals. AMEN.”
According to the suspension paperwork, “(The student) made posts on Twitter that exhibited negative attitudes and actions toward others on campus. The use of those words also exhibited negative symbolism toward other groups on campus.”
The student, who wished to remain anonymous, said she meant no ill will.
“That’s literally a quote from a movie, and I told them that, and they still gave me a five-day suspension,” she said. “I’m appalled. I was watching the movie, so I tweeted it. That’s it.”
A second student faced an even lengthier suspension after allegedly posting a video on the social media app Vine that made a joke about a certain race.
The district would not comment on whether the suspensions could be construed as a violation of First Amendment rights.
Mindy Blake, the Amphitheater’s director of community relations, provided a section of the middle and high school student code of conduct for reference.
A portion reads, “The principal may take disciplinary action when a student’s misconduct away from school has a detrimental effect on other students at school or on the orderly educational process of the district, because the violation is directly connected to prior violations at school or threatens to produce further violations or a risk of harm or injury at school.”
The Explorer will follow up with the student that is seeking legal counsel when it does not interfere with his case.