Airsoft Photo Gets Students Suspended, Possibly Expelled
Russ Chastain 10.28.14
A young fellow recently posted to an online airsoft community page that his school had suspended and harassed him and his girlfriend over a photo that had nothing whatsoever to do with the school.
Velez said he and his girlfriend were suspended for 10 days from their high school, Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School in Taunton, MA after posting the photo above and were even threatened with expulsion. The school reportedly claimed that the photo was “threatening.”
Update: The school’s claim of a threat is apparently based on the original photo’s caption, which reportedly read, “Homecoming 2014.”
He said they were taken aside and asked, “Why would you post something like that?” but were not allowed to respond. They were then separated and Velez’s bag, clothes, and locker were searched.
Velez also reported that “The school called the police and they had a cop speak to us without reading our rights and without our parents permission. We had no say in what happened and we never got a chance to defend ourselves.”
Velez said the school only allows 4.5 days of absence per student, so even if they’re not expelled the ten days’ suspension will force them to “pay for overpriced Saturday school and winter school” in order to pass.
An excerpt from Velez’s post:
I understand it was wrong to take a picture with guns but come on. My dad took the photos, in my house. The guns were pointed at the floor, on safety, mock mags in, and our fingers weren’t on the trigger. We had a responsible adult and he isn’t against airsoft. He knows gun safety and he keeps my guns, I don’t have them unless I’m out at the fields.
He’s wrong about one thing, of course. It is absolutely not wrong to take a picture with guns.
Velez also said, “If my school wanted to suspend everyone who posted a ‘threatening’ photo, then I couldn’t have a photo with a car because cars kill people.”
“So right now I’m trying to get this story out to people to try to show that the school is wrong and that it wasn’t a threat to anyone. The school is Bristol-Plymouth Voc/Tech in Taunton, MA. Please help me out guys, thanks.”
Well Tito Velez, this is me doing my best to help spread the word. I think you’re absolutely right and that the school’s response to this was way out of line.
A local news station has now also featured this story.
Here’s hoping we can make a positive difference in this situation.
Update 10-29-2014: Below is a letter from the school regarding this situation.