ELK RIVER, Minn. (AP) — The suspension of a high school student over a tweet about a teacher has district officials standing firm against pressure from students to reinstate the senior.
About two dozen students waved signs and chanted outside Rogers High School Tuesday in support of Reid Sagehorn, an honor roll student and football team captain, suspended until April 22. Police parked nearby and monitored the students who hooted and hollered as vehicles drove by and honked in support of the demonstration.
An online petition to reverse Sagehorn’s suspension already has more than 3,000 signatures and the hashtag “FreeReid” has also been trending on Twitter, KARE-TV reported (http://kare11.tv/1mrggHU ).
Sagehorn was suspended after he recently responded to an anonymous website post that said he was seen kissing a female gym teacher, according to the teen’s father, Curt Sagehorn. The younger Sagehorn tweeted “Actually, yes,” in response to the rumor post, which his father said was meant to be sarcastic.
Students said the suspension is an overreaction to the tweet.
“I think it’s pretty excessive that he got expelled for all of this,” said Nick Bridges, one of Reid’s friends.
Elk River Area School District Superintendent Mark Bezek said Sagehorn violated the district’s code of conduct for social media. He said the suspension should be a lesson for students to be careful about what they read and post on the Internet.
“This has been a very emotional experience for all people involved. There’s a lot of hurting people throughout the system,” Bezek said.
Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen says a student believed to have posted the rumor on a website has been identified and referred to prosecutors for possible charges.
Beahen says those who say school officials overreacted underestimate the impact that negative social media messages can have on innocent lives. Beahen says in this case, the teacher’s reputation and livelihood was at stake.