Following widespread national media attention, outrage continues to grow surrounding the controversial suspension of a 16-year-old Florida student who reportedly helped disarm a gunman on a school bus, potentially saving at least one life. School officials dispute those reports. Now, however, a national youth-rights organization has officially become involved in the case to advocate on behalf of the suspended teen and have his permanent record cleared. Members of the local community have also rallied to the cause.
The student in question, whose name is being withheld by The New American and other media outlets for safety reasons, was supposedly disciplined for failing to cooperate with school officials and the investigation after the incident, an amended document from the school obtained by TNA shows. The original reason cited for the suspension was being "involved" in an incident in which a "weapon was present." It appears to critics of the school decision, though, that suspending the teen after such a reportedly heroic act was a display of poor judgment at the very least, and that officials are now trying to rationalize the move.
After originally reporting the news on March 4, The New American obtained e-mail correspondence from the school principal indicating that the narrative as portrayed in the press was inaccurate and that there was more to the story. Local media outlets were the first to report the controversial suspension, which quickly resulted in national and even international attention. Based on the information available at the time, critics of the decision were outraged and quickly rallied to the student’s cause.
The school principal, however, was clearly upset by the negative attention directed at her and Cypress Lake High School in Ft. Myers. “I just wish people would use common sense and realize there is MUCH more to the story,” Principal Tracy Perkins stated in an e-mail to an individual who criticized the suspension, adding that, by law, she was not allowed to disclose all the details of what transpired. “I agree that it would be ABSOLUTELY ABSURD to punish a student for doing something heroic.”
In a phone interview with The New American, she echoed those remarks. "As per school law, I'm not allowed to discuss information related to student behavior and discipline, but ... there is more to the story," she said. "The media took some students' information to be 100 percent factual, but they do not have the entire story. If you read between the lines, you'll see there is a lot more involved."
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