A couple of days ago we had the kid in Colorado who was temporarily barred from school after his mom took him target shooting and he posted about it on social media. A student who saw the social media post utilized the state’s Safe2Tell hotline and contacted authorities, leading to a visit by police and a threat assessment by the school before junior Nate Evans could return to school.
This is starting to turn into an ugly trend. In Iola, Texas a student was searched by police and will be “disciplined according to district policy” for posting an old photo of him shooting with an adult, with a caption that included the word “school”.
“It was a young student, had a handgun in the picture and part of the wording on the picture it had the word “school” in it. So we take that stuff very seriously here. As we investigated we found out the picture was a four-year-old picture,” said Scott Martindale, Iola ISD Superintendent.
“The picture had a caption that mentioned school. It did not threaten the school whatsoever it just mentioned the school,” he explained.
If there was no threat to the school whatsoever then what on earth was the reason to pat this kid down and treat him like a potential school shooter? Even the local sheriff’s office says the entire reason they got involved was because the word “school” was used in a non-threatening manner in a social media post where a firearm was being safely handled under the watchful eyes of a grown up.
While no threat made to the school, the Grimes County Sheriff’s Office said there still was a need to investigate.
“The issue was not that the juvenile had a firearm, he was under adult supervision at the time he had the firearm. The sole reason for the investigation was that the comment was made about the school in conjunction with a firearm,” said Lt. Daniel Wagnon, with the Grimes County Sheriff’s Office.
This is what a moral panic looks like. And what’s worse is that at least one school board member says the district did the right thing. Barry Lemley, who has a couple of kids in the school district, said “That’s another sign of our times. We’ve got to be extra careful on what we post.” Or, how about adults don’t lose their minds and use some logic, reason, and common sense instead of acting paranoid. It’s one thing to take threats to the school seriously. Every parent should be on board with that. It’s another thing entirely to turn something non-threatening into a threat in order to take it seriously.
As bad as this is, the kicker is that this isn’t over for the poor kid.
The superintendent said Friday the boy will be disciplined according to district policy. Parents and guardians were notified by the district of that incident.
The County Attorney is also reviewing the case. At this time no charges have been filed.
I’m starting to think every adult in Grimes County, Texas has lost their ever-loving minds. The kid is going to be disciplined? For what exactly? The superintendent and sheriff say that there was no threat to the school. And what is there for the County Attorney to review? A social media post that didn’t threaten any violence.
Look, I don’t know exactly what this elementary school kid posted on social media, but we do know that according to the superintendent and the sheriff, it wasn’t threatening. That should have been the end of the story. Instead, the County Attorney is getting involved and the school’s going to punish the student for using the wrong word in a social media post.
If I were the parents of this child I’d be hiring a lawyer or reaching out to the folks at the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education. There is no way I would blindly accept punishment for my child when they did nothing wrong, and frankly every other parent in the district should get on board. Tomorrow it could be their child caught in the crosshairs of adults who want so want to reassure parents they’re taking school security seriously that they’re treating non-threatening social media posts as something that must be punished.
They say it takes three to make a trend. The Labor Day weekend may curtail any more of these stories from appearing until the middle of next week, but I’ll be on the lookout. Between Nate Evans in Colorado and this poor kid in Texas, we’re two thirds of the way towards a really troubling trend in our schools.