TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback issued an apology on Monday, saying his office overreacted to a disparaging tweet from a high school senior who used a crude hashtag in her post.
"My staff overreacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms," the governor said in a statement. "I also want to thank the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum. Again, I apologize for our overreaction."
Brownback issued the statement after the Shawnee Mission School District said 18-year-old Emma Sullivan wouldn't be punished for refusing to write an apology letter to the governor.
Sullivan's principal had earlier demanded the letter, which would have addressed her tweet during a class trip to Topeka last week as part of a Kansas Youth in Government program. In it, she boasted that she told Brownback "in person" that he "sucked" and used the hashtag #heblowsalot.
Brownback's office staff saw the tweet while monitoring social media and contacted the school. The governor has since faced ridicule for trying to police a teenager's Internet musings.
The school district issued a statement on Monday, saying it has reviewed the events and acknowledges the "student's right to freedom of speech and expression is constitutionally protected."
"Whether and to whom any apologies are issued will be left to the individuals involved," reads the statement.
"The issue has resulted in many teachable moments concerning the use of social media," it added.
On Sunday, Sullivan, whose musings on Twitter include support for Occupy protests and interest in the Twilight films and Justin Bieber, wrote, "I've decided not to write the letter but I hope this opens the door for average citizens to voice their opinion & to be heard."