The suspension of a Minnesota high school student over a tweet about a teacher has district officials standing firm despite protests from students who say the honor roll student and football team captain should be allowed to resume his senior year.
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, KARE11.com reported.
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.
At least one district parent close to Sagehorn's family told MyFoxTwinCities.com he believes the district and the student must try to agree on a fair resolution to the case.
"The boy made a mistake. He stood up, admitted it," Tony Hajder told the station, adding that he doesn't think the punishment fits the crime.
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.
Law enforcement sources told MyFoxTwinCities.com the unidentified male student's Twitter account was used by multiple people who sometimes posted sexually explicit information about their peers. The student could be charged with criminal defamation of character.
Beahen told MyFoxTwinCities.com that the reactions of some individuals in response to the suspension has been "sinful" and added that no one has offered an apology so far.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.