High School Student Suspended for Refusing to Join Political Protest

High school students across the U.S. walked out of class on Wednesday to protest in favor of gun reform. The demonstration was in response to the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month.

Protests lasted for 17 minutes: one minute for each victim. One student didn't want to take sides in the gun control war, so he attempted to remain in his classroom. He was promptly suspended for refusing to leave.

Jacob Shoemaker, a Hilliard Davidson High School senior in Ohio, refused to join his classmates in taking part of the 'National Walkout'. Students were given the option to join the anti-gun protests and walk out, or to join a special study hall.

Jacob didn't feel that politics should play a role in the classroom, and he refused to take sides. He argued that divisive politics should be kept out of schools.

The school insists that he wasn’t suspended for refusing to protest, but for refusing to follow orders. The school cannot leave him alone in the empty classroom, and refused to spare a teacher to allow for students who didn't want to get political.

His refusal to choose the anti-gun or pro-second amendment options left him with a suspension notice.

“Student refused to follow instructions after being warned repeatedly by several administrators,” said the form letter posted by Jacob online “Student not permitted on school property.”

Stacie Raterman, a spokesperson for the district, said that for 'security reasons', the staff and faculty are not allowed to leave students unattended. There was no word on why a teacher wasn't left to tend class for any students who chose to stay neutral.

In response to the statement, many media outlets posted that it was ‘fake news’ that a student was suspended because he wouldn’t participate in protests.

Jacob and his family were surprised by the attention they got over the young man's suspension. Scott Shoemaker, Jacob's father, says that some people got the story mixed up and thought that Jacob was prohibited from joining the walk-out. They also accidentally thought that Mr. Shoemaker was the principal.

He received angry emails and phone calls, along with a couple of death threats, from people who believed that Jacob's rights had been violated.

Jacob and his father went to the media to set the record straight. They confirmed that Jacob was, in fact, suspended. They also argued that he had a right not to choose sides. The 18-year-old student claims that at the time he knew what he was doing and that he’s firm in his position; he’s willing to accept the consequences for his actions.

Scott doesn’t believe his son should be punished for his refusal to take sides. He was in class, right where he was supposed to be, at the time of the incident. Still, he wishes that people would not make a big ordeal out of his son’s choice and just move on.

It's interesting that schools are reluctant to interfere with the rights of some students when they take a political stand, but not others. Many schools have stood back as students walked out, refused to salute the flag or stand for the National Anthem, but a student not wanting to participate in political protests at all gets penalized.

Source: IJR
Photos: Scallywag & Vagabond, 10TV

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