I protested peacefully this morning and got suspended. A man threatened a kid with a knife at a PTA meeting and got gently escorted from the school. Show me the logic. pic.twitter.com/dCzcn5DARG
— jo (@jo_herman16) March 14, 2018
A viral video making its way across the ether has many on social media wondering about the priorities of a high school that suspended multiple students who took part in the National Student Walk Out.
Highlighted by Jo Herman, a student who attends Rocky Point High School in Long Island, New York, the controversial video shows an adult man intensely arguing with a teenager during a PTA meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
At one point, the adult removes a knife from his pocket, and brandishes it, challenging the student, “What are you gonna do now? What are you gonna do now?”
The student appears visibly shaken and steps back in response to the apparent threat before darting off-camera. None of the adults move to do anything, but a few audience members begin to yell for the man to “stop.” A student shouts, “that’s illegal!”
Eventually the man was escorted from the school grounds.
Herman, a 17-year-old senior at Rocky Point, originally posted the video on Twitter with the caption:
I protested peacefully this morning and got suspended. A man threatened a kid with a knife at a PTA meeting and got gently escorted from the school. Show me the logic.
Law&Crime reached out to Herman, who said, of the incident, “it certainly is crazy.” According to Herman, roughly 30 students were suspended for one day of in-school suspension which occurred today. She said, “We also were banned from any after school activities, including sports, clubs, and educational programs for three days.” Herman noted that least one of the students who was suspended on Wednesday is pursuing legal action against the school district.
Herman also criticized the official response to both incidents. She noted, “I’m not sure whose parent had the knife but the disparity in punishment does annoy me a little, only because we had police officers present during the walkout but no law enforcement was called after the man showed his weapon at the meeting.”
Since being posted late Wednesday afternoon, Herman’s video has been viewed in excess of 670,000 times. The online response to the alleged disparate treatment was harsh and immediate. Another student at Rocky Point posted the following message on Twitter chastising the school’s decision-making:
I’m disgusted to even say that this is my HS. They never fail to consistently silence the students and allow for behavior like this to be inflicted on the kids. Let them fucking protest. Let them stand up for what’s wrong. Let them feel SAFE! https://t.co/ibRw9AyY2q
— Breanna (@bre_rennee) March 15, 2018
While seeking comment on this story, Law&Crime was directed to the school’s public relations company, Syntax Communication. Vice President Deirdre Gilligan issued the following statement, “The Rocky Point Union Free School District cannot comment on disciplinary measures.” Gilligan also provided the following statement from Superintendent Michael F. Ring, which reads, in relevant part:
I am writing today to communicate about an incident that occurred during our health and safety committee meeting last evening. During a discussion on the topic of armed security guards, a parent in attendance attempted to conduct a demonstration to reinforce his belief that all school districts should have such resources at their disposal.
While the district firmly acknowledges that the demonstration was ill-conceived and inappropriate for the venue, we believe that the act was not intended to compromise the safety of those in attendance. District personnel stopped the demonstration and members of our school security team removed the individual from the meeting. The district has contacted our dedicated Suffolk County Police Department School Resource Officer to report the incident.
Please know, that the safety and security of our students, staff and residents attending our meetings and other school functions is always of paramount concern.
[image via screengrab/Twitter/Jo Herman]