A senior at an upstate New York high school was suspended for inciting “a social media riot” when he had his classmates tweet their suggestions for what budget cuts his school could make in order to get the school’s failed budget passed.
Patrick Brown told the Syracuse Post-Standard that he created the Twitter hashtag, #sh*tCNSshoudcut, as a joke because students were discussing the failed budget and were also speculating about what activities or sports might be cut the following year.
The students tweeted their suggestions throughout the day and Brown expressed his opinion that the district cut the school principal’s job.
The school wasn’t amused with Brown’s opinion, and he was hauled into the office.
The Post-Standard reported:
I was called down to the office and told I was being suspended for harassment of teachers, which no harassment was ever committed,” Brown said. “I proved them wrong and instead they suspended me for cellphone use in class and disrupting the education process because the trend I started created a social media riot.”
Brown said he did use his cell phone during class, which violates the student code of conduct, but he said his teacher never acknowledged his cell phone use.
“It makes me uncomfortable that I can get in trouble for expressing my opinion,” Brown said. “I can understand if you tweet something that is threatening about the school or threatening about a teacher but that’s not what I did
“The worst part is that I disappointed my parents by being suspended,” he said.
The new Twitter hashtag, #FreePatBrown, took off when students learned of Brown’s suspension. People from all over the country joined in, discussing his First Amendment right and this particular school’s failure to honor it.