Greenbrier, AR – A student at an Arkansas high school said he received a paddling for participating in the national student anti-gun protests on Wednesday
Wylie Greer, a student at Greenbrier High School, told CNN that he received two swats from a wooden paddle for participating in National Walkout Day.
“He lightly gave me two swats and told me to go about my day,” Greer said. “He also explained that not all corporal punishment sessions ended like that. It was implied that he didn’t hit me as hard as he could have.”
Greer said that only three students walked out of their classes to protest gun violence on March 14.
He said that while they were outside, the principal approached them and asked if they knew there would be consequences for skipping class. Greer said the students told their principal that they knew there would be consequences.
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After their walkout, Greer said the school gave them a choice. They could either take two days of in-school suspension, or two swats from the paddle.
“In my mind, the in-school suspension was essentially conceding to sitting down and shutting up, which is what the admin and school wanted to happen, to keep it quiet almost,” Greer said. “I felt if I stood up and took the punishment in an honorable way, that it was better than doing what they wanted me to do which is shut up and go on with our lives. I don’t think that they expected me to take the corporal punishment.”
Greer said the dean of students told them they were being disciplined for skipping class, not for their political opinions.
Greenbrier Schools Superintendent Scott Spainhour told CNN that the students were disciplined for walking out of class.
Spainhour also pointed out that paddling students in public schools was legal in Arkansas.
Jerusalem Greer, Wylie’s mother, tweeted her support for her son and his classmates.
“Wylie’s father and I are so proud of his courage, his conviction, and his honesty,” she told CNN. “He could have sensationalized his experience, but he didn’t. We believe that it is important to empower our kids, in mature and developmentally appropriate ways, to be their own persons. Corporal Punishment of students should not be legal in any form.”
In contrast, an Ohio high school student was suspended because he did not participate in National Walkout Day at his school.
High school senior Jacob Shoemaker said that his school wasn’t a place for politics and he wasn’t taking sides in the national debate when he refused to walk out on March 14, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The Hilliard City School District said that it is responsible for students’ safety and that students can’t be unsupervised.
Scott Shoemaker, Jacob Shoemaker’s father, posted on Facebook about his son’s suspension.
“My son was suspended for not leaving the room to either join a demonstration or reporting to the commons,” the father wrote. “He was uncomfortable going to either location as he thought that going outside would most likely be politicizing a horrific event which he wanted no part of, but staying inside would make him look disrespectful or insensitive to 17 innocent victims if it turned out to be more of a memorial service.”
“This had nothing to do with his own political beliefs, but with politics in school in general. Students should not have been forced to choose a side,” Scott Shoemaker continued. “He got support from students on both sides of the political aisle after returning today [March 16], but he felt there were many other students and staff angry with him.”
According to the Massillon newspaper The Independent, Jacob told his father about his thoughts before going to school.
The father quoted his son as saying, “The biggest problem, Dad, is that there shouldn’t be politics in the classroom… I may just sit in my seat. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the least intrusive of the choices I’ve been given.”
The boy told his father there were other students who felt that way.
Hilliard district spokeswoman Stacie Raterman told The Independent that students were told of the consequences ahead of time, and that all students had the option to either participate in the walkout, or go to study hall.