Hilliard, OH – A Ohio high school student said he was suspended for a day because he stayed in his classroom and refused to join the national walk-out protests with the anti-gun crowd, or go with the pro-gun students to the a study hall.
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.
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Hilliard district spokeswoman Stacie Raterman told The Independent that he knew the consequences ahead of time.
She said about 10 students were disciplined for lingering outside after the protests.
“I can say that our students were given two options: one, attend the gathering or two, have a study hall,” Raterman said in an email to The Independent. “We are responsible for the safety of our students; we can’t allow students to be unsupervised. The study hall was our way of making sure our students were safe and supervised.”
“In any situation,” she continued, “we would explain to a student the choices, and explain what the consequences would be if they chose a different option. We would never blindside a student with a suspension without having a purposeful conversation ahead of time.”