Then Hannah’s mother, Lynne Watters, spoke with the school’s principal by phone. The school immediately backed down, and said her daughter would not be suspended, nor would a suspension appear on her daughter’s record. That’s nice, but it’s too late. You can’t undue blatant intimidation designed to crush basic rights. The fact that she would be suspended at all, regardless of how long, because the school was embarrassed by its own conduct shows an administration that will abuse its power to cover up its incompetence.
Time to clean house. Fire them all.
To compound their flagrant exhibition of bad ethics, bullying and totalitarian inclinations, the administrators tried to lie their way out of this. The principal originally told Hannah’s mother that the girl was suspended for violating the high school’s code of conduct, including using a cell phone during school hours, using social media during school hours, and violating student privacy by photographing them. But Hannah posted the photo to social media after regular school hours. North Paulding High School students are allowed to use their cell phones during class.
The Paulding County School District’s Superintendent Brian Otott said in a letter to the community that the photo was taken “out of context, and wrote,
“Class changes at the high school level are a challenge when maintaining a specific schedule. It is an area we are continuing to work on in this new environment to find practicable ways to further limit students from congregating. Students are in this hallway environment for just a brief period as they move to their next class. … There is no question that the photo does not look good. … Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them.”
How can he say the photo was out of context? It showed a scene, in the school, that showed that students were not following best practices regarding the Wuhan virus. More malarkey: masks are a personal choice in a school and there is no way to enforce a mandate to wear them? How stupid does this guy think parents are? When I went to high school, there was a tie mandate for boys, and you bet the school enforced it—and the requirement had no identifiable purpose whatsoever. (It didn’t survive my senior year.) Of course a school could require students to wear masks.
Hannah admits she broke the policy on posting images of students to social media, but she doesn’t regret it. “I’d like to say this is some good and necessary trouble.My biggest concern is not only about me being safe, it’s about everyone being safe because behind every teacher, student and staff member there is a family, there are friends, and I would just want to keep everyone safe.”
She’s a true whistleblower. I also strongly suspect that posting a photo of a student on social media is not typically punished by suspension.
The school and school district attempted to punish Hannah for revealing their incompetence. They knew they had no basis to do so, and backed down immediately as soon as they were challenged. They knew they would have to back down, but felt it was worth it to send a message to other students that unacceptable speech—unacceptable to the powers that be, that is—would have unpleasant consequences. This is why so many in our rising generations have no appreciation of basic American values: the people who we entrust their minds to often have no appreciation of them either.
The best way to teach students that freedom of speech and expression must not be discouraged in our democracy by intimidation and threats is to send the administrators at North Paulding High School packing.