A 16-year-old high school student and his girlfriend were reportedly suspended from school after posing with fake guns in pictures before a homecoming dance.
According to reports, Tito Velez and his 16-year-old girlfriend Jamie Pereira were posing for pictures before their dance at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School in Taunton, Massachusetts, when they decided that they would pose with two Airsoft guns.
Later on, the couple posted the photos online, and in turn, “hundreds of students” viewed them, ultimately causing a “significant disruption” at school the next day. As a result, both Velez and Pereira were suspended for up to 10 days and will soon face a hearing to decide when they can return to school.
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“We wanted something unique and different instead of using flowers like everyone else,” said Velez, who regularly participates in Airsoft games, to WCVB. “We were like, ‘let’s use something we like to do on the weekend as a prop.’ This [gun] isn’t dangerous, you can’t kill someone with it. We didn’t shoot anyone, we were pointing them at the floor.”
Pereira says she thinks that the school rushed to punish them, although she understands why they reacted the way they did.
“I think they took this way too far. Suspending us for 10 days and possible expulsion is way too much,” said Pereira.
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The two students’ parents believe the punishment is “ridiculous,” but the district’s superintendent defends his decision.
“It has nothing to do with free speech. Their behavior caused a significant disruption in the school,” said Superintendent Richard Gross. “We had our homecoming event on Friday and following that the students were looking at Facebook and, of course, it caused a tumult in the building.”