One teen’s controversial suspension at a Texas high school has angered people all over the country after news of it spread like wildfire on social media.
18-year-old Chris Tumax was in lunch at Rudder High School when he suddenly heard his special needs friend yelling behind him. When Tumax turned around, he saw his friend being tormented by some other students.
"I turned around and saw he was being harassed," said Tumax to KBTX. “I told the guys to be quiet and leave him alone.”
Shortly after, Tumax says he was called down to speak with school officials and was told he was being given one day’s suspension. Officials said that they were basing their decision off surveillance video of the incident, and, according to what they could see, Tumax was the aggressor in the situation because he stepped towards the bullies. The school officials made that decision without any context and didn’t even listen to the accounts of other students.
"They had to base it off what they saw in the cameras," said Tumax. "They saw me go forward, and that's the reason I got suspended."
Following Tumax’s suspension, his fellow students took to social media to demand that school officials reverse his suspension.
“Okay BISD, suspending a boy for sticking up for a special needs kid that was being bullied? you have a huge mess to clean up. #FreeTumax,” wrote Twitter user @heartificial.
Superintendent Dr. Thomas Wallis also took to Twitter, but instead of defending Tumax’s actions, Wallis made clear that it was a private matter.
"I appreciate the messages today, I do read them,” tweeted Wallis. “Please remember student discipline issued by a campus is a confidential matter."
An official school statement echoed the same sentiment and reminded people that they could not discuss the matter publicly.
"Individual student discipline is tied to confidential student records," the statement said. "Regardless of the circumstances surrounding any one event, by law the district cannot comment. These privacy boundaries are put in place to protect students and their confidential information."
Tumax says he is not angry with school officials for suspending him, but he does make clear that if he was faced with the same situation again, he would stand up for his bullied friend every time.
"My message is, go out and help somebody," said Tumax. "If you see it, don't hesitate, don't be scared. We're all human, we all need help, and we all have demons that we're fighting with."
According to reports, the suspension will not go on the student’s permanent record.