Zero Tolerance

Kids Took Homecoming Pics with Toy Guns, Pandemonium Ensued

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Velez
Tito Velez / Facebook

Taunton, Massachusetts, high school students Tito Velez and Jaime Pereira were all dressed up for their homecoming dance when they decided to take a few pictures. Velez is an airsoft rifle enthusiast, according to his Facebook page, so the couple posed with fake weapons for a picture. They posted it on Facebook with the caption "Homecoming 2014."

Predictably, the school interpreted the photo as a threat to shoot up the dance. Administrators suspended the students for 10 days. 

"They are juniors in high school, they know it's provocative and they should know better," said Superintendent Richard Gross in an interview with WHDH. "Things like that scare students."

The teens maintain that they weren't trying to scare anyone. The photo was taken in one of their own homes. No airsoft guns were brought onto school property.

"It was just a photo," said Velez. "It's not in the yearbook. There's nothing against photos on a personal profile."

The couple is still awaiting formal disciplinary charges, which could actually be much worse than a mere 10-day suspension.

Rational response to a credible threat, or absurd crackdown on a perfectly legitimate, innocent hobby? I suppose it's a matter of perspective. Either way, these kids don't deserve to have their futures ruined over a misunderstanding.

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  1. They’re setting a bad example for other children who have access to fake guns who would actually take them to school if they could formulate such a plan.

  2. If they or their parents were regular readers of Reason, they’d have known it was provocative. Now where’s my free subscription?

  3. Either way, these kids don’t deserve to have their futures ruined over a misunderstanding.

    They don’t deserve to have their futures ruined over a perfect understanding, either.

  4. I know this may sound like kind of naive but on what grounds can the school impose disciplnary sanctions since this is like none of their fucking buisness?

    1. I believe it’s on the grounds of “Fuck You That’s Why”.

    2. The Supreme Court extended their reach off campus in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case.

      1. However, insane, stupid and sadistic as the war on drugs is that message can/could reasonably be construed as promoting an illegal activity.

        Recreational use of an airsoft rifle is completeley 100% legal.

        1. Oh, I agree. I’m just pointing out that SCOTUS thinks it’s OK. Just like Thomas was OK with the idea of strip-searching an 11-year-old to find an Advil.

          1. I would fight this like hel. The parents should be seeking/threatening legal action unless the suspension is overturned and they’re promised no further sanctions will follow.

      2. That’s not how I read it.

        Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, concluded that the school officials did not violate the First Amendment. To do so, he made three legal determinations: first, that “school speech” doctrine should apply because Frederick’s speech occurred “at a school event”; second, that the speech was “reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use”; and third, that a principal may legally restrict that speech?based on the three existing First Amendment school speech precedents, other Constitutional jurisprudence relating to schools, and a school’s “important?indeed, perhaps compelling interest” in deterring drug use by students.

        1. Is Facebook not a jr high event?

          1. Apparently. And they were getting ready for Homecoming, so…

            I suppose they can dole out punishments for brushing your teeth incorrectly too, as you’re getting ready for school? They can search your home, just like your locker…what’s mine is theirs.

            1. The CDC has the “brushing your teeth” angle already covered.

    3. The school owns them 24/7, they need to learn that lesson.
      It prepares them for Government ownership as adults.

        1. How can they be socialized if they cannot be suspended?

          1. Hey, we homeschool. In order to socialize the kids properly, we take them out once a month and beat them up and take their lunch money.

    4. Schools can and will discipline kids for parties that happen on the weekend. What do you think all the resource officers are doing at school besides scrolling social media sites looking for anything. I graduated from highschool in 09 and you could get suspended(and people did) for simply being photographed with your peers with a solo cup and a accusation from a snitch.

      1. The idea that an administrator has/had any say over anything you did the instant you were off school grounds outside of school hours is totally alien. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to not have that super clear bright line. Years ago if they tried anything outside of that, you’d laugh in their face, and your parents would go apeshit.

        Shit, they had to tread lightly on school property and during school hours. But like any other position of power, instituted by the government, the worst people will gravitate to it and inexorably work at expanding their power.

        1. Honestly it’s sad. But what’s worse is kids these days are incredibly retarded, I mean they take all kind of pictures of themselves doing various illegal things and post them online where like herpes it never goes away. I had several friends get busted for possession in high school because they told a cop(who was operating from a fake account) they had some via facebook. I mean come on.

        2. Years ago if they tried anything outside of that, you’d laugh in their face, and your parents would go apeshit.

          Even today they’d likely have the ever-loving fuck sued out of them if they did it to the wrong kid.

          If I ever have a kid I’m damned sure going to A. send him to private schools, and B. have a lawyer on retainer.

          1. We homeschool. And yes, we have a lawyer on retainer.

          2. Make sure you review the student code of conduct at that private school. The daughter of a friend was on spring break from her private high school and visited her older sister at college many states distant from her high school. The older sister was over 21 at the time. They went to an off campus party where drinking of alcoholic beverages was going on. The younger girl did not drink. A few photos were taken and posted on FB. After returning to her private high school a cranky/jealous/nosy classmate saw the FB photo and snitched to the Administration. The code of conduct included a ban on being in the same place where students (of any school apparently) were drinking alcohol. She was expelled. This was a month or so shy of graduation and she was at or near the top of her class academically. Zero tolerance.

      2. Jesus.

        I graduated in 2000 and we pretty openly had Super 8 parties over weekends.

        But I went to an unfucktarded military school (fucking ironic yeah? being more free in an institution meant to instill self-discipline and actually educate).

  5. Also, standing that close together will lead to sex.

    1. Sex is A-Okay. They’re just exploring their sexuality. It’s totally normal.

      Holding fake guns? That’s just proto-terrorism and cannot be tolerated.

      1. Sex is A-Okay. They’re just exploring their sexuality. It’s totally normal.

        Only if it says so in the contract that they both signed, while sober, and is consistently affirmed for the duration of the intercourse, while sober.

      2. Actually, unless she signed a consent then it is rape.

        1. Bah! I should have refreshed before commenting.

  6. I saw this on the news. Pure Rage. Someone get that family a lawyer.

    1. You make me laugh peon. As if Robby Soave reads the comments of the unwashed masses.

  7. “Things like that scare students.”

    What should scare students, and the rest of us, is zero tolerance automatons that have the power to screw up peoples lives.

  8. If they’re a couple, chances are that he’s getting some nookie or a decent equivalent. That pretty much automatically disqualifies him from being a school shooter. He’d have no cause to erupt in Spergy Rage over his inability to get any booty (See, i.e., Adam Lanza, Anders Breivik, Seung-Hui Cho, et al.)

    1. I’d say Jerad Miller proves you wrong, but I have to know; who are you that knows the mental inner workings and sex lives of people like Anders Breivik and Adam Lanza? Are you the shadow?

      Also, there is no decent equivalent for nookie.

      1. Blowjob.

  9. Either way, these kids don’t deserve to have their futures ruined over a misunderstanding.

    Those two’s futures are not the school’s responsibility.

    1. but ruining them is.

  10. It would make *me* nervous and call for an investigation, but once it turns out they’re just being silly, I’d drop it.

    1. If it makes you nervous, you’re a ninny.

  11. Nope Robby, not gonna let this one slide. There is absolutely nothing justifiable about the schools actions and you are giving them way too much leeway.

    There is just no sane way to interpret that photograph and caption as any sort of threat, veiled or otherwise and the fucking superintendent is as usual a lying scumbag because pictures like that DON’T scare students

    1. There is just no sane way to interpret that photograph and caption as any sort of threat

      Regardless, if it is a threat it is a matter for the authorities. NOT THE FUCKING SCHOOL!

      Sorry, I’m yelling, but this REALLY pisses me off!

    2. pictures like that DON’T scare students

      I’m more scared of her eyebrows and the interior decorating.

  12. As a former high school teacher, I am embarrassed for my profession every time I read stories of this sort. I left teaching in the early 1990s, and we handled everything in hosue except for obvious law enforcement issues.

    Every principal and superintendent I worked under would have called the couple into the office and made sure they understood that posting a picture like that would upset some people, and leave it at that…

    Oh, and any parents who freaked out would have been tactfully told to put on their big girl panties…

  13. Public school?

    Let me be clear:

    PUBLIC SCHOOLS HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO ENFORCE THEIR RULES OFF SCHOOL GROUNDS EXCEPT WHEN ASSOCIATED WITH A SCHOOL ACTIVITY!

    Fuck these statist fucks in the ass with a red hot poker!

    1. Zero tolerance is just the offspring of the in loco parentis doctrine. If that offspring were an unusually strong, malicious, and retarded child.

    2. But…but, what if something really happened? That would make the principal look bad! We can’t have that!

    3. Agreed.

      Didn’t stop my school back in the early 2000’s, though. There were kids who got DUIs in the summer who were suspended from extracurricular activities throughout the entire fall semester. Wtf?

      1. Odds on that happening to the jock-star with the lawyer parents?

        Zero.

      2. You know what’s really important if a kid has a substance abuse problem? Isolating them from others and making sure they don’t get an education. Elsewise, you have a potential politician in the making.

  14. What if they were holding squirt guns? Only a one day suspension?

    1. It shouldn’t matter a damn even they were posing with their semi-automatics and their huntin’ trophies behind them.

    2. Depends…were they pink in observance of breast cancer awareness month?

  15. good precedent. no private life for anyone in government or accessing government.

  16. I’d love to see a meme get started where kids hold pop tarts chewed into gun shapes.

    How many would the school suspend before they finally admitted how stupid it all was?

    I’m glad I’m not in school anymore. This is the sort of stuff that would have made me pose with my real guns just to provoke the school.

    1. How many would the school suspend before they finally admitted how stupid it all was?

      Being that government authority means never being wrong, all of them.

  17. Look who’s in the comments.I know she’s nuts and all, but it never stops surprising me that someone who hates us so completely reads every single post and every single comment here. Has anyone ever been a more useless sort of crazy?

    Kizone Kaprow ? 24 minutes ago
    As a libertarian, I believe that these innocent children have a right not only to pose with fake weapons, but, as is their right under the First Amendment, to make fake threats against their fellow students. Everyone knows it’s just a joke. Look at those faces. Do they look like mass murderers? And so what if they did decide to shoot up their school at the big dance? That kind of individual expression is still a very rare occurrence in our Totalitarian State Indoctrination Centers. It’s certainly no reason to deny the rights of all children to brandish weapons on Facebook and exercise their free-speech rights to fake-threaten their nosy soccer-mom neighbors and fellow inmates. Free Range Children!

    1. She either needs to drink a little less or a little more Kool-aid. I can’t decide which.

        1. Oh, she already has. That’s where her brain damage came from.

          1. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

      1. You’re new, do you know the story of this loon? Suffice it to say that you had to register to comment only because of her.

        1. What is the background story here?

          1. Kizone Kaprow is a long-term troll who hates libertarians. She used to post here as rctl, then as rather. She got increasingly crazy and trollish as time went on, eventually completely losing her mind. She took to spamming on threads and shutting them down. Eventually, she fucked up and doxxed herself. Not long after that, reason instituted registration to get rid of her. She still posts under various handles but is quickly recognized and banned. She makes videos about reason under her Kizone Kaprow channel that indicate she reads every single post and comment. She also comments on random sites around the internet, always trashing libertarians and/or Hit&Run;. Her preferred insult for us is “narcissist”.

            1. Her preferred insult for us is “narcissist”.

              Which is my fault. I called her one once and since all she does is project her issues, that’s her favorite descriptor of her “enemies.”

              1. Which is my fault.

                Isn’t everything?

                1. I’m not the worst. nicole will cut you like a bottom bitch.

          2. Oh, and she has attempted to hack several facebook pages of commenters here. Ask John or SugarFree.

            1. And trying to get ex-commenter Heller fired from his college job.

          3. And the White Indian thing. I don’t have the energy to write about that. Suffice to say it was crazy.

            1. Yes, the WI stuff was THE crazy. She’d make the threads hundreds of posts long by talking to herself and generally shitting all over everything.

              What was it, Gambolling?

        2. I’m not familiar with her, myself. I’ve learned about a few folks who were around before my time: Shreek, Dunphy, Tony. Though, I guess a couple of those have reappeared recently?

          And, of course, I know of Lucy. /40 oz

          1. DON’T TALK ABOUT LUCY

            But feel free to talk about how insane Mary is all day.

            1. If her above comment is any indication, I’d say she’s about as crazy as shithouse rat

              1. You really have no idea, dude. I wish we had a properly written summary somewhere to show new people. The saga is vastly more insane than you can imagine. She is literally the reason, or a large factor, in why registration was introduced.

                1. I started here just before the White Indian thing started. Before WI, I thought she was Tony level nuts. But the time and dedication required to support WI proved she was certifiable.

              2. Don’t think about it too much. It is an incomprehensible abyss of psychosis.

              3. Her insanity cannot be comprehended. She hates ladytarians most of all, on top of everything else.

                1. Eh, well… I guess she can just get in line. I bet she’s a blast at parties.

                  I thought there was a Reason wiki in the works? Maybe a detailed entry there would be the way to go.

                  1. The White Indian chronicles.

                  2. There is a unfinished one somewhere. I can never recall the site, but I’m betting someone else does.

                    We’d be remiss without mentioning J sub D and recently departed Jamie Kelley.

                    1. That was in response to Riven and her wiki question.

                  3. I thought there was a Reason wiki in the works? Maybe a detailed entry there would be the way to go.

                    There was one for a while. I believe she hijacked it.

                  4. I thought there was a Reason wiki in the works? Maybe a detailed entry there would be the way to go.

                    Oh, on top of everything else, I believe she got the old reason wiki deleted.

                  5. Mary actually started a Reason Wiki at one time; it took a lot of long time posters to task for supposed affronts and shortfalls.

                2. Meh, remember that old saying? Liberals wish conservatives would stop talking and conservatives want liberals to keep talking. I think the more that statists talk, the crazier they sound in general.

    2. You have to be seriously unbalanced to be so obsessed with people who have almost no political power.

    3. Her youtube page has comments on almost every single article written here. It isn’t drinking or drugs but full blown insanity.

      I completely expect to hear about Mary going on a shooting spree one day.

      1. Nah, if she was going to she already would have. She’s a complete meatspace coward. But yeah, her obsession is total. She reads everything posted, all day, every day. Think of the obsession, the dedication that takes. And it’s been years. And she got totally PWN’D by registration. Yet she still stalks the site impotently.

        That’s some high grade crazy, folks. Not something you see every day.

      2. “…Mary going on a shooting spree one day.”

        This is why anonymous posting is a form of self-defense.

      3. Her youtube page may be a form of therapy as cathartic release…or something.

    4. Slate has archived that comment for their next “crazy libertarians” piece.

  18. Rational response to a credible threat, or absurd crackdown on a perfectly legitimate, innocent hobby? I suppose it’s a matter of perspective.

    No, no its not.

    1. I suspect the administrators did this as to cover themselves against media backlash. Imagine the howling that would come from the pearl-clutching leftist weenies if we had a school shooting where the shooter posted a prom pic of them holding ZOMG black rifles.

  19. On the bright side, kind Reasonoids- Youtube has a million videos of elementary and middle-schooler’s filming themselves running around yards and woods brandishing fake weapons against each other in their own little war stories and a fuckton of schools aren’t going after them. At least for now. Wait, what did I just do?

    Seriously, though, I do think this zero tolerance insanity is a localized issue where progressive politics of the area are dictating what level of mental retardation a particular school board will engage in.

    Around here kids at 7 are shooting their first deer. Guns are to country bumpkins around here like organic raisins are to progressive East coast twats.

    1. 7? Dammit, I was 11 before I got my first deer. The perils of growing up in a bow hunting family.

      1. I think I was 39 when I shot my first raccoon. I shot it 14 times and it still fled. Brilliant hunting skills for a man of the Ohio wood…

  20. To be fair, those kids are both pretty creepy-looking.

    1. I think he seems creepier than he really is because it looks like he’s taking a 9-year-old to prom.

      1. I dunno. Ignoring the fact that they appear to be closely related, the straight-down hair, otherwordly paleness, beady eyes and blank expression all combine to make him a good basis for a Ring sequel.

        1. Ah, you made me realize who the kid reminds me of: Charlie Caligula, a minor Batman villain.

    2. Well who do you think is creepier them or whoever took the photo.

      1. I assume they ate whoever took the photo.

  21. Predictably, the school interpreted the photo as a threat to shoot up the dance. Administrators suspended the students for 10 days.

    They can sue the school for civil rights violation on 1st Amendment grounds and they have a great case in their hands since they now have an official statement from the school administrator about his motives for violating their rights; mainly, his alleged capability of reading students’ minds to know what sort of thing scares them [… “they know it’s provocative and they should know better,” said Superintendent Richard Gross in an interview with WHDH. “Things like that scare students.]

    Unless they specifically stipulated on Facebook a plan to shoot up the school and/or shoot people up, there is then NO cause for suspension or disciplinary action, since these kids were taking a photo on the comfort of their home.

    1. From the comments:

      am taking the position that the school is in the wrong.

      Reasons? Several.

      First, the photos were not taken at the school, nor were they were not posted to the school’s website. This means there is no nexus between the photos and the school.

      Second, SCOTUS has previously held that, while freedom of speech may be curtailed so as to prevent a disruption, the disruption must either be actual or must be objectively likely to occur. That, too, is lacking in this instance.

      Third, it is my understanding that certain persons felt ‘threatened’ by the photo in question. Per Mr. Gross’ statements there appears to be no requirement that such threat be either reasonable or objective, and certainly neither would apply in this instance anyway.

      Fourth, the school searched the students, their lockers, and their belongings without any reasonable suspicion to do so. This, obviously, puts the school in the wrong.

      1. and…

        Fifth, the school summoned police officers to further question the students. Over a Facebook photograph that was not objectively threatening.

        Sixth, at no point in time prior to the suspension were the students’ parents notified of what was going on, nor were the students afforded opportunity to consult with counsel.

        Seventh, there was an absolute lack of due process from inception through suspension. Yes, the students will have a hearing regarding expulsion, but everything prior to that was done without regard to due process.

        In short, due to the unreasonable and irrational fears of some parents these children were suspended from school without opportunity to defend themselves, without their parents being notified, and without counsel. These would constitute, I believe, violations or infringements of the students’ First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

        I can’t wait to see the lawyers sink their teeth into the school administration.

  22. I think it should be noted that the boy and girl are demonstrating very good trigger discipline, even for an airsoft rifle. They should be commended on that.

    1. I was going to post this exact same comment. Good on ’em for keeping their daggone booger-hooks off the triggers. There are a lot of “professionals” out there who regularly fail to demonstrate such on real firearms.

  23. I graduated high school in 06, and it’s crazy how much things have changed. If I were going today, myself and all of my friends would be in jail.

  24. “Rational response to a credible threat, or absurd crackdown on a perfectly legitimate, innocent hobby?”

    Is that supposed to be a serious question? Country of panty wetting morons is what this is.

  25. “They are juniors in high school, they know it’s provocative and they should know better,” said Superintendent Richard Gross in an interview with WHDH. “Things like that scare students.”

    Something tells me NO STUDENTS WERE FRIGHTENED. Pathetic pants-wetters in the front office? That’s another story.

  26. Rational response to a credible threat, or absurd crackdown on a perfectly legitimate, innocent hobby? I suppose it’s a matter of perspective.

    Ya you either have the perspective of a commumunist retard, or you don’t.

  27. Easy solution: ban dancing.

    1. I thought Kevin Bacon freed us from such tyranny?

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