Public schools

Teen Girl Suspended for Days After Publicizing School's Dirty Water Problem

'Inappropriate use of electronics' for taking a picture of a safety hazard


Screenshot via WXYZ

A senior at John Glenn High School in Westland, Michigan, was suspended for three days after she took a photo of the disgusting water in the girls' restroom and posted it on Twitter.

The student, Hazel Juco, had aimed to call attention to the dirty water. But it's against school rules to take pictures in bathrooms.

"I was called to the office and told by one of the assistant principals that an administrator found a photo of the girl's bathroom on social media and that I'd be issued a three-day out-of-school suspension for 'inappropriate use of electronics,'" Hazel told CNN.

I'm often quick to criticize schools for needlessly punishing students, though in this case I agree that Juco deserved a little bit of scolding. Privacy is important, and young people do need to learn that there are some places in the world where selfies just aren't appropriate. The school bathroom is one of those places.

But a three-day suspension is a fairly strict punishment for a well-intentioned lapse of judgment. Why not simply give her after-school detention, or something?

It seems to me that school officials weren't actually interested in enforcing sensible privacy rules—they wanted to punish a student for making them look bad, I suspect.

Thankfully, the district superintendent erased the suspension from Juco's record and directed the school to figure out why the water was such an ugly shade of yellow. As it turns out, a corroded pipe needs replacing.

Too bad the school's first impulse was to quash dissent, rather than fix a problem. But that's what happens what you get when your schools are run by the government and thus shielded from market incentives.