DALLAS, Ga. – This week, a Georgia school district suspended two students for sharing a photo of their school environment in a viral social media post critical of the school’s reopening plans amid the pandemic. The photos showed dozens of students crowding hallways at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia with many of them not wearing masks. The following statement is by Michael Tafelski, senior supervising attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s children’s rights project:
“Instead of addressing students' concerns about the safety of returning to a school jam-packed with unmasked people during the pandemic, North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, suspended two students who spoke out on social media and threatened other students if they did the same.
“We share the outrage expressed by people across the country at these wrongful suspensions, and urge the school district to immediately reverse and remove them from the students’ records.
“Children do not waive their constitutional rights in school, and the district abused its discretion in suspending these students. It could not have come at a worst time as families are struggling to cope with the social and economic pressures brought on by the pandemic, including the abrupt school closures in March that disrupted the education of thousands of students. School officials need to put their safety ahead of their own interests and reinstitute the students immediately.”