The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

High school student suspension blown out of proportion

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A deceitful high school student has used social media to victimize her teacher, but that hasn’t been the reported story as the incident recently gained coverage across the nation.

With headlines stating some alteration of “Student Gets Suspended for Saying ‘Bless You’ to Classmate,” this story has been framed to shape public opinion in favor of the student without taking the facts into consideration.

Seventeen-year-old Tennessean, Kendra Turner, was suspended from Dyer County High School (DCHS) on Aug. 18 for shouting, “Bless you,” across the computer applications classroom after a fellow student sneezed.

Her suspension was a technicality; Turner was sent to the principal’s office for violating the classroom’s disruptive behavior policy. She was then placed in in-school suspension for the remainder of the period in order to give administrators time to evaluate the situation accurately. She was soon able to leave and attend her next class.

Turner distorted the incident and twisted it into a religious controversy.

“I want God to be able to be talked about in school,” Turner said during a press conference held at Dyersburg First Assembly of God.  “I want them to realize that God is in control and they’re not.”

With privacy laws protecting student records from being disclosed to the public, Turner knew her side of the story would not be challenged by her teacher, Eva Kindle. There is a difference between a student quietly blessing someone he or she is sitting next to and a student deliberately causing a disruptive outburst.

“I think this has really been blown out of proportion on social media,” DCHS Assistant Principal Lynn Garner said in an interview with the State Gazette.  “In this case, this was not a religious issue at all, but more of an issue the teacher felt was a distraction in her class.”

Since the incident occurred, Turner has made television appearances on news stations claiming, “It’s alright to defend God, and it’s our constitutional right because we have a freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”

According to firstamendmentcenter.org, “[Public] school officials may prohibit speech that substantially disrupts the school environment [and] can restrict student speech that is lewd.”

Social media has wrongfully made Kindle out to be “the bad guy,” but she is not the first teacher to implement a classroom policy in order to minimize disruptions.

The phrase, “Bless you,” has become so ingrained in society that it is no longer a solely religious expression; “God” is even removed from it. The DCHS incident was less about the “bless” and more about the disruption.  Would the same outcome have occurred if Turner aggressively shouted “gesundheit” instead?

“[I] can say there are two sides to every story,” Garner said in the same interview with the State Gazette. “Sometimes people spin things and turn them to make them seem one way, but I cannot discuss anything specific in order to protect the child.”

Aside from the few brief statements made by the DCHS Assistant Principal, the details of this story have come from Turner and her family.  Is Kendra Turner as innocent as the media is making her out to be?  I think not.

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High school student suspension blown out of proportion