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Student suspended after taking a photo of her school's dirty water


Public school

(NaturalNews) Many people and organizations seem to love a good whistleblower, until it is one of them that is being exposed for alleged wrongdoing. That may be the case with officials at Hazel Juco's Westland, Mich., high school.

When the senior at John Glenn High School snapped a picture of water that looked more like urine, then posted it on Facebook and Twitter, she was suspended the next day, CNN reported.

"I just took a picture of it. And then in my newspaper class I talked about it with them," she said, as reported by WXYZ. She was understandably concerned about the quality of the water and whether it was safe to drink (probably not). She added that she posted the photo because she felt sure that her school would not have the funding to fix such problems, and she thought it might spur someone in the public to help out.

Singling her out

"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,'" CNN further reported.

While reasonable people can agree that students should not be allowed to use cell phone cameras and other picture-taking or recording devices in a school bathroom or locker room, it is quite obvious that the picture she took, while technically "in the bathroom," is not a violation of anyone's privacy or incriminating in any way.

Except to the school of course, which may be why administrators there took a one-size-fits-all approach. In addition, Juco believes that she is being singled out simply because she highlighted what is most likely just a maintenance issue at the school.

She told a local ABC affiliate, WXYZ, that "every girl" likes to take a selfie in the bathroom and then post it as their profile picture on their social media accounts. "No one has gotten in trouble," she said.

But the incident has also taught her something – namely that her friends are loyal and support what she was trying to do, which was to highlight a problem. Dozens of students protested her suspension by tweeting bathroom pictures they took at school without getting into trouble.

WXYZ reporters called Wayne-Westland Community Schools superintendent, Dr. Michele Harmala, for her take on things, and their questions led her to investigate was was happening at John Glenn High School. Harmala said that she discovered that high school administrators do make mistakes – such as not reporting the water issue to the school's maintenance workers. Harmala said that she made sure maintenance was informed, and that "they sent a plumber out right away."

Punishment did not fit the 'crime' and will not stand

The good news is that Harmala agrees with Juco and her fellow student supporters that the punishment certainly did not fit the crime, so to speak – ostensibly because there was no real crime, only an attempt to publicize a problem.

While noting that the rule of not allowing cell phones in bathrooms aims to prevent the taking of inappropriate pictures involving people, she agreed that this should not apply to pictures of issues with school infrastructure.

"The punishment is inappropriate," Harmala told WXYZ. "I am going to make sure the out of school suspension is expunged from the student's record." She also noted that the incident serves as a learning opportunity, both for staff and for students.

She told the local affiliate she wants students to know that when there is a problem with school facilities and buildings that they believe is being ignored, they are encouraged to report it to building maintenance or to school administrators directly. This will afford the school the chance to address the issue sooner than if it gets posted to social media.

Sources:

Edition.CNN.com

WXYZ.com

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