Students facing expulsion for homecoming Facebook photo

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MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. - Two high school students say they’re facing expulsion over a photo posted to Facebook.

Tito Velez, 16, and his girlfriend, Jamie Pereira, are shown holding air-soft guns in a homecoming photo they posted on Facebook last Friday, according to WCVB.

Airsoft guns are replicas, which can fire plastic pellets, and are intended to be non-lethal.

Velez said they wanted their photo to be unique and use something other than flowers.

“This isn’t dangerous; you can’t kill someone with it," Velez said. "We didn’t shoot anyone. We were pointing them at the floor. Everything was on safe, no batteries, they never left the house. We never took them to school. That’d be stupid."

But when the teenagers put a caption on the photo, relating it to homecoming at their school, Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, it connected the air-soft guns to a school function.

- WGHP

- WGHP

School officials say students were talking about the photo in school on Monday and it caused a “disruption,” which is why they were suspended, the superintendent said.

“These students know what is... provocative," Superintendent Richard Gross said. "And to tie that to one of our school events kind of puts it over the top which brings us into it.”

Jamie Pereira says she understood but thinks the school took it too far.

“Suspending us for 10 days and possible expulsion is way too much," Pereira said.

The students are suspended for up to 10 days.

The superintendent said there will be a hearing about when or if they will be allowed to return.

65 comments

  • Suzanne

    I agree with the school. This is not a laughing matter. Too many innocent lives have been lost to school shootings and these two children post a picture of themselves holding guns with a caption relating to homecoming? It’s time to hold children accountable for their actions. The punishment wasn’t severe enough!

    • Josh

      you’re so uninformed. i don’t even know where to start. first of all the picture was taken at their own personal residence. no matter what there intentions where it was allowed and it’s a direct violation of the constitution to punish them. you can look down on them, even lump them in with actual criminals (which would make no sense), but you can not punish them for post a picture to the internet in which no laws are broken, even so they went to prom and nothing happened. big deal if they posted a picture with air soft guns, a hobby which they both claim to enjoy on the weekends.

    • Kale Albert

      The caption was literally “Homecoming” with some emoticons. It was a fun homecoming photo. If my girlfriend and I enjoyed golf and took a similar picture with golf clubs, the result wouldn’t be different. The photo was in no way threatening unless the viewer let themselves be controlled by there own personal fear of firearms. Personal fears have no place infringing upon the free speech of any other citizens. Only threats to society have that right. The kid is sixteen years old and plays on an airsoft team. This was an extremist decision.

  • Deborah Montagna

    I completely agree with the school, but 10 days is steep… kids need to be in class. These two obviously need more education!

  • Josh

    what is with you commenters? have you no self respect? these kids have a hobby and it just happens to involve guns. if we become afraid of the very notion of violence, how can we ever wish to combat it. the school is punishing them for using freedom of speech and doing absolutely nothing wrong. i think whoever made the decision to punish them is unfit to be in his/her position.

  • Heidi Huckabee

    Oh my gosh…..suspend those kids and make them know the implications of their stupidity. This is NOT a laughing matter and in no way should be condoned. The very fact that those kids are laughing it off is reason enough to punish. The school should cut them NO slack.

  • bot42

    Let’s see, so this school violated these students right to privacy, punished them for expressing free speech. How dare these kids have a political opinion that differs from that of the school staff. This school is in serious violation of the law. If I was the parents of ether one of these students, my lawyer wound be making me some serious civil court money.

  • Dan Moore

    Hey – we’ve gone international! Randy Cassingham is promoting the school’s ignorant reaction as another example of stupidity in his “This Is True” newsletter; he has a huge international following!

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