A middle school student in Ohio was sent home and handed a 10-day suspension for “liking” a picture of a gun on Instagram. Were the school’s sanctions warranted?

Edgewood Middle School, in Trenton Ohio, has a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to violent, harassing or any other inappropriate behavior. They made that crystal clear by slapping Zachary Bowlin with a suspension from school for 10 days for liking a picture on a social media site.

Zachary’s parents were livid when they found out the reason for their son’s suspension and posted a picture of the intended suspension notice which read, “The reason for the intended suspension is as follows: Liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.”

The picture in question is of an airsoft handgun with the caption “ready.”

According to Fox19, Zachary stated “I liked it, scrolling down Instagram at night about 7, 8 o’clock I liked it,” he said. “The next morning they called me down to the office, patted me down and checked me for weapons.”

The school has apparently dropped the suspension since the original notice and will not punish Zachary any further for his actions.

Fox19 reports an email from the school was sent out to parents saying:

“Yesterday evening school officials were made aware to an alleged threat of a student bringing a gun to school. We act on any potential threat to student safety swiftly and with the utmost importance. This morning, the alleged threat was addressed and we can assure you that all students at Edgewood Middle School are safe and school will continue as normal. Thank you”

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Image is a screenshot from the Fox19 News video

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15 thoughts on “Video: Middle School Student Suspended For “Liking” a Photo of a Gun on Instagram

  1. I like pictures of guns. I’m an outdoors-man. So the child gets patted down for weapons? This is ridiculous. The young man may hunt and fish with his father, in such a case, he’d like photos of guns. My Dad and I had such a relationship, and I still like photos of guns. How would you study the history of our country without being exposed to photos of guns? We won our independence from the tyranny of the British Crown with GUNS. DUH!

    A police officer wouldn’t have any probable cause to pat down a kid who liked a photo of a gun, there’s no probable cause here. NO doubt the police officer would like pictures of guns, he carries one to protect his life and the lives of others. (And it was an air-soft ‘gun’ in the photo, not even a real gun.)

    Were I the student’s parent, I would be suing the school for violating the child’s Constitutional rights. Now, he has a marred school record which may keep him from getting accepted into a college.

    “Zero Tolerance” should be listed in Webster’s as a synonym for “Zero Common Sense”!

    1. To John Mood, I agree with almost everything you said. First however, police don’t need “probable cause” for a simple pat down to check for weapons. “Probable cause” and “pat down” are legal terms with specific definitions, and one doesn’t require the other. Second, suing the school only gets you money from the TAXPAYERS. Suing the individuals who made the “rules” and made such a big deal out of nothing, rather than the school, gives them nothing to hide behind and might just ruin them financially. It might make others take notice..

      1. Except that you’re wrong. Police DO need some type of reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed before they can place hands on ANYONE. (Read the Supreme court Decision Terry Vs Ohio.) (Probable Cause). Cops just can’t grab just anyone they feel like and search them. What you describe is illegal, and plenty of cops who aren’t properly trained get to lose their job and badge for such violations.

        If I school acts as a police officer WITHOUT any reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, they are in fact committing a crime themselves.

        Acting under color of law without authority is impersonating a police officer, a felony in most states. That is NOT the function of a school. Anyone touches my child or grandchild as this child was, the school WILL be sued. It’s the only recourse a citizen has to STOP THE RIDICULOUS “Zero-Tolerance” policy. If a police officer had been summoned, NO PAT DOWN would have occurred. There are restrictions on the authority of a police officer, and the school COMPLETELY EXCEEDED those limitation.s

        The only way to stop schools from assaulting children and searching them improperly is to have a trained police officer summoned, advised of the facts and let him or her take what action is warranted, IF ANY.

        You see, you have a concept of what probable cause is but you have never had to apply it, use it, and have cases examined in court hat argue if you had probable cause or not. I HAVE. I spent the major part of my adult career as a sworn certified police officer. I don’ think you have, nor are you a a lawyer, I’d wager. I never had a case overturned on lack of probable cause, out of THOUSANDS of arrests.

        And yes, the taxpayers may end up paying some money out in a suit for the offense against the child, but mainly, the school administrators and teachers who caused it will have to pay too OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKETS.

        School personnel acting improperly as if they were police officers stand liable for their offenses, just as if you or I were to do something illegal and cause an assault on a person adult or child.

        School administrators have to stop acting like they are GOD, or a Police officer, or they will be sued, and pay out of their own pockets.

        So what if the child used his phone at school during idle time to LIKE on Instagram a photo of a gun? Does that constitute a danger to anyone at that school? I say no. Had he liked a picture of a Corvette Stingray automobile, no one would have said a thing. It’s a Knee Jerk reaction of a school administrator for an offense against that administrator’s sensibilities, but no crime was committed, as I understand the ‘Zero Tolerance” policy. This Zero Tolerance thing has gotten WAY OUT OF HAND.

        And the photo was of an air-soft gun that violates the federal mandate that toys guns have markings to signify that are not deadly weapons. It’s supposed to have had a flame orange muzzle, and it does not appear to.

  2. How is it these schools know what students are posting/liking on social media? Do they have a direct NSA feed? It would be a different story if LE discovered an alarming threat and traced it to a specific student, but this is outrageous!

    They seem hell-bent to suppress anything to do with Judeo-Christian expression, interest in shooting sports, or conservative values. Meanwhile, all too many schools are actively promoting Islamism, LBGT agendas, and Marxist ideas.
    Wake-up parents!!

  3. This is a good example of lack of management skills within the school administration. A 10 day suspension for liking a photo? Turning this into an issue of safety? Had this been a true issue of safety a 10 suspension would not be the way to handle the “perceived” threat. They need either a new school board, or a new School Superintendent- this is an embarrassment to the State of Ohio

    1. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois….now Ohio. We’re losing the Midwest- a former stalwart bastion of solid American values. Wake-up and flush this Progressive-Socialist Liberal disease out of our system.

  4. Public schools are “super-saturated” with politicaly-correct idiot liberal “educators(sic)” whose only aim is to create ignorant voters for the socialist cause. Conservatives need to wake up and and vote out these school board tyrants and elect people who will teach the truth the old fashioned way.

  5. What he does at home on his own time is his business. The schools should not be using social media against students. The parents needs to sue for invasion of privacy.

  6. The tosser who made the decision to suspend the kid needs to have his face and name spread over the internet as a child abuser in my view. The emotional distress that this incident may have caused the child is the real crime here. Children go to school to learn from, and rely on the judgement of, adults. These adults are paid to mould a balanced emotional perspective into our youngsters and this organisation has failed. Someone was in charge here and he needs to face the world. We don’t need a bland statement from the school we need a name and a face to face investigative journalist type addressing of this persons perspective.

  7. This is a continuing trend on the part of the left & the NEA to indoctrinate our children & emasculate our boys. Parents need to wake up & as others have noted vote these people out of positions on school boards in our communities. The other solution is home schooling & carefully selected private schools that will teach our children instead of brain washing them.

  8. Who ever wrote the email that they sent out (assuming that’s an accurate quote) needs to go back to school. That wording and grammar would never fly in any district I’ve ever worked in.
    That brings me to another point. I’ve worked in a large school district in the Midwest where there is a lot of violence and gang activity. The police department and staff regularly monitors social media to prevent student violence. Sometimes they catch it. Sometimes they don’t. I don’t know anything about that district, but guns and threats were not uncommon where I worked, and I’ve seen two students on two different occasions pulled from class and arrested for murder. One was an 8th grader. The point is, if a student made a threat, it became a police matter and they handled it. If the threat was made while the student was in school, the school then became involved as well and there was discipline assuming the student came back at all.
    The article doesn’t mention if the picture and caption were used as part of a threat against the school. If it was, then it’s worth the police having a talk with the young man. Otherwise, the school had no right to do what they did.
    Fortunately I’m now in a much better district where we don’t have those kinds of problems. And if something like that did happen, I have confidence our sup and board would handle it appropriately. No matter what district one works in though, the administration has a responsibility to protect the students and staff, and sometimes they can over react. But I guess that’s better than letting some of the stuff happen that I’ve seen.

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