Two high school students say they were punished after sharing a photo of themselves firing legal guns at a private shooting range. After posting the image, they were accused by their school of “disrupting the school climate” and violating a school policy regarding the “possession of a weapon,” an offense that can result in a suspension.
The teens are students at Lacey Township High School in New Jersey. After their photo was posted, and school officials became aware of the image, they were given “three in school detentions” as well as a “Saturday detention.”
According to the student handbook, students can be suspended if they are “reported to be in possession of a weapon of any type for any reason or purpose whether on or off school grounds during the academic year,” according to a report by the Independent Journal Review.
The students were told that the school “did us a favor by not suspending us.”
This means that the policy impacts the personal lives of students, regardless of whether their activities were legal.
Along with being subject to a “long term suspension,” those who violate the policy must also participate in an “evaluation by the high school Child Study Team.”
Now, the school is facing a legal battle.
Dan Schmutter, an attorney for the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC), wrote a letter to the school district demanding that the policy be removed and that the two students’ records be wiped clean.
He is also requesting an apology from the school district for the students and their families.
“Both the actions taken against the students and the Firearms Policy, are in blatant violation of the First and Second Amendments to the United States Constitution and the free speech protections of the New Jersey Constitution,” said Schmutter in the letter.
He also referred to the policy as “plainly unconstitutional.”
“It’s no different than if they tried to punish a student for a book they read at home,” he asserted.
Craig Wigley, the Lacey Township School District superintendent, disputes some of the information that is circulating, saying, “No students have been suspended for a gun offense now or during my tenure.”
However, the students were reportedly given in-school detention, and not formally suspended.
Scott Bach, the ANJRPC executive director, states that the group is ready to sue “if the school district refuses to do the right thing.”