MONROE, Conn. — Members of the Masuk High School community have started an online petition seeking to remove a student from the Monroe school over what they call offensive posts on social media.
The petition was posted on Change.org on Tuesday by a senior at the high school, and it gained more than 1,700 signatures in its first 24 hours. Organizers plan to send it to the Monroe Board of Education, Masuk Principal Joe Kobza and Vice Principal Mark Schwartz.
The focus of the petition is a junior who shared offensive posts and memes on social media targeting people with special needs and African Americans, according to the petition. The post includes screenshots with examples of the student's postings, as well as a post where the student asserts that he is exercising his right to freedom of speech.
The creator of the petition wrote that although the student has the freedom of speech, the postings create a hostile environment in the school's community.
"As a school who encourages diversity and loves and supports our special needs students, we find it very difficult to maintain peace and focus on our academics. As a community, we understand the challenges that our special needs students face everyday and we strive to see them succeed and most of all see them happy and provide an everyday oasis free of judgment and alienation," the petition says.
The petition also calls the student out for joking about schools shootings.
"This kind of behavior is unacceptable and worrisome and must be addressed immediately. He has disrupted our educated and poses a distraction to our academics," the petition says. "The students of Masuk High School seek justice to the highest extent possible against he and anyone involved in the deplorable actions placed onto social media. Suspension is not enough, we seek more, much more."
The petition asks that administrators remove the student from the school and place him in an alternative setting.
The writer also addresses the student who made the postings, asking him to consider the consequences of his actions.
"You must understand that our right to speak freely does not mean we should offend anyone. In times like today, where violence and prejudice has overtaken our nation, we must stand together and show love and acceptance. We must stand united and walk with each other without contempt and trepidation. Your freedom of speech is a gift, and when you speak hate, it only incites hate. May you find peace and the ability to comprehend right from wrong, always remembering that what you say of others speaks more of you, than it does of them."
Superintendent Jim Agostine told the Monroe Courier that he could not comment on the circumstance of the particular student, but that the district is investigating.
Click here to see the petition.