- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2017

An Ohio middle school student was suspended last week after he “liked” another student’s Instagram photo showing an airsoft pellet gun and the caption, “Ready.”

The parents of Zachary Bowlin, a student at Edgewood Middle School, received the 10-day suspension notice Thursday, which accused Zachary of “liking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence,” a local Fox affiliate reported.

“I was livid,” father Marty Bowlin told the station. “He never shared, he never commented, never made a threatening post, anything on the site — just liked it.”

Mr. Bowlin said Zachary and his friends like to play with airsoft guns often.

“He shoots, hunts, fishes,” the father told a local NBC affiliate. “He’s a country boy.”

Zachary said he was browsing Instagram about 7 or 8 p.m. Wednesday when he liked his friend’s photo.

“I figured he cleaned his gun and he was ‘ready,’ wanting to play and stuff,” the student told NBC. “The next morning they called me down [to the office] and patted me down and checked me for weapons and they told me I was getting expelled or suspended or whatever.”

In a statement, Edgewood City Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker cited the district’s zero tolerance policy prohibiting “violent, disruptive, harassing, intimidating, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior.” The policy also applies to students acting off school property “when the misbehavior adversely affects the educational process.”

“As the Superintendent of the Edgewood City Schools, I assure you that any social media threat will be taken serious including those who ‘like’ the post when it potentially endangers the health and safety of students or adversely affects the educational process,” Mr. Fussnecker said.

The Bowlins said school administrators lifted the suspension after meeting with them on Friday afternoon.

Mr. Fussnecker told NBC that he’d rather be safe than sorry when it comes to students’ safety.

“When you’re dealing with school districts nowadays and there are pictures of guns, regardless of the kind of gun it is, it’s a gun,” he said. “And there are certain images or words, I can’t determine if that’s playful or real. And until I can get to an investigation, I have to look into it, those students have to be removed.”

The Bowlins said they accepted the outcome.

“He was a very reasonable man, and they seemed to see it our way,” Mr. Bowlin said of Mr. Fussnecker.

“It’s handled now and everything’s all right,” Zachary told NBC.

The student who posted the photo on Instagram reportedly remains suspended. He and his family are expected to meet with school officials sometime this week, NBC reported.

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