On October 1 I submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to Richland 2 school district for the text of the freshman's tweet that riled up the principal and, therefore, the District. In my FOIA Request I specifically did not request the name of the student.
The FOIA Officer of the District today denied my request, deeming the information protected so as not to identify the student. The District relies on its belief that I would be able to identify the student, if I knew what he had said. I guess I have better investigative or psychic powers than I thought I had.
The District did acknowledge that I could access publicly any social media post that might exist. How nice of them.
The District did provide a copy of the message sent out by Principal Matt Sherman. I would post it here but it is a .pdf copy.
Principal Sherman did state, in part, "We immediately recognized that the tweet was inappropriate and insensitive and took measures to have the post removed."
The school had been "tagged" in the tweet, and I wonder whether the School demanded that the student delete the tweet from his personal Twitter account or only took down the "tag" to the high school. If the school demanded that he deleted his tweet from his personal account, I consider that a gross violation of the student's First Amendment rights.
The principal also used these words: "disappointed and hurt"; pain.
Further, he wrote: "As your principal, I'm even more motivated to help create a culture where everyone is valued and respected."
Does that include the 9th Grader who posted the tweet? Is he to be valued and respected?
Squashing that student is a good example why Richland 2's cultural sensitive programs and efforts to "promote unity" will fail. Rather than using that tweet as a learning experience, it teaches students (and employees to be secretive and to post comments under names that will not identify them.
I would like to meet the 9th Grader and his parents. I would like to read that tweet. If you can help me, please email or call. Confidentiality is guaranteed.