Williamson Co. students suspended over critical tweets - WSMV Channel 4

Williamson Co. students suspended over critical tweets

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FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) -

There is some unexpected fallout from Tuesday's touch-and-go ice storm in Middle Tennessee.

Several Williamson County students are now facing in-school suspensions for comments they made on Facebook and Twitter about the district's decision not to close schools.

Some parents say the punishment goes too far, but school leaders contend they won't tolerate threats or cursing, even online.

The district's verdict is what you say on Facebook is like saying it in the hallway, and what you tweet to your schools' director is like saying it to his face.

"People can certainly complain. In weather situations, no matter what the decision is, with 33,000 students we're guaranteed somebody may be unhappy or at least has questions," said Deputy Superintendent Jason Golden.

Golden said some of the social media comments included profanity and threats, so at least two students have been suspended while others may follow.

The district will not release the critical tweets or Facebook messages because of confidentiality laws, but some parents would like to see them made public because they believe school leaders are overreacting and already made a mistake by keeping schools open.

"I think the kids had a reason to be upset, as did the parents. I stayed up half the night wondering if schools would at least be delayed," said parent Kim LaRocca. "Less than 30 minutes before our kids had to report at school, there was an accident that had a fatality on (Highway) 840 not far from Independence High School where my child is. And it was due to slick roads on an overpass."

Golden said students' freedom of speech does not include cursing at school officials or threatening them, and there was a way to do this the right way.

"Not every tweet or every comment on Facebook was deserving of discipline, but those issues that involved threats and profanity are deserving of that investigation," he said.

In addition, a fake Twitter account stealing the identity of District Spokesperson Carol Birdsong was created, and whoever did that is also facing suspension.

Still, more than one parent said they would like to see for themselves the threatening statements that led the district to act.

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