I was thinking about the Colonial Forge High School sophomore, also know as Banana Man, and began to wonder who involved acted more recklessly. If you’re not familiar with the story, here is it is a nutshell: On September 16th, a 14-year-old student in a Banana costume ran across a football field during halftime at a game and was suspended for 10 days and faced possible expulsion.
The mother appealed the suspension, the student body actively supported the 10th grader by wearing “Free Banana Man” tee shirts, those students faced potential suspension, and the case garnered national attention, which caught the eye of the ACLU.
Pointing to the 1969 case of Tinker v. Des Moines, the ACLU told the county’s administrators that the principal’s actions violated the 1st Amendments right to free speech & expression. In the end, the sophomore returned to school (before the 10 days, I believe), the t-shirt wearers were allowed to don the “Free Banana Man” shirts, the principal subsequently resigned, and the Superintendent apologized for the incident.
I’m anxious to see on which side of the argument do you fall (I fully understand if my Stafford County friends refrain). Yes, Banana Man should have received some consequences for his actions – at the very least, ban him from a game or two . . . or the rest of the season, at worst, few days of In-School suspension. I do not believe he should have been suspended for his actions (unless there is more to the story).
For the record, I believe Dr. Spillman, Colonial Forge High School’s principal did overreacted just a bit in her decision to suspend the student for 10 days and recommend expulsion. Moreover, it only added fuel to the fire when she banned the students from wearing the shirts in support of Banana Man. I support Dr. Spillman’s actions 100% IF the wearing of the t-shirts actually caused a disruption of the school day.
Lastly, Dr. Spillman resigned her position (I’m guessing) because of the lack of support she received from the county’s superintendent. I cannot help but wonder if the superintendent’s position and apology for Dr. Spillman’s actions was prompted by the ACLU’s impending involvement. The superintendent was definitely in what Boleman & Deal would call the Political Frame. I believe he wanted this “put to bed” as quickly, quietly and painlessly as possible.
As a former Social Studies teacher, I would not step on anyone’s right to free speech or expression, BUT if the speech or expression is going to violate county policy, i.e., disrupt the school day, than it must be addressed. Just my two cents.