District Reverses Student Suspension Following ACLU of Ohio Letter

Husamadeen's suspension was cancelled and replaced by an alternative form of punishment.

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District Reverses Student Suspension Following ACLU of Ohio Letter

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According to a tweet from the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio’s Twitter account, their request, sent via letter, that Shaker Heights High School revoke sophomore Myyah Husamadeen’s in-school suspension has been granted. Husamadeen also confirmed.

The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a letter yesterday, imploring Shaker Heights High School to retract Husamadeen’s in-school suspension, which she received after tweeting screenshots of racist, yet private, comments made by another Shaker student.

Students planned a blackout and walkout for last Friday, Nov. 11, to protest disciplinary action against Husamadeen and junior Elena Weingart, who also posted screenshots of the student’s racist comments. Weingart served her suspension last Friday.

At 11:42 a.m., the ACLU of Ohio tweeted that they “just received word that Shaker Heights is reversing suspension of student over her 1st amendment rights.” The tweet has since been retweeted 25 times, liked 30 times and screenshotted to be uploaded on other social media sites.

“We found a different way,” Husamadeen said in a phone interview with The Shakerite. “I’m going to reflect on the situation and write an essay and that will determine if I will serve an in-school suspension, but I most likely will not.”

Husamadeen mentioned that her mother and Principal Jonathan Kuehnle came up with this alternative. She also said that previously, in initial conversations with the school’s assistant principals, such alternatives were not available.

The original letter stated that “the ACLU of Ohio is gravely concerned that Shaker Heights High School student Myyah Husamadeen is about to be punished for exercising her First Amendment rights.” It went on to argue that, since Husamadeen did not tweet on school property or from a school device, her speech was protected under the First Amendment.

The letter asked the district to promote student free speech within the school district and “make clear to Shaker students that the United States Constitution promotes their right to express their views, in this instance and in the future.”

Principal Jonathan Kuehnle and Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. declined to comment. Executive Director of Communications and Public Relations Scott Stephens was not available for comment and Communications Specialist Kristen Miller said that, due to student privacy, the district cannot provide any details other than the statement on the district website.

“As you may have seen in media reports, an unacceptable incident occurred at Shaker Heights High School this week,” Hutchings wrote in the statement. “In response to ongoing questions, I would like to reiterate that the situation has been addressed with all parties involved. While we cannot comment further due to student privacy, please know we followed the District’s disciplinary protocol.”    

“I think that it started off as something that could’ve been a learning experience but now it blew up and is overwhelming,” Husamadeen said. “I never expected it to be this big, but I’m glad that it did get attention . . . This is a problem in our school that never gets acknowledged, because we’re in our ‘Shaker Bubble.’”

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