Once again we are hearing about a public school that is intentionally violating the First Amendment right of free speech.
Childersburg, Alabama is a small town of about 5,000 located about 30 miles southeast of Birmingham. Prior to World War II, the town had a population of only 500, but after the Alabama Army Ammunition Plant was built at Childersburg, the population swelled to 4,000. The plant, operated by the DuPont Company, manufactured different forms of explosives for use during the war. It also manufactured ‘heavy water’ which was used by the Manhattan Project which developed the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. Unfortunately for the town, the plant closed in 1945, but the proximity to Birmingham kept the town alive.
Chad Bynum, Principal at Childersburg Middle School, had ordered students not to discuss any politics outside of their history classes due to the national upset and unrest over Donald Trump’s victory. In fact, Bynum’s order is a violation of students’ First Amendment rights of free speech.
However, Bynum might have gotten away with the violation had it not been for one student writing ‘Trump’ on a classroom blackboard.
The 14-year-old son of Troy Stephenson was the defiant student who dared violate the principal’s edict to avoid any political talk outside the history classroom. His son was subsequently sent to the principal’s office where he was disciplined by being spanked for his disobedience.
When Troy Stephenson learned of the spanking, he was ‘pretty mad’. Stephenson’s son was sent home with the following notice from the school:
“Students were told on yesterday because of the sensitivity of the matter, not to discuss the election unless it was in history class. They were told any discussion would result in an office referral.”
“(The student) decided to write ‘Trump’ on my board this morning, disregarding others that were in the classroom. This resulted in some upset students. I informed the student that the name (it could have been the other candidate) wasn’t the issue. But it was the nature of everything behind it.”
Troy Stephenson isn’t buying the school’s statement and believes that the reason behind the discipline – spanking – was related with his son’s support for Donald Trump. He commented:
“You piqued their interest, and then when the candidate you wanted to win didn’t win, you want it hush-hush. That’s what it looks like to me.”
Childersburg is part of Talladega County which voted 62.0% for Trump and 36.5% for Clinton. Evidently, Bynum must have been one of the minority of voters who cast their lot for Clinton.
Once the student was in the principal’s office, he was given the choice of being spanked or facing suspension of in-school suspension. The father was then called and told about the incident and the punishment and he responded by saying that he didn’t believe his son’s actions warranted any punishment. He related:
“I said I didn’t think (he) should be punished at all. They said it caused a disruption.”
Then he told school officials that his wife was on her way to the school to speak with school officials. He told them not to take any action until she arrives, but the spanking had been administered by the time she arrived.
The Stephenson’s have contacted their attorney and then advised their son to refrain from any further political talk until the matter has been fully resolved. Troy then told the local media:
“Basically what they’ve done is f[g]ive them a gag order. That’s against the First Amendment, and I just don’t understand. It just seems drastic to me.”
Scott Morro, the family’s attorney added:
“The Presidential Election has been discussed for months in class. The election results and their ramification should have been discussed as well. What a perfect time to teach.”
“Instead, the students were banned from discussing it. The student shouldn’t ignore rules or instruction but those same rules and instruction shouldn’t stifle free speech. They have equated writing Trump on a blackboard to yelling fire in a crowded theatre. Corporal punishment, without the parents’ permission in this case, is unreasonable.”
“We are still gathering evidence and will determine what action to take in the future. The family hopes that by bringing this incident to the forefront that the Talladega School Board will think before they act.”
Sadly, this incident is not the only one where liberal school teachers or administrators have violated the constitutional rights of students because of their own personal liberal views. Sadly, it probably won’t be the last time it happens either. Students and parents need to be aware that they do have constitutional rights, even if the students are not legal age, and that they need to stand up against liberal public school officials who violate those rights. Don’t allow your kids to be victims of intolerable liberal educators.