During the week of February 10, Rogers High School senior Reid Sagehorn was suspended until April 22, 2014. This action was in response to a comment he made on Twitter in response to a rumor about him and a teacher. The rumor was not true, and originated from an anonymous Twitter account that accepted and posted anything that was sent its way. The submissions were handled through the social media site ask.fm, which allows anonymous interaction between two people. Because of this, the person who started the rumor is unknown.
Reid is a captain of Rogers' football and basketball teams, and also plays baseball. This excessive punishment would prevent him from finishing his final basketball season and would also preclude him from playing baseball his senior year. In addition, Reid has been removed from National Honor Society and has been barred from stepping on school grounds or attending school-sponsored events. Reid will be unable to attend the state DECA conference and will miss out on countless other school-related activities.
Reid has already been suspended for three weeks. While it is true that Reid would be able to return to school after April 22nd, he would be forced to remain away from school for over two months. Because of this, the only reasonable response to this discipline would be for Reid to leave the district and enroll elsewhere. The ten-week punishment is, in effect, an expulsion. Meanwhile, the person (or people) responsible for starting and perpetuating the countless rumors on the Twitter account have not faced any discipline.
Rogers students have been quick to fight the expulsion of their leader and role model. A #freereid Twitter campaign has been circulating around the Northwest Metro, generating 1,437 tweets from 7:00 AM to midnight on the day of the expulsion. Students have also circulated flyers around the school with "#freereid" written on them. On February 14, the boys' basketball team hosted the Buffalo Bison in Senior Night. Senior Night is a tradition in which senior athletes and their parents are recognized for their dedication to the program, sport, and community. Because of Reid's suspension, he was not able to take part in the ceremonies or even attend. In protest, Rogers students wore black with Reid's number 3 written on the front of their shirts. Many of Reid's teammates wrote #freereid on their shoes, and the girls basketball team wrote #freereid on their shirts. The protest was peaceful and respectful, and spread awareness of Reid's situation.
It has been speculated that Reid is being made an example of because of upcoming negotiations with the Teachers Union. If this is indeed the case, administration should not base their decisions on labor negotiations when the fate of a student hangs in the balance. If it is not the case, it leaves one wondering what could lead Rogers and district administration to make such a grave mistake.
The following is the mission statement taken from the offficial ISD 728 website:
Our mission is to educate, inspire & empower our diverse learners, to shape their futures, to accomplish their dreams and to contribute positively to our local and global communities.
In their excessive punishment of Reid Sagehorn, Rogers High School and ISD 728 are failing in every facet of their mission statement. By preventing Reid from coming to school (and providing no alternative except switching schools), they are not educating. By removing a well-liked leader and role model from their building, they are failing to inspire the student body. And by threatening to punish students who speak up against this injustice, they are showing that empowerment cannot come in the form of dissent. Is ISD 728 shaping Reid Sagehorn's future? Absolutely. But are they making positive changes in his life to help him accomplish his dreams? Absolutely not.
The names that appear on this petition are in favor of the immediate resinstatement of Reid Sagehorn to Rogers High School, and the pursuit of the true perpetrators of this rumor and many others that have circulated. This action would have the overwhelming support of Rogers students, parents, alumni, and community members.
Members of the school board can be contacted here:
ISD 728 Superindendent Dr. Mark Bezek can be contacted at this address:
Dr. Mark Bezek
ISD 728 Elk River Area School District
815 Highway 10
Elk River, MN 5533