Home / Education / Gainesville High School Student No Longer Enrolled After Offensive Social Media Posts

Gainesville High School Student No Longer Enrolled After Offensive Social Media Posts

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A Gainesville High School student is no longer enrolled after administrators learned of racially-charged and threatening social media activity posted by the student.

The high school senior first gained attention on the internet Monday after he posted a captioned photo on the social media site Reddit, claiming to have called United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement to report an undocumented student who also attended Gainesville High School.

The photo, which depicted the student with a pipe in his mouth, sporting a “Make America Great Again” hat before the backdrop of an Andrew Jackson-inspired, Donald Trump portrait, was captioned, “MFW (my face when) I report an illegal who goes to my school to ICE.” 

WUFT News is not publishing the name of the student due to the nature of the offense and because he is a minor.

Following the post, Reddit users unveiled a series of posts from the student’s account, which has since been deleted, containing derogatory slurs toward the LGBT community and African Americans, as well as detailed threats of violence toward those groups. 

David Shelnutt, Gainesville High School principal, said the student’s comments were not representative views held by the school’s staff and student body.

“One person does not get to speak for 1,800 people,” he said. “We have a wonderfully diverse student body.”

Shelnutt addressed students over the intercom Tuesday to announce the senior’s departure and remind students of the school’s appreciation of diversity. 

Employees and school resource officers were on standby to prevent potential conflict on campus incited by the remarks. 

Shelnutt confirmed that despite the student’s posts, ICE agents had not contacted him regarding any student.

He said this case should serve as a lesson to all students about social media use. 

“Everything that is published online is always there and cannot truly be deleted,” he said. “We always want our students to make positive choices.”

Eileen Roy, Alachua County Public Schools board member, said the student was not expelled, but she could not comment on whether the student’s departure from the high school was a mutual decision agreed upon by both the student’s parents and the administration.

“If he did not leave, we might have done [the process],” she said.

Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida, said social media poses difficult First Amendment issues concerning students’ rights to publish potentially offensive or hateful speech.

“Can a public school punish a student for speech he creates while off campus, on his own time and using his own smartphone or computer? Can schools stretch their jurisdiction into the bedrooms of their students to punish them for off-campus speech? These are questions the U.S. Supreme Court, unfortunately, has yet to address,” Calvert said.  “A private school could easily expel a student for such comments because the First Amendment does not apply to private schools, but public school students do have First Amendment rights of free speech.”

When contacted at home, the student’s mother was unwilling to address her son’s social media activity, but did say, “It’s an upsetting day for our family.” 

Katie Mellinger contributed to this story. 

About Bryan Boggiano

Bryan is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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  • On the one hand, it’s none of the school district’s business what students do off-campus, on their own time, and with their own resources, especially as regards speech.

    On the other hand, hopefully his parents took away his Nintendo Switch and told him he’ll get it back when he extracts his cranium from his rectum.

    • L

      The student made posts that advocated violence against minorities, as well as posts containing very explicit hate speech and racial slurs. It is absolutely the school district’s business if that kind of a hateful, problematic, and racist student is in their midst. For the wellbeing of the rest of their 1,800 students, it was very appropriate for the district to step in and take action.

      • He either did something at school or he didn’t.

        If he didn’t, then the district had no authority to do anything. They’re a school district, not the city thought police.

        • JAM

          He created a negative atmosphere INSIDE THE SCHOOL with the threats of violence/etc to fellow students. I hope you enjoy your racist criminal hero in the White House getting indicted and impeached soon.

          • Sorry, I don’t know who you’re talking about. I don’t have any heroes in the White House, let alone any racist ones.

            If he threatened violence against fellow students at school, fine, kick him out.

            If not, well, there’s a reason that the school board doesn’t get to decide when McDonald’s sells the McRib, which teams make the college bowl games, and who’s playing at the High Dive next weekend.

            That reason is that only things that happen at school are any of their business. Unless, that is, the North Koreans conquered America last night and nobody told me this morning.

          • JAM
          • OK, I read it.

            It doesn’t say that he did anything at school. The issue still remains entirely things he 1) said, not did 2) while not at school.

            But it also continues to imply that he left under circumstances other than the school district compelling him to. Which is fine.

      • David Easton

        OH I forget in Communist America 1st Ammendment rights for students do not carry over to their own personal free time while enrolled in a government taxpayer funded school.

        • JAM

          Right-wing brainwashed buffoon says what?

      • David Easton

        muslims affect my wellbeing also, so we should deport them all.

        • JAM

          You sound like a Limbaugh/Hannity-brainwashed idiot… is this true?

  • David Easton

    I’m the guy whos reddit handle was /u/LibCuckSlayer. If corey needs me to help his legal case in any way please contact me

    • JAM

      Then first, please explain why you chose the name “Lib Cuck Slayer” to the WUFT family-oriented audience first, then we might take you seriously. Not.

      • Presumably he chose the name for the same reason that anyone uses the word “cuck” — because he wants the world to know all about his sexual fantasies.

        • Susan B, Anthony

          or the fact that he is a sociopath that encourages will be mass murderers to spew hate online.

  • marion black

    The mental gymnastics present not just in this comment section but in the article and at GHS is astounding to me. This is a perfect example of what damage the rampant ‘politically correct’ culture does to people’s minds.

    While on the subject of African Americans and any ill will directed at them, I find it surprising that in amidst of the small-time gang warfare that’s been cropping up in Alachua county (and probably Marion too, given the homicides that make the news there every few weeks) that you are all more worried about this one particular high school student than the HUGE problems in those communities. Communities where deaths and violence have actually occurred. We’re talking multiple times in the last few weeks, including incidents involving women and children being shot. I’d love to see our community officials put half as much energy as they put into this article into going into these schools like GHS and rooting out the gang problems. Or is it true that the black community is only useful to the left “come voting time?”

    Stop policing reddit and the internet at large until you’ve fixed the problems in the real world. And liberals, stop being offended so easily.

    • Susan B, Anthony

      I hope you change your mind after the shooting in Parkland. As you can see speech like this can turn deadly and then every one wonders why didn’t any one do anything about thiar young man after he posted so much hate in social media.

      • marion black

        You should realize that in a country of this size, with this many people (and guns), that violent incidents like Parkland are bound to happen. Should it? No, but they will. Take away the guns and they’ll find another way. Have you noticed the trend in Europe involving buses and knives? It’s certainly not the fault of the gun, but instead the wielder. Understand too that you’re more likely to die on the way to school via a car accident than to get shot at school. Heck, you’re more likely to die by choking on the carrots you eat at lunch. Should we ban vehicles and carrots? Before you let your emotions cloud your judgement in these types of instances, please first remember the numbers.

        Also, regarding the young man in question – the government you are advocating to give more control to had plenty of information about him. Certainly enough to prevent this. If they hadn’t been writing Russian fairy tales and cleaning their stacks of dirty laundry from the last eight years, they might’ve been able to prevent this. Remember that before you voluntarily start giving them your Facebook and Instagram passwords.

        But as your main point, which is advocating for more government control in our lives (our social media, our emails, heck why not the conversations at our dinner tables), I’ll just recommend a great read for you. It’s called ‘1984,’ written by George Orwell. Thank me later.