Home Social Justice A Walkout, a Suspension Slip, and a Hashtag: A Primer on Misinformation in the Jacob Shoemaker story

A Walkout, a Suspension Slip, and a Hashtag: A Primer on Misinformation in the Jacob Shoemaker story

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An Ohio high school student was suspended during a school walkout. But the exact reason why got lost along the way.

A senior high school student who was suspended from his Hilliard, Ohio highschool made headlines this past week after being caught up in a firestorm of misinformation surrounding the school’s walkout.

When news broke of Jacob Shoemaker’s suspension, many iterations of the story were surrounded by falsehoods. On Twitter, users shared stories that said Shoemaker was suspended for not supporting the walkout, taking a “pro-gun” stance or for not participating in the walkout.

In reality, Shoemaker was not against the protest, and he was not suspended for refusing to participate in the walkout. Shoemaker decided not to choose a side during the protest because he felt uncomfortable doing so.

He was suspended because he chose to stay inside the school in an unattended classroom during the walkout. The school administration organized a supervised area for students who would not be partaking in the walkout, and Shoemaker refused to go there.

“I didn’t like that there was a choice,” Shoemaker said to Fox News.

He said he felt that going to the alternative room for non-participants would have labeled him as  “pro-gun violence” within the school.

According to a report by The Independent, Shoemaker told his father before the protest that “there shouldn’t be politics in the classroom. … I may just sit in my seat. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the least intrusive of the choices I’ve been given.”

Shoemaker’s suspension slip read that he had “refused to follow instructions after being warned repeatedly by several administrators.” Shoemaker was not allowed on the school property for 24 hours during his suspension.

Hilliard School District spokesperson Stacie Raterman confirmed that the suspension slip that was highlighted in several online articles was in fact real, but she could not confirm if Shoemaker was suspended due to student privacy reasons.

Additionally, the school district stated Friday that this particular walkout was not political in nature, but rather a memorial to the Parkland victims. District representatives also said that students were not forced to participate in any of the walkouts organized across the district’s three high schools.

“There is inaccurate and false information being circulated regarding both the intent of these gatherings and the events that took place during a specific activity at Hilliard Davidson High School,” Hilliard School District officials said in the statement. “These gatherings were not political events; they were respectful gatherings remembering the senseless loss of young people.”

According to the statement, less than half of the Hilliard Davidson High School student body participated in the walkout.

Shoemaker’s father maintains that Jacob felt pressured to choose a side on the day of the walkout, even when presented with a school-designated option to not participate. Shoemaker has stated that he does not support misinformation around the story that is still being shared by gun rights advocacy groups.

“There are a lot of groups out there that are using this to push an agenda, and I don’t appreciate that,” Shoemaker said.

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