Four male students at Grand Rapids Christian High School were suspended for two days following their display of signs in favor of President Donald Trump.
With hand-written signs that read “Trump” and “Build the Wall”, the students knelt in front of a banner that said, “Immigrants are a Blessing Not a Burden.”
The March 3 incident prompted Superintendent Thomas DeJonge to write a letter of apology to “offended” members of the community, and insisted the students were not suspended for their respective roles in the demonstration.
“To be clear, the students were not disciplined because of having expressed their political viewpoint,” DeJonge wrote. “Rather, they were disciplined because of the disruption they caused and disrespect they demonstrated toward fellow students and staff.”
The banner was placed in the high school by the school’s activist group, “Love Thy Neighbor,” as the organization was attempting to gauge the impact of students of immigrant descent. A female teacher approached the students, reaching for their signs.
Though no incident immediately occurred, a verbal back-and-forth took place between students with opinions on both sides of the issue following the teacher’s exit from the area.
DeJonge says the insensitive discussion that took place resulted in the students’ suspension.
“The boys did not create havoc by doing what they did,” DeJonge said. “It was what was following where there became a disruption and aggression and disrespect to students and to staff and faculty.”
While one of the parents of the boys said they “were simply trying to support the President of the United States,” another was frustrated with the school’s decision to allow a pro-immigration stance to overshadow other opinions.
“Why are they bringing this political nonsense into the school?” asked a parent.
DeJonge believes the incident will have no further bearing on the school’s proceeding future.
“Many meaningful conversations between students with opposing opinions have already occurred and our student body, as you would expect, has responded in ways parents can be proud,” the superintendent said.
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