Cicero-North Syracuse High School senior Patrick Brown was suspended last week, after using Twitter to speak out about his upstate New York school district's failed budget.
Early last week, Brown tweeted that the district should cut the school's executive principal position. He used the hashtag #shitCNSshouldcut, which he had started. Brown was upset that the district's $144.7 million budget proposal had not been approved and that sports and extracurricular activities were rumored to be on the chopping block, the Syracuse-based Post-Standard reported.
On Thursday, Brown was told that he was facing a three-day suspension for, in the words of The Post-Standard, "using a cell phone in class and inciting a social media riot that disrupted the learning environment."
Brown told CNN that he had used his cell phone in class, but it was not addressed at the time. Furthermore, he said he did not mean to harass the school's principal.
"It makes me uncomfortable that I can get in trouble for expressing my opinion," Brown said, according to The Post-Standard. "I can understand if you tweet something that is threatening about the school or threatening about a teacher but that's not what I did."
Kim Dyce Faucette, superintendent of the North Syracuse Central School District, told CNN that while she was aware of the situation, she could not comment on it. She noted that the district has a "student code of conduct that is a policy we abide by."
The district could not immediately be reached for comment.
Other students joined in on Brown's original hashtag, with @JackThaJuiceMan tweeting that the district should cut "anime club," and @MichaelBrisson tweeting, "There's honestly not much left at this point,” reported CNN. By Friday, a #FreePatBrown hashtag had gained steam and Twitter users were voicing their opinions about his suspension:
What I don't understand is how the district plans to cut everything that we're passionate about & expects us to NOT be angry? #freepatbrown
— Joshua DiFabio (@JoshuaDiFabio) May 28, 2013
How can a school teach children anything if they don't respect their civil rights? #FreePatBrown
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) May 25, 2013
On Tuesday, Brown weighed in on his suspension:
Just got the official word...Pat Brown was not freed. I am still suspended until Thursday.
— Pat Brown (@PatBroski) May 28, 2013
The district's budget will be up for reconsideration in mid-June.