WICHITA — The senior class president at Heights High School has been suspended for the rest of the school year and barred from most graduation activities for posting a tweet that school officials say insulted athletes at the school.
It prompted angry reactions from some classmates who said Teague was disrespectful to athletes, particularly underclassmen who coined the phrase and sometimes use the hashtag #HeightsU on tweets about Falcon football or other athletic endeavors.
Wichita State University dropped its football program after the 1986 season.
Teague, 18, says the initial tweet and a few he posted in response to critics immediately afterward were harmless and his punishment too severe. School officials said they created a disruption both online and at the school, where several students argued about the comments and Teagues right to post them.
Its completely unfair, and I just think its a joke, Teague said Tuesday.
Its a 100 percent truthful tweet and it wasnt meant to offend a single person or group of people. I only meant that Heights U doesnt exist because it doesnt. Were not a university.
Heights school officials did not return calls Tuesday. But a letter sent to Teague and his parents from assistant principal Monique Arndt says the senior was suspended because he acted to incite a disturbance.
Wesley posted some very inappropriate tweets about the Heights athletic teams, aggressively disrespecting many athletes, the letter says. After reading the tweets and taking statements from other students it was found that Wesley acted to incite the majority of our Heights athletes.
Wichita schools spokeswoman Susan Arensman said in an e-mail, There was a negative reaction from many students, including threats of fights in the school.
It caused a major disruption to the school day. Other students were also suspended, Arensman said.
She said she didnt know how many other students had been suspended or for how long.
Teague, a member of the Heights track team, had been selected by faculty to give a speech at the senior breakfast and convocation ceremony Friday. Now he cant attend the ceremony, but officials told him he could participate in Heights commencement ceremony Sunday.
Kirsten Teague, Wesleys mother, said she spoke with Heights principal Bruce Deterding on Tuesday and told him she planned to appeal the suspension.
I think its a bit overreacting. I dont really think theres anything wrong with what Wesley did, she said.
I guess I wonder whether the same thing would have happened if he said something (negative) about the vocal music department.
Arndts letter said Teagues conduct violated the districts policy on student behavior, which says:
Each pupil is held responsible for his/her personal actions. The right to attend a Wichita Public School carries with it the obligation to maintain acceptable behavior.
The policy prohibits the use of personal electronic devices, including cellphones, during the school day and prohibits bullying in any form, including cyberbullying.
Arensman said there have been other cases where a student has been suspended over comments made on social media.
If it causes a major disruption to the school day, or if a threat is made, there will be an investigation and students will face consequences, she said.
Wesley Teague said texting and tweeting during the school day is common, and that he has seen way worse on Twitter than his comment relating Heights U to WSUs non-existent football team.
I guess I hurt a group of peoples feelings and I got suspended for the rest of my senior year, he said. People get their feelings hurt every day.
Since his suspension, some students have launched new Twitter hashtags #TeamWesley and #FreeWesley to protest the punishment.
Teagues mother said she hopes school officials will reconsider and allow him to participate in the senior convocation, particularly because Wesleys campaign for senior class president focused on school spirit.
His main goal was to increase school spirit. He went to soccer games, volleyball games. Hes been very supportive of the athletic teams, Kirsten Teague said.
He tried out for basketball his sophomore year and didnt make it, but he was on the front row cheering for those kids every game. Hes been their Number One supporter.