Suspended Wichita Heights High senior will be allowed to attend convocation ceremony

05/08/2013 4:51 PM

08/06/2014 1:29 AM

A Wichita high school senior who was suspended after tweeting a comment that angered some athletes and others will be allowed to attend a senior convocation Friday.

Wesley Teague, 18, said he and his mother met with Heights High School officials Wednesday and were told he would be allowed to attend the ceremony. His suspension from classes for the remainder of the school year will stand, he said.

“We came to an agreement, found some solid ground, and I am allowed to go” to the senior breakfast and convocation, Teague said.

“Both parties have learned from this, and we just want it behind us. … I feel like it’s a great agreement, and it’s really going to help us move forward and move on.”

Teague, who had been selected by faculty to give a speech at Friday’s convocation, now will not speak at the ceremony, he said. He will participate in Heights’ commencement Sunday.

On May 2, Teague posted on his personal Twitter page: “ ‘Heights U’ is equivalent to WSU’s football team.”

The tweet prompted angry reactions from some classmates who said Teague was disrespectful to athletes, particularly underclassmen who had 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 was suspended for the remainder of the school year and told he could not attend the senior breakfast or convocation ceremony.

Wednesday afternoon, Teague and his mother met with Heights principal Bruce Deterding and assistant principal Monique Arndt to discuss the suspension and his mother’s appeal of it, Teague said.

He said he has learned from the experience.

“I learned that words can hurt others and that there’s a time and a place for Twitter, and school’s not the time or place,” Teague said.

He said he plans to attend Friday’s ceremonies at the school but will “take a break” from Twitter for a while.

“I may take a break from it a little, just to let everything die down a little and let it stay under the radar,” he said.

Deterding and Arndt did not return calls for comment. District spokeswoman Susan Arensman said earlier Wednesday that Teague was not suspended for the tweet itself but because of the disruption it caused.

“What spilled out into the school day and the disruption is why several students were suspended,” Arensman said in an e-mail Wednesday.

She said she did not know how many students were suspended or for how long. “There was not an actual fight, but there were threats,” she said in the e-mail.

In an e-mail to Heights employees Wednesday, Deterding provided a statement about the incident and told the employees to “feel free to share” the information.

The incident related to Teague’s suspension “started on Twitter and spilled over into the school environment causing significant disruption to the school day,” Deterding wrote.

“There is additional information surrounding this incident that resulted from the comprehensive investigation conducted by Heights administrators. However, because of federal student privacy laws, Heights High School, its administrators and the Wichita Public School district are not able to provide additional information on matters relating to an individual student’s official record.

“All of our schools have the obligation to maintain a safe and secure learning environment for our students while they are at school or participating in school activities,” he wrote. “That was the lens through which Heights administrators took action in this situation, and which all of our administrators are expected to consider each day.”

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