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A high school student was suspended and ordered to undergo a psychological exam because he made a video with the message “guns save lives” for a class project, his family says.
The student, Frank Harvey, received an “A” despite the controversy.
“What the response of the school tells me is that I’m allowed to do my schoolwork as long as it agrees with their point of view on an issue,” Harvey told NJ.com, referencing administrators at Manville High School in New Jersey.
Harvey had created a short video that spotlighted examples of people who used guns to defend their homes. The video also showed anti-gun control political cartoons.
“I don’t understand why I’m being disciplined for following the instructions of my teacher and no one else is,” Harvey told NJ.com.
He said he was assigned the video by college and career readiness teacher Rachel Gottfried, although the teacher said she can’t recall doing so.
“She said my project would be perfectly fine,” Harvey said. “I presented the video to the class and took a few questions from my classmates. My presentation went over well. The whole idea of the assignment was to expose students to an idea they hadn’t considered before.”
That opinion was not shared by school administrators, who discovered the video on a thumb drive Harvey left in the school library. The administrators suspended Harvey, a senior, from school and told him he had to undergo a five-hour psychological exam to return to class.
After the suspension, an official from Somerset County Child Services visited Harvey’s home. Harvey’s mother, Mary Vervan, believes school officials reported her as retaliation for telling the media about the suspension. The boy refused to undergo the psychological exam, so he’s now studying for his GED at home.
The school called the claims “false.”
“We are confident that the evidence will support the district’s position,” a press release from the school district states. “The district is especially disheartened at the unfair personal attacks leveled by the family at our dedicated staff, who reacted to the actual events with professionalism and concern for the welfare of this student and others in the school community. We have nothing more to say on the matter at this time, but could not let the family’s vicious personal attacks go unanswered.”
Said Vervan, “The Manville police cleared my son. They looked at his presentation and found nothing wrong.”
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