ARIZONA — A student council president has been punished for carrying a sign at an athletic event that school officials considered inappropriate.
Froilan Rellora, a senior at 2,700-student Dobson High School in Mesa, has been suspended from his student council duties until January. In the meantime, Assistant Principal for Athletics and Activities Rick Fultz has made Rellora head of a parent-student committee to write a code of conduct for students attending school athletics events.
The sign Rellora reportedly carried to a recent swim meet read “DHS swimmers know how to stroke it (in the water).” According to the Arizona Republic, school administrators responded when they received a number of complaints from parents about the sign.
When disciplinary action against Rellora was initially suggested, 60 classmates staged a sit-in at the school to show their support of the student council leader. The student protesters accepted unexcused absences and will not be allowed to make up missed assignments.
“They want us to learn [about] the Constitution and our rights, but they’re reprimanding a student for exercising his right to freedom of speech,” said Student Council Secretary Brandon Towle, in an Oct. 9 article in the Arizona Republic. Dobson High School was a National Champion in the 2002 “We The People” competition, which tests students’ knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.
According to Fultz, the school has a code of conduct in place, but the student protest highlighted a need to examine and specify existing policy, especially for athletic events.
“Basically we’re just looking at getting some of our community members together to look at making some proposals and possibly just looking at what we consider to be appropriate conduct,” said Fultz.
A school statement signed by Rellora and his parents said that they agreed to the punishment and that they are happy that the matter is resolved.
Rellora said in an e-mail, however, that his removal from office is unfair.
“I believe that the punishment should fit the crime and being suspended from office is still a bit extreme,” he said.