A student’s decision to post a mug shot of his principal on Instagram resulted in a four-day suspension, just weeks before graduation, with school officials claiming the teen insinuated the educator had been arrested in connection with a DUI.
Keandre Varner, a senior at Riverdale High School in Riverdale, Ga., said he posted the photo of Principal Jamille Miller Brown and told others he believed she had been arrested for driving while intoxicated-related charges. When Brown discovered the student’s post, which she claims had misinformation and defamatory comments, she brought the teen into her office and imposed the suspension, WSB-TV reported Wednesday.
“I really didn’t intend to defame her character,” said Varner, who said the suspension is affecting his ability to study for his upcoming final exams. “I need to be in school,” he said.
The teen claims Brown questioned him about the photo, saying, “You said I got arrested for a DUI.” The principal reportedly tried to have the student arrested but was refused by authorities. According to the Varner family, there is no clause in the school’s handbook that states posting misinformation online could result in suspension.
Clayton County school district officials said the mug shot was a result of Brown's speeding-related arrest in March and that Brown was suspended for disrupting others during school hours by flaunting the photo. They further claimed Varner became belligerent upon hearing he would be suspended.
Varner said the suspension letter stated sharing misinformation was his only wrongdoing.
“I put it right on Instagram and that was it,” he said.
Varner’s suspension was eventually reduced from four days to two, and he came back to classes Thursday.
Earlier this year, Brown testified against her assistant principal Genghis Shakhan after he was accused of using excessive force against three students. Brown told officials she'd witnessed Shakhan restrain a female student in a headlock after the student allegedly became unruly following an argument on school grounds. Shakhan was fired as a result.