Two students suspended after posting controversial Facebook photo

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Jamie Pereira and Tito Velez.

Jamie Pereira and Tito Velez.

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. — Two high school students say they are facing expulsion for having toy guns -- guns they never brought to school.

They look like real weapons, but they are airsoft guns that shoot plastic pellets.

Last week, Tito Velez, 15, and his girlfriend Jamie Pereira posted for their homecoming picture last week holding the guns and posting it to Facebook. And it got them suspended from school.

"This isn't dangerous. You can't kill someone with it," Velez said. "We didn't shoot anyone, we were pointing them at the floor. Everything was on safe, no batteries, they never left house. Never, we never took them to school. That'd be stupid."

"I understand, but I think they took this way too far," Pereira said. "Suspending us for 10 days and possible expulsion is way too much."

But the teenagers put a caption on the photo relating it to homecoming at Bristol Plymouth Vo-Tech, tying the airsoft guns to a school function.

"These students know what is ... provocative," Superintendent Richard Gross said. "And to tie that to one of our school events kind of puts it over the top which brings us into it."




  • Duke Paulsen

    Looks like the “Zero Tolerance — Zero Intelligence” Policy is now Invading the Homes & Lives off School. What’s so sad is that this was not intended as a joke even!!

  • Anonymous

    The caption said Homecoming 2014!
    The teen belongs to a competitive air soft gun team.. He clearly enjoys! Just like the kids here in Rifle, Colorado pose with hunting Rifles because they love hunting… Just because the picture had homecoming doesn’t mean they intended it to stir up this!! I plead the 2 nd!

    • So smart

      I’ve seen kids take pictures with their airsoft teams including gear and rifles. FOR SCHOOL. (YEARBOOK, PHOTOGRAPHY, ETC). NOT a SINGLE issue was raised and the pictures remain on site.

      Somehow I dont feel less safe.

  • dapandico

    If the teens had a baby together and holding it in a photo, the school would brag about how cute they are.

    • Ridiculous...

      If they posed with shirts saying ‘Death to America’ while waving a Muslim flag, they would be praised for their diversity.

  • Anonymous

    Hypothetically, just suppose these two teens did end up going to homecoming, brought real guns, and it turned into another tragic school shooting. If this picture had been posted and these kids NOT reprimanded, the public would go on a field day saying that something should have been done. And that this picture clearly showed they had bad intentions. Just saying – it’s easy to be all over the school now when everyone is still safe.

    • Frank

      That makes no sense. Why did they not just speak w the kids about it? If they are incapable of properly interviewing a teenager to deduce real risk, they should look for other jobs. This is all political with a basis to push a personal agenda. Not to mention a nice lawsuit since what written law or rule did they actually break? It needs to be investigated – yes certainly. But the reaction must fit the facts.

    • Test

      Hypothetically, what if they just ran down a bunch of students with a car in the school parking lot? Suspend every student with a driver’s license? Ignorance is not an opinion.

    • CLane

      They could have called them into the office, spoken to them and their parents, explained why they felt that picture was a mistake, help them understand, ask why they posted it. What where they thinking? Explain that it could have made some people afraid, especially with all the recent shootings. They are young, they just didn’t think. Suspending them for 10 days and maybe expelling them is too extreme. Now they miss school, so not learning… and what does that teach them? That adults cannot be trusted or counted on to listen or talk to them. That all adults want to do is punish them.

    • Anonymous

      Sadly things like that happen everywhere anyway. The difference is intention. There are situations to take precaution and there are situations where it’s harmless. You can’t put them all under the same umbrella, we can’t be lazy and assume all people are dangerous. Because people are killers, not guns.

  • JJ

    But it is totally okay to advertise these kids running around with REAL rifles when they are a few years older… in recruiting commercials for the U.S. Army and Marines! Be all that you can be… especially when it helps the government control foreign oil! Haha.

  • Anonymous

    This is what happens when u let other people into our country I’m for it it looks very suspicious especially with pictures of homecoming ……with all the idiots in this world I back the schools decision … the way people from another country that come here we r not tolerating your behavior anymore …..enough is enough to provoke children to have guns…. This picture is very wrong that these kids even have pics with guns ….others will also follow this …..our society has changed and it has changed were u don’t trust no one

  • Test

    Sorry folks, stupid punishments for harmless actions don’t make us safer.

    Social science is an oxymoron. Every time someone kicks a cat or takes a photo with a gun or plays a scary game you’re all ready to declare them the next Charles Manson, then when someone does something out of the blue like in Washington you act like someone just “missed the signs”. Sorry folks, evil does not always give “signs” ahead of time and regular folks occasionally do things you consider unusual.

    Try as you might you can’t predict the future with trite little omens. Does 2001 ring a bell? If you lost 1/2 of your 401k you’re pathetic at reading signs, that one was obvious.

  • Michael McKinley

    What has happened to America? What happened to the land of the brave? These kids knew not to be pointing the gun at anyone or the camera. They where practicing basic gun safety. the kids had respect for fake guns which meant they would have most likely had the respect for a real gun. This country has lost all credibility. This country was made by men with guns we should own that.

  • Anonymous

    They are even practicing good firearm etiquette / Following safety rules, both children have their fingers off the trigger.
    The children seem to have better understanding of firearm safety than the administrators;
    This is an example of Armphobic fear in society.
    Yes, the fear and ignorance of arms and firearms.

  • Anonymous

    Riiiiiiight, but the little girl who donated her hair and is now being bullied at school was told to toughen up BY THE PRINCIPAL! GTFO with this nonsense.

  • Jessa

    How did the school even know that the pictures where posted on Facebook? Did someone go to the school board and mention it or did they just decide they have nothing better to do with their time then to cruse student’s Facebook pages.

  • Geff

    This is beyond rediculous. This is in a private home setting. Why are the schools monitoring it anyway? Is there no personal freedom any longer?

  • Geff

    I find it funny (sarcastic) how the United States is banning guns yet countries and people invading other countries are tracing their kids at a young age how to handle them. Guess who’s gonna be taken over because the majority if the population can’t have guns or don’t know how to use them? Great job United States!!!!! Keep up the great work!!! Again – sarcastic.

  • Anonymous

    News flash for the ones who forgot that school shootings are the very common these days so the school is just being cautious. Who knew they were fake before asking?? The school didnt have to suspend them for that long but I wouldn’t want them at my school at all.

  • justsayin70

    Doesn’t matter – school laws extend beyond the school when it comes to students and violence. This is well within school district’s legal jurisdiction and in most (not all) case would be upheld in courts.

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