A Michigan teenager took a photo of discolored water coming out of the tap in a school bathroom sink and posted the picture on social media – and was rewarded for her activism with a five-day suspension, WXYZ-TV (Detroit) is reporting.
17-year-old Hazel Juco is a senior at John Glenn High School in suburban Detroit. Some time last week she went to the bathroom to wash her hands. When she turned on the faucet, this happened.
What a great day to be a rocket pic.twitter.com/1mG2OpGksk
— haz????????️???? (@HazelJuco) September 20, 2016
Hazel was, not unexpectedly, disgusted by the nasty water, and figured she’d bring attention to it by posting it on social media.
“I just took a picture of it. And then in my newspaper class I talked about it with them. I always hope that someone will see it and want to help us. Because our school obviously doesn’t have money.”
By now you are no doubt aware that some cities in Michigan – Flint in particular – have had issues with their water supplies, to put it mildly. Fortunately in Hazel’s case, the nasty water was just a result of a routine maintenance problem, and not anything to do with her town’s municipal water supply. Wayne-Westand Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Michele Harmala says that the nasty water was just a routine maintenance issue that got overlooked; she has since called a plumber to repair an old pipe that was causing the problem.
Hazel’s way of bringing attention to the problem, however, has not sat well with school administrators: after news that her bathroom picture reached school administrators, she was told she’d be suspended for three days.
“They told me I was being suspended for three days, OSS [Out of School Suspension], for taking a picture. It is inappropriate use of electronics in the restroom.”
As you can imagine, schools don’t want students taking pictures in school bathrooms – to say nothing of posting those pictures on social media – for reasons that should be obvious. But if you look closely at Hazel’s photo, you can see that there is nothing in there that would compromise anyone’s privacy, other than a pair of feet of someone who is obviously standing, not sitting.
But Hazel believes she was really suspended because she embarrassed school officials. She also notes that just about every teen girl, everywhere, takes selfies in school bathrooms without getting in trouble for it.
“Every girl takes selfies in the bathroom and makes it their profile pictures. No one has gotten in trouble.”
In fact, after Hazel’s friends got word that she’d been suspended, several of them took to social media, posting photos that they themselves had taken in school bathrooms without getting into trouble.
@HazelJuco there go some more bud pic.twitter.com/eU9okduwy6
— JB ❄️ (@ScrevmJvzz) September 22, 2016
Schools do not always take kindly to students posting potentially-embarrassing things about them on social media, as Minnesota high schooler Reid Sagehorn found out in 2014.
The suburban Minneapolis honor student got into hot water with a two-word post that he intended as a joke, according to NBC News, but school officials didn’t find it funny at all. Sagehorn’s troubles began when an anonymous poster on a website, “Rogers Confessions,” asked whether Sagehorn “made out” with a teacher. Sagehorn sarcastically replied, “Actually, yeah.”
School officials took Sagehorn’s joke as a violation of its policy against “threatening, intimidating or assault of a teacher, administrator or other staff member.” He was suspended, threatened with expulsion, and for a time it looked like high school and college football careers were going to be in jeopardy. He even transferred to another school so his college football scholarship wouldn’t be in jeopardy.
Back in Michigan, it seems as if cooler heads have prevailed in Hazel Juco’s case. Dr. Harmala has deemed Hazel’s suspension “inappropriate” and has promised to have it expunged from her record.
[Feature Image by Kevin Tietz/Shutterstock]