WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Brandon Guzda is a popular, active high school senior at West Seneca East. He's a three-sport athlete with a high grade point average.
"I take school very seriously," he said.
And he says he hasn't been in much trouble, until now. A teacher kicked Brandon out of a hockey game last week for rowdy behavior. And when Brandon found out the teacher wrote him up for the incident, he took out his frustration the way many teens today choose to do -- by venting on twitter.
"At that time, with my anger, I felt at the time it was right. But then I realized I shouldn't have taken it that far," he said.
West Seneca Central school superintendent Dr. Mark Crawford believes what Brandon wrote crossed the line.
The Tweet said, "F*** mrs._____ #freedomofspeech like come on why did u do that!" (News 4 has censored the f-word and removed the teacher's name.)
Brandon assumes his use of the obscenity was misinterpreted.
"I meant it like, come on. Really? You're going to take it this far?" Guzda said.
The school's code of conduct does not specifically address social media use. But the superintendent says what Brandon wrote caused a disturbance and falls under prohibited student conduct.
Dr. Crawford did not want to speak on camera but says the teacher was extremely upset, students and other teachers were concerned and the tweet also constituted insubordination under the code of conduct. The school suspended Brandon for 5 days.
"When I found out about this with Brandon, we discussed it. And I told him it is wrong. It's wrong to single out a person and to say anything nasty about anyone is wrong. But to take him out of school for five days is wrong as well," his mother Joanne Procyshyn said.
But three days into the five day suspension, they still fell the punishment doesn't fit the crime.
"I thought I could say what I want on twitter in the luxury of my own home," Guzda said. "I regret how people took it. I don't regret what I did because I spoke my mind."
Mental health counselor Lynne Rifkin Shine isn't surprised a school is acting so proactively on what they might consider an aggressive message.
But she thinks schools should specifically address social media in their codes of conduct.
"I do believe it should be written in. I think there should be lectures and assemblies to tell the kids what is expected of them so they can follow through with it," Rifkin Shine said.
Brandon and his mother just want consistency in punishments.
"I know multiple occasions where people have got into trouble over twitter and stuff like that and only got detention or one-day suspensions. I feel like they are trying to making a point out of me, but they should make a point out of everybody," Guzda said.
Two lawyers told News 4 they believe the school may have gone too far. They say the courts have been divided in similar cases. If the family fought the suspension in court, they say the school would have to prove the message written outside of school disrupted the learning environment inside the classroom.
Brandon's family doubts that was the case.
"He's going to go back to school and apologize to the teacher. He's going to explain he didn't mean any harm towards her. And hopefully the school is going to take a close at this and all the student body," Procyshyn said.
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