Teens Suspended for Controversial Homecoming Photo

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Students from Massachusetts may want to rethink about how they snap their memorable moments before their homecoming dance.

Two students from Taunton, Massachusetts took a photo together at one of their houses before their homecoming dance. What sparked the controversy of their photos was a picture of them holding airsoft guns.

The two juniors, identified as Tito Velez and his girlfriend Jamie Pereira, said that the picture depicted their hobby. But their expression for their hobby got them suspended, according to WFXT.

Velez’s father captured the moment just before they were headed to the homecoming dance at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School. After the original and formal pictures, the teens wanted to express the love they have for their hobby.

“We took them with the airsoft guns because it’s our hobby and we wanted to include them in the pictures,” Pereira said.

Airsoft guns do not contain actual bullets, but they shoot plastic pellet balls and people can play games in a certain field similar to a paintball game.

Richard Gross, superintendent of the high school, explained why they had to take action after the photo was posted on social media. “It’s not the guns, it’s the connecting of that type of posture that type of thing to a school,” Gross said.

Gross wanted to stress that the students’ safety is his first priority, so he asked the principle to further investigate. Taunton Police and the principal dug into the situation and stopped the two students just before they were boarding a bus for a cross country meet on Monday.

Velez explained how he could not say anything when they stopped him and his girlfriend. “They wouldn’t let me say what happened. They just said whatever they wanted and I couldn’t say anything back,” Velez said.

Both Velez and Pereira were given a ten day suspension from the school, and an expulsion was even considered.

The students and their parents had a meeting on Wednesday with school officials to determine if the school will banish Velez and Pereira. Ultimately, the decision to expel the students depends solely on the principal’s opinion.