Homeless Teen Fights Expulsion Over Punk-Rock Snap

PHILADELPHIA (CN) – The parents of a homeless 17-year-old brought a federal complaint Monday over their son’s recent school expulsion, which they contend was based on a doctored Snapchat.

Identifying their client by his initials, attorneys at the firm Kershenbaum & Raffaele say the Rose Tree Media School District’s mistreatment of G.S. goes back years.

“While the history of this case is long, it is straightforward,” the complaint states. “From the time that plaintiff, a homeless child, was a middle school student, defendants have abused their power and positions to achieve their goal of kicking him out of their schools.”

Indeed G.S. and his parents already won an injunction against Rose Tree Media in a 2016 complaint, and even went to the Third Circuit this past June to have that order upheld.

G.S. had been described at that hearing as a student at Penncrest High School in the Rose Tree Media School District, but Monday’s complaint shows that a new controversy was surfacing.

Two months earlier, G.S. had, as the complaint describes it, sent his 65 Snapchat followers “a snippet of lyrics from the song ‘Snap’ by the band Spite.”

The complaint does not include the lyrics at issue, but the chorus of the hardcore punk song states, in part: “Everyone, I despise everyone // Fuck you, eat shit, blackout, the world is a graveyard // All of you, I will fucking kill off all of you // This is me, this is my, snap.”

What the complaint does note is that only four of the people who follow G.S. on Snap are students at Rose Tree Media, and the post was made “outside of school hours, off of school grounds, and using no district instrumentalities.”

Furthermore the post were allegedly directed in no way “towards the district, its students or its agents,” the complaint states.

The parents of G.S. say that the version of their son’s post that was reported to the school district was doctored by another student to include the tag @penncrest_students, transforming the post into a direct threat.

In the spring, Rose Tree Media suspended G.S. for 10 days over the post. It followed up with an expulsion letter on Aug. 24.

While the 2016 complaint focused on G.S.’s right to attend Rose Tree Media pursuant to protections for homeless students, the new complaint alleges violations of his First and 14th Amendment rights, as well as due process rights, in addition to retaliation and defamation.

Kershenbaum & Raffaele attorney Michael Raffaele declined to comment on the suit. Representatives for Rose Tree Media School District have not responded to a call seeking comment.

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