A savage beating caught on an eighth-grade student’s cell phone led to his suspension after he posted it to his Facebook profile, and now Trevion Gaines’ mother is planning to take legal action against Beaumont Independent School District because she feels her son’s First Amendment rights were violated.
“I will be hiring an attorney after talking it over with my family,” said Shermane Wilson, who said school officials had Trevion access his Facebook account and sign a statement without his mother present.
“They should’ve waited until I was there before asking him to do any of that,” said Wilson. “And they didn’t tell me they had my son open up his Facebook; he told me. They should’ve told me everything that happened when I got there.”
According to Wilson, Gaines posted the 63-second video of the two girls fighting on Friday, April 27, when he got home from school. Monday, April 30, Gaines was summoned to the school office and asked by assistant principal Charles Chevis if he posted the fight on Facebook. Gaines said yes. According to Wilson, one of the girls in the fight had told Chevis about the video and school officials wanted to look at it to see who started the fight.
Gaines was then taken to an office with a BISD officer and opened up his Facebook account at the request of the officer, who then tried to make a copy of the video on the computer, but was unable to. He then had Gaines sign a statement that he did indeed record the fight and post it to Facebook. Gaines’ mother was called after that.
The video of the fight was still up as of Wednesday evening. It had 28 “likes” and 11 comments.
When Wilson arrived at the school, he was told by Chevis that her son was going to be suspended for posting the video to Facebook and cited a clause in the district’s code of conduct for students. Under the code for a Misuse of Technology Resources and the Internet, Chevis marked a bullet point that states students shall not “send, post, or possess electronic messages that are abusive, obscene, sexually oriented, threatening, harassing, damaging to another’s reputation, or illegal, including cyberbullying and ‘sexting’, either on or off school property, if the conduct causes a substantial disruption to the educational environment.”
There was no mention made on Wilson’s first visit that her son’s Facebook page had been accessed and viewed by Chevis and the BISD officer. Once her son told her what happened, Wilson returned to school and demanded to know the whole story and why she wasn’t told.
It was upon her return to the school that a “very unprofessional” Dr. Aaron Covington, the school’s principal, flippantly told her that her son was being suspended and that he should be glad it was only a one-day suspension as opposed to three days, she said.
“I deserve an apology from (Covington) for the way he was acting,” Wilson said.
BISD communication specialist Craig Eichhorn informed The Examiner on Wednesday that Gaines actually violated more than one of the district’s policies in the code of conduct manual. Incidentally, the policy Chevis and Covington cited on Monday when Gaines was suspended was not included in the four violations presented by Eichhorn.