Student suspended for letter with complaints
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida school house has been rocked by criticism from one of its students, who is now paying the price for speaking out.
Though she has been suspended, Yadixy Betancourt is not shying away from her tough commentary of Homestead Senior High School. The 16-year-old sophomore is considered an above average student. Her mother said she has a 4.0 GPA and is enrolled in a special nursing program.
Thursday, however, Betancourt found herself sitting at home, suspended after she posted a letter on her Facebook page, which she had also sent to her school's principal. Little did she know it would go viral and out of her control. "For starters, our bathrooms are disgusting," read part of the letter. "It is preposterous that we cannot even look at ourselves in the mirror because there aren't actually mirrors. Sometimes we have to go to other buildings because there is no toilet paper."
She also complained of a lack of school spirit, noting the school never holds pep rallies nor does it even have cheerleaders at games. Betancourt also said students have to remain seated at lunch and cannot walk around do to past food fights.
Betancourt said she just wishes students could socialize more between classes. She also accused the principal of not saying good morning to students in the hallway.
Once she posted the letter with all these complaints on her Facebook page it took off. It got a bunch of likes and comments. Then it was eventually Tweeted and re-Tweeted on Twitter. It also wound up on Instagram. It even got responses from people out of state telling her how proud they were of her speaking out.
The real trouble came when she said other students printed about 100 copies of the letter and handed them out in school. She was then suspended for disrupting school activities and instigating students. Students even wanted to hold a protest, but that never happened. Security was even increased at the school in case of the protest.
Betancourt said she never organized a protest or the distribution of the letters. "I basically wanted to make a change for the school," she said, "you know, for the better, for the students, so that, when we go to school, we also learn, but we also enjoy being there."
Miami-Dade Public Schools has released the following statement regarding Betancourt's suspension: "Federal and State law prohibits the District from discussing an individual student's disciplinary record or the reasons for any discipline that may have been issued to a student. However, it is not the District's practice or policy to discipline students for exercising their right to freedom of expression. We do not view this as a case involving such an issue."
Betancourt said she does feel her right to express herself was infringed upon, however. Her mother, who came to the US from Cuba, said she never even heard of such disciplinary action in the communist country.
The mother is also concerned how this might affect her daughter's record when she applies to colleges in a couple of years.
The student had originally received a suspension of five days. It was reduced to three days, and she will have a meeting with the principal Friday morning, when her suspension will be re-evaluated. She could be back in school as early as that same day.
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