High School Student Suspended Over Tweet - My9 New Jersey

High School Student Suspended Over Tweet

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ROGERS, Minn. -

(KMSP) - The student body at Rogers High School has Reid Sagehorn's back.

"He's got the whole school behind him. We all believe this isn't right," junior Cole Murray said.

And it seems like the police investigation is now on his side. 

A source connected to the investigation at Rogers High School says police have identified the anonymous Twitter user who was the first to claim that Sagehorn made out with a gym teacher.

Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahan confirmed that the Twitter conversation involved multiple posts and said more students have come forward to say they also tweeted about it.

Reid Sagehorn, 17, was suspended over the 14-character reply he sent following the anonymous post. Off camera, he told Fox 9 News he thought the allegations were a joke and he responded to the tweet with a sarcastic, "Actually, yes." The sarcasm was lost to many who didn't know him.

District officials say the digital debacle left the physical education instructor "crushed" and said the conversation had ruined her reputation; however, students have rallied around Sagehorn. In fact, they are using the same social media site that put his academic career on hold to organize support using the hashtag #FreeReid.

Elk River District Superintendent Mark Bezek told Fox 9 News that police have been involved in the investigation, and Hennepin County prosecutors said they have a case.

Beahan mentioned "a student" will likely be charged with criminal defamation of character, and he cited a Twitter handle called @RogerConfession that has since been disabled as the original source of the controversy.

Investigators say the account was used by students who sometimes posted sexually explicit information about their peers. On Tuesday, a male student reportedly admitted to authorities that he helped launch the gossip page.

Beahan said in this case, the teacher is the victim. Furthermore, he described the reactions of some individuals "sinful" and claimed no one has offered up an apology so far.

Students gathered outside of Rogers High School at 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning with signs in an effort to get their classmate back in school.

"People are honking at us, it's good stuff," Jake Eiden said.

Sagehorn is a wildly popular three-sport athlete and member of the National Honor Society with plans to attend North Dakota State University in the fall.

The protest came the day of a special school board meeting, however, no public comments are planned. Regardless, plenty of Sagehorn advocates are expected to be there.

Sagehorn is a big man on campus. He's smart, good looking, captain of the football and basketball teams, a National Honor Society member with a 3.75 grade point average and plans to attend North Dakota State University in the fall. However, his athletic and academic talent does not make him safe from the Twitter controversy that has banned him from school.

An anonymous tweet was posted suggesting Sagehorn may have made out with a young, attractive female gym teacher at the school. Thinking nothing of it, he responded with a cynical, "Actually, yes" even though there was no relationship between the two. With social media, the tonality of writing is often lost, and this response definitely caught the eyes of those who didn't know Sagehorn well.

A district parent eventually noticed the exchange and reported it. Administrators weren't laughing and barred the 17-year old from school.

"There are so many tweets every day that go out in school. A lot can be bad and much worse than he did. And he got expelled so quickly," fellow senior Heather Veith said.

The Sagehorns are not alone in their battle to combat their son's punishment. An online petition is now circulating with about 3,000 signatures and counting.

Plus, the very arena that got Sagehorn in trouble, social media, also has his back. A hashtag #freereid" is exploding on Twitter demanding their classmate back in school – the hashtag used as a way for a topic to "trend" and drive awareness.

"It's been insane. Everyone rallying around him," junior Cole Flander said.

The District Superintendent didn't comment on Sunday but spoke openly about the challenges schools and students face when it comes to digital citizenship in an online age.

Critics of Sagehorn's harsh punishment also packed Tuesday night's school board meeting with local legislators. Watch the video packages above to see more.

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