JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Jefferson City school officials are explaining why administrators decided to take disciplinary action against three district students featured in a controversial photo posted online.
"This is an unfortunate incident," said JCPS Board of Education President Steve Bruce. "It's very disappointing and I know it's very hurtful to a lot of folks."
JCPS said Tuesday the picture was taken off school property, but according to the district's student handbook discipline policies may still apply.
"If the administration believes there is a high degree of likelihood, or knows that there is going to be a disruption to that learning environment, then they are compelled to act," Bruce explained.
Bruce said the picture fell under "Disruptive Conduct or Speech" in the district's discipline code.
The board defined disruptive speech as "Verbal, written, pictorial or symbolic language or gesture that is directed at any person and that is disrespectful, rude, vulgar, defiant, in violation of district policy or considered inappropriate in education settings or that materially and substantially disrupts classroom work, school activities or school functions."
The policy goes on to state students won't be disciplined for speech that is protected by law.
Bruce said he couldn't disclose what sort of punishment the students received, citing state law. According to the district's policy, the students could have gotten up to 10 days of out-of-school suspension for their first offense.
"I think the focus needs to be on the ongoing conversations that we need to have in our own homes, in our schools and with each other about this particular issue and how we move forward collectively and in a healthy manner," Bruce said.