Broadway Student Suspended After He Says He Defended the Military

Published: Nov. 23, 2015 at 5:02 PM EST
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UPDATE (Nov. 23, 2015 10 p.m.)

by Devin Turk

At Monday's Rockingham County School Board meeting, Keith Clark spoke to school leaders about his son Matthew's suspension. Clark said, "He was the one who was bullied, but was punished."

Clark told the Board he felt the principal violated his son's privacy when he says she spoke with another student about Matthew's potential punishment. "I didn't know an administrator, I thought they were trained to make those decisions on their own," said Clark.

Clark also said he was angry that his son was denied a school lunch. He appealed Matthew's suspension, but that was denied too. He says the school's reasoning was they took the military out of the situation and treated it as someone who was standing up voicing their opinion in a public forum.

"It's very much a military issue, the individual made derogatory statements towards the military, my son who is a private in the military defended the military," said Clark.

His son Matthew called it a learning experience, "To know when you stand up for what you believe in and what's right, you get punished for it."

Keith Clark, a veteran himself said, "I can't be any prouder, and that's the reason I'm here supporting him."

Now the Clark's just want their voices heard. Matthew said they went to the meeting to, "(Let) everybody know what the school board is like and what our administration at Broadway High School is like and how they mistreat people."

We reached out to the Superintendent Carol Fenn. She wouldn't confirm any details about this situation but said, "When matters of safety arise, prompt intervention and action is taken."

Matthew will be allowed to go back to school on Tuesday.

ORIGINAL STORY (Nov. 23, 2015 6 p.m.)

by Isabel Rosales

A Broadway High School student was suspended after he claims he defended the military.

What Matthew Clark, a member of the Army National Guard, said happened in the school's cafeteria, another student caught on camera on Friday.

"He just said that, troops that risk their lives every day are a disgrace to the military," declared Matthew in the video.

His words are going viral as the video already has more than 22,000 views and 600 shares.

If you're having difficulty understanding the video, here's what Matthew said, "He just said that, troops that risk their lives every day are a disgrace to the military, and that they shouldn't be in the military, and he can do our job better than we can. Too scared to risk our lives for our country, to die for our country. Didn't you say that? I just wanted everybody to know that."

He claims the student he was talking to in the video said anti-military comments to a fellow battle-buddy; that's why he stood up.

"Nothing like that should ever be said about the military and that our troops that are fighting for our freedoms," said Matthew.

That student, is then seen crushing a milk carton and walking away. Soon after, Matthew was suspended.

The official reason for his suspension from Broadway High School was sent in a letter to his parents

"This created a major disturbance in the cafeteria, provoking some students to anger and creating a potentially unsafe environment," is part of the letter sent by assistant principal Alisa D. Sims.

Matthew's father, Keith, a retired Army veteran, calls the decision both ridiculous and ironic.

"Our football players wear all this soldier memorabilia, you know we support the Bucky Anderson cause, but when a student actually brings it upon himself to support the military, they are shot down," said Keith Clark.

Fallen soldier and BHS graduate Bucky Anderson is a well-known community figure. His sister, joined dozens of parents, local and deployed soldiers reaching out to Matthew on social media to show support for his actions.

"He is so strong, stronger than me as a person, to be able to stand up and just defend himself," said Tencha Velasco, who is Matthew's cousin.

Rockingham County Superintendent Dr. Carol Fenn said she couldn't confirm any details, citing this as a confidential student matter, but did say that when matters of safety arise, prompt intervention and action is taken.

Matthew claims the other student involved in the video was not suspended; however, school leaders could not confirm that.

Keith Clark tried to appeal the suspension Monday morning during a meeting with the assistant superintendent, but it was upheld. He also plans to attend the county's school board meeting that begins on Monday night at 7 p.m.