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Open letter from student over suspension goes viral

Facebook post gets thousands of shares, 'likes'


An open letter posted to Facebook last Thursday by a Rainier Junior/Senior High School student’s mother, claiming the student was suspended for reporting the alleged online bullying of another student, exploded across social media and inspired a student walkout Friday.

Stephanie Taylor’s post on behalf of her son Naythan Taylor, a Rainier senior, whose name is signed to the letter has been shared more than 6,500 times and received more than 9,000 “likes” on Facebook since being posted in the open Facebook group Concerned Citizens of Columbia County (revised) late in the afternoon Thursday, May 29.

In Thursday’s letter, Naythan Taylor accused his school’s principal, Graden Blue, of suspending him from school for reporting what he characterized as “insulting and bullying” of a younger Rainier student on the social media website Instagram, as well as an alleged suicide threat made by the younger student. He said one of the alleged bullies and the purported victim of the bullying were suspended as well.

“Our superiors tell us on a daily basis, posters hanging up in our school and bullying assembly’s [sic] to report bullying and treat others with respect,” Taylor wrote.

As Taylor’s post garnered attention from thousands of Facebook users Friday, students at Rainier staged a protest at the school, which led to more disciplinary action.

Blue did not respond to a request for comment from the Spotlight. But in a letter Monday describing Friday as “an eventful and difficult day” at the school district, Rainier School District Superintendent Michael Carter acknowledged some students refused to return to class, causing “disruption to the learning environment.”

“Students who skipped class and were insubordinate but were not yet suspended will be attended to throughout the week as their identifications have been made,” Carter wrote.

Carter added that students “should understand the need to have full information before they jump to conclusions.”

Taylor suspended for ‘inappropriate language’

The school district released a redacted copy of Naythan Taylor’s disciplinary record Friday afternoon after receiving a parent’s permission to do so.

In a telephone conversation with the Spotlight, Carter summarized what he said was the reason for Taylor’s suspension.

“He called the dean of students a [expletive] idiot,” Carter said.

The disciplinary file, which includes 52 pages detailing various other rule violations dating back to when Taylor was in seventh grade, states Taylor was suspended for two days beginning Thursday for “inappropriate language against staff and impeding an investigation.”

The district also relayed two pages of notes — one page from Blue and the other from an unnamed school counselor — to media outlets, including the Spotlight. Both describe Taylor as extensively using profane language when speaking with them about the alleged bullying.

Blue’s notes describe an exchange of words between Taylor and Blue inside the principal’s office, with Blue repeatedly telling Taylor to “calm down” and “let us do our job,” apparently in regard to the alleged bullying investigation.

At the end of the exchange described in Blue’s notes, Taylor said, “You’re not going to [expletive] do anything.”

“Nayt, I will have to suspend you for impeding this investigation,” Blue replied before Taylor left the office, according to the notes.

The counselor wrote that on May 22, Taylor told her twice “he hoped that his friend would kill himself to teach the staff a [expletive] lesson.”

Taylor’s letter did not mention any profane exchanges with staff.

Stephanie Taylor acknowledged allowing the school district to release her son’s disciplinary record in a series of Facebook comments Friday. She described Naythan as “a typical boy” for the infractions mentioned in the file.

“I have nothing to hide!” Stephanie Taylor wrote. “If improper cell phone use, tardies, detention, kissing your girlfriend, saying a swear word over the last 6 years makes you not be able to save a life we have a problem.”

Naythan Taylor’s disciplinary record includes three referrals for what is described as “bullying/harassment” when he was in eighth grade at Rainier Junior/Senior High School, as well as numerous referrals for lying to or swearing at school staff. Last week’s suspension is the only reported infraction in the file from his senior year.

Editor's note: This story has been updated.